I celebrated my 45th birthday earlier in the week with a morning trip to my local Digestive Health Center.
I was walking the four blocks to the nearest bus stop when it happened again. My friend Kevin, on his way out the door, asked, “Are you headed to work?”
I decided on candor. “No. I’m catching a bus to visit a digestive health specialist,” I said, to which he responded with typical apologetic mortification that he could give me a ride, err, at least part way there. It’s a Midwestern cultural phenomenon that I’ve experienced many times. Riding the bus is seen as some kind of pathetic act which prompts people to fall all over themselves to offer assistance.
“Thanks,” I said, “but the bus takes me right past the clinic, and it’ll be here in three minutes.” All perfectly true.
“Well at least let me pray for you then, ” he said.
“Well sure,” I said. He was wearing neon green gloves, and he laid one on my stomach as we bowed our heads in the street and he prayed eloquently that God bring healing to my digestive tissues. I was a little disappointed that no one drove by, but I was more than happy to have some devine assistance with how my body is processing nutrients.
I had just enough time to walk the remaining block to the bus stop, and in short order the #9 was rumbling its way downtown. At the clinic, I was given a pager in the waiting room, and when it did its thing, I headed through the designated double doors, where a confused looking nurse waited.
“Are you Steve?” she asked.
She looked over at the scale where a grizzled gentleman was being weighed by another nurse. The two nurses exchanged puzzled glances and one of them said to the gentleman, “You’re not Steve?” He grinned sheepishly and they traded files,
“He said his name was Steve,” the nurse whispered as the other nurse led a smirking Melvin away. I’m not sure I want his digestive problem, but I liked his style.
In a few minutes, Deanna Bakken NP grilled me on my persistent stomach bloating that normal acid reflux treatment doesn’t seem to touch.
“One possibility,” she said, “Is celiac sprue.” I liked the sound of that. I made her write it down for me so i could say it later with authority.
“We’ll probably have to do an upper GI scope, so our office will be calling you.”
Back at the bus stop below the clinic, I waited for the #13 in the -2 F shelter. A young man – long black hair, safety pins in his ear, black Yakee’s cap half cocked, black hoodie, cigarette – stopped in to share it with me.
“Dude, it’s cold out here, but I had to get outta there for awhile,” he said.
“Are you visiting someone up in the hospital?”
“Yeah! I had a baby!”
“Congratulations, man. How’d it go?” He told me all about it. It was a happy story. She’s named Madeline and is a big baby.
“I said I didn’t care what it looked like as long as it was healthy, and she is, man. She’s just beautiful.”
“She was born on a good day,” I said as the #13 pulled up. “It’s my birthday.”
“Happy Birthday, man!”
“Congratulations to you and your woman, man!”
That night I celebrated with some great homemade cards from Maia and Maritha, Kylie’s powerhouse poem arriving from Mexico via Skype, strawberry rhubarb pie, and a very personal, top secret card from Sherry. A good time was had by all.
I got the call the next day, yesterday, that the digestive folks want to do an upper GI scope, a colonoscopy, and a CT scan.
Here’s to you, Madeline!