WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop of excerpts, hosted by the lovely K L Schwengel. The only rule is that the excerpt have something to do with the date. If you want to join, the link is here. Feel free to add your link, and please go visit and encourage the participants. I am continuing to post from my memoir here, and it is 3 paragraphs in lovely math of 3+0=3.
I will return to other wips, or at least cheerier parts of my memoir next Wednesday, I promise!
In the spring of fourth grade, I started feeling ill and having trouble hearing, so Mrs. B, my wonderful, kind, homeroom teacher moved me to the front row of the class. She spoke to my parents, who were unconcerned. Every Easter, my father unveiled the camera for ceremonial pictures among the dogwood trees in our front yard. In my picture, a stick-thin little girl valiantly tries to summon a smile for the lens, not quite hiding the pain in her eyes. Less than a week later, I reluctantly told my mother I thought something might be wrong with me, since my urine was the color of Coca-Cola. She thought I was faking, a bid for attention, but I took an old cough medicine bottle andbrought her the proof. After much railing about the expense and bother, my parents took me to the pediatrician, whom I’d seen the previous summer when my eardrums ruptured. Once the pediatrician verified that I had not contaminated the sample with any foreign substance, she tested it. When she came back into the room, she was very angry, and I was so afraid I had done something wrong. Her voice was very tight, but she spoke gently, telling me I was very sick and had to go to the hospital. Palpable frost entered her voice when she turned to my parents. “She has the strain of strep that causes rheumatic fever, but it has attacked her kidneys instead.” She stopped, shook her head minutely, and continued. “She has been ill for weeks, if not months. You will take her to the hospital now, and I will meet you there.”
I was in the hospital for over a week, and confined to bed for four months. My mother stayed in the hospital with me, but seemed angry and distant as always. My father showed the first crack in his immobile exterior that first day, turning pale and anxious as the doctors explained my illness. I knew I was very ill, perhaps dying, when my parents allowed me to have as many soft drinks and popsicles as I wanted. I found out years later that my father’s best friend had died of the same disease when they were ten years old. I turned ten the week before I entered the hospital.
I took penicillin for a year after being released from the hospital. My parents had no medical insurance, and were drowning under the expense of my hospital stay, so the veterinarian who lived next door gave us the canine version at cost. I became the invisible invalid, ensconced on a couch moved into the corner of the dining room. Everyone walked by me, but never stopped to talk or visit. I lived entirely in my head that summer. I planned my life, daydreamed, read books, and decided I was not going to die.