Sunday, April 06, 2014

BUS STORY # 387 (Going Home)

Photo by Marcus Castro; downloaded from by busboy4
Photo 2 of 11 by Marcus Castro; downloaded by busboy4 from

Yo mother treated me / Like I was her baby chile
(Was her baby chile)
Yo mother treated me / Like I was her baby chile
That's why's I sighed / (Sighed so hard)
And come back home to die.
-- from “Fixin’ To Die,” by Booker T. (“Bukka”) White

I walk up to the bus stop on Montgomery and I’m sure the lady sitting there is the same one that sat in front of me on the bus up this way an hour or so earlier.

Short, round, black woman in black pants and a black and white blouse, with gray in the tight curls of her short hair.

Contrary to my usual watch-and-wait ways, I tell her I think I recognize her from earlier this morning. She looks at me and says, yes, she believes she recognizes me, too.

Then she asks if she was too loud on her phone.

I remember her being on the phone now, but I tell her I couldn’t hear her, which is true. She tells me she hates it when people talk so loud on the phone. She tries not to use the phone at all when she’s on the bus, but sometimes she’s gotta do what she’s gotta do.

What she had to do this morning was get her INR level checked. She has a heart valve and has to take anticoagulation medicines, and the INR is a test to make sure her levels are not too high or too low, but just right.

They’ve been out of whack because she’s been sick. She says she was in the hospital for three weeks, out just a couple of days ago.

I ask what was wrong.

Well, before this last time, they told her it was Crohn’s disease because she had non-stop diarrhea and blood in her stool. They wanted to admit her from the ER, but she said she didn’t want to be admitted and asked them to please send her home.

Which they did, along with some antibiotics. Looking back, she thinks she made a terrible mistake. The antibiotics they gave her helped for about a month, and then she got sick again, except worse. She couldn’t stand for anyone to even touch her abdomen. They wanted to admit her, and this time, she didn’t put up a fight.

They wouldn’t let her eat or drink anything the first eight days except water for her pills. She’d never gone even a day without eating. The fourth day, she says her stomach just gave up on being hungry anymore.

They were giving her fluids and antibiotics by IV. She showed me her upper arm, where she’d had a pretty good allergic reaction to the tape. She asked them if she could take the tape off and use rubber bands to hold the tubing in place. Oh, no, they told her. No rubber bands, they told her.

They did a CT scan. She had an inflamed small intestine and they couldn’t see her appendix. Four days later, the small intestine was even more inflamed and they still couldn’t see her appendix. There was some talk about a possible rupture, but apparently that diagnosis was abandoned.

And then, after she finally started to get better, they discharged her.

They still didn’t know what she has, but they thought it was “bacterial” and referred her to a specialist. She sees him five days from how. Meanwhile, her primary doctor sent her to have her INR checked, and advised her to double up on her vitamins, twice a day instead of one, because her gut isn’t absorbing all that she’s putting in it.

She’s distressed about the fact she’s missed work for three weeks. She says she has worked ever since she was nine years old. She’s worked 33 years in Federal service. But while she was in the hospital, she decided she needed to get back to work by April 1 so she could hand in her resignation and retire on her anniversary date.

What was she gonna do, I asked.

Go home, she said. Go home.

“Home” is near Augusta, Georgia. She hasn’t lived there since she was a kid, but she has family there. She has friends here, good friends, but no family, and she feels the need to be close to family.

I sense she’s been shaken by what’s happened; she’s afraid it isn’t really over, and she isn’t sure how it’s all gonna turn out. I wonder if she wonders, like me, if the Augusta she is imagining is the home she is going home to. I don’t have any such doubts about her family, and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t, either. That’s who she’s going home to and, either way, that’s where she’s gonna find home.


The photo at the top of this story is number 2 of 11 taken by Marcos Castro for The caption reads: "Elese Tillman carries her luggage to her connecting bus at the Fayetteville Greyhound Bus Station on Friday morning, Feb 7, 2013. She is traveling from New York to Augusta Georgia."


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