Happy Wednesday! It’s hump day for you 9 to 5ers, and a two show day here in southern Vermont. Speaking of southern Vermont, this blogisode is brought to you by the bugs of southern Vermont, who have lined up to taste the scrumptious Beatrix Jane Meffe one morsel at a time. Last week she broke out in a mystery rash on her stomach, and after a doc visit in Vermont and e-mailed pictures to our pediatrician in New York, it was diagnosed as, “Hmmm. Could be a mild case of chicken pox, but then again it could be bug bites.” Thank you, medical experts. Dr. Wheatley here, pancreas and bug bite specialist, dubbing it “Beatrix’s bug bite mystery rash” (patent pending). Last night she was bit between the eyes, so imagine my surprise when this little swollen face greeted me this morning.
Enough! My daughter is not the local Golden Corral Buffet! I just went on a vacuum murder mission to decimate any living creature near her bed or in a 20 foot radius. I probably didn’t get the biter, but it made me feel in control (worry-clean, anyone?). To make her (and me) feel better, we went out to breakfast. Otherwise, I was going to spray the whole house with some chemically-pesticide that is probably worse for her than the bugs.
But now let's hop on a rock lobster and head back to Bridgton, Maine where Rob and I were anxiously awaiting the blood test results. Remember that Beatrix and Charlotte were being doted on at Quisisana, Jane and other Quisi-ites were learning that Rob’s recovery had hit a snag, and Rob and I were making prank calls in the ER just to celebrate 4 steady bars of cell service. We were also telling everyone how high tech Bridgton Hospital was because they had Internet for patients, unlike that antiquated Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Rob reminded me last night that I forgot to tell you about the ultrasound guy. I can't believe I forgot him. Before we get to the pancreas numbers, I have to step back an hour in time and tell you about Rob and Mr. Maine Ultrasound.
So look, this was all so old hat for us that when they said they were wheeling Rob down for an ultrasound, we barely looked up from our iPhone and iPad (so obnoxious--but we were playing a fierce game of Words With Friends, which is basically Scrabble, but renamed for an iPhone app. If my father is reading this, he just said "I have no idea what in the hell she's talking about. What's an app?" It's a game on a phone, Dad.) ANYWAY, they wheeled Rob down to a room that kind of looked like a Hampton Inn hotel room and there we met Mr. Maine Ultrasound.
Mr. Maine Ultrasound was about 70 and looked a lot like Colonel Sanders. He made small talk in the Maine accent Rob and I always try to impersonate (We say, "You cahn't git theh from heeya" Translation: "You can't get there from here" We're terrible at it and it's cracked us up for 20 years. Stupid). He squirted the gel on Rob's stomach and as he started to put the wand on him, Rob used the same line he'd been using for over a month now, "We're hoping for a boy." I rolled my eyes (as I have every time for the past month).
Mr. Maine Ultrasound did not laugh. Instead, he was offended. "I'll have you know," he told us as he pushed the wand into Rob's tender abdomen, "We get a bum rap. Everyone thinks all we do is babies, but that's only about 30% of our overall total work." Oops. Things got a little icy in the Hampton Inn ultrasound room with Mr. Maine/Colonel Sanders and his warm gel. But I am proud to report that things got back on track quickly when Rob mentioned that he was a musician from Quisisana. Mr. Maine Ultrasound, it turns out, was a banjo player in a bluegrass band. Whew. The ultrasound turned out to be "inconclusive" but Rob and Colonel Sanders bonded over strumming and picking. In fact, for the duration of Rob's stay at Bridgton Hospital, Mr. Maine Ultrasound Colonel Sanders Banjo Player stopped by Rob's room to visit numerous times to talk music, and even taught him how to say Lake Kezar Maine-style (We say "Key-Tzar" but Mr. Maine said, "It's Key-zah, son. Don't sit on the R at the end. Makes it too harsh sounding.")
So now we are caught up in time and back to the doctor in the ER. And I want to specify--he was the only doctor in the ER. In fact, he was only visiting Bridgton as he commuted from the three hospitals he worked in--Portland, Lewiston and Bridgton. These hospitals, by the way, are about an hour apart in opposite directions, forming a triangle. While we were there we heard him excitedly telling a nurse he'd just been approved for "flashing lights" on his car, so he could commute faster. Note to self, if anyone is a doctor and looking for work, Maine might be a good place. They seem to have a shortage. And you get flashing lights on your car.
Dr. Three Hospitals sort of looked like Jason Alexander, but taller, and he had a sort of bumbling appeal to him. He walked in with his clip board, looked down and (as you remember from yesterday) said, "These are some of the biggest numbers we've seen in this ER. Your enzyme levels appear to be at about 8,000!" His eyebrows raised. Rob and I sighed in relief. 8,000? That's nothing. Rob's levels were about 35,000 in New York. We could work with 8,000. Rob told him as much, and also that he was feeling much better--in fact, he was practically pulling out his own IV and lacing his shoes he was so ready to blow that joint.
Dr. Three Hospitals stopped him, informing him that there was a decent chance that a small stone was lodged in his--and then he paused. "You know the um--the duct that's attached to the pancreas--oh, what's it called, ummm, the...?" Rob started to help him, but the doctor put up his hand and closed his eyes..."Wait, don't tell me, I can see it." He started to draw a diagram mid-air with his finger. "You've got the stomach right here, and the liver over here, and the gallbladder--well of course you don't have that anymore--and the duct that it is connecting the liver and all of that to the pancreas is called..." His eyes were squeezed shut at this point as he worked to come up with the name. You could practically see the sweat on his brow. "It's been a while, and digestion isn't my specialty..."
Rob watched him and finally, concerned, said, "Don't hurt yourself." Well, concerned with a touch of smart ass.
Dr. Three Hospital's eye's flew open and he said, "Doesn't matter. You need to have a procedure to clean it out and we can't do it here. We're going to have to move you to another hospital. Probably Lewiston, because that's where the gastroenterologist is."
Rob was dumbfounded. "Lewiston? No, I think I'm fine. I'm feeling better all the time. If there was a stone, I think I already passed it."
"Mr. Meffe, we can't let you leave this hospital with these numbers. Maybe you can wait it out here over night and see if your numbers improve, but I just spoke with your doctor in New York and we are in total agreement." With that, Rob's cell phone rang and sure enough, it was his doctor from New York telling him he had to have an ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography....fancy words meaning they vacuum out your bile duct.) Hopefully, he added, they'd be able to do it before the fourth of July.
Rob's plan to recover quickly and slip quietly back into Quisisana life was seeming more far fetched by the moment.
To read the next blogisode, go here.