Low Hanging Fruit and A Path of Fallen Flowers

      Ripe Loquats at The Sugar Shack         

                Life is a tree with low-hanging fruit.

                Memory is a path of fallen flowers.



This is what lying in a morgue must be like, I thought, if one could imagine being a sentient cadaver. 

 The room was cold enough to quell any smell, or sense of smell, and the 38 inch, white sheet-covered board, was sufficient to fit my widest part, with a miserly inch to spare. Narrow shelves popped up to accommodate my arms.

A technician who looked too young to have a 15 year old daughter invited me to recline on the hard surface, one pillow under my head and one under my knees. Her name was Angie, short for Angel in this eerie white gloom. The room was silent save for the snick and whir of expensive electronics.

"I'm going to put an I.V. in now," Angie said. I felt the needle pinch tender skin as the inner bend of my elbow sprouted an odd, blood-filled appurtenance. "I'm injecting the radio isotope," she said. "We'll track it through your liver, then your gall bladder, and then into the small bowel. This first part of the test will take about an hour. You shouldn't feel any sensation from the isotope at all. Do you have any questions?" 

Angie brought a blanket and tucked me in before lowering the electronic camera with its huge crystal within two inches of my chest and upper abdomen. 

There was a video monitor connected to the machine, but the camera unit blocked it out during this part of the HIDA-scan.  "We'll get started now," Angie said. When she  pulled the privacy curtain shut on her way out, the metal grommets sang as they slid on the metal rod. I thought of John Woo, startled white doves and a brash guitar.

The privacy curtain seemed redundant. No one else but Angie and another tech with the fanciful name of Roy were in the suite of testing cubicles.

After a few minutes, I began to wish for the IPod I had left at home. Or would it be so bad if I reached back over the top of my head to where my bag was resting on a shelf and plucked out my Blackberry to read The New York Times? I've always liked to read in semi-darkness. But the big camera and its casing neatly pinned my arms in place as effectively as a full metal jacket. I gave in and began to drift.


Life is a tree with low-hanging fruit.

Memory is a path of fallen flowers.


About 20 minutes into the test, my shoulders and arms felt like they had turned into the cool marble of statuary, and I cracked, calling for Angie/Angel to bring a warm blanket. Minutes passed and I dozed. A bell-like sound awakened me. It was the sound of the Glasgow to Broddick ferry, arriving at port.

Angie came in and stood staring at the video monitor, clucking like a small hen who has lost a chick. "What?" I said, coming fully awake. 

"Well, the isotope moved through your liver like a streak," she said, sighing heavily," but now it's stuck in your gall bladder." Angie moved the camera up and away from me. "Why don't you walk around some, see if we can get it to move on into the bowel. I don't want to start the second part of the test until we can see it moving."

Once the camera was out of my line of sight, I could see the video monitor. The sight caused me to have a brief freak-out moment. There was a large egg-shaped glow at the bottom of my gall bladder. It looked like a radioactive Easter egg.

"What happens if it doesn't move?" I asked.

"Well," Angie ventured, "We'll just have to see what the doctor wants to do."

"I'm not going to have to go home with a radioactive Easter egg stuck inside me, am I?"

"Oh, no, the isotope will degrade," she assured me, but I wasn't entirely convinced.

I walked around, did a few jumping jacks, hopped up and down from one foot to the other, and then returned to the white board. Angie brought the camera and its casing back down close to my chest. She asked me to turn on my left side for five minutes, and then on my right side for another five, in an effort to entice the isotope to trickle into my duodenum. It didn't. As a last resort, she asked me to lie on my back again for twenty more minutes of pictures.

This time, it worked. A faint white tubular glow began to show up on the screen. We progressed to Phase Two.

The second part of the test involved an injection into the I.V. of cholescystokinin, a substance which fools one's gall bladder into thinking a big, hot fast food cheeseburger is heading straight for it. Nausea and cramps quickly followed, but they subsided. After one more "stay very still" twenty-five minute video session, I was free to leave that icy chamber and go sit in my warm car in the sunshine. Sunshine! Man, it felt good to walk in the breeze and grin at passing strangers as though I had gotten a reprieve. 

There won't be any news from this test until next week, but even the worst outcome – surgical removal of my gall bladder – is laparoscopic drive-by compared to the serious health issues that many folks cope with every day. Yep. The sunshine is beautiful. It's great to be alive.

I fired up the engine and drove home to Buck, where love is in the drip-line, shooting straight and easy through all the chambers of my heart.


Life is a tree with low-hanging fruit.

Memory is a path of fallen flowers.

Fallen camelias in secret garden at The Sugar Shack

5 thoughts on “Low Hanging Fruit and A Path of Fallen Flowers

  1. Oh, I haven’t visited in a while and I’m sorry to hear of all those tests. There’s something so inhuman about being poked and prodded. I hope that all turns out well and I am going to now to catch up on your blog!


  2. I’m sorry but I laughed out loud when I got to the part of jumping jacks, my mind went to the delightful open at the back gowns – there’s a word misuesed if ever, that the NHS decides often it the only dress code allowed at such times…maybe that curtain was a good thing:0) Wishing for clear and helpful news from the expert reading of the test results and trusting they didn’t have a hidden CCTV camera in that cold cold room.
    Thoughts and love on this day of celebrated transformation and hoping you and Buck and of course Maggie have a day of joy.


  3. Great recounting, Beth. Your positive outlook will help you through whatever comes next.
    I remember having an hour of scans with radioactive isotopes a couple of days after cancer surgery. Ironically, it was the most peaceful and least painful hour of that day and now I associate those big scanning machines with peace.
    Our minds are powerful and yours is a strong healer. We’ll be thinking of you.


  4. That’s no fun! I always feel in such hospital situations in the grip of the Other, and also: This is where we all end up. But . . . bad as it is, it could be worse. Your attitude is great, wry and aware, and that’s the key to weathering this, I think, just like the rest of life.


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