Among the many odd habits I’m willing to admit to is this one: I like to keep the radio on all night. The odder the broadcast, the more likely I am to keep it droning on at all hours.
This drove a number of otherwise rational ex-girlfriends absolutely stark, raving mad.
For some inexplicable reason they didn’t enjoy waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of that strange talk show host who believes a race of lizard people dwells beneath the surface of the Earth and that some of them now live among us. They didn’t appreciate static-filled broadcasts of Top 40 music from far away cities. They didn’t care for the genius of Paul Harvey commentaries accompanied by my snores. They didn’t love outrageous infomercials as I did.
And that brings us to the subject of Jamie’s ongoing physical distress.
We try to keep JimandJamie.com light and fun, so I have not previously mentioned this worrisome ailment. On this trip she has occasionally suffered from extreme, debilitating pain in her abdomen.
When we were in Broome, for example, it got so severe that I found her one day curled up in a ball on the floor, drenched in sweat and writhing in agony.
I, of course, wanted to rush her to an emergency room, but she refused, gasping, “I’ll be fine. This is nothing. Just let me lie here for a few minutes.”
Sure enough, half an hour later she was back on her feet and said, “Are you ready? Let’s go to the beach.”
The woman is clearly a lot tougher than she looks. In fact, she prides herself on it and often teases me about how delicate I am in comparison to her.
That being said, her severe abdominal pains have returned over the last week or ten days and I’ve been urging her to see a doctor. Apparently the nagging pain finally grew severe enough that she agreed to walk across the street to ask Dr John and Dr Margaret for their opinions.
They are retired, of course, but once a doctor always a doctor. John took her into his home office, did a quick examination and then urged her to visit one of the doctors now running his former practice. He wrote a letter for her to give that doctor and suggested that I should sit in on the appointment.
The doctor quickly scanned the medical history she brought along on this trip, asked a few questions, poked and prodded her abdomen, and then got on the phone and personally made an ultrasound appointment for her at the regional health center in Gawler.
“I’m using my pleading voice,” he told the scheduler. “Is there any way you can fit her in today?” The sense of urgency in his voice scared both of us.
Then, turning back to us, he said, “I’m pretty sure you don’t have stomach cancer, but we need to get it looked at.”
We jumped in our car and raced twenty miles through the vineyards to the hospital. The line was mercifully short and Jamie was soon whisked back to get her ultrasound.
”We’ll read the results right away,” the technician assured her, “and get a report to your doctor this afternoon.”
A few hours later Jamie’s cell phone rang. The doctor had already received and reviewed the ultrasound report and was calling to give her the results. His diagnosis was filled with ominous-sounding Latin medical terminology.
”What does that mean?” Jamie gasped.
”It means you’re full of shit,” he replied.
No, seriously, that’s what the doctor told her. Verbatim. An exact quote. Word-for-word. “It means you’re full of shit.”
I can already hear regular readers saying, “There he goes again, making up stories and making Jamie the butt of a joke.” But you would be wrong in this case, because those were the doctor’s exact words.
Jamie started laughing. She was convulsed, but this time it was with laughter instead of pain.
”It happens,” the doctor old her. “Just eat lots of fruits and vegetables and the problem will solve itself.”
And that takes us back to those all-night radio shows I used to listen to.
In the early days of our relationship I used to listen to one particular infomercial over and over and over again in the middle of the night because I thought it was so outlandish. It advertised some sort of laxative — I can’t remember its name — that promised to clean out your innards like nobody’s business. I’m pretty sure the first time I woke Jamie up at three a.m. to listen to this infomercial was the moment she realized that her new boyfriend was, shall we say, a bit odd.
The infomercial gave a graphic explanation of how impacted feces can back up in your bowels and cause extreme abdominal pain.
I absolutely loved one line in that informercial, a line Jamie and I still laugh about to this day. It was, “When John Wayne died they discovered that he had forty feet of fecal matter backed up in his bowels.”
How could you not love a line that is simultaneously so outrageous and so euphonious.
Well, the proverbial chickens have come home to roost for Jamie. She now understands how poor John Wayne must have felt in his final days.
And although her pain is gone, I imagine that the diagnosis itself must be a bit painful for her.
After all, she will no longer be able to respond to one of my stories by saying, “You are so full of shit” without knowing that I will immediately say, “Yeah, but at least in my case it’s not a clinical diagnosis.”