“My first memories as a kid deal with pain...” They aren’t the very first words of his post, but these words written early on in one of Mr. PinkLightSabre’s posts in his epic, 40 days and 40 nights of memoir writing, launched a memory of my own. (Before I go on, if you aren’t already a regular reader of PinkLightSabre’s blog, you should be. He has a way with words and memories and moments.)
My first memories as a kid also dealt with pain. I was four. I can’t think of anything that predates this. Possibly because the trauma of the thing was so great. In my memory, I woke up one night with such intense pain in my right knee that I could barely make it down the hallway. I don’t clearly remember if there was any pain before that night, although I have a hazy memory that my knee might have started bothering me earlier in the day.
I ended up in the hospital for a couple of weeks. Decades later, I learned from my parents that the doctors initially thought I might have cancer and that they would have to amputate my leg. I knew nothing of that at the time. What it ended up being was a staph infection. I marvel at what this means about the state of the medical profession in 1972. From cancer and near amputation, to an infection needing massive antibiotics and almost 50 years later, I still have both legs.
Besides the pain and the days in the hospital, I remember the needle. The one that, in my memory, they stuck in my knee to drain the fluid once or twice a day. And that when they came in each time to do this I would scream my bloody head off. You see, this was no ordinary hypodermic. This was something else entirely. Something large enough that it left two scars behind. One on each side of my right kneecap that remain to this day.
My next memory is of starting kindergarten on my “crunches” shortly after I was released from the hospital.
My third memory is of going back to the hospital because of pain again. This time, somewhere in the next year or so, it was to have my tonsils removed. My stay was only for a couple of days then. I got a lot of jello and popsicles and that was wonderful. I walked out with a candy bar somebody gave me. I think it was an orderly named Charlie, but who knows at this point. I stuck the candy in my pocket regardless of my sister or mother warning me it would melt there.
Which it did.
It’s interesting what prompts our first memories and what they may say about who we are.
I have spent much of the rest of my life in various sorts of pains. Not debilitating pain that stops me from living my life. No, nagging pains that are just enough to hinder me a bit.
I developed tendonitis in my shoulder in my teen years and cannot throw a baseball for more than a few minutes without pain.
My knees have always been a weak spot — tweaking and twinging as I walk around. More so when I spent a lot of time playing tennis.
There is a problem somewhere around my C-4 or C-5 vertebrate. About a decade ago I had an X-Ray and the doc said there was nothing wrong with it. It was just that the gap in the vertebrate was a little narrower than normal and there was nothing to be done. Truth is, that may have been the actual cause of the tendonitis.
All I know is that it means I frequently feel stiffness in my neck. I have to be careful about trying to not get my neck out of whack — it’s one of the reasons I don’t golf anymore. Lugging a bag around for 18 holes, plus the twisting that occurs with each swing, just isn’t a good idea.
The neck thing also gets me at night. After I have been in one position for a few hours, that stiffness and the accompanying pain wakes me when I decide to turn over. It also prevents me from spending much time sleeping on my stomach.
When I took up running, more pain came along with it. I don’t have a run that doesn’t involve some sort of pain. Ever.
Years ago, I remember my mother doing her motherly thing and asking why I engaged in a certain physical activity — I no longer remember what it was — if it hurt me. She was afraid I would do some permanent damage to life and limb. My response was that if I let pain stop me from activity, I wouldn’t be able to do anything.
My first memory is of pain. I’ve had many memories of pain since. A day doesn’t go by without pain.
And that’s just the physical pain. Mental and emotional pain … that’s a whole other story.
What’s your first memory? I’d like to think we aren’t all locked into such first memories.