But You Get to Eat Ice Cream for Dinner!

In 1974 my tonsils tried to kill me by strangulation and so my parents found a surgeon to cut them out. This was merely a pause in the lifelong battle I’ve waged with allergies, a battle with my own immune system. The surgery marks my earliest memory of hospitals. Of medical care. My throat hurt for a long time after that, but I didn’t care because I got milkshakes for meals while I healed. As many as I wanted.

Ear infections were a common thing. I learned through repetition to let my mother know when my hearing changed, when my ears started hurting. The doctor’s office, dentist’s office and the hospital were less than a block away from our home in that small town. The county hospital shared the same alleyway with my home, with the emergency entrance at the end of the muddy alleyway. I don’t recall a single time that the emergency entrance was used at the hospital, although I’m sure my memory is in error.

I played in the mud of that alleyway for many years. I rode my bike through the potholes in the dirt track every summer that I lived there. Rode that same bike to the county pool that was two blocks away as often as I could. I would have lived in that pool if I could have figured out how to sleep there. However, frequent trips to the pool lead to frequent sinus infections and being banned from the pool for weeks at a time, so I had to make sure to get the water to drain out of my sinuses every time I went swimming, a miserable process of laying my face on the hot concrete at just this particular angle, so that the water could be coaxed into leaving the tied up passages in my head.

Then there was the effect of Christian Science on my family. I’ve struggled with where and when to mention this little gem of understanding, because mentioning it is fraught with tons of angst and potential explosive feedback. But understanding how I got to 40 without a diagnosis of Meniere’s, how I’ve never been diagnosed with dysgraphia even though I have had all the symptoms of it for the entirety of my life is a direct result of my mother’s early childhood indoctrination into Christian Science. Because of this fact, Christian Science has to be discussed here as part of this story.

Christian Scientists aren’t scientists; they pray to Jesus to cure what ails them. Jesus is their science, and they exercise their science in prayer rooms across the US, still. My mom and her immediate family were members of this belief.

Her distrust of doctors and medicine lead to her demise this year.

of this opinion all her life. You won’t dissuade her of this or pretty much anything else she believes. If you think you can change her mind you simply don’t know my mother. She has survived as long as she has and raised four children to adulthood based on her doing exactly what she deemed best at the time, and you won’t convince someone who has lived successfully by their own judgement for 50 years and more that what they believe is wrong. So give that idea up now and save yourself life-shortening frustration.

Christian Science. If you are a Christian Scientist you don’t take drugs. You don’t see doctors, and if religious upbringing was all there was to it I think my mother would probably have gotten over it eventually. However, over the course of her life she has been nearly killed by well-meaning doctors more than once. Been told gibberish by people who didn’t have the sense to pour piss out of a boot with directions written on the bottom (not that she would ever utter such a low phrase. Low in her estimation) so she knows that people believe insane things and discounts what other people tell her almost by rote. She knows what she knows, but that leaves her vulnerable to the things she thinks she knows but is wrong about.

Mom knew the value of medicine and never hesitated to get me antibiotics to treat the frequent illnesses that I had as a child, but she never lost sight of the belief that doctors were pulling a scam on the sick somehow. That people would get better on their own if they just lived a better life, ate better food, got the right kind of nutrition.

Entry 2 of the Meniere’s Story that I’m working on.