Wednesday, May 12, 2004


My earliest memory is of having a tonsillectomy when I was three. I remember two scenes vividly. In the first, I'm lying on the operating table with the doctor and nurses standing over me. Someone puts a black mask over my nose and mouth and tells me to begin counting backward from 100. (I swear!) I mean, I was a precocious kid, but do most 3-year-old's know how to do that?! Doesn't the use of ether seem rather archaic now? Oh well, it was the 50's. (But not as archaic as my coworker's contact lens fitting.**)

In the second hospital memory, I'm standing in a crib in the hospital room. A crib! (I was a toddler, for god's sake!) My mother is telling me that I can have all the ice cream I want (was this before or after surgery?) It's like that classic Bill Cosby sketch about the same thing. They don't tell you that your throat will be so sore you won't be able to swallow it.

Fast forward 14 years...I'm 17 and my brother is 12. He's recently had his tonsils removed. He had a rather rough time of it, actually. (I guess it's harder the older one is.) But don't feel sorry for him just yet. I pull back the covers one night and find a small jar sitting in my bed linens. It's his tonsils floating in formaldehyde.


**I should interject before relating this next story that I have a "thing" about my eyes. I have very, very sensitive eyes. It's why I've never worn contacts and why I can't even get eye drops in my eyes.

In the 70's, I briefly worked with an older woman named Pat. She wore glasses when I knew her, but one day we must have been telling gross-out stories or something because she told me about her first contact lens fitting, where the optometrist propped her eyelids open (I nearly fainted at that part) and then...used PLASTER OF PARIS to MAKE A CAST OF HER EYEBALLS!!! (It was in the 40's.) Okay, I think I have to lie down now...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strangely - my tonsilectomy is my earliest memory, too. And I was also three.

- T.

3:26 PM  

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