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 Accidental Cruiser in the West Indies

Annus horribilis
This journal is a log of all the messages from Susie & Lance. For pictures, please see the Gallery.

Berkeley, California 8.22.08

Susie Bowman at the lawyers
Susie at the lawyer's

Parental warning: those offended (or sickened) by graphic descriptions of the workings of human plumbing should skip this missive. No sailing stories and no boat repairs follow.

Last spring our sailing season was cut short by the death of my father. Number one son, your correspondent, has been filling out paperwork ever since. I would recommend giving death a wide berth as it is very expensive and the bureaucracy involved is daunting. Should you decide to go along with the grim reaper, get a trust for real property and make your least favorite relative the executor and trustee. Should that relative have really offended you, give them power of attorney over the widow. Things were looking up on this front. My mother seems to be stabilizing and even considering adding a bit of joy to her life.

Unfortunately, Susie and I got highly distracted by our own adventures in modern medicine. For years we have been nagged about having colonoscopies as a screening measure against colon cancer. When our close friend had a huge marathon of chemo and radiation in pursuit of cancer last year, we finally gave in and scheduled ours. The process is not painful or difficult and is done under anesthetic. The preparation is a bit distasteful (pun intended) because to see anything, the doctor requires the entire digestive system be empty. The routines vary a bit but all have in common drinking vast quantities of slightly salty liquid and acquisition of detailed knowledge of all your bathroom reading material. My reward for the 24 hour fast and purge was a hazily remembered view of a video monitor where small polyp was being lopped off with a wire snare and a jolly "see you in three years." Susie flunked hers.

All those concerned about the economy will be pleased to know Susie has become the center of a thriving little whirlwind of GDP increasing activities. Ultrasound probe requires "the prep" and determined that the mass was high enough up that Laroscopic surgery would be feasible. CT Scan (barium variant on the distasteful theme) and yet a third pass on "the prep" before surgery. All systems check out healthy and the mass is declared probably superficial and completely operable. Yeah right. That's what they initially told our friend who ended up going through chemo.

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Viewed dispassionately, the operation is miraculous. Camera in the naval. Four other incisions for instruments, one of which is large enough to pull guts out for required improvements. However 40CM chunk taken from the colon puts the entire waste disposal system into a kind of shock that it is slow to recover from. We learned that "clear liquids" in no way resemble food. We learned that morphine does not work on gas pains. We learned not to hope for pain relief during shift changes in the hospital. We learned that your life can take bizarre and sudden turns when you least expect it. Pathology came back clear. No lymph involvement and no penetration of the walls of the colon. Susie dodged the chemo/radiation bullet and will be allowed resume an actual life. She has lost the illusion of immortality and the final 10 pounds that South beach diets never touch.

We were going about the process of building up strength through walks and slowly introducing better foods when daughter Emma turned up with a horrible sore throat. Not good for contact with Susie and so I took her to the doctor. He did a quick test for strep and decided she would recover on her own and get by with some topical anesthetic. Yeah right. She came over two days later with a lopsided swollen neck and jaw that gave her a most unattractive McCain look. Attempts at the emergency room to lance the abscess failed but they did supply her with the good drugs for the pain and steroids to make the swelling go down. She was then scheduled for a tonsillectomy which took out the abscess along with the tonsils.

Both my ladies are recovering nicely and have been complemented by physicians on the improved recoveries brought about by their otherwise excellent general health and condition. They have been happily comparing the wonders of different pain meds (Emma largely in pantomime), getting plenty of liquids and watching endless matches of Olympic volleyball and gymnastics. Judging by my visits to the assisted living home, it is usually the men who are sports nuts and the more medically fragile of the sexes. I guess we just do things a little differently here in Berkeley.

Time to go sailing again...

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