I’ve been sick for the past couple of months. I have had a pain on my right side that has been so unbearable I’ve visited the ER three times since January. The pain began on my left side. After a trip to Emergency i was informed I had a kidney stone. Two weeks later I was back experiencing pain on my right side. Much to my surprise it was not a kidney stone. I’ve been to three different doctors including an OB GYN, chiropractor and recently a gastrointologist who has scheduled a colonoscopy procedure for today. I’ve had two cat scans, three ultra sounds and I always get the same response. “Chemo therapy has affected you very negatively”. I’m so sick of hearing those words so I agreed to having the colonoscopy procedure. After all, what have I got to lose?
I began my fast yesterday along with taking the bowel prep needed to prepare for the procedure. After many trips to visit the “porcelain God” I began to feel very hungry. Unfortunately, in preparation for a colonoscopy procedure, you are required to be on an all liquid diet for 24 hours. They do however, allow you to have broth and jello. Hmmmm not my idea of yummy when I’m starving. I was so hungry my stomach was not only growling, it was hurting also. I decided to walk downstairs to Safeway to buy some broth and jello.
As I walked to Safeway, I couldn’t stop thinking about food. I was so hungry everything sounded yummy. I walked passed a young girl eating a sandwich. I found myself with an overwhelming sense of taking a bite of her sandwich. When I got to Safeway, I walked past the deli. The aroma of everything only made me hungrier. As I walked to the soup aisle I began to think of two young homeless men who are regulars at the Lima Center where I volunteer a few days per week feeding the hungry. These two young men couldn’t be more than in their late 20’s. They are kind, loving and filled with so much gratitude for the help they receive at the Lima Center. They are two young men who have experienced trauma in their life and are not homeless by choice. Rather they are homeless due to some life changing events. I recalled a day a couple of weeks ago when I was volunteering. I was wiping the tables and these two young men were encouraging one another as they ate breakfast. It was amazing to me how supportive they were towards one another. I overhead them sharing stories about the difficulties of being homeless. I didn’t pay much attention until I overhead one of them saying “dude….the hardest is when you’re hungry. That’s when it’s hard. It’s so hard to be hungry. I hate that!” His friend replied “dude….I know. That’s so hard. It hurts!” Then I heard one of them say “eat up. Let’s eat what we can so we’re not hungry”. I have to say, when I heard these two young men discussing the hardship of being homeless and hungry, my heart stopped. I was filled with a sense of compassion not only for these two young men, but anyone who may experience hunger. I thought about that conversation as I picked out my chicken broth. My stomach was hurting. It was growling and it was at that point I realized how lucky I am and how selfish I was to even feel sorry for myself. Sure I was hungry but I had the luxury to know that my hunger would be short lived. I knew that after my procedure I would be able to sit down and eat until my heart was content. These two young men and many others don’t have this luxury.
I woke up this morning with a severe migraine. I was not only sitting on the porcelain God but I was praising him also. This will be all over with by 2:00 today. At that time I’ll be on my way to grab a bite to eat. However, I can’t help but feel guilty. Unlike many people who are living on the streets, I have a hot meal to look forward to, a home, a warm bed. What really do they have to look forward to? It makes me sad. I would imagine on Friday when I’m at the Lima Center volunteering, I’ll have a whole new outlook on how I see the men and women who are there to enjoy a hot meal.
More often than not, we pass people by when they ask for a sandwich or even a dollar to buy something to eat. Next time you run in to someone who might ask for a dollar saying they’re hungry, think of a time you were hungry, your stomach was growling and you found yourself craving everything & anything. Times that feeling by 20 and maybe, just maybe you’ll know how the person asking for a dollar is feeling. I think about my friend James, the homeless guy fighting bone cancer. The day I met him he was sitting in front of Safeway next to his dog. He had a sign that read “anything helps. God bless you”. I asked James if there was anything I could get him. Much to my surprise he said “I’d give anything for a blue berry yogurt”. It struck me as odd that he would only ask for a blueberry yogurt but now I know why. He was just hungry that day. Everything and anything sounded good but at that moment a blueberry yogurt was just the ticket to fill that spot. The moral to all this is don’t just pass people by. Have a heart. A sandwich, a cookie or even a blueberry yogurt will go a long way!!