Mike survives childhood hypochondria, but hair-raising upper GIs, barium enemas and colonic procedures fail to diagnose what he’s had since twenty – Lyme disease – explaining an adult life of genuine pain.
The opening to “Health:”
Mom had a stomach problem. I did not envy her. It had become so chronic Maalox came standard with every meal. No longer bothering to spoon the chalky tonic out from its ugly brown bottle, or even caring what guzzling looked like to anyone else in the family, she just grabbed the bottle, kicked it back, and gulped the substance down her gullet before each meal. Poor Mom. To have several stomach aches a day must have been a pain worse than death.
Another lasting image of Mom was the plastic pill-box she used later in life, an antiseptic-looking blue, foot-long plastic contraption that sat on the kitchen counter every day. When visiting her, I never actually saw her use the box, but heard the familiar snapping sounds of all seven lids being pushed down tight every morning and evening. What a dreadful image of what life could become. And how awful to be regimented by medicines as she was.
So, perhaps it was no surprise then that birthing from her body, my life was headed for uneven seas from the beginning, made worse by a splashdown into a 1954 hospital.
I no doubt slid right out of the chute into a cold, pea green operating room – so vintage for the time – only to be slapped silly on the behind by a nurse I’d never met before who’d just gotten off her smoking break. Had I been old enough to ask, I would’ve requested some of the painkillers Mom was on to alleviate all my pain and suffering, too.
Then, three years later, I was back in the same hospital for a bad case of inflamed tonsils. The nurses, just as irritated and sore-looking as my tonsils, were no friendlier the second time around.
Note: I am currently seeking representation for my book. Please see my contacts page for how to get hold of me.