Eating Bark

Saturday afternoon, around 4 o’clock, our 13-year-old grandson Joseph told his parents that his pants were feeling tight. They were in the car, driving home from a shopping trip in Burlington, Vermont. “Oh, it’s probably just that your waist is too tight,” one of them responded. “You know how you’re growing out of your clothes.”

“Yeah,” he said. “But I’m growing out of my clothes in the legs, not in the waist,” said the boy, who is seemingly growing inches by the week.

They kept him quiet the rest of the day, but that night, it became clear that something was wrong. They made a trip to the emergency room at the little hospital in Montpelier, where they live. This led to that, and as is the way in ERs, the diagnosis was finally in: appendicitis.

As we all know, humans are born with an appendix that has absolutely no use. Well, that isn’t exactly true, as Joseph explained yesterday when we FaceTimed. You need an appendix to digest wood.

“Do you plan on eating any bark?” I asked the boy. He assured me he had no interest in chewing on a piece of bark, now or ever.

Montpelier is a very small town, despite the fact that it is the state capital. So it isn’t surprising that the ER staff was friendly and kind. It is also not surprising that there was not a surgeon right there in the hospital at 2 o’clock in the morning to assess the need for surgery. In fact, following the CT scan, the radiologist read the scan from his/her bedroom, perhaps wearing fur-lined bunny slippers.

It was, indeed, appendicitis. However, they had caught it early. So early, in fact, that there was some talk about treating it conservatively, using antibiotics. Wait and see what the surgeon says, they told the family.

The surgeon arrived at 5 o’clock Sunday morning, and, as surgeons are wont to do, he recommended surgery. Surgeons do surgery, so it was no surprise. However, the surgery was done lapriscopically, requiring only a small incision. He was under general anesthesia, so he didn’t remember much, though he thinks he had dreams while sleeping.

“It was the best sleep I ever had,” he told me. Indeed, that’s what Michael Jackson thought too.

He was home by noon, not much worse for wear.

“I’m a bit achy,” he said.

Lauren, who was with him throughout the ordeal while Heather stayed home with the Little Brother, said she was proud because all of the medical staff commented on his wonderful manners. And his curly hair.

And when he finally stood up, they were all wide-eyed with wonder.

“My, you are really TALL,” was all they could say.

He looks a bit peaked, I will admit. But I’m proud of my grandson, and happy that he lives in the 21st century.

2 thoughts on “Eating Bark

  1. We’re so glad that he’s okay. The doctor asked how he was doing and he said “I’m alright. How are you doing?”

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