Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Something Ain't Right

This is the 3rd of a series of posts chronicling Chris' battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

We're stubborn creatures. It's funny how we can tell ourselves that everything is okay when we know it isn't. Don't judge me - you do it, too. We're so committed to our version of how life should play out that we will ourselves to shut out any reality that threatens it.


In the early morning darkness of Tuesday, September 17, I grabbed a strawberry granola yogurt out of the fridge and quietly slipped out of my sleeping house for a leadership meeting at church. As we gathered at 5:30am to pray, I endured the usual jabs about why I had swapped out my regular sausage biscuit for a healthier alternative. Just wanting to eat better.

About mid-morning, my stomach started to feel funny. That's what happens when you eat healthy, I joked to myself. I didn't know if I was nauseated, or sick, or if it was nothing. I of course assumed the latter. It was serious enough that I convinced my buddies to eat lunch at Zaxby's with me, where I ordered a chicken salad. I couldn't finish it, but it was refreshing and delicious. I felt better that afternoon.

See? It was nothing.


Two weeks later, sometime on a Wednesday, it came back. Just a subtle discomfort in the abdominal regions. It's difficult to explain the feeling. It wasn't hunger; I know what that feels like. It wasn't gas; I definitely know what that feels like. It was deeper than those things. A kind of pain you couldn't pinpoint. But I wasn't worried. Because, of course, it was nothing.

It went away last time; it'll go away this time.


It had been a day and a night now. The pain was still there. I started mentioning my discomfort casually to friends. Jeremy said he figured it was a stomach ulcer. Those hurt really bad. I googled it, and sure enough, stomach ulcers hurt in the abdominal regions. My friend Jason gets stomach ulcers all the time, and my detective work included an interview:

Me: "Jason, do stomach ulcers hurt really bad in your abdominal regions?"

Jason: "Yes."

So that's what I had. Problem solved.

My mind also made another connection. Our fridge had been on the blink. It took way longer for us to notice than it should have, so this is slightly embarrassing. We'd wake up to pools of water on the kitchen floor. (With toddlers running around, this isn't an uncommon occurrence). I realized that my blocks of cheese were "sweaty," and smellier than usual. (Still topped my wheat thins with 'em, though). Turns out Owen's little hobby of hanging from the refrigerator door handle had the effect of the door not shutting properly. So our food only cooled about half the time. We called Bill, the appliance guy, and he fixed us up. But there was a pretty good chance all that time spent eating spoiled food would make my stomach feel "not so normal." Two pretty good hypotheses, if you ask me.

Just in case, I ate lunch at Zaxby's. Worked last time.


I was still hurting on Friday. Couldn't really tell if the pain was getting more severe, or if the prolonged dullness just made it worse. At any rate, I called my doctor.

Me: "Doc, I'm going out of town this weekend. But I've had a weird stomach pain for the last couple days. Probably an ulcer. Should I be concerned?"

Dr. Wood: "Probably not. But make an appointment to see me on Monday morning just so we can rule out anything serious."

Me: "Okay. Thanks Doc."

I then entered the thick, impenatrable medical darkness that is the weekend. Where the only place to get medical care is the Emergency Room. Scary stuff. Could I make it to the light of Monday? That would prove more difficult than I could have possibly imagined.

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