Sean Munger writes about McStay family

Sean’s done a very good blog entry recapping the disappearances of the McStay family: Joseph McStay, his wife Summer, and their two small boys Gianni and Joseph Jr. Sean also reviewed a book written about the case, and based on what he said about it, I think I’ll pass on reading it. That case is about as mysterious as you’ll find anywhere; I don’t think I’ve seen another one like it, and I’ve seen just about everything. I agree with him that if it isn’t solved, it seems destined to become something historic.

Smooth-ish sailing so far

I woke up at dawn this morning with my stomach hurting really bad and I thought: “Oh no, I’m sick again.” But then I went to the bathroom and discovered, nope, it was my period. I took some Midol and went back to bed. Then I woke up again at nine, took my crazymeds (I’ve been off them all week, for obvious reasons), and then got dressed and went and met up with Michael, and took him to my therapy session with me.

Then we had lunch with his father — the first actual meal I’d had in a week. I’ve lost ten pounds this month. Michael’s father noticed and thought it looked good. I’ll probably gain it back, though, now that I’m eating again. After lunch, Michael went back to his house. By then the Midol had worn off and I was not feeling so good, so I took some more, stayed at Michael’s parents’ house for awhile (his mom is out of state at a convention) and just lounged around reading and drowsing till I felt well enough to leave.

Now I’m back at Michael’s house. I hope to resume work (Charley updates, etc.) tomorrow.

Thanks for everyone’s good wishes! I really appreciate that. Hopefully whatever was wrong with me is gone now and stays gone. I’m going to try some things, like a change in diet and some stress reduction, that should probably help and certainly can’t hurt.

The many medical adventures of a Meaghan

So, yesterday morning, I decided to seek medical attention for my tummy troubles. I wanted to see Dr. Easley, but no one I asked was able to drive me and I didn’t want to risk suddenly needing to vomit whilst driving myself 65 mph down the interstate. So I went to a nearby urgent care clinic.

They took an X-ray and asked a lot of questions and then told me, based on the X-ray and the fact that this was the second time this month I’ve been sick like this and I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d pooped, they thought I had an intestinal obstruction and should go to the ER, like, yesterday.

This scared the bejeezus out of me because I had a dog who died in agony of an intestinal obstruction. When I left the clinic I realized I didn’t have my cell phone. I went to Michael’s to get it and called Mom. She said maybe I just needed a laxative or something and to call Dr. Easley. So I did, and Dr. Easley’s nurse was like, “Go to the hospital, you fool. Why are you even talking to me?”

Michael had to work till nine and I decided to drive to Ohio and go to the hospital there, where my family was. Always good to have someone on the outside to help you when you are in the hospital. So I went to ER with my records from the urgent care clinic and they did a CT scan of my abdomen. This required me to drink barium, which was rather awful. It actually didn’t taste bad, it was the texture that was killing me — like vanilla flavored chalk.

Then they said the CT scan indicated I did not have an obstruction but rather there was a place where my upper intestine had gotten folded into itself. They said they had to go look inside me with a scope to make sure, and they wanted to admit me overnight. I said okay. Then they said I’d swallowed a lot of air and my stomach was distended and the doctor wanted to shove a tube down my nose to suck it all out before he would scope me.

That tube business was the worst part of it. It was just godawful getting it in, with gagging etc., then once it was in it felt more rather than less painful as time went on. My throat hurt and my nose hurt and the whole side of my face hurt. For some time after they got it down, I was left alone and my only source of stimulation was watching (with ardent fascination) the ever-growing strings of drool dripping out of me.

Then Mom showed up at the hospital, and put an end to that entertainment by constantly shoving tissues at me and telling me to wipe myself. And the nurse was asking all these admission questions and it was very hard to talk without making my throat hurt more and/or gagging yet again. I wound up having to write a lot of the answers down. Then Dad showed up with some clothes for me, and they talked to each other while I just sat there in increasing misery, rather wishing I had not decided to go to the doctor. Not much was coming out of my nose tube.

Eventually they wheeled me down to the OR. Fortunately I was unconscious for the procedure, and they waited till I was out before they removed the nose tube. I had thought it would probably be just as agonizing to pull out as it was to put in.

And the scope revealed…absolutely nothing untoward. No obstruction, no folds where there shouldn’t be any. (Afterwards they showed me some interesting pictures of the insides of my intestines, which I might wind up putting on Facebook or something.) The doctor said they were going to try another test tomorrow to figure out what was wrong.

Everyone said this was good news that the scope didn’t find anything, because if they had found something I would have probably had to have proper cut-me-open surgery, which would have sucked. But I was thinking of the Great Headache Crisis and fearing I would just keep getting sick and they would never find out was wrong.

(“You have New Daily Persistent Puking,” they would finally say. “There’s nothing we can do.”)

Eventually my parents left and I went to sleep. I woke up in the wee hours. I had been hooked up to an IV the whole time to keep hydrated, but my mouth didn’t know that and I was vilely thirsty. A nurse gave me some ice chips and we talked for a bit. Then my back started hurting really bad — possibly because, it turned out, I had a fever — and I was actually whimpering out loud in pain. They gave me some medicine for it and I finally fell back to sleep.

In the morning they gave me more barium for the second test. It was a different flavor than the first kind but equally horrible. I was so tired that I kept falling asleep on the X-ray table. At one point the doctor looked and said, “Not enough barium.” Which made me think I was going to be forced to swallow more, but it turned out he just meant the barium hadn’t filtered through to the part of me that he wanted to look at, and I had to change position and lie on my side for awhile.

The test took hours (they let me sleep most of the time though) and also revealed…nothing. Then they sent me back upstairs and I just lay there drifting in and out of sleep and imagining a new, barf-bag-filled life for myself.

Finally the doctor came and said he wasn’t sure what was wrong, but on the scope he thought my stomach looked a bit irritated and so he was going to give me some medicine to reduce the acid in it. Maybe, he said, that would stop my symptoms. And the hospital would give me some dinner and if I could eat it without barfing, the hospital would let me go. Otherwise I would have to stay another night.

I really wasn’t hungry, just tired and feeling yucky because I hadn’t showered, or washed my hair, or even brushed my hair since I got sick on Monday. I forced a few bites of chicken down. They said that was good enough. Mom came to go get me. I’m spending the night at her house and then meeting up with Michael tomorrow. I’ve kept in touch with him and some of my friends by phone during all of this.

For what it’s worth, I haven’t barfed since yesterday before I went to the urgent care clinic. Hopefully the antacid medicine works and my symptoms go away. They said take it for two weeks and then see Dr. Easley.

I’m writing all this on Mom’s computer since my own is at Michael’s house. I’m still really tired. I’m going to just chill out as much as I can.

I cancel Wednesday too

Still sick. I didn’t barf all morning and thought I was better, but it turned out I was wrong; I was sick again shortly after noon.

The doctor prescribed anti-nausea medication yesterday. I could hardly go fetch it myself, and Michael’s mom said she couldn’t either, but my own mom stepped up to the plate. This was nice of her; it’s an hour, one way, from her house to mine. It was the first time she’d ever been over here. She and the cat got on well, but the cat gets on well with everyone.

The cat has a Facebook page. When she saw me complaining about my illness on my own FB page, she sent a message offering her hairball medication. She’s such a sweetheart.   🙂

Anyway…no updates today. I still feel nauseous in spite of the medicine. But I’ve got a good book — Bill Bryson’s latest, which doesn’t come out till October; my librarian friend Bessie got me a copy. Thanks to that book (I’m 90-ish pages in) I have learned more about Herbert Hoover than I ever knew before. I look forward to learning more things while taking my mind off whatever is upsetting my tummy.


One thing the Charley Project does, you might have noticed, is that as often as is possible (which isn’t all that often, I’ll admit), if there are tattoos, pictures of the said tattoos will be posted. If not, at least I’ll try to provide as clear a description as possible.

This came to my mind just now as I was writing up a case: numerous sources said the MP, who has several tattoos had “grams and a butterfly on her wrist.” I thought: whaaat? Grams, like the measurement? That would be a pretty weird tattoo. It took some reading before I found an article that clarified it was “Grams” as in the word, as in the nickname for “grandmother.”

That kind of thing happens a lot. Like, let’s say the source just says:

Tattoos: Rose on abdomen

Usually, this would be a tattoo of a rose. But it could be also be a tattoo of the name Rose. Something like that, small as it is, could be vital when it comes to identifying a body.

(There was an MP once where she had a flower tattooed on her ankle, and I could not figure out whether it was the actual flower or the word for the flower. Well, it turned out to be the word, and what’s more, that word was the MP’s daughter’s name. A private detective assigned to the case wrote to me politely asking me to remove that bit of information, in part to protect the daughter’s privacy.)

I don’t have any tattoos, myself. Michael has said if I want to get one, he would pay for it, but I’m not sure I want one and that seems like the kind of thing you had better be sure of. I do think I know what I’d get, if I get one. One of two phrases in Latin: either “deus ex machina” (meaning “machine of God”) or “carpe noctem” (meaning “seize the night” as opposed to “seize the day”, in reference to my nocturnal habits).

Make-A-List Monday: Caribbean islanders

This list is of Charley Project MPs who are originally from one of the Caribbean island nations. You have to have actually been born there, not just of Caribbean descent. I doubt I got everyone, but this is my best shot.

Rosario Teresa Gonzales
Lourdes Gruart
Alejandro Narciso Lago
Ronald Santiesteban
Rocio Chila Sperry

Dominican Republic
Fiordaliza Cruz Sanchez
Felix Francisco Grullon
Manuel Salado

Petra Loretta Muhammad

Marie Chantal Delly
Philistin Saintcyr
Christina Voltaire

Stacy A. Pennant
Roy Neil Searchwell Jr.
Omar Kahlil Shearer

St. Kitts and Nevis
Vergil James

Trinidad and Tobago
Bernadette Ruby Behmlander
Stepha Henry
Henry C. Salvatori

Honorable mention:
Jesus Maria De Galindez came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic, but he was actually born in Spain.