Friday, September 21, 2007


[memories evoked by the Weekend Wordsmith prompt "x-ray"]

During the time I was in third grade, the house was under renovation. They first built an addition and then they broke through the connecting walls, with the intention being to minimize the dust in the part of the house we were living in. When the walls came down, however, plaster dust went everywhere. My mom was (and still is) an excellent housekeeper and was quiet house-proud. She tried to keep things clean, but even she couldn't keep up with it.

Around then I came down with a cold and then developed a cough. I didn't feel too terrible, except at night when I couldn't stop coughing long enough to get much sleep. I drank extra fluids and my parents gave me cough medicine. Mom gave me one, then two extra pillows to elevate my head. Then she tried putting a dresser drawer under the mattress at the head end, trying to ease my cough a bit. I should mention that my mom was a nurse and my dad was a doctor, so to have me treated at home was not unexpected. But the regular treatments were not doing the trick.

Doctor Daddy decided I needed a chest film, so we went to the hospital (just two short blocks away) to a room I'd never been in there. I'd spent time in the hospital, waiting for my dad to finish his rounds, or pick up equipment that had been autoclaved (sterilized). I had helped my mom drop off candy for all the folks who worked there. I knew where the box of crayons were kept in the doctor's lounge and I knew where the pages were kept in the office area off the emergency room. But I'd never been there as a patient before.

I had on a dress with a leatherette jumper over it. I had to take off the jumper and stand very still in the cold room while the technicians left me alone. Then they came back and turned me in a different direction and then left me alone again for a minute. Then we were done. Mom helped me put the jumper back on and I got dropped off at school for the day with a note to excuse my tardiness.

When the chest films (x-rays) were developed, it turned out that I had a touch of pneumonia, a light case they called "walking pneumonia." It turns out I was reacting to all the plaster dust as an irritation. Once they knew what I had, it was easier to treat. I stayed home from school and took medicine. And, most memorable to me, I didn't sleep in my bed. My dad had a reclining chair in the living room. At night, I got into my pajamas and Mom tucked me into that chair with pillows and blankets. It was a little spooky, sleeping in the living room, especially since the furniture was not in its regular places due to the construction. It did, however, keep me upright enough to help keep my coughing to a minimum.

My teacher had a fit that "they sent that child to school with pneumonia" but I didn't feel scarred by the experience. I got better pretty quickly and had no further trips to the hospital (as a patient). The house renovation finished that spring and the extra space (and the pool out back) were welcomed by the whole family.

That was my first set of x-rays. I haven't had many -- just dental x-rays, and twice for sports injuries (no breaks).


mar said...

I truly admire people with great memory like you. I wish I had just a tiny bit of it!!! Enjoyed your vivid description.
I had a broken bone once...last x-rays were for my knees. They are just old, lol.
Michele sent me your way for the first time! nice to meet you.

sister AE said...

Welcome, Mar, and thanks. You are welcome back any time.

Maria said...

I have had tons of ex-rays. Accident prone. And asthmatic.

I've even had walking pneumonia. But, I was in my mid 30's. I remember being just shocked that I had it because I didn't even feel that sick. I'd had regular pneumonia before and it took MONTHS to recover, but here I had walking pneumonia and was just a little wheezy....

sister AE said...

Hi, Maria,
Yea - my niece had pneumonia just a few years later and I think she was in the hospital for a while with it. When I was 8, I didn't know that it could be serious.

Oh, yea, and I forgot about the mammograms on my list of other radiation I've had.

Awareness said...

Great description of your experience. I too have had walking pneumonia, but felt quite aching and tired.....
My scariest experience with X-rays was when my daughter as an infant had to have them done. It turned out she had a touch of pneumonia too, but we caught it early and I was able to treat it at home with antibiotics. But, I hated the whole X ray process with her....poor little thing.

Michele sent me to say hello tonight

sister AE said...

Welcome, Awareness.

~A~ said...

Hi Michele sent me.

What a great story, even though you were sick.

Have a wonderful weekend.

sister AE said...

Hello, ~A~. Thanks for visiting and the comment cheer.

crallspace said...

X-rays suck. I hate those bone-fryers.