A True Story

A True Story by Jeffrey A. Jett

From what I gathered from my Mom, as an infant it was difficult to find a formula that I could tolerate. After months of trial and error, a formula was found and  introduced without the dairy component of lactose. This new concoction seemed to have been the cure for my ailment, for the time being. Seemingly over the infantile distress , the next 13 years I was able to eat without dietary restriction.

It was 1967 and the tomatoes were particularly delicious, abundant and cheap in Maryland that year and my Mom took advantage of this fine fruit and incorporated it in all our meals.

At some point towards the close of that summer I started with lower abdominal stress that progressively worsened. It wasn’t until I noticed blood after my movements that I became scared and told my folks what was happening. I was relieved to hear my Dad say that I may be seeing undigested tomato skins and to let him know if this persists. Experientially  tomatoes were banned from my diet, but to no avail. The bleeding continued and I was taken to Dr. Arthur E. Cocco, who was the leading gastroenterologist in the area at the time.

It was then that UC was diagnosed in my life. I was quite young, being fourteen and just entering Freshman year in high school when I landed in the hospital. I was so sick and losing weight fast. I was very close to needing a transfusion because of the blood loss I was experiencing. After a few days stay at St. Joseph’s in Baltimore city, Dr. Cocco and the doctors were still stumped as to the cause of my illness. It was a fateful evening when the Candy Striper brought the beverage cart to my room. “Can I have a root beer instead of a vanilla milk shake?”, I asked her. “You wouldn’t rather have a milk shake like yesterday?”, she responded. I explained that although I love the milk shakes, it seemed like I would get violently ill after I drank them.  The next day, after the usual barrage of tests I was wheeled back to my room. There were hand written signs plastered all over the headboard of my bed.  In bold red letters they read:  NO DAIRY! After another day or so the bleeding stopped and I started to feel better in the following days.

What happened to me after a few weeks was dramatic. Dr. Coco prescribed prednisone (steroid) and azulfidine, a sulfa drug that was developed in the 50’s for bacterial infections  And OH! the side effects! Being so thin, “fat patches” formed in my cheeks and in all my joints to give me the appearance of gaining an incredible amount of weight over a comparatively short period of time. These fluid sacs were harmless except that I remember having a hell of a time in gym class. I could barely run and fatigue set in quickly. It felt like I was an obese 75 year old man.  Larry Gross (Mr. Gross)  the residing Phys Ed instructor was compassionate about my condition and helped me as much as he could. My classmates kindly understood my transformation and subdued their need to “make fun” to nicknaming me “Hamster”, “Hammy” for short.  Not so bad.

Remission finally came and brought with it the freedom of the urgent bathroom visits and the almost intolerably painful sigmoidoscopies. My body slimmed as the fluid released and I became my old active self again. I was looking forward to a much healthier high school term.  As long as I obeyed my dietary restrictions, all was well. Not only was this a life style type of change in my life but in my Mom’s life as well. Just like during my infancy she would have to read ingredients and research everything she bought to accommodate my diet without any reservation. Thanks Mom!  Again. I continued to stay well.

My remission continued for decades before it reared its ugly head. It was my fault as I started to slack on my dairy intolerance. I stopped looking at labels and ingredients and would have an occasional “treat”. It was another 2 years before the dairy abuse incrementally took its toll. I had forgotten how horrible and threatening this disease can be. My family doctor recommended Dr. Jerold Canakis, the best in the field of gastroenterology in my area now of Ocean City. My first visit was relatively uneventful as he routinely scheduled a colonoscopy. The results were overwhelming as a forest of pseudo polyps was discovered. 25 biopsies were taken to the pathology team. The results came back abnormal and I was told that there was a chance for surgery. Shock ran through my body like a lightning bolt. I imagined the worst. Dr. Canakis summoned a second opinion from his colleague at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. Waiting for news, I probably read everything I could get my hands on about UC. I joined support groups for those who have UC with colostomies, trying to learn everything I could and what to expect before during and after surgery. Talking to these folks, I found strength and fortitude in their approach and outlook to their lives going forward after surgery. Their kindness and compassion was comforting to say the least. I shed many tears during this harrowing time with them.

It was just a few days before Christmas when I reluctantly took the call from Dr. Mark Flazar at the University. Apparently the pathology team here had “over read” the biopsies and although he could see the reason for the mistake, assured me that no surgery would have to be performed. “Thank God and Merry Christmas!”, I screamed at the top of my voice, deafening Dr. Flazar who responded with,” Yes , Jeff. Merry Christmas”. He continued to explain that what the first team saw was actually scar tissue from the 43 year old condition. I cried tears of joy as his voice trailed off and I felt the million pound weight lift from my shoulders.

 Dr Canakis had the UC into remission within 6 months with the treatment of Lialda, an anti-inflammatory drug expressly used for bowel disease. I remain in his care and am recovering with this treatment along with yearly surveillance of high definition colonoscopies and a very strict diet. I am still reeling from a flare up I had a few weeks ago. I found some hidden dairy ingredient in a lactose free product that we were consuming. Still very sensitive apparently.

 I’ve learned that this is a serious disease and I respect it as a life threatening or life changing condition and will never under estimate or take it lightly again. This is only my story. The fact that knowing an allergy to dairy products sparked this disease in me leaves me very sympathetic to those that are suffering  and living in discomfort without knowing how or why this has happened to them. But I also know through the dialog I had with the support groups that there is hope in recovery to live a very happy life… I still cry as I read this.


© March 2015 Jeffrey A. Jett

13 Nov 2016

Albert Einstein Quote

I must be willing to give up what I am

In order to become what I might be~ Albert Einstein

A desire to move from one place to another requires a thought process wherein you must be willing to give up the present space in order to arrive at the destination you chose.

Your thoughts are sequential and your mind willingly dismisses “old” thoughts for new ones. I don’t think that your conscious mind can handle more than three things at any given moment. For instance: Your watching TV and suddenly the phone rings and you answer it while someone is trying to ask you a question. Whoa! Something has got to go! Your mind recognizes chaos and begins to put things into an orderly fashion. First answering the person’s question then turning the TV down so you can answer the phone. This happens automatically and in a split second.

Emotions are similar in this regard. You can not feel more than one emotion at a time. In other words: If you choose happiness you must be willing to move away from the notion of sadness.

Your thoughts and emotions create your reality. If you choose to change your reality there must be movement in one direction or another. Since you can not have two conflicting thoughts or emotions going on at the same time, then one or both of these must be left behind in order for you to reach your desired destination.

March 2013 by Jeffrey A. Jett

13 Nov 2016

The Foolishness of Judging Others

The Foolishness of Judging Others By Jeffrey A. Jett

   Judgment of others seems like human nature. The act of judgment is an act of selfish pride. It involves looking to our own knowledge and experience, putting together a few facts for evidence and coming up with some sort of answer or situation. It is all too often the wrong answer or solution, but because of selfish pride, we refuse to be corrected. When you judge another you have taken on an enormous responsibility for making a correct judgment, when in reality your judgment is at best insignificant and unnecessary.

   All things big and small, invite your judgment. The weather, politics, and the taste of foods, a television show — at every moment of the day something or other is inviting you to judge it. And so often we are willing to render our judgment, without the conscious awareness of any consequences and without taking responsibility.

   TV is an acceptable form of entertainment. Is it a surprise that most TV sitcoms are built around dysfunctional people bringing each other down, either behind their backs or right in front of their faces? It’s funny on TV, I have to admit, but not at all funny in real life, especially if you are the person being degraded.

   You judge, and then to make matters worse, you believe in that judgment. You have looked over the evidence and made your judgment—it MUST be right! There could not possibly be any other conclusion except for the one you have chosen. Could there be?

   The opportunity for judging people is so readily available, especially here in Ocean City, a resort town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. One of the many opportunities is making fun of people walking the boardwalk. Typically you would sit on one of the many benches and watch people and delight with one another the faults and behaviors of the tourists that happen by. It is actually a well known past time for many of the locals.

   I know this may sound harmless but what you don’t see and understand is that judgment leads to suffering—your own suffering. Judging a person does not define who THEY are, it defines who YOU are.

   You are not able to change anything or anyone by your judgments; however you can choose to perceive things differently. For me this means accepting people, things and situations for exactly what they are instead of trying to force them into something we think they SHOULD be. Instead of placing a judgment, try using perspective and try to see things differently in an easier, kinder way. We could actually bring more peace and love into this world.

   Here’s the challenge: “How would your life be different if you stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day you look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey”- Steve Maraboli

June 10, 2014

13 Nov 2016

The Mandolin

The Mandolin

Being a handyman by trade I helped fix a few things around my 80 year old neighbor’s house, who had just been widowed in the last few months.

She asked me how much she owed me when I was finishing up and I thought to keep my fee at a minimum for her. “Sixty dollars”, I said. She agreed that was more than fair and said she would have the money by the end of the month.

I thought about her towards the end of the month as I didn’t hear from her and decided to go by her place to see if she was alright and to check on my handy work.

My neighbor answered the door with a tear in her eye and confessed that she did not have the money and if I would accept a trade instead. She handed me her husband’s mandolin. It was touching that she would offer me such a sentimental item. With hesitation I accepted the payment . Even though I didn’t play music I knew someone who did. Maybe he would be interested in buying it.

My music playing friend was impressed with the old mandolin and offered me $2000.00 for the instrument. Needless to say I was floored! Who knew?

The old lady seemed happy to see me the next day and wondered why I looked sad. I told her I felt guilty and admitted that I sold her husband’s instrument and assured her that it went to someone who would appreciate it. Handing her the envelope I told her that it sold for two thousand dollars. We both started to cry as she handed me my sixty dollars while explaining what a Godsend this was. She produced what looked to be an invoice of her husband’s remaining funeral expenses that would be all but impossible for her to pay.

The invoice was for $1,940.00.

13 Nov 2016


Limerick by Jeffrey A. Jett

There was a fair barkeep named Nancy,

To whom I had taken a fancy.

As she served me a drink,

I couldn’t help but to think,

That a date with this one would be chancy.

© March 2015 Jeffrey A. Jett

13 Nov 2016

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10 Feb 2015