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Earliest Memory: Hospital Trip

August 7, 2013

Set a countdown timer for 10 minutes, choose one of the writing prompts below, and just start writing. Whatever you do, don’t stop writing for ten minutes.

My earliest memory is far from happy, it occurs when I am six years old. It is winter. It is very cold with snow on the ground. I am sick with what my family at first thinks is a cold. The illness drags on and on for weeks and I get worse and worse. I am ill enough to stay home from school. What started out as a cough and congestion becomes wheezing and exhaustion as well. It is hard for me to breathe. My chest feels heavy and I am constantly coughing up junk from my lungs. One evening my grandmother comes over for a visit. She doesn’t like the way I look or sound.”This child is turning blue and has been ill too long for a cold. Something is seriously wrong. Take her to the hospital immediately!” She orders. She stays with my two younger siblings while my parents hurry to obey her. I am bundled up in my warmest clothing, a heavy coat, a fuzzy hat,and woolen mittens. They also wrap me in a blanket. What air I can breathe is bitterly cold and burns in my lungs. They lay me down on the back seat of the car. My head is in my mother’s lap. Dad puts the car into drive and we speed away as quickly as the icy roads will safely allow. We lived out in the country. It seemed to take forever to drive to the city and the hospital. I remember that once we got into town I could see the shadows of the power lines seem to swoop down and then climb up in the light cast by the street lamps as we zipped by. I feel like I am flying. I hear the heavy purr of the big engine of our car. It is a large 1960’s Buick sedan. We get to the hospital and after a short wait a doctor examines me. The room reeks of the strong scent of disinfectant. I suddenly feel quite unwell. Before I realize what is happening I throw up all over his long white coat. I am admitted for almost two weeks with a combination of asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia. I am too exhausted to be frightened by all the weird machines and instruments or by all the strangers poking and prodding me. My parents are scared, I can see it in their eyes. They tell me that the doctors are going to make me feel better. I believe them. I am so sick that I have to be placed in an oxygen tent for several days. I don’t think much of the hospital food. I am given broth that is far too salty, jello, or lumpy custard. I won’t eat custard again until I am an adult. The beverages aren’t any better. I am used to drinking well water. I can taste the chemicals the city uses to treat theirs. I can have apple juice which I like. They give me ginger ale. It is the first time I have had any kind of pop. I hate the bubbles. I miss a month of first grade while I recover at home. My baby brother is also admitted for several days. He is so young that he can’t talk yet. In thoseĀ times parents were only allowed to stay during the days. My father has to work to pay the mounting bills. My mother comes every day as early as the hospital allows and stays until they make her leave. They put my brother in the room next to mine. There is a large window in the wall between the rooms. When he gets upset and scared during the night the nurse holds him up in front of the window. I wave at him. He recognizes me and calms down. My little sister luckily escapes any danger. It turns out that a faulty heating system contributed to our illness. It is replaced. Emily

In response to Weekly Writing Challenge: I Remember

  1. What an ordeal. I remember being in the hospital when I was very young and it is a scary place.

    • emilykarn permalink

      Yes it was, but I had very nice nurses who tried to make it as friendly as they could. They even gave the oxygen machine a name. It had a lot of arms so they called it “Oscar the octopus”. That made it easier.

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