Precious document

Amy brightened my hospital room with these lovely flowers. April, 2019

“The most precious document in the world is a clean bill of health.”Ashleigh Brilliant

I just got out of the hospital, where I spent most of last week. It’s ironic that last week’s post was about not feeling sorry for oneself, because that pre-scheduled post published on a day when I was feeling quite sorry for myself, curled up in misery in a hospital bed wondering what was wrong with me.

It turns out that I had an abdominal abscess, secondary to diverticulitis. They gave me medication to control the pain as IV antibiotics addressed the abscess, but I was not allowed anything to eat or drink all week until the last day, when I was allowed clear fluids for 24 hours before they sent me home. I’m a person who drinks fluids all day long (water, or my precious tea) so going without anything at all was like torture. Sometimes a sympathetic nurse would bring me ice chips, and I cheated a good bit in that way, but it still was hard.

This was the first time ever that I have been a hospital patient, and I’m not very good at it. Other hospital procedures, even my appendectomy, saw me happily on my way home in a day. Not so this past week. I had been admitted from the ER, so I had not brought anything with me other than my phone and Kindle Fire. I didn’t have any of the cozy comforts I might have packed for a scheduled stay. I didn’t know any of the doctors and would not have chosen them myself, but an ER admission brings no choice about anything, as I discovered. The nurses were more agreeable and sympathetic, but they can only do so much.

Perhaps the most painful part was that the hospital setting triggered many sad and emotional memories of Jeff’s long battle with cancer and the weeks we spent together in a hospital room. I thought again and again of all he had suffered, and how bravely he endured it all. I was a total wimp in comparison. Being there alone, in pain and unable to eat or drink, was almost unbearable.

My friend Mary Ann had to cancel her planned trip to see me. This is the 20th year of our friendship, and we have not seen each other for 15 of those 20 years, so that cancellation was part of the crushing sadness of the week. I appreciate my friend Amy for coming by to see me several times and bringing the lovely flowers pictured above.

I’m doing much better now, but I have a lot to digest — or more accurately, NOT to digest —  as I face more appointments and a restricted diet. It seems I’ll be giving up many of my favorite foods. For all who have left comments, I apologize for my delay in responding and I hope you have not felt ignored or disregarded. I’ll get to the comments as soon as I can. I’m moving pretty slowly and trying to catch up with all that accumulated while I was out of commission. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

If you are facing illness of any kind, you have my sympathy and more understanding than I could have offered before. If you are in good health, treasure it! It’s a precious gift that we tend to take for granted until it vanishes.


  1. Mike B,

    Prayers for a better week and speedy recovery. Health or lack of kind of puts it all into perspective. What is the Jewish prayer for a healthy digestive process? I will look it up again.
    Have not made it back to Gibb’s garden, but did plant some ornamental morning glory seeds so we will see how they do.

    • Mike, thanks for the good wishes. Let me know how the morning glories do. I’ve never grown them, but have always wanted to. They might be nice for the new pergola. I have some wisteria and clematis planted around it so far. It will take awhile for them to cover the top, though.

  2. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. I’m so sorry that you’ve been sick and more than anything that you were hospitalized, although you needed that level of care! I’m sending hugs and virtual comfort food, chicken soup comes to mind! I’m so glad that Amy could visit and bring such lovely flowers. I can only imagine how tough last week must have been, with all your responsibilities that you shoulder alone. I checked in many times last week, always enjoy the comments here. I was concerned for sure. I hope the many well wishes that are sure to be posted here are therapeutic! Take care of yourself, dear friend! Love and prayers cross the miles!💛🙏🏻

    • Sheila, thank you for the love, prayers and kind wishes. I appreciate that you were checking in on my while I was away…it’s always nice when someone notices our absence. 🙂 I’ll take a large serving of that virtual chicken soup!! ❤ You and I often talk about how much we've shared over the 6+ years since we "met" online. I hope this latest is one thing we NEVER share, but thanks for being with me through it all (especially since the list of "it all" keeps getting longer). ❤ ❤ ❤

  3. Chris

    Julia, I’m so sorry to hear about your experience. You have my well wishes for a speedy recovery, and my prayers that the situation works out better than you expect.
    When I became a Type 1 diabetic, I thought the worse. As I’ve learned to cope with the disease over the past 12 years, much of my initial fears were allayed. I don’t have to cut out “the good stuff”, like ice cream and cookies, I just have to remember moderation! There’s work involved, but the lifestyle becomes the new normal.
    Have a blessed week, and feel better! 💐🌻

    • Thank you Chris! Yes, our ability to adapt to whatever comes our way is, all by itself, a comfort and an inspiration. Augusten Burroughs has aptly written, concerning illness, “The first thing you must understand is that when something is new the novelty or newness itself carries weight. This makes the message weigh more. Bad news is even worse when you are first told of it…And it’s true no matter what the diagnosis: once you’re in it, it’s okay.” Thanks for being here, and for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

  4. Susan

    Julia, I am so very sorry that you have been going through this! How awful. Prayers for your continuing recuperation. Keep us posted on how you’re doing, when you have time.

    • Thank you, Susan. So far I’m doing OK. Mainly just a run-down, yukky feeling, which I think is partly due to the heavy antibiotics they still have me taking. The good part is I’m not hungry so I’m not remotely tempted to eat anything that I need to stay away from! 🙂

      • Susan

        You always find a bright side in everything! I’ve been thinking about you all week.

        • Thanks, Susan. That’s one of the nicest things anyone ever said about me. Pollyanna was a hero to me (it was one of the first and only books I ever had as a child, given to me by the kind lady across the street who loved books as much as I do). Or maybe it’s the result of having a father who considered Don Quixote a personal hero. In any case, I do think life is better all around, for everybody, if we stubbornly refuse to let the bad stuff ruin it. Thank you for thinking of me! You are such a kind and thoughtful person.

  5. Linda Blackford

    So sorry to hear about your illness and hospital stay. I was puny during Holy Week, and it sounds like maybe that’s when you were in the hospital. Had I known then, I would have been praying sooner, but you definitely have my prayers now. Be gentle with yourself and get well soon!

    • Thank you, Linda. I need and appreciate the prayers, and I believe they are really helping me through this. Sorry you too were feeling bad lately. Here’s hoping we both recover in time to enjoy the spring!

  6. Julia,
    Good morning. I’m so sorry you’re so ill.
    Praying God’s healing mercies for you
    Merry 💕

    • Thank you, Merry. How are you doing? I think of you often and appreciate your presence here.

  7. Julia, I’m sorry to hear of your long hospital stay and poor health. What a scare for you. I’m sorry too, that your dear friend had to cancel the trip. I hope you will reschedule soon. It will take time getting your energy back. I’m glad you’re settled in your new home with spring and summer months to look forward to. Rest. Time is a great healer. And hurray for Amy.

    • Thank you, Alys. I’m trying to take it easy and not rush myself or put pressure on myself to catch up. The older I get, the more important a concept “rest” becomes in my life. It’s needed on so many levels: physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, etc. Yes, hurray for Amy! 😀

  8. MaryAnn Clontz

    These flowers brighten my morning! I am so pleased that Amy was able to minister to you! It will be such a tremendous blessing when we connect: to catch up, to share stories, to laugh, to drink tea, to walk & to praise our Lord together! I thank God that you are on the mend!
    Feeling blessed because you are my friend! That is powerful!

    • Thank you Mary Ann. I am already making plans for when you do come to visit. The tea and the talk will keep, and meanwhile, we will stay in touch as we have for 15 years now! Love you. ❤

  9. Carolyn Miller

    I am sorry to hear this,just glad you are home and just take your doctor’s advice. After last year ,I can feel for you. I am doing well right now. June is almost here. Will get in touch with you later. Jennifer has her house up for sale and it has been shown. Take care and sending you hugs and love. Carolyn

    • Carolyn, good luck to Jennifer in selling the home. That’s always such a stressful experience, having a house on the market. I’m glad you are doing well and hopefully having a break from all the illness you’ve coped with over the past few years. Be sure to let me know when you will be here so I can plan to be in town then. Can’t wait to see you! Love to all.

  10. Alan Malizia

    Amen to that, Julia. Glad you are back home and mending.

    • Thank you, Alan. I hope it’s not my imagination, but I feel a bit better today than I did yesterday, so I’m moving in the right direction so far.

  11. Take good care of yourself. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs!

    • Thank you, Clanmother! I am so happy you are here with us.

  12. Good morning, Julia, and welcome home!
    Thank heavens you could be treated and released.
    I had been thinking about you quite a bit this past week; nothing specific, just a nagging feeling (probably regarding a letter to which I’ve not yet responded) and have been having some home struggles that kept me too focused on that “stuff.”
    Did you get to read any good books, or any books that turned out to be surprisingly good?
    Yesterday a friend gave me this list (have you read any?) and said that “Where the Crawdads Sing” is the very best, and I may as well start there:
    The Alice Network (or project?)
    The Kommendant’s Girl
    The Lost Girls of Paris
    The Book of Ages (about Ben Franklin’s sister)
    Where the Crawdads Sing
    The Invention of Wings
    Julia, I have been dragging around my Colonial Williamsburg pass for months, looking for opportunity to slip away. Apparently it expires on 15 May ….
    I will be praying for your rapid recovery (and I hope you can eat chocolate)!
    Blessings on your week this week, I’m sure you’ve acquired a backlog on your to-do list!

    • Susan, unfortunately I didn’t feel at all like reading during the entire time I was in the hospital. The last day or so I did watch PBS on my Kindle Fire (The Durrells in Corfu, which I really enjoyed and now I plan to watch the whole series). I haven’t read any of the books you mention, but I have heard of a couple of the titles. thanks for sharing them, they will go on my long list of “to read” books, which are fun to browse and read about even before I get around to reading them. It was in library school I learned that browsing titles is in itself a valid way to experience the joy of books. Sort of like shopping without buying, I guess. Well, even if it wasn’t in the cards for you to get back to CW this year, perhaps we can go there another time. I will ask the doctor if chocolate is allowed. For now I’m holding out but hoping it’s on the “allowed” list.

  13. Judith Walton

    Julia your past week sounds just terrible. I can’t imagine going through something like that with all the restrictions, plus the pain and uncertainty. And yet here you are, giving us yet another post with its insights and wisdom and lovely photo. You’re always thinking of ways to encourage others and we love you for that and for your willingness to share your life with us. You’re in my prayers for a quick recovery and for an easy adjustment to any changes that you might need to be making. Sending you a virtual hug and huge bouquet of all different kinds of daffodils!

    • Judy, thank you for your kind and generous words, which are even lovelier than those virtual daffodils! I am feeling a bit better now and I’m so glad to be back in touch with you and everyone here in this virtual home. Hoping you are enjoying a happy and fun springtime!

  14. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. Thinking happy thoughts of you and hoping you’re improving on this beautiful Tuesday morning! 💛🌞🌼

    • Sheila, so far today is my best day since getting home. I hope that’s a good sign. 🙂

  15. Hi Julia
    That is very heavy stuff, and so triggering…I’m glad you have someone close to be with you during this time. So many layers….Thinking of you ❤

    • Thank you, Denise. It has been a rough time for sure, and I appreciate your understanding and good wishes.

  16. Jack

    Julia, I’ve been gone for a little bit and am very sorry to hear of your setback. For most of my life, I’ve been the undeserving recipient of good health despite pouring a sea of alcohol and in my youth, medicine cabinets of lethal street drugs into this mortal coil. As I often consider what the psalmist says about being fearfully and wonderfully made, I marvel at the ability of our body with the help of gifted healers to recover from setbacks physical, mental, spiritual and psychological. I developed a healthy lifelong habit of vigorous physical exercise both during and after my addiction issues that inexplicably I’ve embraced in my almost 60 years, another great gift from the God of my living and ultimately, of my dying. I wish you a speedy and full recovery…get back to your walking regimen as soon as you can. It’s tonic for both body and soul!

    • Thanks Jack, I really do need to get back to the walking. I’ve been out of that routine since Jeff died, and my negligence hasn’t done me any favors. It’s an eternal mystery, isn’t it? Why some are blessed with health and others aren’t. Jeff never smoked, drank any alcohol or did any drugs, and he exercised faithfully 5-7 days per week, not including his yard work and other physical tasks. He ate a far better-balanced diet than I did, including lots of salads and veggies. He was the picture of perfect health, until he wasn’t. That first devastating cancer surgery in Sept. 2012 marked the first time he had ever been under anesthesia! And only his second time ever in the hospital. Yet we are still here, and he isn’t. Maybe that’s a divine sign that he’s enjoying bliss now that we can only anticipate, but in any case, as you say, it’s only partly in our hands. I’ll try to get back to the walking…and I’ll keep you posted on how that goes! 😀 Thanks for being here.

  17. Harry Sims

    Asher Yatzar — Thank you Lord, God Almighty that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.


    • Amen to that. Sometimes the “fearfully” predominates over “wonderfully, but still, Amen.

  18. I’m pulling up the rear, but with extra-strong energy – and with relief that you’re doing better. That pain must have frightened you – sometimes not knowing is the worst part as we ponder all of the horrible things that might be the cause. Of course it brought back many memories and opened old wounds.

    Thank you for letting us know, and that you are back to prime health as soon as possible.

    • Thank you Z. I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m rejoicing, and hoping it’s not an oncoming train! 🙂

  19. Elena

    Julia, I am sorry to hear about what you have been through. I trust that now you are feeling much better.
    I’ll keep you in my prayers

    • Thank you Elena. As always, I really need and deeply appreciate the prayers! Thanks for being here with us.

  20. Sheila

    Good Monday morning, Julia. Continued prayers for strength and healing, my friend. I was outside watering my flowers this early morning (shortly after 6:00) and thinking how that alone makes for a perfect start to the day! I’m loving our May Verandah and the little table for two. That’s not sweet tea, haha! 💛 I suppose you’ll ease back into a more substantial diet as you heal and enjoy and appreciate more than ever! Monday’s are better together and sharing our thoughts and good wishes! ♥️🙏🏻

    • Sheila, I definitely agree that’s a perfect start for the day. Since my illness I’ve been falling into bed exhausted at a relatively early hour, and as I’ve gotten better, I’ve naturally awakened between 6 and 7 a.m. even when I don’t feel as if I’ve slept soundly. I hope the early rising habit continues as I do just love being outside in the morning enjoying the yard and tending to plants. Tonight Renee and I went out to Panera Bread and I had some totally DEE-LISH potato soup. An uncle whose been there and done this told me that potato soup would be just what I need right now, and I hope he was right because I certainly enjoyed it. Mondays are better together, but so are all the other days! Race you to the Verandah where there is iced SWEET tea off to the right where you can’t see it in the picture, hee-hee. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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