I have this pain in my stomach. It’s a new pain, which is really saying something because I have enough old pain to keep me occupied and then some. There is pain/soreness in virtually every bone in my body, evidently caused by the healing of damage done by my multiple myeloma. I’m used to that.

I’m also pretty much used to to various rashes, lesions and doohickeys that show up on my skin from time to time. Are they related to my cancer? Who knows? They could all be related to old age, which I do not recognize mentally, but which seems to be a fact physically.

This latest pain, though, is something different. It doesn’t seem to be in my bones. The worst of it is right above my navel, and radiates out to both sides. It hurts if I put any pressure on my stomach. It hurts a lot when I poke at it. When I was visiting the physician’s assistant in the clinic the other day, I poked it a lot, causing me to yelp in pain a lot. Both the physician’s assistant and my wife, Sheri, at virtually the same time, yelled “Stop doing that.” Old joke duly noted, ladies.

Easy for them to say. You ever have a tooth pulled and have the dentist tell you not to stick your tongue in the hole left behind? Right? How’d that work out for you?

Sheri and I had both been looking forward to a four-week break from visiting doctors. What were we thinking? More blood was taken and analyzed; much poking and prodding was done; and again, numerous questions about my s-t-o-o-l were asked and answered. My s-t-o-o-l remains fine, by the way, in case you were curious.

Well. The poking, prodding and questioning didn’t really provide an answer, so a CAT scan was ordered. A scheduler called me to tell me the date, place and time for the latest high-fashion photo shoot of my insides.


At the end, she said something I didn’t quite hear. “Something, something, something drink something something an hour. The scan itself will only take a few minutes.” Of course, Mr. Pay As Little Attention As Possible didn’t ask for clarification.

You’d think I’d learn, right? Had you been there you would have been yelling warnings of various sorts. Sheri was there, but only heard my end of the conversation. We agreed the scheduler had probably said I shouldn’t be drinking anything an hour before the scan.

We go for the scan, and the nice woman puts us in a nice room, gets us settled, and leaves to get something we need for the procedure, She comes back with a large bottle of white liquid and two cups with ice.

In this entire journey with cancer, no process has ever, and I mean ever, gone well when it starts with cups of ice or white liquid in quart-sized jugs. This one was beginning with both. I have retained enough naivete to ask how much of the liquid I had to drink. God bless her, she didn’t laugh, she simply said, “All of it. But you need to take an hour to drink it, so that it coats your throat” and other body bits. She then added the coup de grace: “It’s not that bad. It tastes fruity.”

Well, that wasn’t true. She was just trying to put me at ease. In truth, it didn’t taste like much of anything. As the ice melted, though, it started to taste like watered-down not-much-of-anything. I hated it. I think of all the times I lied to my kids about a medicine they had to take: “It tastes fruity.” Shame on me, in retrospect.

It seems that I have an inflamed muscle somewhere around my intestine. Again, I wasn’t paying too much attention when my PA told me. I was glad it didn’t seem to be cancerous, and the rest was gravy. I have to see a gastro-ntelognyiesty-ist next to see what to do about it. I know that’s not the right name, but, since the doctor’s name will be on the door, I just need to worry about his address, not the name of his specialty.

By the way, I wouldn’t have had to drink that stuff if it wasn’t for the multiple myeloma. Usual image enhancing techniques can’t be used because … well, I’m not sure why. I just know it screws things up, so “fruity” drinks it is for me. Oh, multiple myeloma … why you have to be such a pain all the time?

Jim Arnold is a former copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. To read more about his journey through cancer, visit his blog, findingthepony.blogspot.com.

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