Originally Written, Spring, 2006:
"Prego" means ‘You’re Welcome’ in Italian, but to me, it means spaghetti sauce. Not great sauce but, at Costco, sauce that’s desirable, mainly for the large jar it comes in. That jar, once empty, has many purposes. I’ve rooted plants in it and used it to store bits and pieces of fiber. It’s become a temporary vase and has been pressed into service as a storage unit for crafts. In an emergency, it’s my sharps container. And one fateful night, it was used to house something very unusual.
Among my assortment of chronic and incurable conditions, I have Crohn's Disease. That means I’m frequently stuck in the bathroom, sometimes for an hour or more. I keep a full bookshelf for entertainment there. At times, though, the pain associated with my disease is too intense and I’m unable to read. I’ll just look around me, take in my surroundings, and try to think pleasant thoughts.
There was one evening, though, when looking was a mistake. I was filled with horror when, trapped on the pot, I saw a giant cockroach – a bug large enough to climb into and drive away - climbing slowly up the wall in the corner opposite me.
I followed his progress as he ascended to the junction where the corner met the ceiling. Hoping against hope, I willed him to turn and traverse back down. But instead, he continued across the ceiling above, upside down, directly towards the quadrant where I sat.
It was only a matter of time, then, the inevitable happened! T-Rex, as I was to name him, lost his grip and fell to the floor. Thankfully, he landed about twelve inches from my bare feet, and lay there stunned by the fall, but I was trapped! The Crohns was especially active that night and I couldn’t leave my seat.
In a semi-panic, I glanced around me. My eyes fell upon the Prego jar, half full of sharps (Used hypodermic needles). As the roach regained his composure and started walking in my direction, I unscrewed the cap. WHAM! Centrifugal force held the needles in place as I slammed the aperture down over him.
Now that I had him, what to do? I managed to get the cap on the jar without letting T-Rex escape. Then, I installed it on the bookshelf opposite the toilet. Every time I would go into that bathroom, there he sat, looking at me balefully through the walls of his plastic house.
I wondered how long he would live. As days passed, and then a week, Rex seemed to take stock of his situation and made a little hut out of the sharps to live in.
I discussed the situation with friends. There was no way I was opening that jar up, even to gas him, as suggested by some with good intentions. I couldn’t, in good conscious, just throw the Prego jar in the garbage either as it contained not only T-Rex, but used needles.
All the while, T-Rex continued to thrive.
The issue came to a climax the day before my next doctor’s visit. I was responsible for turning my used needles in but didn’t want to show up at the appointment with T-Rex in tow. I called ‘Susie,’ my doctor’s nurse practitioner, and explained the situation. Amazingly, she didn’t panic and she didn’t laugh either. She thoughtfully told me to wait by the phone for instructions.
An hour later, I was in route to Cedars Sinai, there to locate ‘Debbie’, one of the nurses on duty. It seemed that her son was working on a science project, collecting roaches for an insect zoo. T-Rex – due to his size -- was going to be the feature attraction.
I often think about T-Rex in that Prego jar. I heard from Debbie once, to thank me and let me know that all the roaches were doing fine. Her son was a budding entomologist and planned to keep them.
I don’t know what Rex thought but, considering his alternate fate would have been death, I hope that he was grateful for his deliverance. If he were to say thank you, there would be only one appropriate response. “Prego.”
31 Posts in 31 Days; Today is day 12.