Thursday, December 10, 2015

Some Family Medical Humor: The Sinister Stomach Spore

Back on Monday, I recounted recent events centering around the health and well-being of my father-in-law. Since that time, Johnnie has made a remarkable recovery given how bad off he was last Wednesday. He still needs gall bladder surgery but that can be scheduled in a few weeks and will be less invasive than if it had been done this past weekend.

Johnnie was released from the hospital on Tuesday (time served with good behavior) after which he spent the evening at his parole officer's son's house. By the time this posts, there's a good chance my father-in-law will be safely ensconced in his own home. (Kids, beware of unsafe ensconcement.) We thought he might need some physical therapy in an assisted living facility for a few days but he's moving around pretty well on his own. He can laugh and dance and sing, he can do the Highland Fling.

I mentioned in Monday's post that "I should probably mention the 'stomach spore' but that's a post in and of itself." So in celebration of my father-in-law's escape release from the hospital, let me regale you now with...

The Tale of the Sinister Stomach Spore!

It was Saturday morning and Johnnie's 4th day in the hospital. While showing some small signs of improvement, he was still in a lot of pain and nowhere near the status he would be when he was released on Tuesday.

I was at home raking my front yard with my head phones on and rocking those leaves off my lawn with "You're All I've Got Tonight" by The Cars. This is a most irrelevant detail but I wanted to throw it in anyway. It sounded like a cool thing for me to be doing.

So my music gets interrupted by a phone call. (Wow! A phone call! On my phone! Who knew?) It was Greg, my brother-in-law.

Now a few words about Greg. Greg has been on point during this whole health scare with his dad and he's been good at getting detailed information and acting on that information. He can be a jerk but when you're as rich and successful as he is, you can get away with it. Being a jerk works for him; he gets things done. Me, I can be a jerk too but when I'm a jerk, people just back away and wonder if I've had my meds. 

I also need to point out he's a germaphobe. Unlike that thing about me listening to the Cars while raking leaves, this is a relevant detail. Remember that and let's move on.

So Greg's calling me to say that Andrea and I should not come to visit Johnnie today. He said he went by the hospital to see his dad. Before going to his room, Greg spoke with Johnnie's doctor to get the latest info. Greg told the doctor he was going to see his dad.

Next to the nurses' station where Greg greets the head nurse, asks if his dad had been any trouble during the night. With news that Johnnie had got through the night calmly, Greg told the nurse he was going to see his dad.

Greg walks into Johnnie's hospital room where Johnnie is in his hospital bed watching his hospital TV. After patting Johnnie on his head, Greg sat down in a nearby hospital chair.

A few moments later, some medical type people enter the room, all decked out in masks and gloves and other protective coverings over their scrubs. Greg wondered why they were there dressed like that. They wondered why Greg was there not dressed like that.

The nurse, the same one that Greg had spoke to at the nurses' station, advised that Johnnie was under quarantine because he might have an infectious stomach spore.

As Greg was relaying this story to me over the phone, I clearly hear the ire in his voice rising recalling these events. I could see his bald head just turning all sorts of crimson shades. (Oh, I forgot to previously establish that Greg is bald. Now you know.)  As I mentioned above, Greg is a germaphobe. This is not a big secret, certainly not to Greg himself. He will tell you himself he is the biggest germaphobe in the world. He's always bogarting the hand sanitizer. He sanitizes his hands after sanitizing his hands.

"I'm the biggest germaphobe in the world!" Greg was telling me very angrily. "If anyone so much as gave me a hint that he might be contagious, I wouldn't have gone in there!" 

OK, so here's the deal: the nurse wasn't saying Johnnie had a stomach spore for sure. His symptoms were in line with such a thing but they could also be attributable to the various versions of hell he had been through for three days.  The whole quarantine thing was mostly a precaution just in case.

Of course, it's not much of a quarantine if you can just waltz right into the room.

To recap: Johnnie may have an infectious stomach spore. It's possible, not likely. Stay away just in case. The doctors would know something for sure in about 12 hours.

Still, Greg was incensed he was going to have go home, get undressed in the garage, place his clothes in a bag (hey, at least he wasn't going to burn them) and then take a very, very long shower. Remember, germaphobe. But also a very successful guy. He can get away with it.

Now let's bring another family member into this, Johnnie's daughter, Greg's sister, my wife, Andrea.

Greg and Andrea can be so different: he's outgoing, aggressive and uber confident and not any of those things. But they have at least one thing in common: paranoia about germs.

I go in the house where Andrea was getting herself ready to go see her dad. I should say she was doing this very frantically. She saw she had missed calls her from her brother (which is why he called me) and was sure, absolutely sure that he wouldn't be calling unless there was really, really bad news.

Yeah, that's how she rolls. Most people have a headache and think, "Hmm, maybe I should take an aspirin." Andrea gets a headache and thinks, "Oh my God! Brain tumor!"

I tell her to settle down, I have information on what's going on. I have to approach this carefully. It's like defusing a bomb: cut one wrong wire and... BOOM!

I say, "Well, the hospital is a bit concerned....just a little bit, mind you...that your dad may have...something infectious. They call it a stomach spore and..."

Click! Shit! Wrong wire! BOOM!


"No, no, no. He does not have a stomach spore!! At least, they don't know for sure. He's got these symptoms that are probably most likely connected to all he's been through but just in case it is, however unlikely, a stomach spore, it's probably best to not have contact with him until they know for sure."

Andrea sat down on the edge of our bed and slumped her shoulders. "How much more can my dad go through? First the gall bladder, then the urinary infection, then the breathing problems, now he has a stomach spore!"


Calm down, David. Take a deep breath.

I explain again: just a precaution, it's probably not anything, just need to be sure, keep our distance until we know for sure.

I think that does it. I've made a breakthrough. I have achieved understanding with my wife.

10 minutes later: "David, did the hospital say how long dad is going to have this stomach spore?"

Sigh! I try again. Understanding has been achieved for real this time.

An hour later, my daughter asks, "Hey, Dad, I thought that thing with Paw Paw was just a precaution? Look at this." She shows me a post on FACEBOOK from my wife.


Oh boy.

Later the lab report comes back ixnay on the stomach spore. The sinister stomach spore that spawned so much fear and chaos never existed.

There's a life lesson in that but you guys work it out. Before I go, it's not a relevant detail but I still need to finish raking the yard. In case any of you were wondering about that.

Thank you and I'm so glad my suffering amuses you.


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DISCLAIMER:  I'm doing this for fun, not profit. This is not officially sanctioned by the BBC and the producers of Doctor Who.   In c...