I was standing in the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago looking to source new product for the toy business that my wife and I owned. She was off picking up some lunch for us, the usual sort of fast food fare, when my iPhone buzzed, alerting me that I had a new message.
“Hello Mr. Frolichstein, this is Mary the nurse practitioner at Dr. (so and so’s) office… please call me back, we need to discuss your test results….”
This is never the message that one wants to receive. My test results? Wait, what did they test me for anyway? My memory cycled through possible ailments, but stopped on the first, and most obvious choice: I have cancer. I probably only have a couple months to live. It’s time to get my affairs in order. On the bright side I guess we all have to “get our affairs in order” at some point.
I struggled with the decision to call my wife on her food pilgrimage and tell her that I loved her while I still had the chance, or to call Mary back for all the grizzly details. I hoped that it would at least be a “heroic” type of cancer (even though that would be a bit of an oxymoron). I guess I am just hoping that it will take me quickly and with out a lot of suffering. Now it all starts to make sense. The years of unexplained sickness, day after day of migraines and head fog. I guess it wasn’t such a surprise to me that this would be my demise.
The receptionist answered the phone and told me to hold for Mary. The sixty seconds or so she kept me waiting felt like an eternity. My life literally began to flash before my eyes. There were so many things I needed to accomplish. I really hate the term “bucket list” (did anyone talk about their “bucket list” before Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson made a movie about it?), but here I was making my own. All I could come up with was that I must play in this year’s World Series of Poker and bungee jump. I should add that I really have never had any great urge to jump off a bridge with a giant rubber band wrapped around my ankle (nor can I understand why anyone would want to), but it seems like something that should be on a bucket list, and besides I am going to die anyway!
When Mary finally got on the phone she seemed a little more chipper than her message–how dare she! Is that the way you talk to someone who has days, maybe hours to live?
“Hello Michael you are probably calling about your test results?” I want her to skip the formalities and just get to it. “Have you ever heard of Celiac Disease?” I know that I have but in my stress it escapes me as to exactly what it is. I do realize that it is fatal and that my worst fears have been realized. I say, “yeah…I think so.” The good news is that you don’t have to go on any medication…” I think to myself, wow nothing to ease the pain as I slip into the other world… “You just have to stop eating gluten.” ” Excuse me?” As Mary would go on to explain, it is far from fatal and that I should heal and be able to live a healthy life after I make some drastic dietary changes, including never eating even a crumb of gluten forever.
At the moment I’m taking it all in, my wife darts around the corner with a big grin on her face, happily holding our take-out and says, “Honey, I got you your favorite sub!!” Little did she know this would be my “last supper…” with gluten.