Winter of Our Discontent Part 2

California had gone from worrying about drought and water shortages to worrying about flooding. In a way that is good news as long as your property is on high ground. Casa Brumby is elevated a bit above the surrounding land and should stay dry. The end of the drought and our personal lack of flood worries is our good news.

Do Not Put This in Your Bidon

Because of the weather Stoker and I haven’t exactly been racking up the miles. But last weekend we did something we haven’t done since May 2016: we rode on back to back days. A very hilly (for the tandem) 37 mile ride on Saturday, and 42 miles for breakfast in Jenny Lind on Sunday, both with the Stockton Bicycle Club. We did fine and are starting to think we are going to be fit for France.

In Part 1 of ‘Discontent’ I gave a peek into Stoker’s medical issue. Here is another peek:  next week we are going back to UCSF for a lumpectomy.  It is outpatient, non invasive, and should result in a very small amount of suspicious tissue being removed. Of course we don’t know for certain what the surgeon will find, but we are hopefully confident that it will be a minor incision with a quick and complete healing.

I hope Stoker’s interaction with the medical community goes better than it did for me the past two days. I had a colonoscopy 13 years ago and it was time for another one. My appointment was Friday at 1:30. Anyone who has had one of these knows that the procedure is easy and pain free, but the prep is horrible. You start by going on a clear liquid diet the day before: water, black coffee or tea, sports drinks or pulp free fruit juices (no red or purple). So you are hungry all day.  And if you think that vodka, champagne or white wine are ‘clear liquids’, forget it: no alcohol either.

Then at 5 pm you start drinking the ‘prep’. This consists of a gallon of solution that tastes like a cross between salt water and rubbing alcohol. You drink 8 ounces every 10 minutes, all at once as quickly as you can. For the first hour nothing happens, except your stomach feels terribly bloated and you are nauseous from the awful taste. Then the ‘prep’ gets down to business and you spend the next several hours alternatively ‘cleansing’ and getting sick to your stomach continuing to drink the fluid until is is gone. The last three glasses made me gag and nearly vomit.

After this you are weak and ill. But more fun is to come: From midnight on no food or liquid of any kind! Your mouth will get dry and you will be hungry for a while, especially in the morning. But that passes: all that is left is that you are tired and thirsty.

So I did all this, and reported to the clinic at the appointed hour of 1:30 on Friday. I was processed, got my wrist band and sat down to wait. Stoker was with me since she was going to have to drive me home because of the anesthesia. I was the last patient of the day and we were alone in the waiting room.

Then the power went out. Emergency lights came on, and I heard whispers from the staff about generators and procedures manuals and cell phones and where was the doctor and reschedules. I started to get a little more nervous, if that is possible for someone prepped and waiting for a colonoscopy.

About 45 minutes went by. Finally the doctor came out and said he was cancelling his procedures. The generator was working but it was supposed to be a backup and if it failed there could be real trouble. I understood but I pointed out that I had done the prep and asked about waiting for a bit in case the power might come back on. He said no. I asked about doing the procedure in the adjacent hospital. He said my insurance wouldn’t cover it and it would cost tens of thousands of dollars. He was completely unsympathetic. He kept pointing out that ‘I am here’ as if I should be grateful for His Presence. He did not make any effort to help me. There had to be some way to get the procedure done after what I had gone through to get ready. But it was Friday and I was his last patient and I suspect he didn’t want to extend himself or waste any of his oh so valuable time.

I left in a state of extreme anger; at my bad luck and at the indifferent, unsympathetic physician. I might have even gone a little bit crazy. Dehydration and low blood sugar can do that to you. I know I should reschedule the procedure but it won’t be anytime soon. And not with this doctor either. A day later and I’m still mad, and my digestive tract is still far from restored to normal. I thought the Hippocratic Oath had something in it about doing no harm. I guess being miserable for no purpose does not constitute ‘harm.’


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  • Blog Author

    Rich Freggiaro

    Richard Freggiaro is a Stockton area native who grew up on his family’s farm. After an nine year detour to Davis for College, Washington DC for work, and Iowa for graduate school, he returned to San Joaquin County and spent the next quarter century farming with his father. He has been married to Diane for 31 years. He is (mostly) retired which leaves him plenty of time to ride each of his 4 bikes, and he is an enthusiastic and passionate cyclist. Read Full
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