There are lots of trails of other stories attached to this one. How many of them do I reel in here? How do I say my wonderful recent telephone conversations with my oldest daughter — who turns 41 Jan. 6th — connect directly to my observations of my 21-month-old grandson who was just down for a week’s visit with his mother — because I saw the miracle of how ALIKE they are in so many ways — he now being so much like she was at his age — she having been that similar to him from the day she was born?
How do I say that as I stood in front of the plate glass nursery window in Balboa Naval hospital after she was born (when I was 19) that for all I had been through those first 18 years of my life in hell I was able to stand at that window, with her little baby body all tucked into pink flannel blankets by kind nurses who rolled her as close to the glass for me as they could so I could see her, FELT her INDEPENDENCE so strongly in those moments I never doubted the power in her little person that was there THEN and is equally there NOW?
That hospital doctor would not let me HOLD my own baby. He told me I was an unfit (unwed) mother in 1971. He condemned me to an aching heart and arms without her. But there she was in her little bassinet. Skin a perfect shade of grownup, bluest eyes wide open looking all around her, not a peep out of her tiny mouth; “OK, you GUYS already! Don’t know whatcha up to, but REALLY this has gone on long enough! Let me OUT of here! I have an IMPORTANT life to live and it is time I got right to it!”
All girl with a plan, always a plan. A girl with razor intelligence. A girl born with an armament of dynamic personality in and around her that has ALWAYS let the world know, “Disrespect ME? So NOT an OPTION!”
And here was this new little guy in the lines of my family — exactly the same way! Undeniably….
Put simply enough for now, I hope, because now I want to write about ME.
Me today at 60. And the me I saw today that must have been the me I was and HAD to become to stay alive from the time I was born. Yes, I must have been BORN with this independence gene. And maybe I was also born with the ‘disrespect me not an option’ gene so that no matter WHAT my mother did to me — she NEVER BROKE ME!
Because where did big daughter and little grandson get that exact same combination? Mirrors of my soul?
Here’s me – sick. Been very, very sick for a week. I don’t ‘do sick’ because I don’t get sick — and never have much since birth (until the cancer visited 5 years ago). I have been feeling a little better, but not much better, so broke down and finally went to doctor’s clinic today. PTSD, severe child abuse survivor, high anxieties, bad combo with being at the hands of unconcerned cold strangers in cramped, closed quarters dependent on THEM for anything – let alone on their evaporated compassion.
What did doc hear in my chest? She did not say. My oxygen level at 91 was too low (whatever that gizmo thing is they put on your finger tip to measure it). First clue to doc I was not lying to her, not there to waste her time or anyone’s money, not there for ‘attention’ — what the HECK?
Did she believe me I was sick? Did I cough and hack and spit gobs of gubers out of my mouth and leak slimy snot out of my nose?
Did I look her in the eye? Nope. Learned a year ago in that clinic these are pretend ‘nice’ people – not real ones. Nasty, that day was.
Did I act sick? Not sick enough? I guess not. (How does one act sick, anyway? Boy, as a child if I had been weak or shown weakness I would have died – I know that.)
Shades of my insanely abusive mother here. Did little (or big) Linda ever show anyone how I suffered? Did tears stream out in public? No. Did I show anyone my terror? Did I shake as a child, squint my eyes in fear or pop them wide open?
I have been SICK with this flu for a week – nearly as sick as when I was on chemo – first flu like this in at least 30 years. I live in this body. I ought to KNOW and a doctor ought to BELIEVE ME! Is that too much RESPECT to ask for??
I do not lie.
I could list you symptoms. I could have done a far more convincing job in front of doc had I listed my symptoms – every detail, on down the line — I have been suffering with a long line of them, but why? Why belittle my own dignity and undermine my own self respect by listing to this doc what any fool would KNOW are symptoms of a bad flu! Do I look well? Absolutely NOT!
Doc had enough history. I was asked when I called for the appointment why I was coming in. “I’ve had a bad flu for a week that’s not getting better. I am tired of coughing ’til I throw up. I need someone to listen to my chest to tell me what’s going on.” Etc. Was I do demonstrate?
It was a surprise to me to find little girl Linda determined to survive right in here in my body today, right in my body in that doc office.
Doc had nurse give me a steroid shot to decrease bronchial inflammation. She had them give me a breathing treatment (med in some kind of steam to breath in my mouth) – left me alone in the little room for 20 minutes with that — controlling my body/self to control the cough could not be done at the same time the medicine was being inhaled.
And sure as crapola Linda coughed.
Doc had wanted to prescribe cough syrup with codeine. I asked her why take THAT? She had NOT prescribed me antibiotics.
Why? Because I didn’t start coughing convincingly until that med hit my lungs.
Guess she was satisfied then. As I sat there and tried to breath lower than a medium depth neckline on a shirt into my lungs, down into my belly — the balloon breathing thing — I realized I had frozen my breathing. I had to WORK consciously to breath and more deeply — and now I did COUGH – obviously cough!?!?!?!
I realized I had done this week and did in that office what I learned to do to survive Mad Mother from the moment I was born. Lately when my coughing gets going and I can’t stop it, I cough ’til I pee. I cough ’til I throw up. Some deep part of survivor child Linda came up with a VERY effective and creative, independent-solution to THAT —
Breathing deep = coughing fit?
Stop breathing. At least stop breathing as much as possible.
Down went the oxygen count in my blood – which the doc did see and believe – after all (no mother I did not control the nurse or the breath tester machine) – machines do not lie.
And eventually when big Linda got help today and as I worked with little Linda’s survival patterns so I COULD breath deeper, I did cough, did have the doc come in the room and say, I hear you are coughing from down the hall (BIG DUH ON THAT, DOC!); I am writing you a prescription for antibiotics.
She would not tell me if I have bronchitis. All she said in way of explanation for her change-of-damn-heart was, “Well, we never know if bronchitis is viral and will not respond to antibiotics or if it is bacterial and will respond.”
OK, so let us DIE without the help we need – what, just in case — of WHAT EXACTLY? You want me to get sicker and have to COME BACK HERE? To see YOU?
Just in case I am — what — a LIAR without a cough?
Was she worried I was going to develop an antibiotic habit over a codeine one?
But – I DID get to meet my very clever survivor child self on some level today, that’s for sure. Never did I consciously know in these past few days that I had not been coughing as much or as badly because —
I figured out how to stop a cough attack by ‘not really breathing’ at all! (After all as an abused little one I had to figure out often how to survive without access to bathroom, food, water, sleep — beat beat beat — well, another story….)
If I had come from a different, less malevolent, horribly hostile toxic life-threatening DANGEROUS world maybe I could see my reaction NOW as being tragic a one.
Pretty powerful and amazing child I was THEN that I could survive to NOW, plain and simple. And why would I WANT to go ask jerks in a clinic for ‘help’ now — exactly? GGGGRRRRRRRRR!!!!
I was half way down the hallway to leave today when I made a GREAT decision for myself and decided to risk staff reaction if they didn’t like my request. I decided I had a right to find out before I left if the steroid shot and the breathing treatment had helped – so I did not have to leave with the scary ’91’ in mind – but could rather leave feeling I was feeling BETTER!
I asked for the retest. Nurse was very sweet. Up to 98 of 100. Big Linda unfroze her lungs. I left feeling better and KNOWING it!