Year of the Protagonist: Backstory Part One

Sorry for not posting, I’ve been feeling under the weather lately and fairly stressed out with work. However, my illness has me trolling down memory lane, so to speak and I suppose every good protagonist needs a backstory, right?

I’ve been so healthy lately that I’d really forgotten what it was like to be a Sick Person. I blocked it from my mind along with a jumble of other things that I’d rather not acknowledge. However, today I’m hit with a flashback that can’t really be avoided. My problems are so common now that it feels funny to say that they nearly killed me.

It’s just asthma. I’m just prone to sinus infections. I’m as healthy as a horse aside from two months out of the year. These are all things I say to try to mask the fact that once upon a time I was a case study. 

When I was about 3 years old, my mother punched out a doctor.

 

I’d coughed so hard that I ruptured the blood vessels in my throat. I woke up, toddled out of my bed and poked my mother in the side. I remember now that she screamed because the entire front of me was covered in blood.

My mom was young, she was only twenty and I can’t blame her for that reaction. She rushed me to the ER for what was about the third or fourth time that month where she was told to take me home and make me comfortable. The doctor added that he didn’t think I was going to make it though the night. 

Mom had a wicked right hook. 

Thus began her search to find out what was Wrong With Me. Some people have baby books that are filled with pictures of playdates and being outside. I had one of those for sure, but the larger book was my mother’s detailed notes on my health. Every doctor’s visit, notes on ones she wouldn’t take me to again, how I responded to every. Single. Treatment (and ohBOY were there lots of those). She learned how to make me comfortable herself, hot tea and coffee, for example, did a lot to clear up my chest. I needed humid air, but not too much of it. In retrospect it’s all damned impressive for a twenty year old. 

The major problem that she had was, again, that she was twenty years old. No one took her seriously. She’d demand that people just listen to me because I was the sick one. My mother tried to explain to people that I was by far smart enough to convey what was wrong with me. If they would just listen then it would be easier. But no one listens to a little girl who can’t breathe. That takes time, patience, and stopping to actually listen. She’d throw out scripts for codine cough medicine time and again, in front of doctors because it’d throw me into anaphylactic shock. 

I was treated for anxiety, psychosis, “chronic bronchitic infection”, lung cancer, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and everything else other the sun except for asthma. My mother repeatedly begged for them to treat me as an asthmatic. But who listens to a young woman with no medical training?

Through all of this I suppose it mapped a lot of my own personal mental space. I learned that sometimes, no-matter what I did, no one was going to listen to me. I learned to second guess everything. I learned how to give countless examples and proofs for everything that I said. I learned to be comfortable with the idea of dying.

I’ve always been a morbid person. Gallows humor is sort of the saving grace in my family. Dark sardonic humor can be very thick when you’re around us for too long. It’s only natural now that I’m way into horror as an entertainment genre. I was taught to not be afraid of death from a very young age. 

By the time I was five I was on a first name basis with the local hospital’s ER staff. I would sit and talk to doctors and nurses, the pulmonology tech would sneak me coffee. At the time I didn’t know how sorry they felt for me. I was the creepy kid that spoke in complete sentences and read ghost stories in the ICU. All I really knew is that I was sick and very, very, very tired of it. 

I don’t even remember how she did it, but at five my mom finally got me into a major children’s hospital in Chicago. She walked me into talk to a very tall woman and the moment she heard me cough she said “well, looks like we have asthma”. Thus began actual treatment. I’m not going to pretend that it all good from there, treatments were touch and go, difficult to map because nothing had been done right before. I was diagnosed with a sinus infection and set on an antibiotic regime that lasted a year. 

But that will be an entry of it’s own. I really just want to have some tea right now and watch a movie. 

 

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