Five Minute Friday: Vivid

Late again for Lisa-Jo’s weekly invite to write it out without worrying about whether it’s ‘just right’ or not. This week’s prompt is skittering around this brain and I’m not sure where it’s going to land. Hmmmm….

The prompt this week is VIVID

 Yup. That’s what I thought about all this stuff that happened! Are you kidding me??


When I was five years old, my mother took me shopping. This was a rare occurrence, as we lived on a school teacher’s salary and didn’t often shop for anything other than groceries. She took me to a department store, to the toy section and led me gently to the row where the dolls were located.

“Choose anyone you want, honey. It’s a special gift, just for you.”

So I did. I chose a sweet Betsy-Wetsy doll, the one who wet her diapers if you inserted a small bottle into the perfectly shaped hole in her mouth. I was delighted with my new friend and thanked my mother profusely.

However, just a few short hours later, I was far from grateful. I was terrified. The doll was meant to help me get through a coming tonsillectomy – something I did not understand in the slightest when my parents told me about it.

“We’re going to have the doctor cut out those things in your throat that are making you sick all the time, Diana. You’re going to feel so much better.”

Yeah, right.

The surgery was done in the doctor’s office, which included a small area for this ‘simple’ procedure. I remember the ether mask coming down over my frightened face.

And then I remember waking up to a splotch of bright red blood on my pillow, and anxious whisperings all around me.

“We can’t control this bleeding, Mrs. Gold. We must get her to Our Lady of Angels Hospital immediately. Yes, we’ll call an ambulance to do it.”

The ambulance ride was a big disappointment. They refused to turn the siren on! What kind of an ambulance ride is it if they don’t turn on the siren?

I was placed in a crib with high metal bars all round. The nuns glided by, bringing me constant bowls of…cream of rice cereal. Bleargh. And it was impossible to eat anything anyhow because…they staunched the flow of blood by inserting into the back of my throat….two very large…TEABAGS. Yes. Teabags. Apparently tannic acid is a coagulant. Who knew?

I spent one week in that scary place, alone in my crib, with my parents allowed near me only a few short hours each day. And then I had to go and stay with my great aunt for TWO WHOLE WEEKS because my own home was too far from the hospital for after care.

What good is a Betsy-Wetsy doll in that kind of world?

This is my most vivid early memory, an event which shaped my life in profound ways, some of which I am still unwrapping.

But that’s for an entirely different kind of post, isn’t it??

STOP. (2 minutes extra)  

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  1. Oh, Diana.

    You too? Same complications. Different details. No Betsy-Wetsy.

    I’m glad you survived.

  2. I was going to say, “You got all that down in just five minutes?” When a memory is that vivid, it really does flow quickly doesn’t it? And yes, we used teabags when my son got his wisdom teeth out.

  3. Scary. So glad that parents can stay with their kidlets now–though sometimes that creates its own complications.

    I still have my tonsils. Missing a lot of other parts, though. It didn’t start until I was 30. I could have used a Betsy-Wetsy.

  4. Good grief Diana!!!! The things I am finding out about you! Was thar auntie Mae? Pam

  5. Yes – it was Auntie Mae. Upstairs, in the front bedroom, with a bell beside my bed to ring for whatever I needed. But it wasn’t my mom and that was very, very hard for me. Auntie Mae was good to me, but… I was 5 and I wasn’t at home. And my throat hurt!

  6. I can understand why this memory is so vivid Diana. How frightening for a little girl.
    When our oldest son had to have eye surgery we were not allowed to stay over-night with him in the hospital (the rules were so different then), and he still remembers feeling so abandoned. Oh the guilt!!

  7. Oh, so sorry you had to go through that as a young child… your story of not being able to see your parents that much while in the hospital made me think of the book Becoming Attached by Robert Karen, Ph.D., where he talks about how it affected kids (when in the pas) when their parents were not allowed any contact with them while they were hospitalized – so sad.