Lime in The Coconut

Lime and Coconut and DrugsI said, “Doctor, is there something I could take?”
I said, “Doctor, to relieve this belly ache?”

He said, “We’ll see, but right now I want you to haul your ass across the street to the hospital for some scans– I think you have appendicitis. And you know I’m your Nurse Practitioner and not your doctor, right?”

I was hoping for an easier, more pleasant response, like suggesting I might add a squirt of bright green citrus to the milky water of fresh palm drupe and consume it there on the spot, but I followed his advice and made my way to the emergency room, which was pleasantly underpopulated.

I was seen immediately, questioned, poked with needles, and scanned. Within an hour, a doctor appeared, introduced himself, and said, “Well, you’re staying here tonight! You’ve definitely got appendicitis, so we’re going to that that sucker out.”

It wasn’t exactly where I had hoped the day would take me.

Another hour passed until he returned and told me he wanted to do an EKG– he saw something besides my appendix on the scan he didn’t quite like. So a bed runner wheeled me back into the elevator and up to meet a gentleman named Lupe who placed a series of adhesive patches attached to wires onto my hairy chest, injected me with a gas solution, and rolled around my sternum the sort of magic wand that shows expectant mothers what’s brewing inside their wombs. Except there was no baby present, just a pumping heart and what looked like the shadows of ghosts inside of it.

He complimented me on the state of my lungs and sent me back downstairs.

Within the next hour, my friend Edward showed up with my computer, phone charger, and a couple of books. Shortly after that, my cousin Ann Marie showed up unexpectedly, having seen a photo I’d posted on Facebook entitled “P.G. [Wodehouse] and I.V.” She’s like that.

It was good to have her there when the doctor came back to announce that, not only did I have a clot on my left ventricle, but that I seemed to have suffered “a myocardial infarction” within the past few months.

“You mean, I had a mild heart attack?” I asked, for clarification. He nodded.

“We can’t do the appendectomy with that clot of yours. But we want to keep you here tonight to run some blood tests and keep an eye on you.” Ann Marie stayed with me until I was officially admitted and placed in a room, only disappearing long enough to return with some basic toiletries and ear plugs.

I can’t say that staying overnight in a hospital bed is a pleasant experiences– so much noise and poking and blood-letting and drugging every four hours, but the staff was uniformly kind. Especially Gypsy, the sexually ambiguous assistant who came in to take my blood pressure.

With so much time on my hands, I got to know my surroundings fairly well– the rolling table I could never quite adjust without ripping out the needles in my right arm; the plastic jug I thought would make a nice iced tea container until I realized it was for urine; the heart monitor, which was made by a company called Aramark, which was founded by my Uncle Hank. How appropriate, I thought. It was in a hospital that he met my Aunt Genevieve– she was the nurse he’d bummed a pack of smokes from while he was recovering from heart surgery. After his discharge, he returned with a whole carton and asked her out on a date.

The 1950’s seemed like such a glamorous time to be sick.

But there were no cigarettes for me. Or food or water, for that matter– I had more scans to perform.

My friend Craig dropped by for a couple of hours to keep me company and keep my mind on happier things.

Lime in Coconut
Since no surgery was possible, I was sent home the next evening with a laundry list of drugs– blood thinners, heavy antibiotics, cholesterol meds, chewable children aspirin. The next several days were spent going for short walks in the morning, napping, injecting needles into my stomach, swallowing pills, and sleeping some more.

I’ve been drowsy and in a general brain fog because of the drugs over the past couple of weeks, but I’ve felt just fine. And I’ve dozed off to far too many videos on Youtube. One episode of The Muppet Show caught my attention especially– Kermit the Frog and ensemble singing Harry Nilsson’s “Coconut”.

The thought of a refreshing glass of coconut water with a kick of refreshing lime sounded marvelous, so the following day I put the lime in the coconut, as lyrically instructed, drank them both up and came to a very important conclusion:

Harry Nilsson was a terrible mixologist. The concoction tasted bitter and slightly metallic. But then again, most things have tasted unpleasant lately. I poured the rest of the down the drain and went back to bed, full of forgiveness for Mr. Nilsson.

But I wasn’t really disappointed in the outcome. Quite the contrary, actually. I knew the drugs were working– the antibiotics were beating my appendix into submission, the cholesterol drugs were doing their thing, and the blood thinners were slowly helping my body dissolve the clot on my heart. I can wait a bit longer to start enjoying food again if it means I get to be alive.

If there was ever a luckier attack of appendicitis, I’d like to know about it. Had that supposedly useless organ not screamed for attention, the blood clot most likely would have been discovered by way of autopsy rather than by a simple scan.

I’ve had so many people reach out over the past few weeks, showing love and concern, which makes me grateful. I decided to write this post simply to let people know what’s been going on.

And to let everyone know that I am fine. My heart is pumping away normally, the brain fog is lifting, my sense of taste is coming back, the clot will dissolve, and I may very well have that appendix out in a few months.

But the next time I put it out there to the universe that I want to lose a few pounds, I should really be more specific about how I hope to achieve my goals.

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About Michael Procopio

I write about food and am very fond of Edward Gorey. And gin.
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48 Responses to Lime in The Coconut

  1. Mrs Random says:

    Glad you got through it!

  2. Deborah says:

    David, I’m so grateful you are here and healing!

  3. Marie B. says:

    My dear, you have had a challenging year. It makes me smile that you can see the bright side still. So congratulations on your oddly fortuitous bout of appendicitis! Wishing you good health and happiness. P.S. Thank you for sharing all that you are on your blog. It’s truly appreciated.

  4. carole chase says:

    Happy to hear you are doing well. I work in a cancer center and it’s amazing to see how many people get the Big C diagnosis when they were looking for something else.

  5. MaggieToo says:

    Thank goodness your appendix is the ‘Lassie’ of bodily organs, alerting everyone to the danger than lay in wait. Seems a pity to have to say goodbye to the old gal after she’s rendered such valiant service.

    But if she must be sacrified in order keep you amongst us for a while longer, then I salute her and bless her little bile ducts.

    • Maggie,

      This particular Timmy is slowly crawling out of that well, thank you. I still have hopes of keeping the old gal, if they’ll let me have her.

      • MaggieToo says:

        And if she must be evicted, please insist that they give her back to you, preserved, in a jar. They gave me back my gallstones in a little transparent cannister, and I keep them among the fancy flake salts in the pantry, just to freak people out.

  6. diane leach says:

    Michael!!!! Okay, so, really we barely know one another–not nearly well enough for me to guilt trip you. Or anything else. But you cannot do this to your adoring fans (okay, I’ll ask nicely…please?)…. we’re all having a bad enough year. Yourself included…though yours just got considerably worse (better?)(both?)….sending the crunchiest of annoyingly good vibes from the East Bay, and hoping for your comfort and speediest of recoveries. How incredibly unfair of life to dole this out to you.

    • Annoyingly good vibes are most welcome, Diane. And thank you.

      I don’t see any of this as unfair. Off-putting, yes. Frustrating? Of course. I just consider myself damned lucky, that’s all.

      Thanks for the warmth,


  7. Talulah says:

    Glad you’re here!

  8. anne taylor says:

    Dear Michael,

    Your trials call to mind the song from Monty Python, which you seem to be doing quite well on your own. Here’s to your health, happiness, good fortune!

    “I mean, what have you got to lose?
    you know, you come from nothing
    you’re going back to nothing
    what have you lost? Nothing!

    Always look on the bright side of life!”

    All best, Anne

  9. Susan says:

    Happy to hear that all turned out good. Wishing the best for you!

  10. Holy moly. That is one crazy story. Thank god for the useless organ. Wishing you a quick recovery. xo

  11. Alles says:

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m really, really glad you’re getting better Michael — but where’s the cocktail recipe? Am I supposed to add vodka to the coconut & lime?
    Or valium to the antibiotic & statin?
    And what glass do I serve it in anyway?
    May you mend as well as you write; xoxo!

    • Alles,

      A cocktail recipe would have been an exercise in masochism, since I haven’t been allowed to drink for nearly three weeks. However, tonight, I am officially able to start again, so we’ll just see what I might come up with…

      And thanks for the lovely note!

  12. Neil Bergenstein says:

    Glad to hear that you have not shuffled off this mortal coil. Now get back to work, slacker.

  13. Anna says:

    Dear Michael,
    I am one of your legion of readers/fans, who don’t know you but love your writing, your recipes, and your wonderful sense of humor. I am so glad to hear that this serendipitous appendix problem uncovered what could have been something far more serious. My husband had a similar situation with what he thought was gastrointestinal problems being actually an aorta ready to burst. He, too, was saved in the nick of time. It does give one a wonderful new perspective on life and on what’s most important!
    All of us out here in Your-Readers-Land are happy to hear you are on the mend. Here’s hoping your mixology and cooking can return to normal once those meds do their magic.

    • Anna,

      Your husband and I are two of the lucky ones. I’m happy for him (and you) and happy for me.

      I will do my damnedest to return to normal ASAP.

      Thanks for the lovely comment!


  14. Thea says:

    Middling beginning turns to worse with a happy, happy outcome. Friends and cousins, a sense of humor and good luck always great to have pal around. Come back to us soon.

  15. Adri says:

    Oh dear, but I am so terribly sorry to hear about your ordeal. However, it is really so true that had that little appendix not pitched the proverbial hissy fit, things might indeed be very different. You certainly sound like you have a great attitude about all of this, and it sounds like you received appropriate care. I wish you a rapid recovery, and I urge you to take very good care of yourself!

  16. Andrew says:

    I’m glad you’re still alive.

  17. Pedge says:

    Keep getting healthier. I don’t want to NOT read your most entertaining posts.

  18. Goodness gracious! 2016 has been a beast of a year all around and so I’m pleased to hear you’re on the mend.

    (Moreover, this further supports my theory that David Bowie was the alien-angel put in charge of holding together the disparate threads of Earth’s reality.)

  19. Millie says:

    Damn. Holding you in the Light and sending gratitude for your words.

  20. Becky says:

    Hooray for fortunate misfortune such as appendix issues! Glad you are still around.

  21. queenartoeat says:

    Dear Micheal-
    Although we haven’t physically met- you a gay blade in the west and me an old lady in the east. I root for your recovery and as always your wonderful stories.
    Here’s to the good guys!
    The Queen

    • Dear Queen,

      I very much appreciate the rooting! And I apologize for the lateness of my response– I’ve been away from the blog for a couple of weeks, basically sleeping and pill popping.

      I worry this gay blade of the West may be losing his edge. I am in dire need of sharpening.

  22. kate says:

    Late to the party as usual. It’s been 11 days since the last comment. How have you been?
    I hope you are healing well and in good spirits. Wish you a speedy recovery.

    • I am indeed healing, my dear, but if I’ve learned one thing about my illness, it’s that I’m rather catlike in the way I deal with it– I go off and hide until I feel better. My spirits are lifted by the kind words you and your fellow commenters send, so thanks a hell of a lot for them!
      Much, much, much appreciate.

  23. Karen says:

    I am glad to hear you are on the mend as my monthly reading would be lacking a certain spiciness without your posts in it. It’s a selfish thing to say, but true. Yours is a sparkly light in food-bloggery and I cherish the day I found it.

    I am also on a bland diet right now – no booze either – so I’ll make a smoothie and drink to our health!

    • You are a delightfully kind woman. Thank you. And please have a smoothie for me. I am now able to drink again. I’ll have one of those for you.

      P.S. I was being rather French in my avoidance of blog-related work during the month of August. And now I find it’s mid-September. Where does the time go?

  24. Tina says:

    Dear Michael,
    I am so happy to hear that your little appendix spoke up about the blood clot, and that you are on the mend. Sleep like a cat and worry about nothing, you are very special and your words touch so many, I hope you end this year surrounded by love and joy.

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