Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

We’ve all got our issues and situations!


Moving day is getting closer! I’ve got our “can’t thank ‘em enuff” local moving company reserved for July 7 at 8 a.m. sharp. Plus, my son, his girlfriend and Bill’s friend with truck, trailer and brawn will be helping. I’m so glad I had foresight and started this process early with garage sales and packing because I’ve certainly needed any slack time I accrued.

Between my last column and the second garage sale, a few roguish gallstones decided to stagger out of my crowded gallbladder, and take off on a road trip, getting stuck and holding up in a bile duct along the way. Let me tell ya, you get no warning on these deals; I couldn’t tell them, “knock it off, you’ve got a lot of gall, there’s no time for this crap now.” Fortunately, the deal wasn’t really painful but other nagging symptoms, such as intense all-over itching caused me to go in to the clinic after a couple days. Blood tests and an ultrasound confirmed the blockage was the cause of this trouble so I got sent to St. Mary’s lickety-split. I didn’t invite this upstart of bothersome events to take me from my moving project and it’s very frustrating to actually be one of those “aging persons” with their weird compounding “issues,” “spells,” and “situations.” I’m not going to own it.

So this gall-darned untimely gallbladder situation required me to have a quick procedure....another great word! I had an ERCP, (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography), whereby they put you to sleep and shove a tube down your throat to points beyond, to examine and diagnose diseases of the liver, bile ducts, and pancreas. For me it was time to get rid of those loitering stones. 

Speaking of loitering stones, Bill was with me for this procedure and seemed eager to get away from hanging out in the hospital. I could tell he was nervous so I told him to go loiter somewhere else, down by the lake or something. He left me with a long-winded nurse who asked me more questions than I had patience for. I was anxious to get on with the procedure. My wide and wild-wheelin’ bed finally arrived in pre-op after the driver bumped into a few doorways along the way. No cause for alarm. I didn’t lose my glasses, slippers or humor. The driver put the brakes on and I sat for a bit, getting into the surgery mood. Out of the blue some nurse walked by, backed up and complimented me on my hair, of all the odd things in a day. I don’t even know if I’d combed it that morning. Ah well, just go with it…“Thanks, dye job,” I said, pointing at my head. She replied,  “No, it’s just that you have SO much.” I laughed, thinking it was one part of me that didn’t seem to be on the wane! Then the nurse handed me a blue surgery cap. I looked at it and said, “Ah, my blue cap.” Immediately I smiled, remembering the time I sat with mother years prior in a similar pre-op space at St. Mary’s, she in the bed and the two of us surrounded by pull curtains, talking and waiting. We could hear the sound of a razor nearby taking care of someone’s hair issues while being prepped for their procedure. The razor buzzed, and buzzed…on and on. Mid-sentence I looked at mom, tossing a glance and a smirk in the direction of the buzzing as it seemed to deepen in tone, leading our arched eyebrows to believe it was lost in tall grass. This went on and on and I could no longer compose myself, we starting laughing, weeping as we added, “My god, are they shaving a gorilla? How can someone be that hairy?”  Mother was rolling sideways and heaving in laughter, burying her mouth in the pillow, leaving me gasping and trying to pull myself back to composure. Oh but such memories are great and comforting companions.

Once inside the surgery room the anesthesiologist checked my wrist band for identity and said he liked my name. “It sounds like a movie star,” he exclaimed. I chuckled, telling him I’d changed it at the time of my recent marriage, picking up my nickname of Scarlet because the name Lynn Stone sounded like Flintstone and I would never get used to it. We all laughed; they handed me a mask; I snuffed in some air and with a smile was out!

So to make it all more carnival-like, the ERCP situation was followed by a repeat procedure three days later when I apparently reblocked. By this time I was in stun mode, in near disbelief at the bizarre state of these ongoing health situations. Who wouldn’t be? So I went in and out of St. Mary’s again receiving apologies from the surgeon for having to be back so soon. I joked they should have held my room and left the sheets. A gallbladder surgery has to be done by a different surgeon with that area of expertise I was told, so they left the troublemaker intact.

I had decided to go ahead with the second garage sale since we were all set up. So, two days after that second ECRP my friend from Embarrass, and Bill and I had the garage sale and made a few hundred more bucks. That afternoon after the sale ended, a neighbor showed up, catching me resting on the couch in my muumuu.  She had come with hopes of buying Mrs. Sigurd Olson’s hat box and pin to be part of exhibits at the Listening Point Foundation (Sig Olson’s lake home) here in Ely. I was pleased I still had them for her and can conclude that they have found a superb home.

On the Monday after the sale I went to check in with my doctor. He urged me to get my gallbladder out as soon as possible and set up an appointment in Virginia for surgery that Thursday. However, because my life is full of situations and attracting multitudes of issues, I noticed floaters in my left eye occurring for no apparent reason. Needing desperately to set foot in yet another clinic, I made an appointment and was told by an opthamologist in Virginia that my left retina had a tear and needed immediate attention. Scrap the galbladder surgery! I headed to Blaine because there was no room for me on the Duluth schedule. Well why would there be? That would be too easy! Adding to this, my family members all had to work on my eye surgery day (and I have no friends for I have too many issues), so I drove myself. I arrived ten minutes early and was processed with cafeteria-like speed through the retina surgery. My imagination, usually in overdrive, allowed me to visualize myself on an air mattress, floating on a calm lake. This was key to being still. The surgery was about ten minutes long with minimal discomfort. The doctor said it was important I’d taken care of it, avoiding possible blindness in the eye if the retina had come loose. He actually told me I could drive, so I did, even though I’d tentatively planned on finding a room. With sports events in the Blaine area, motels were full, besides, I wanted to go home really bad.  Kinda funky-eyed, with determination, I eased north up Hwy. 65 and went even more remote, resting along the way in the back seat of my Jeep in tavern parking lots and wayside rests.

As this summer breezes along, keep your fingers crossed, your razor sharp, and visualize me and yourselves in prime health, at the top of our games! Issue-free with no sticky situations occurring! I do have a gallbladder surgery scheduled for later in July because for now I am too busy. Until then I’ll be watching what I eat, the key factor….as of now I’m down twenty-four pounds…the silver lining for sure. So I’ll loiter in the lettuce, bond with broccoli, frolic with fruit, and bolt at the smell of bacon. 

Scarlet welcomes your responses and can be reached at”


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