Today’s topic from my writing course is loss. I thought about all the things I have lost in life, from the simple and irrelevant (like pens and keys) to the life altering and tragic (like the death of my father. The simple ones don’t really seem worth writing about, and the more tragic ones would be hard to bring forth (and would bum me out!) So I decided to tell you about a loss that was both simple and life altering. It is a tale I haven’t told to anyone outside of my friends and family, but seeing as I want those of you nice enough to read this blog to get to know me I would like to share it…
I am known as Big Joe. Back in 2001, the name could be used not only as a term of endearment, but also a descriptor of my physical state. During my preschool teaching days, I was in very good shape because there is no better workout than chasing 18 four year olds around. When I left teaching to become a storyteller, my lifestyle became less hectic and a bit more slowed down. My new job required less physical activity, so I wasn’t as active and put on some weight. At my heaviest I was about 235. While I wasn’t gigantic, I was much bigger than I was and it showed.
I tried to diet and get in shape but it was tough. I would have sought the advice of a dietitian or a doctor, but at that time, we were without health insurance because my wife’s temp job offered her no benefits and I was self employed and unlike today individual plans were way too pricey (come to think of it, it is just like today). Without insurance, I was very fearful of getting injured or sick so I was very cautious when exercising or trying any type of diet that could possibly affect me.
Of course as cautious as I was, I did wind up getting sick through no fault of my own. I got an ear infection in August and took a nice expensive trip to the doctors. He prescribed me Augmentin a commonly prescribed antibiotic. I took exactly 6 pills and after 3 days the infection cleared up.
Fast forward ahead to October. My wife and I were coming home from a movie and I felt sick. I was light headed, had the chills and felt kind of blah. I figured I had the flu, and by the next morning my figuring seemed correct. I had a fever, felt achy, couldn’t hold down food, and had no energy to speak of.
One of the few benefits of working with kids was that I developed a very strong immune system. As a result, I hardly got sick, and when I did it never lasted for more than a few days. This time however I wasn’t getting better. It had been a week and I was still feeling sick. Not wanting to fork over a ton of money for a doctor visit, I decided to go to the health clinic in the neighborhood I grew up in to get checked out by a nurse.
I was sitting on the exam table when the nurse came in. She took a look at me and had a shocked expression usually reserved for seeing a ghost. She asked me “Have you seen yourself?” which to me was a very odd question to say the least. I asked what she meant and she clarified her statement by asking me if I had seen myself under florescent light. I said no , and she held my arm up towards the light and close to my face. That was when I saw it. My skin which was normally a peachy beige color was kind of yellow. She looked at me and said “I think there’s something wrong with you!” The fact that I had turned a primary color made me tend to agree with her diagnosis.
TO BE CONTINUED…