Today’s topic from my writing course is loss.¬† I thought about all the things I have lost in life, from the simple and irrelevant (like pens and keys) to the life altering and tragic (like the death of my father.¬† The simple ones don’t really seem worth writing about, and the more tragic ones would be hard to bring forth (and would bum me out!)¬† So I decided to tell you about a loss that was both simple and life altering.¬† It is a tale I haven’t told to anyone outside of my friends and family, but seeing as I want those of you nice enough to read this blog to get to know me I would like to share it…

I am known as Big Joe.¬† Back in 2001, the name could be used not only as a term of endearment, but also a descriptor of my physical state.¬† During my preschool teaching days, I was in very good shape because there is no better workout than chasing 18 four year olds around.¬† When I left teaching to become a storyteller, my lifestyle became less hectic and a bit more slowed down.¬† My new job required less physical activity, so I wasn’t as active and put on some weight.¬† At my heaviest I was about 235. While I wasn’t gigantic, I was much bigger than I was and it showed.

I tried to diet and get in shape but it was tough.¬†I would have sought the advice of a dietitian or a doctor, but at that time, we were without health insurance because my wife’s temp job offered her no benefits and I was self employed and unlike today individual plans were way too pricey (come to think of it, it is just like today).¬† Without insurance, I was very fearful of getting injured or sick so I was very cautious when exercising or trying any type of diet that could possibly affect me.

Of course as cautious as I was, I did wind up getting sick through no fault of my own.  I got an ear infection in August and took a nice expensive trip to the doctors.  He prescribed me Augmentin a commonly  prescribed antibiotic.  I took exactly 6 pills and after 3 days the infection cleared up.

Fast forward ahead to October. My wife and I were coming home from a movie and I felt sick.¬† I was light headed, had the chills and felt kind of blah.¬† I figured I had the flu, and by the next morning my figuring seemed correct.¬† I had a fever, felt achy, couldn’t hold down food, and had no energy to speak of.

One of the few benefits of working with kids was¬†that I developed a very strong immune system.¬†As a result, I hardly got sick, and when I did it never lasted for more than a few days. This time however I wasn’t getting better.¬† It had been a week and I was still feeling sick. Not wanting to fork over a ton of money for a doctor visit, I decided to go to the health clinic in the neighborhood I grew up in to get checked out by a nurse.

I was sitting on the exam table when the nurse came in.¬† She took a look at me and had a shocked expression usually reserved for seeing a ghost.¬† She asked me “Have you seen yourself?” which to me was a very odd question to say the least.¬† I asked what she meant and she clarified her statement by asking me if I had seen myself under florescent light.¬† I said no , and she held my arm up towards the light and close to my face.¬† That was when I saw it. My skin which was normally a peachy beige color was kind of yellow. She looked at me and said “I think there’s something wrong with you!”¬† The fact that I had turned¬†a primary color made me tend to agree with her diagnosis.


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