Thinking I was in the clear when I made it home on Wednesday night, it soon became obvious my dear old gall bladder wasn’t quite done messing with me. Just like a dying Messala says to Ben-Hur at the end of the Chariot race: “It goes on” For those of you who have exorcised the little demon from your chest, perhaps you can relate to the black humor; for those living in a fool’s paradise, believing your own bladder has nothing personal against you, enjoy it while it lasts, and remember this story when it suddenly feels like someone shived you under the ribcage with a rusty rebar.
To recap: Everything was normal Saturday night at the airpark, Vern and I were grilling chicken and enjoying the twilight. I felt a slight twinge, but wanted to dismiss it. By midnight, I was well into the worst gall bladder attack I have ever had in 15 years of having them. Yes, there is a small, stupid optimistic part of my brain that was able to believe that each of them would be the last, this is the same part of my brain that thinks I am just as strong and tough as I was when I was 24, The same part my doctor is addressing when he looks in my eyes and says “People don’t actually get younger, you are middle aged, period”
At 5:30 am on Sunday, I would have confessed to being friends Osama Bin Laden to make it stop. Time to go to the ER, but the ability to drive had passed several hours earlier. We are way out in the country, and 911 takes more than 15 minutes just to get here. I called Corvair Panther builder, and my neighbor, Paul Salter. He didn’t answer, but it wasn’t smart enough to roll his hangar door all the way down. I crawled under it in growing desperation, and got him up and we were shortly in the Baptist-Clay ER, IV Demerol to the rescue. Paul is a great guy, and waits through six hours of tests. It is a slow morning, and the primary entertainment is mocking the guy so dumb he would to this for 15 years. At noon I am put in an ambulance and transferred to Baptist-South, where the extraction will take place. Monday it is out, Tuesday is recovering, and Discharge is Wednesday night at 5 pm. Problem solved…..for 3 hours.
After just three hours at home I had a 101 fever, and Rachel Weseman sent Dan over to drive me back to the Baptist-Clay ER, exact same spot where the adventure had started 84 hours earlier. I actually get the same shift crew. I honestly hoped to an inspection and maybe a new prescription, but instead was there from 9pm until 5 am the next morning getting a full battery of tests including a CT scan.
Dan Weseman is the best kind of friend and neighbor, and his sits in a chair next to my gurney through all of this. In between samples and vitals, the nurses entertain us with comments about men being comparative poo-nannies, who describe everything as a “10” on the pain scale to a nurse who had 5 C-sections, etc for several hours. All in good fun. Over the hours the conversation with Dan drifts from this sucks to little planes we’d like to build and fly, what you want to be doing in 10 years etc. By 4 am sleep depravation is getting to Dan, and I am being treated with narcotics, and our conversation drifts to the concept that my gall bladder might have really had a mind of its own; there is plenty of evidence that it was out to get me; locked in a 15 year death struggle, just like Captain Kirk and Kahn, and just like Messala and Ben-Hur, It would go on. Just silly stuff to entertain when you can’t think rationally anymore.
5 am brought the decision that I would be transported back to Baptist-South, just like a few days earlier. The nursing staff keeps calling this “Ground Hogs Day” in reference to the movie where life keeps repeating the same nightmare for Bill Murray. The transfer ambulance is staffed by two drivers in their early 20’s, working to become county EMT’s. They are very nice, and they hear the nursing banter about repeating the trip. As they are closing the doors one of them asks Dan why I am actually going back, and with a strait face Dan tells him I am having my gall bladder reinstalled.
Two hours later I am beyond exhausted, drugged, and now filled with radioactive dye. I am being put through the HIDA machine, a nuclear imaging device that can find very tiny leaks in your bile system. You get to lay perfectly still in your gurney, and it is lowered down to you. I am told my job is to layback and fall asleep for 90 minutes. Sounds great. I fall asleep right away. Somewhere in the middle of my test the nightmare/hallucination arrives that my gall bladder, who speaks exactly like Ricardo Manitoban, has taken over Baptist-South, and tricked me into returning so he can kill me. I am being fed into a large casket, painted just like a Sharps infections material container, which is very coincidently the same size and shape as the HIDA machine. As he is closing the lid, Gall Bladder wants me to notice the interior is made of “Fine Corinthian Leather.” I must make a desperate lunge to escape!
Bolting upright from a motionless sleep, I smash into the HIDA scanning heads while yelling “Gall Bladder!” Bizarrely, I find myself in the Nuclear imaging lab rather than in the clutches of my nemesis. Two lab techs are staring blankly. They say nothing, I wisely decide not to try to explain. The test is completed without any of the light hearted friendly banter it previously had. They were young and likely still had their gall bladders, and wish them health and peace before they have to learn what evil lives in their own chests.
Here is something very real to take away:
I finally came home late Friday afternoon. In my absence neighbors had mowed my lawn, recharged the house A/C, Paul’s mom and cooked enough food for a week and stocked it in our refrigerator, the Wesemans offered their guest room if needed, several people offered to stay over a few days in Grace’s absence. It was all very moving because I am blessed with far better friends and neighbors than I deserve. I wanted to tell everyone that, but couldn’t finish any of the sentences without crying. It had been a very long week, and I was very thankful to be home.
14 Replies to “The ‘Wrath of Gall Bladder’”
I know the entire situation is not a laughing matter, but I’ve got tears running down my cheeks from laughing….. the best medicine. Glad to see you are able to use humour to “self medicate” William.
All the best for a speedy recovery!
hey buddy im glad you are back. Loved the story, have you ever considered being a comedy writer? DAMN GALLBLADDER!!!!!
Rest up William, and get well. The tough times help us to more clearly recognize the many blessings we often take for granted. You and Grace are in our thoughts and prayers. Enjoy the extra reading and thinking time.
I am glad you have made it home safe and sound. (Well almost sound.)
I am going to pick up Richard Jones engine and firewall forward components in Springfield, MO just before the Zenith open house where I will be picking up the airframe and finishing kit for my STOL CH750! I am so elated I am in shock
actually. I enjoyed the bit of scratch building I have accomplished, have learned a lot, and am prepared to duplicate any parts I destroy during assembly.
I will be seeing you at the open house and am hoping you will be able to help me out with parts needed to go from the 601 installation to the 750, and also to help me evaluate the engine and draft a plan of action to make it airworthy.
Is there any chance we might be able to run it on your test stand to verify the integrity? I know you have an agenda and I will be respectful of your time and schedule. Please let me know your thoughts.
Ah yes, William, the weird dreams; the last four months with chemo have had their share in a long (short) sleep. Having folks who can help and pull you along is always something to be thankful for. At least we’re not on Fantasy Island………….
A gift from me to you:
Cheesy 1950’s Sci-fi has gotten me thru a few tough times.
Hope you feel better soon.
Dana Andrews went from staring in the greatest conflict movie ever made ( the best years of our lives ) to this in just 18 years? Wow, that’s harsh. But I also love old sifi, so I will gladly watch it
Best wishes on your road to recovery! Hope Grace gets back soon to pamper you!
You do deserve the friends you have.
I guess banishing Gall Noonian Bladder to Ceti Alpha V didn’t solve your problem! And your visit to Regula was no walk in the park. Whatever you do…don’t leave Spock to ponder a Kobiashi Maru scenario. Sounds like your crew is on it. Godspeed and prayers…and don’t buy Botany Bay Blend Coffee ever again!
I would recommend “In Harms Way” 1965 with Dana Andrews – not in the league of “The Best Years of their Lives”, but one of my favorite John Wayne WWII films. William, here’s the connection…Your gall bladder and Admiral Tory’s leg are both gone.
Bob, seen it and loved it. Nice connection.
I, FOR ONE, WOULD LIKE TO HEAR DAN WESEMANâS VERSION OF WHAT WENT ON WHILE HE SAT NEXT TO WILLIAMâS GURNEY.
Dave, He would tell you what a thoughtful, kind, insightful, humble guy I am in private……because he is into pulling people’s leg for fun to see if they will believe anything he says.