Hospitals and Cigarettes: My Childhood Ailments


by c. cimmone


 

Exhibit A: I’ve only had strep throat once. When I was 16, I begged my mother to drive me to the hospital. I was convinced my throat was nearly swollen shut. I made the mistake of convincing her, too. She yelled at me all the way home, “I drove you into town and wrote a check for a SORE THROAT?!”

Exhibit B: Mono is my unicorn. I’ve always suspected I had mono; I prayed for it almost – simply to have an excuse for my depression and extended naps. Always Negative (-). Nurse: “I’m sorry – Did you WANT to have mono?” (as my mother packed her Doral 100s behind the exam table)

Exhibit C: My doctor informed my mother I was allergic to cigarette smoke. He did all of the tests. The horrible skin infection, which I greatly enjoyed picking and squishing alone in my room, was not controlled with weekly injections – my mother would need to quit smoking. We arrived home, meeting my father at the front door, and she informed him, “She’s allergic to leather.” That afternoon, she removed the leather jacket from my closet and I mumbled ‘goodbye’ to the only thing I owned that made me cool. I was not allowed to take naps on the leather couch again; I could, however, nap in the faux leather rocking chair my mother found at Salvation Army.

Exhibit D: I lost my virginity in the front seat of a T-top Camaro. It was a bloody ordeal – clots as large as my fist; and once I had used up all of the Kotex pads, I handed my mother the telephone. My aunt informed her I was “suffocating with embarrassment.” My mother slammed the phone on the wall and lit a cigarette. I vividly recall her hands shaking with each failed flick of the flint. She was done with me being sickly. My father, unaware of the situation, kindly drove me to the hospital at 4am. The doctor was not forgiving and scolded me for being irresponsible. My father happily wrote another check. My mother read my diary while we were at the hospital. I’ve never kept a journal again.

 


 

Cimmone is and author, editor and comic from Texas. She is alive and well on Twitter at @diefunnier