Atomic Tummy Pain

It was just about midnight, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, when the doctor returned to my ER room at the local hospital with the CT results. I had arrived at the emergency room earlier that night on my own power with a bad pain in my lower abdomen. It was a pain like eating too many green apples, but with an intensity that rivaled the dropping of an atom bomb in my gut. After spending time earlier in a tunnel that resembled a huge washing machine, I had concerns about the results of what they would find and if those results would have major affects on the future of my Thanksgiving festivities or me in general.

As the doctor worked away on his computer, he told me I had “acute diverticulitis.” Great! At that time and moment that was the only thing cute on me, because I was laying there in a hospital gown and socks with a strange greenish color on my face. It had caused a perforated problem in my colon, which required me to be admitted. I had planned on getting a quick shot and some pills, but now I was spending the night with an IV loaded with tons of antibiotics.

That night extended to four days in the hospital with antibiotics pumped in my veins and me developing a very strong dislike for green Jell-O. I saw liquids that were supposed to have had some dealings with a chicken, but I could not get passed the looks of drainage from my tractor’s crankcase. My really first time of being a patient in a hospital lived up to everything I thought it would be. I’m just glad we have them at times like this, but they are not for me.

If you know anything about diverticulitis, the first thing you are told is your diet will have to change. If you know anything about me, changing my diet could involve the UN, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, NATO, and the closing of some major restaurant chains. When they said avoid corn, blackberries, and items with seeds in them, I realized what withdrawal is all about. No more blackberry preserves? No more popcorn? No more tomatoes?

Wait a minute! The blackberry part I can work around by getting some jelly, but a tomato boycott by me is something this round boy will get the shakes over. During the winter, I spend most of my dining time wishing for a homegrown “tomater.” Not one of those white, hard things called a “tomato” from somewhere other than my garden, but a real “mater.” In my opinion, you can’t beat “tomaters” and cottage cheese, but my favorite method of consuming the tasty garden fruit is by making a “tomater” sandwich. I’m known as the “mater saminch man” and I cannot look forward to summer without a “tomater” sandwich from the garden. That would be plain un-American in my book.

So, after leaving the hospital and having a liquid Thanksgiving meal, I immediately went to the Internet to scope (maybe scope is not a good word to use in this story) out my condition. No, not the diverticulitis condition, but the condition of having a summer without a homegrown “tomater.” I immediately began looking for sites that sold seed that would produce a seedless tomato. We have seedless everything else, so I knew there had to be a seedless tomato out there somewhere.

Sure enough, there are seedless tomatoes! Burpee Seed Company advertises the world’s first seedless tomato. They call it the Sweet Seedless Hybrid and describe it like this, “The world’s first seedless tomato is here. This breakthrough tomato is the perfect balance of flavor, sweetness, meat, gel, firmness and juiciness. Beyond the lack of seeds to digest, this tomato is first rate for taste. Since the plants don’t need to store sugars in the seeds, the tomato’s total sweetness is in every rich slice.”

I’ve also found other companies that sell similar seeds and I will be giving them a try this spring in my own sunroom laboratory before heading out to the garden. Hopefully by summer, a country “tomater” sandwich using mayonnaise, white bread (or lite bread as it is called in the country), and a fresh ripe “tomater” from the garden will be in my new diet.

Now, if I can figure out a way to fix green Jell-O.



– Pettus L. Read is editor of the Tennessee Farm Bureau News and Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at