First off, I must explain why I did not publish on September 22. Please note that this was the first time since On the Outside Looking In began publishing in October of 2013 that I missed a deadline without prior notice. Because of the circumstances surrounding this failure to launch, i.e.: I was hospitalized and unable to write, I am declaring a personal Force Majeure, thereby shedding any and all responsibility for this Act of God.
Now let us begin: The Voyage of the JJD-1701:
While in treatment at St. Francis Hospital, Flower Hill, NY, I underwent an endoscopy to determine the location of probable bleeding that had rendered me anemic forcing me to seek admittance on Friday afternoon, September 17. After a relatively short stay in the ER, I was happily transferred to a semi-private room. My first roommate was a semi-conscience fellow who was discharged the next day and sent home by ambulance. One could only imagine what burdens he will bring to his household, but overhearing his incoming phone calls from his wife, Renee, that he listened to on speaker, I knew getting him home was her only priority. He left for home by ambulance early on Saturday afternoon.
Other than receiving my first of two transfusions that weekend, all I did was watch football on Saturday and Sunday with Elliott, my next roomie. Elliott was in to correct a problem that happened during a procedure the previous week. Whatever the SFH staff did to correct it, worked and Elliott left me early on Sunday night.
My final roomie, James, arrived about 10:30 that night from the ER, disoriented, practically incoherent and in serious distress. I admired the pro-active care the nurses and their aides rendered to James that night. In retrospect, if I knew what was to come, I would have rooted for him to go into a coma. Once coherent, he became the roomie from hell.
But I digress. Doctor C, my endocrinologist explained that he wanted me to sign on for the voyage of the JJD-1701 so he could observe my complete GI system to determine if there was any internal bleeding anywhere in my system including where the camera used on an ordinary procedure could not go.
Once I agreed to swallow JJD-1701 and set it free, it would embark on an eight-hour journey down through my system before I ejected the capsule into a toilet bowl. During this voyage, its cameras would shoot 30,000 photos of my innards.
I had several responsibilities. I had to fast from midnight and continue fasting until the voyage was complete. I had to wear a belt that tracked its location and carry a transmitter the size of a 1970’s era Walkman. (In fact, this transmitter looked just like a Walkman.)
I could not lie down during its course and for the first four hours, I was supposed to stand often and walk to stimulate its downward descent.
Silly me, I expected to be called to the Endo Suite early Tuesday morning, say 8 AM, so the results could be delivered to Dr. C just after 4 pm before he left for the night. Instead, the launch was delayed until noon. With great pomp and circumstance and two cups of water, I swallowed JJD-1701 setting it free on its incredible journey. Eight PM that night, the transmitter signaled the end of its tracking. My belt and transmitter were sent to the lab to be analyzed on Wednesday.
Wednesday was to be my going home day. My admitting physician, Dr G agreed to sign off on my release once Dr. C accepted JJD-1701’s readings. One other doctor, Dr. S, needed a bit of persuasion to agree to forego any additional tests. This is where my skills as an insurance broker who had to deal with some of the biggest SOBs in the oil industry came in handy. He agreed to back off and I agreed not to make his life miserable.
It was at this point that Dr. C began to fail me. First off and unbeknownst to me, he only did his procedures in the morning meaning that he didn’t get around to reviewing JJD-1701’s evidence until 1PM. The good news: none of the photographs indicated evidence of any tear. The bad news, JJD-1701 remained somewhere in my lower intestines. Without confirmation of its exact location, Dr. C didn’t know if he had a complete visual mapping of my system.
He ordered an X-Ray of my intestines at 1:30. The technician shoed up two-hours later. I became more than a bit agitated at this point. Fortunately, the tech was both efficient and competent. Once she shot her photo, I heard her tell Dr. C’s PA that JJD-1701 was near the end of its journey and had covered all parts he wanted to examine. She confirmed this to me and promised to personally deliver her picture to Dr. C.
By 4 PM, I had no news and no news, in this case, was bad news. Enough was enough, and to the embarrassment of my loving wife, I declared the nuclear option: “Either release me by 5 PM or I will release myself.”
As if by magic, Andrea, my veteran nurse called Alex, Dr. C’s PA who shortly confirmed to Andrea that I was good to go.
Release has its own time frame and Transport didn’t wheel me out until after 7:30 but, I was free, free, thank God almighty, free at last. On the way home, we stopped at Gino’s Pizza on Main Street where Mary Ann picked up slices of their outstanding Sicilian pizza.
Max, our 11-year-old Golden and Tessy, our 13-year-old yellow Lab greeted me with their usual reserved postures that said, “Oh, you are finally back. Anything to eat?”
I rewarded their subtle loyalty with several pieces of pizza.
I slept like a rock. Next morning, I checked off three items denied me for the last five days: a shave with a razor and cream, a shower and a trip to “Let There Be Bagels,” our local store for two plain bagels with butter and a medium size cup of coffee, milk, but no sugar. Just driving there was a pleasure in itself.
So far and perhaps forever, the fate of JJD-1701 is unknown.