O sweet spontaneous

About two weeks ago I woke up and found that I couldn’t keep anything down.  Since I know so much about medicine (NOT), I diagnosed myself with a stomach bug and curled up into a ball, waiting for the pain to go away.  It didn’t.  It got worse, in fact, and so after another day I called a nurse friend and asked for advice.  She suggested that I was suffering from something far more dangerous than the flu -- appendicitis -- and she made me promise to go to the local emergency room.   So I did.  She was right.  She probably saved my life.

I won’t bore you with the details of my exciting medical adventure: the midnight ambulance ride, the whirling chaos around the ER at Strong Hospital, or the very sick and brave people I had plenty time to study during my stay.  It was altogether scary, fascinating, and inspiring.  I learned that there is no sunlight or radio reception in the basement of Strong Hospital. Via the WXXI phone app, I discovered that Peter Warlock’s Capriol Suite is even MORE fun and sublime when you’re high on morphine (do not try this at home!)

In short order, Dr. Cheng and his staff removed the offending organ, and I felt better almost immediately, so much so that I hardly cared when I contracted bacterial pneumonia and had what one nurse described as “the weird thing with your heart that everyone was so interested in.”  I spent a long day in the recovery room, re-learning how to breathe.  After the millionth needle-prick, I started to identify with E.E. Cummings’ sweet earth:

O sweet spontaneous

earth how often have




fingers of

prurient philosophers pinched





has the naughty thumb

of science prodded



beauty .


often have religions taken

thee upon their scraggy knees

squeezing and


buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive





to the incomparable

couch of death thy




thou answerest


them only with



What is an appendix anyway? The end piece that gets shoved to the bottom of the bread bag? The endless string of stingers at the end of Jean Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony that many wish he had lopped off in the first place? A remnant of Human Version 1.0?   Apparently, we can live without the worm-shaped pouch.  We get used to not having it.  I am.  

Please allow me offer my heartfelt thanks to Dr. Thomas Belt and the staff at Strong West for their expert diagnoses, to the compassionate medic Rachel and her partner for getting me safely to Strong, to anesthesiologist Dr. Daryl Smith for saving me from pain and discomfort, and to Dr. Julius Cheng and his surgical staff at the University of Rochester Medical Center.  There were many others (whose full names I was too sick to write down), including the Karen in Recovery (who seemed to make it her personal mission in life to get me on my feet), gentle Bonnie in Unit 23, the matter-of-fact Dr. Laura in the ER, Diamond, Delores, and countless other professionals who made me well.  

Thank you all for your compassion and skill.

Thank you also to my wonderful husband, family, and friends for love and support, and to Charles Meeks, Caroline Reyes, Ruth Phinney, John Andres, and Julia Figueras for filling in for me on such short notice. I appreciate the listeners and colleagues who’ve sent cards, notes, flowers, and food, and I can hardly wait to get back to sharing music with you in the mornings on Classical 91.5 FM.