Thirteen

Yep.  There was indeed one new hair a couple weeks ago.  I named it Judy, after a long lost friend.  Sometimes at night I feel a tingling on my scalp, which feels like new hairs poking through the scalp.  Which might even be accurate.  Now, there’s a whole layer of Judys on my scalp.  Unfortunately this new growth is very fine, barely visible, and only slightly camouflaging.  Nonetheless, it is encouraging.

Not much else cancer-wise to report.  Next appointment is in a week and a half.  So, thought for now, I’d share some medical history.

When I was thirteen, in eighth grade, I started getting really thirsty.  At school between classes I would stop at the bubbler and drink water until the line of students behind me was visibly angry at how long I was taking.  I couldn’t stop drinking.  It got worse over a couple of weeks.  Finally, one Friday afternoon when I got home, I tried to drink water straight out of the kitchen faucet to replicate the wonderful, soothing, long drinks of water from the school water fountain.  But it didn’t work.  That Friday afternoon , water started making me throw up.  My mother, not unreasonably, figured I had the flu.  Off to bed I went.  A miserable night followed.  Saturday was worse.  everything made me throw up and I lost all strength.  At nighttime I asked my mom if I could sleep in bed with her, which I did.  I tossed and turned,  every muscle and bone aching.  By Sunday morning, mom knew something was really wrong.

Poor mom!

Dad was already the hospital – with stomach problems that had been worsening for an entire year.  They had thought he had an ulcer, but unbeknownst to me, a new doctor had already told my mother that he was dying.  He had duodenal cancer, a death sentence.

Besides my dad, mom’s mom, grandma Weezie who lived with us, had been diagnosed with Adult Diabetes just the week before.  Her first home visit with a teaching nurse had been one day earlier, Saturday.   Mom had to absorb the fact that her husband was dying, but also her mother was in a really bad medical situation, and needed close care and supervision.

Not done.  My brother, a year older than me, had had mononucleosis for two weeks.  The week that I started throwing up, he developed sore, swollen knees and his doctor told my mom that he feared the disease had turned into rheumatic fever.  Tests were ordered.  One more – my sister that same week was diagnosed with a chronic stomach disorder.  Nowadays we might call it IBS; back then it was considered a bewildering, chronic ailment.

Poor mom.  As she described that week — EVEN THE TWO CATS WERE THROWING UP!

On Sunday, after my sleepless Saturday night, I could no longer walk so crawled from my parents’ room back to my own.  Mom was trying to get hold of a doctor on the phone.  After being left on hold for an hour (this was before cordless phones, never mind cell phones) she came upstairs to check on me.  I was incoherent.  Somehow she found a doctor to come to the house.  He examined me, smelled my breath, and pronounced that I either had diabetes or gobbledegook (something I can’t remember).  I was hoping for gobbledegook, because thanks to Weezie’s diagnosis earlier in the week, I knew diabetes was BAD.  The doctor called an ambulance, and my mother directed the driver to bring me to Miriam Hospital — because that’s where her husband was  —  would make visiting hours easier.

Poor mom.  Upon arrival at the hospital, she asked the admitting doctors if I’d be okay.  They said … we’ll do the best we can.  While filling out the admitting paperwork, a doctor rushed up to the counter next to my mom, handed another person a vial of blood, and said, get this through the lab QUICK, name’s Accola.  Mom said she almost collapsed.

 

5 Replies to “Thirteen”

  1. 1. Happy to hear about continued progress regarding the hair!
    2. Your Mother showed remarkable aplomb dealing with this “hairy” period in your youth.
    3.You had a Grandmother named “Weezie “– were you by any chance related to the Jeffersons?
    Hope you keep “movin on up” on all fronts!

  2. This is Kristen, Kaki’s sister and I was there, well… after the fact. One of my roommates at Brown Univ where I was a freshman came running into the dining room to tell me that I had to get to the hospital. Mom had already told me that Dad was going to die and so I started crying at the table. She said “it’s your sister she’s very ill. I said “what ???!!!!” that can’t be…” I got to the hospital and as I joined mom she looked me and said “they don’t know if they can save her” At this point we were both in tears of horror and disbelief. After what felt like hours they came in and told us that they had stabilized Kaki. We were allowed in to see her. Mom was not looking so good but she jumped up. That moment of seeing Kaki is one that I will never forget, even at my age. Suffice it to say that the onset of juvenile diabetes, unchecked for a few weeks, does not look good on anyone, but especially a little sister.

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