I’ve been gone.
I escorted son Travis to a week-long baseball camp at a Major League training complex. It was a great experience for him. He ate three squares at the training table, had his uniform washed nightly, and lived like a player, except that he repaired nightly to the soundproof suite he shared with his pop at the local Marriott.
I went to the camp twice daily, when parents were let in for games.
On the second night, Travis racked out, Our Lady of the Most Indelicate Gastric Symptoms visited. She visited me 17 times in little more than an hour. She stayed away the next two days, but I spent those days writhing in my sheets in the soundproof suite. I alternated between a hot fever and those shaking chills.
Sometimes, the fevers stopped.
At the last game, on the last day, I began shaking and collapsed over a huge Gatorade bucket, my fingers frantically grabbing for something. Can’t remember what, exactly, but it had the texture of perfectly cooked black beans.
The athletic trainer said I was suffering severe dehydration and malnourishment. I’d had no interest in food the whole week, consuming only one meal — a fish sandwich, no fries nor slaw — the whole time. I didn’t miss it.
Camp was over so Travis bought me SmartWater and I guzzled. While attempting lunch, Our Lady visited me three more times.
We got on a long plane flight, made it back to the splendid South Shore. I was at the door of my doctor’s office when it opened Monday.
I was a frightening visage, a silent tribute to Johnny Cash gone horribly wrong. All in black of course. My hair waterfalled over my eyebrows like it was Lubbock, 1955. I was pouring sweat. My physician recoiled and ordered me to the emergency room.
I got there, and spent the (full) day in the modern health care equivalent of Titanic steerage. Poked and prodded all day, we were entertained by a geezer yelling “Oh my GAWD” for the full five hours of his trying to move his bowels.
I was eventually checked in and spent the next week being MRI’d, Cat Scanned, shot-up, IV’d, specimen’d. What was it? No doubt severe dehydration. That really serious fever was a result of a sepsis episode from a bad blood infection. (I suppose there aren’t any good blood infections.)
I speak with Our Lady of Gastric Weirdness several times a day.
I didn’t read a book or monitor social media. I was content with CNN, the Olympics, and Turner Classic Movies. Mucho noir this week.
In a loop in my head, you were with me as I led battalions of Busby Berkley dancers into the valley of death as we faced the czar’s forces, dressed in purple helmets honoring Dolly Parton’s hairstyle, circa 1974.
I owe you.
This is a picture of me, autumn 1968, Bloomington, Indiana. I have no further explanation for it.