Parents caught an intestinal bug; were these sympathy symptoms?

Matt & I just saw my parents off after spending the week here in our humble settings. It started off like a normal vacation: parents rolled in on a lovely afternoon, moved into their accommodations, and sat down to have hors d’ oeuvres and drinks out on the deck with Matt & I. This is the first time I have seen my parents since the diagnosis of colorectal cancer nearly 2 months ago! So it would make sense that they would show some sympathy, right? Well, I didn’t know that would mean sharing symptoms!

The next morning we all went to the Ventura Harbor fish market, had brunch in town and spent the afternoon exploring Ventura. It was a hot day, and spending the day near the ocean meant we would miss the heat of the day up on Matt’s hill where it is nearly 10 degrees warmer. Then on to our friend Darrel’s to celebrate the UFC mixed martial arts fights, and mingle with Darrel and friends at his Tiki paradise (think Gilligan’s Island meets Swiss Family Robinson. This place is thoroughly A-mazing).

Sunday and Monday were about meeting the neighbors, photography for my dad, socializing with the hummingbirds and the sunshine for my mom.


Tuesday I had scheduled a follow-up appointment with my radiation oncologist, Dr. Chaiken. As we rushed to leave for the appointment, I learned my dad had been awake much of the night with diarrhea. Not wanting to draw attention away from the meeting at hand, plus a tendency for him to be stoic about such personal things, my dad showed he was alright. We didn’t feel worried, and proceeded into my appointment. It turns out, a rather serious case of the runs was keeping my dad in constant need of a nearby toilet. Believe me, considering my last several months of my own intestinal discomfort, I could relate, and really felt for him!

While in the exam room Matt and my parents sat quietly while I answered questions from my friendly nurse Janet and when Dr. Chaiken entered, I introduced her and we proceeded. By that time my dad calmly excused himself to leave the exam room. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, he just got up and left.

Moments later, Dr. Chaiken wrapped up the meeting, and we all lined up at the door. When the door opened, there was a machine on wheels in front of us, two nurses leaning over my seated, perspiring father, looking concerned. They were monitoring his blood pressure and giving him water.

Holy cow! What happened to my dad!

Well, thank goodness we were already at a hospital, and the emergency unit was right upstairs, where they could easily run some tests to make sure he was ok. We had taken separate cars, so three hours later, I was driving my parents to the pharmacy and then home to meet Matt, who was busily cooking a lamb roast for dinner.

What a day! Dad was feeling normal, outside of the uncomfortable intestinal difficulties, no definitive results turned up, and it turned out an intestinal infection and severe dehydration was changing the whole course of my parents’ vacation. That would have been the only blip in the agenda, but then my mom came down with a similar condition the next night!

Sympathy Symptoms

Unable to positively identify the cause of the bug, we theorized that it could have been some infected party foods that everyone was sharing. But what if they just secretly wanted to experience the same thing I was going through?

We took a break from activities, restricted diet to simple foods, and made use of some new medications and supplements. That kept the world goin’ round and the whole trip was not a loss. We could still get out to see things and do things. My parents wanted to be able to meet our neighbors and friends, do some tourist activities, practice some photography, to catch up and have some laughs, and to see that their daughter is doing OK!

By the time my parents left they were starting to feel ok and appreciated the time spent getting to know Matt better and being part of our eclectic existence here in Southern California.

Well, I guess I’m not too proud to give up the spotlight on my cancer diagnosis for my parents’ sympathy symptoms. We are family, after all.

Weight: 148 (I gained another 4 lbs!)
“Sun” burn fading, still itchy
Normal diet of whatever I want to eat and drink

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