Two Words Not to Be Used Together

Exactly one week ago today, I woke up in the middle of the night with a terrible pain that stretched across my abdomen. Generally, it emanated from the left side. My habit is to sleep on my side and then to roll over onto my back. That roll did it. What? I don’t know but it hurt like hell. My mind played a loop of organs in the abdomen; heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, appendix, pancreas, stomach, bladder and so on. What did I eat to stimulate this pain? All I know is that no amount of rolling side to side changed the outcome.

Early in the week, I decided to take a vacation from my KETO diet. At first, it felt strange to order things on the menu that were previously untouchable but highly desirable, like bread, potatoes, or ice cream. It only took two days for me to deliberately fall off the wagon. The plan was to go back to strict KETO again after the vacation ended.

We had a delightful day browsing antique malls and stopped at Clementine’s in South Haven for a late lunch. I had a turkey club sandwich with curly fries. For desert, I was disappointed to learn that the Sherman’s Ice Cream shop that was previously across the street from Clementine’s was not there. I rationalized that the high fat content in the ice cream made it KETO (WRONG!!!). I Instead of walking across the street for an ice cream cone I drove a mile and a half down the street to the original Sherman’s. Believe it or not there was a line of people standing six feet apart wrapped around the building. COVID hit Sherman’s as it hit everything. Sherman’s wasn’t about to concede to the virus and they remodeled their store completely. Originally, they were an inside ice cream shop, Now, they were an outside window shop like a Dairy Queen, place your order at the window and pay, they give you a ticket and call you when your order is scooped. They had a bunch of old-fashioned picnic tables scattered around the building spaced six feet apart to handle the crowd. They also provided an awning over the line so people would not have to bear the hot July sun while waiting to place an order.

It only took a few minutes before our order was called which we happily picked up and headed for the car. There, we sat with the windows down enjoying the late afternoon sun drop, and spooning ice cream, it was good, but not KETO. Neither of us spoke while enjoying this rich creamy delicacy known as ice cream. We saved the spoken words for later when we drove to our cabin in the woods.

Our evening was somewhat uneventful, and I spent it reading a novel, while my partner read her celebrity gossip magazines. Eventually, I tired of reading and turned to my computer to stream a favorite program episode before going to bed. I never used my pc to watch TV before, so it took a bit to get the computer set up for wi-fi. Thankfully, I found a little black box that provided the wireless link, and also the password. A testament to the fact that miracles do happen.

The program I watch is called Cruising the Cut. It is a self-made reality series by a young man who has sold everything he owns to buy an antique long-boat which he uses to travel about England’s vast network of canals. The canals were built before railroads were invented as a way to transport goods from sea ports into the interior towns all across the country. It is a very relaxing way to travel at a couple miles per hour through some of the world’s prettiest countryside. A very simple way to lull one to sleep.

On a scale of 0-10 with zero being absolutely no feeling what so ever to a ten which is excruciating can’t bear it a for a second pain I ranked myself at eight. I rolled out of bed and found a nice easy chair to plop myself in. That’s when I envisioned the theory of what was happening to me. Here is my version: I switched from KETO to a normal diet too quickly and over loaded my pancreas. I am already a type two diabetic which pretty much means my own insulin is limited in what it can process. Like a fool I had a huge sandwich with three slices of very good white bread, loaded with strips of bacon and turkey accompanied by a pile of freshly made curly fries and topped with two scoops of Sherman’s extra creamy ice cream, and put the poor pancreas into dire stress. Add to that that I have heard that pancreatitis is extremely painful I self-diagnosed myself with self-induced pancreatic cancer with six months to live. It was not an easy night waiting for the sun to rise. I slept very little, and in the morning, I woke my sleeping beauty to announce that I needed her help to pack so we could leave for the emergency room. There are emergency rooms located all around Michigan, but I was determined to drive to the one by my house in Frankfort. That began one of the longest drives of my life.

I have never driven in traffic as heavy as that which I did last Saturday. Add the volume of traffic to the construction projects going on between Covert and Frankfort, and the drive time went from 90 minutes to 140. Thankfully, I have seat cooling on the Death Star so I set it on max to cool my hot pancreas. It seemed to work a little.

I can painfully prolong this painful story of where I am on the pain scale, but have opted to cut it short and to save it for another post on how Emergency Medicine works in an Illinois hospital considered state of the art on its ability to cope with emergencies and to move people through at record rates.

Oh, yes, the two words. Each one by itself does not evoke grimacing pain, but when put together the entire world changes, kidney-stone.

“Eat Dessert First”

Stargazer LillyThe last two days have been spent traveling. Peggy and I were touring the West Michigan shoreline. Our destination town was Holland, Michigan. We wanted to see the tulips in bloom. I love to stop in the small towns and explore the shops, and the beaches. We pick up real estate magazines and look at what kind of homes are available in the towns. Most are resort towns with a huge summer time population that are near deserted in the winter.

Our first stop was in South Haven. We lunched at Clementine’s. The lunch rush hour was over, so we had great service. I always give Clementine’s four stars****. I pointed out to Peggy that South Haven has a wonderful ice cream parlor that serves Sherman’s Ice Cream. Our waitress, Janet, told us that we had to go to the dairy just outside of town to experience the “real thing.” To work off lunch,  we walked the business area browsing the shops. Peggy searched the shops for a summer wreath to hang on our front door. We did find one that we liked, but it was the wrong color. We wanted a blue, rose, or lavender color. This one was pale green.

Driving out of town, I looked for Sherman’s, but could not find it. We proceeded toward the town of  Saugatauk. Instead, I decided to show Peggy the town of Douglas. Douglas is adjacent to Saugatauk. As it turned out, they were paving the main street of Douglas and the entire business area of two blocks was shut down. We kept going to Saugatauk.

In Saugatauk, I made my regular visit to the drug-store and souvenir shop.  I have been there several times. On more than one occasion, The druggist was being hollered at by his gay lover. It was funny, but embarrassing too. It didn’t happen this time. Maybe they broke up. We walked shop to shop looking for a wreath. We have a very specific vision for what it should be. We kept asking at the shops if anyone in town carried such a wreath. Each time they sent us to another shop. No luck, none of them had what we were looking for. It was becomming more and more apparent that the wreath we turned down in South Haven was the one we wanted. Peggy and I agreed that we would venture back to South Haven if we struck out in Holland.  Our biggest treat was a stop at the fudge shop.  We bought two kinds of fudge before leaving town.

We arrived in Holland by six o’clock and checked in at the Holiday Inn Express. Instead of going out to eat, we snacked in the room, and watched tv. The next morning we toured Windmill Island. We were hoping to see buches of tulips in bloom. There were indeed many tulips, but most were spent, and the colors faded. We climbed the four stories of the De Swaan windmill, now 257 years old. “The Swan” came to Holland, Michigan from the Netherlands. The town purchased it in the ninteen sixties from the country of Holland. It is the  only one imported from the Netherlands. Our tour leader, who was much older than us, climbed the stairs without getting winded. Peggy and I puffed at each level. After the windmill we visited the caliope. What a wondeful instrument this is. Another, younger lady gave the history of the caliope. She showed us the player book, a series of cards with holes punched in. These cards fed into the machine and played the pipes and the drums. The music was great.

We left Windmill Island and drove the two shores of Lake Macatawa. This lake extends for several miles and opens into Lake Michigan. The result is a great harbor for Holland. The homes along both shorlines are magnificent. Obviously they are not occupied by the middle class of Holland, rather the very wealthy. My guess is that these properties are in the one million to three million dollar range.

We left Holland for lunch at the “Golden Arches.” We tried the new southern chicken sandwich. I gave it one star.* From there, we ventured north to the Veldmeer Tulip Farm. Luckily, there were still acres of tulips in bloom. The colors were absolutely brilliant. The trip became a “baby step,” for my new garden. We selected several colors of tulips and purchased them for fall planting. This purchase now solidifies my vision to add a few more flower beds into the yard. More grass to take out, more soil amendment, more compost, and lots of mulch. 

Having spent a ton of money on the tulips, we headed back on the scenic Blue Star Highway to South Haven. I gave up a stop to the Fenn Valley winery to get to my son Steve’s in time for dinner. We found the wreath at the ‘Rambling Rose’ in South Haven. The lovely proprietress gave us directions to Sheman’s along with another fantastic recommendation. On the way out of town we “ate dessert first. *****”  Sherman’s dairy, established in 1906, has had alot of practice making ice cream.  We jumped onto I-196 South to get to Steve’s farm. Twenty minutes later, I pulled into his yard.  Steve was waiting for us. We drove to Saint Joseph’s for supper.

We ate dinner at the ‘Pump House Grill.’  This restaurant is in the heart of the historic Saint Joseph’s business district at the top of the bluff.   The menu has a nice variety of foods. The wine list features wines from Australia. Our server Andrew took good care of us throughout the evening. He incurred my sacasm when he confessed, after a very long wait, that a printer mal-function in the kitchen prevented our order from being placed. He apologized and promised to discount the meal to appease us. He did as promised. All in all, we had a nice visit with Steve while we waited, ate soup, bread, salad and the table cloth. The food was tasty. I had lake perch, Peggy had a t-bone with too much sauce, and Steve had a Thai Salad with chicken.  The portions were hefty. Even with the screw up, I give the place three stars ***. 

On the drive home we were treated to a fabulous sunset. The clouds covered the sun but produced ribbons of lavender, taupe, and rose with tinges of yellow that merged into the grey lake.

Peggy and I arrived home in Frankfort, exhausted by 9:30 p.m. We pretended to watch T.V. until finally retiring after mid-night. Not long after we had both fallen into that deep sleep the phone woke us up. It was 1:00 a.m. I answered, “Where the heck are you Dad?” the caller asked. The voice was not that my sons or my son-in-law.

“I think you have the wrong number,” I replied.  

“No I don’t, I have been at Mc Donald’s waiting for you to pick me up. Where are you?”

Again, I tried to explain, “I think you…” He interrupted again.

“I’m sitting here lookiing forward to getting home and having a drink and a smoke.”

“Oh,” I answered, “I’ll be there to pick you up in ten minutes.” click

I went back to bed to resume that deep deep sleep.