Apr. 10, 2020

FRED

EVEN FAMOUS PEOPLE HAD AND CONTINUE TO HAVE INTESTINAL DISEASES, CANCERS, COLITIS, ACCIDENTS, AND VARIOUS REASONS TO ENDURE LIFE-SAVING SURGERIES. YES, MANY FAMOUS PEOPLE HAVE WORN AND CONTINUE TO WEAR OSTOMY BAGS. WEARERS KNOW THAT OSTOMY BAGS ARE PROOF--THEY SURVIVED.

NAPOLEON BONAPARTE, EMPEROR OF FRANCE (1804-1815) AND ONE OF THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS MILITARY LEADERS, LOST HIS COLON DUE TO COLITIS AND WORE A GOAT-BLADDER OSTOMY BAG. HISTORIANS BELIEVE THE REASON FOR HIS FAMOUS "HAND-INSIDE-JACKET POSE"  WAS TO DISTRACT FROM THE OSTOMY BAG'S  DISTINCT SHAPE THAT WAS VISIBLE UNDER HIS TIGHT-FITTING UNIFORM.

"I easily-remember the first time I met Fred. Tall, dark, and handsome, Fred had “a look” that turned heads.  Attracted to my oldest daughter, Fred had invited her to join him for a dinner date.

Soon after meeting Fred, I left Atlanta and returned to Pine Bluff.  By this time both of my daughters were working in Atlanta while also attending local colleges. I don’t know how long my oldest daughter dated Fred before deciding to end their relationship. I only remember asking her “WHY” but…she chose not to answer my question. I learned more specific details when—late one night-- I received a long-distance call from Fred. 

I listened for more than 3 hours while a very sensitive young man, someone I barely knew--- shared years of personal hurt, tragedy, and multiple disappointments.  I listened and learned.

From an early age, Fred showed promise as a swimmer.  So much so that he ranked among the professional swimmers being groomed for the Olympics.  He received full scholarships to the most outstanding colleges and universities and was in the process of making his choice when tragedy hit.

 In fact, Fred was returning to the US from a Swim Competition in Hawaii when he began hemorrhaging.  His bleeding was so out-of-control, the plane returning him to America had no choice but turn-around and fly Fred back to Hawaii.

Surgeons moved quickly to save his life.  His father was the only family member available and had no choice but sign the consent for surgery form immediately.  Otherwise, Fred would die.  Without hesitating, Fred’s father signed the form, allowing doctors to remove 3/4 of his son’s intestines, his colon, and his rectum.

I heard the anguish in Fred’s voice, the permanent-anger toward his father. Losing major organs in one operation was—indeed--a shocking experience for someone so young.  Learning that his bodily functions would no longer be “normal”----and, that for the rest of his life, this promising young man would wear an ileostomy bag attached to his side---must have been beyond devastating.

I continued to listen as Fred talked about his teenage acne and how he’d anguished over every bump.  When an Atlanta dermatologist suggested Fred could try the newest wonder drug for acne…ACCUTANE…he could hardly wait.

As his skin miraculously improved….Fred decided to increase the dosage for faster action.  After all, he was young and single, and wanted to look-good at all his swim meets. His skin kept looking better and better while his doctor issued more and more Accutane refills.

 Accutane was new; it was considered a “wonder” drug and…no one thought-twice about side effects, certainly not Fred, until…..

Today, Accutane is off the market. Deadly hemorrhaging occurred in too-many cases; side effects became too- numerous and too-deadly. The last time I checked, the internet was “over-run” with Law Suits filed on behalf of Accutane users. I know that Fred was one of those Law Suits….I just never heard the results.

Fred and I became telephone-friends. I’ll always believe he was desperate to feel “accepted” ...especially by women. We had several lengthy conversations, even after he learned that my daughter was seriously-involved with another man.

The last time we spoke, Fred mentioned he was dating a nurse on a regular basis. I'll alway hope that Fred found lasting happiness with someone who could appreciate his many outstanding qualities.

Only once was I able to get my daughter to comment on her brief relationship with Fred.  She said: “Mother, when he hugged me…there was a light, crackling sound like he had a wad of cellophane or plastic-- in his pocket.  I knew something was different and it scared me. I didn’t want to find out what it was because, well, ----I don’t like weird".

When we’re young, romantic, and loving life... just-maybe we aren’t ready to learn about “different”.  I understand.  But it seems such-a-shame when “just around the corner” from different-- lies a world of possibilities.... including happiness...and just-maybe… love.

IF ONLY, as caring individuals, we could simply move- beyond a person’s exterior and appreciate their interior-- their heart. In the end, that’s all that really matters.

SALLY