In case you’re wondering how I came to be translated from the robust and healthy United States of America to Esophagus Province in Lower West Cancerland: I had begun to find eating more of a chore than a pleasure — instant heartburn, feeling full after a few bites — and so I began skipping meals. I skipped enough of them to lose thirty pounds in about six months. This being the land that venerates thinness, however, mostly what I heard from friends was, Wow, aren’t you trim. My daughter, however, looked at me and said, Dad, you’re emaciated. Go to the doctor.
Which I did.
First to my Regular Man, he of the jokes and the knocking on my back, then (because there were no jokes during this exam) to a Peerer Down the Piehole, south of which the trouble was suspected to lie. (I had already been peered into at my other end, and was found shipshape in both fundament and gut-snake.)
No such luck this time, though.
I awoke from a brief but deep induced sleep to see the Piehole Peerer himself, saying, with furrowed brow, that he really hates to give people bad news on a Friday (this was a Friday) because then they have to go through the whole weekend baffled and feeling alone, but right here on the card he was pressing into my hand I would find his direct number and I was to call him if I had questions even on Saturday or Sunday. He had been saying various things before this already for what might have been a few minutes, and continued saying things afterward too, but I was only catching just the odd word here and there because I was groggy and he was talking at a nervous trot, and some of the words were of the kind that, like a kettle-drum clap, drown out the next several sounds.
So the reality didn’t actually sink in till I had trudged a few blocks and was nearly at the subway.
Begorra, I thought. I’ve been press-ganged, am in a burlap bag in the hold of a ship, bound for Who Knows Where.
Which is to say, I have been diagnosed.