Fear

Tonsil Hemostat

Tonsil Hemostat (Photo credit: VCU Libraries)

I am four years old, slamming a toy rubber ballpeen hammer on the concrete of the back porch step.  It’s not even chilly so I guess it’s summer.

My grandmother leans out the back door and says, Honey, they’re going to take your tonsils out, okay?

Okay, grandmamma, I say.

Later Mom explained to me that they’d take a scissors and cut out those tonsils and I wouldn’t feel a thing.

No, sir.

I wont feel a thing, not when they cut them out.

They wheel me into an operating room with vomit green tile walls.  There’s lot of shiny medical equipment but I don’t know what any of it does.  I am bright and cheerful because I’d been told there was nothing to worry about.

After they lift me from the gurney onto the table a gowned and gloved Dr. Sanchez approaches me with six huge nurses.

With a tone somewhere between callousness and sadism he says, We’re gonna put you to sleep.

I almost say the childish equivalent of Like hell you are!  But the truth is dawning on me.  My adrenal glands rage briefly, preparing me for mortal conflict.

But they’re ready for that.

They grab me and slam me down brutally on my back and one of the devils slaps an ether mask over my face.  They’re trying to smother me!  My body convulses and in hot rage I come up off the table an inch but they are pouring poison gas into my lungs.  I try desperately to breathe, to cry out, but I am dying.  I endure what seems minutes of torment, of not being able to get a breath because fire is racing into my lungs.  There’s a humming in my head like a thousand wasps and streaks of lightning are racing in front of my eyes.  Finally, mercifully, I pass out.

I can still smell that unbearable ether stench when I come to and still see those wicked streaks of lightning.  I struggle up the rungs of the ladder out of hell and finally make it.

I am sitting up in bed in a hospital room.  Grandmama is sitting in a chair beside my bed and Mom is gazing out the window.  I try to speak but my throat is so raw I cant.  Grandmama gets a cup of ginger ale with a straw and gives it to me.

A lot changes in me after this happened but most of the changes are subterranean.

They hadn’t lied to me in the strictest sense of the word but conveniently neglected to tell me what it would be like.  They took the easy way out.  They set me up.

Oh, bullshit.  They lied to me.

I forgive them in my childish way but I know I will never trust them again.  But fear is my lifetime companion.

The anesthetic procedure they used was archaic even back then, but the rationalization was that with a child that young ether is safer.  If they had waited a few years all i’d have endured was a needle in the arm and that would have been that.

So if you are the parent of a child who lies to you a lot, ask yourself if you’ve ever lied to the child.

To this day I am suspicious and cannot form trusting relationships with people.  And it all started with this.

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