On the count of 3, let’s all point to our gallbladders. Bully for you if you knew that your gallbladder is in your upper right abdomen, tucked under the liver like an egg beneath an Emperor penguin. Double bully if you suspect that I didn’t point on the count of three.
I didn’t because I no longer own a gallbladder, a pear-shaped, roughly 4-inch organ that receives bile from the liver and after a meal releases it into the small intestine to aid with the digestion of fats.
On the night before Super Bowl Sunday, a nagging, dayslong malaise in my gut escalated into a sharp pain. I had no idea what was hurting in there and I held out withering hope that it might just pass, if you catch my drift.
It didn’t. As a friend drove me early the next morning to Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, I dreaded the prospect of a long, miserable sojourn in the emergency department. But the waiting room was deserted on that hallowed NFL holiday and I was whisked right in for a CT scan, MRI, ultrasound and myriad tests to reveal the secrets that ride in the blood.
It’s your gallbladder, I was told. Sometime during the second half of the game surgeon Brian Schmidt removed it through a very macho incision.
He told me later: He has seen thousands of gallbladders and mine was among a mere handful of the most woeful. It was black. And gangrenous.
You’re not reading this over breakfast, are you?
By the time I was cleared for release four days later, I almost hated to go. I have no doubt I’d be saying the same were I treated at Memorial or Kaiser, but the Sutter nurses and techs and other staffers could not have been kinder or gentler or more eager to comfort and serve. Bless them all.
Four weeks after the surgery, I’m back at my desk and grimacing. Oh, there’s no pain. Just so many stories that have gone untold.
CANNIBALS DISBAND: Sad news from Ukiah. The Cannibal Club, which for nearly 45 years drew great, loud crowds of men primed for sharing a drink and a big lunch, talking politics and telling jokes inappropriate to most other venues, has abruptly shut down.
Letters to members advise that declining participation and an inability to meet financial obligations forced “an immediate suspension of Cannibal Club operations.”
At its peak, 650 men from throughout Mendocino County and the North Coast paid dues entitling them to meet once a month for a leisurely, just-because buffet lunch and bull-fest of the Cannibal Club, a predecessor of Sonoma County’s Fountain Grove Business Club.
My former PD colleague Mike Geniella wrote in 1995 that founder Carrol Ornbaun was inspired by the men who’d gather at Hopland’s Pomo Inn for chef Vince Lotti’s special of seasoned steak served raw in an open-face sandwich.
For years before his death in 2006, Ornbaun would stand before the monthly gathering at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds in Ukiah and welcome the men to “the greatest club anywhere.” Up would go an affirming roar.
THE DISPUTED ORANGE is gone from the Santa Rosa courtroom of Judge Elliot Daum.