Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Being sick (accent 1)

Being sick as a kid was weird for lots of reasons, but mostly because nobody could figure out what was wrong with me. Bottom line - I couldn't "do number 2" without a LOT of laxatives, hand-holding, outright threats, and at one point being shaken rather energetically by my very very frustrated mother while she pleaded "why won't you just GO?????"

I was a skinny kid with knobby knees and a cloud of wild blond hair. I was sweet, charming, shy, cute, and my folks were convinced there was something wrong with my brain because I just would not shit. Not without the enemas and chocolate-tasting laxatives, not without a lot of effort on my part, not without a rigid schedule (or so it seemed) and an inspection of whatever DID manage to come out. My life, and that of my parents', seemed to center around what managed to make it out of my little ass. My brothers didn't have this problem, nobody else in the neighborhood had this problem, so what was wrong with me? What weird thing in my head told me to hold on to my crap for as long as possible before hunkering down in the bathroom (after yet another enema) with cramps and a shivering fear of the pain that pooping would involve??

And then a nurse (or was it a doctor) in the pediatrician's office went to a seminar on unusual childhood diseases (or something along those lines) and listened in on a presentation of something called Hirschprung's disease. Well, didn't the lights just start a-flashin and the sirens start a-blarin right around then, because every. single. symptom. of the disease was something I had. I was the proud owner of a spontaneously occurring disease! Not genetic, no! Not in the my head, no! It was a simple matter of not having any nerve endings in a portion of my large intestine, which stops peristalsis and therefore significantly hinders the smooth and easy and relatively regular passing of all the things you body can't use anymore. Mystery solved!!! 4+ years of suffering explained!

But then, how to FIX the disease?? What to do about THAT little item?? Drugs weren't around to help, and a lifetime of enemas and laxatives didn't seem to be all THAT enticing for either my folks or me, so surgery was decided upon. I would go under the knife at age 4 and a half (the half was important to me) to have a part of me that was broken removed so that I could be fixed up and normal, just like all the other kids.

But I don't remember being told all this surgery stuff, it just happened. And the 3 weeks I spent in the hospital were as vivid to me and as fully remembered as nothing had ever been before. Mind you, I can only tell this from my perspective, but it is the perspective of a child that might be most useful or revealing, if not for what actually happened then for what I remember of it and how those memories have shaped how I now behave and who I have become. Really - 3 weeks in a hospital, 2 of them being forced to lie immobile, are fairly significant to a little kid!

(next up - fixing it)

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