The first summer we lived in Green Bay was blissful. I spent my 8th birthday at Bay Beach (tiny old fashioned amusement park on the bay), and got an E Z Bake Oven. We ran wild in the woods that summer, swinging on the grapevines, following the deer trails through the woods, and of course, letting Mom search our scalps at the end of the day for ticks. We didn't have air conditioning, but we didn't need it. Several times we felt really hot, but mostly we stayed nice and cool in the woods (or the sprinkler. . . or the slip 'n' slide). We had friends, of course, but they lived somewhat far away, so on regular days, we just played with our siblings. We didn't get children for neighbors for another couple of years.
Fall came, and my dad was about to turn 40. Mom made elaborate plans for a big fun party for him -- a reunion with some of our extended family members and lots of people from church. When Grandma and Grandpa came up for the party, we spent the day sight seeing in Door County, the gorgeous peninsula of Wisconsin (much like New England -- it has lovely rocky beaches and lighthouses). I do not remember any of the pretty things we saw that day, though. I just remember being miserable with my cough. I had been hacking ever since the weather turned cooler and all the cough syrup in the world wasn't doing me a lick of good. I coughed constantly and I remember my shoulder hurting from tensing up so much. The day after our trip to Door County, Mom took me to the doctor. They gave me several breathing treatments (my nose ran under the mask, but I wasn't allowed to take it off to wipe it -- torture, I tell you!), and then put me right in the hospital. I had asthma, and pneumonia!
I was not afraid of anything in the hospital -- I sort of thought it was a big adventure, but I do remember being so sad to miss my dad's big birthday party. It was the very next day. After I got all settled into my hospital room, my parents left me for the evening, and I remember not being one whit scared to be alone (though it tore my poor mother up to leave me!). I sat there a little while, flipped through the television choices and promptly rang the nurse. "I'm bored" I unashamedly told the poor nurse who surely had more important things to worry about. "Do you need help with the TV?" she asked. "No, there's nothing on" I replied (this kid was used to being able to play outside or read stacks of books . . . television held little interest for me). The nurse offered to take me down to the recreation room where I could color in a coloring book. I was hooked to an IV, so she walked me down and someone walked me back later. The next day I slept in the hospital during the big 40th birthday party for my dad. I'm sure my family all felt terrible for partying while I was in the hospital, but I never thought anything of it, other than wishing I could go to the party, of course. Afterward, my family came by to visit me (the photo above was taken then) and Aunt Pat brought me lots of books (including Gulliver's Travels -- that book still reminds me of being in the hospital). My Sunday School teacher brought me the stuffed tiger. I recall generally feeling pretty weird and off because of the medication and coughing. I had a horrible taste in my mouth because I had to keep spitting out the phlegm (sorry -- that's gross, I know), and I couldn't keep food down because of the meds. I can still list for you the worst things to throw up (came in handy later on when I had morning sickness -- I KNEW to avoid orange juice). I loved it when they told me I was getting a liquid diet, because that meant jello and Sprite, and that sounded like a good supper to me! I stayed in the hospital a week and I went back and forth between being hyper from the steroid to totally lethargic. I dreaded the times when nurses came in to test my lung capacity and I had to blow on the little tube to see how much power I could muster. I felt like some nurses wouldn't believe me even when I tried my hardest! I loved some nurses, though. I remember one of them rushing in to me in the middle of the night when I was throwing up into the plastic kidney shaped barf pan. She patted me on the back and got me a new barf pan when I filled that one up. I was so grateful for her kindness.
Here are two very specific memories I had of my hospital stay: First, for some reason, I called my IV stand "My George". He went everywhere with me, of course, to the bathroom, stood outside my shower, and walking down the hall. Once when my mom was busy talking to the doctor, I saw a frightening part of a movie about George Washington that gave me bad dreams. Mom told me she was so sorry for letting me see it (it wasn't anything too bad, but it scared me nonetheless). When I told Mom about my bad dream (someone chasing me, I'm sure), she suggested that I just jump on my George and ride down the hall away from the bad person. I found this incredibly funny and helpful! When I finally had the IV removed the day I left to go home, my hand felt so strange and floppy and light without the tape, and it was sore where my needle had been. The other thing I remember was how I'd get so hungry for REAL food. When food commercials came on TV, I could hardly bear to watch! Jello doesn't keep you full for long! I imagined all the delicious foods Mom made for us at home and could not wait to go home to eat them again. Mom let me pick what I wanted to eat when I left the hospital and I wanted PIZZA and SPAGHETTI! We went to Rocky Rococos for lunch straight from the hospital (it was so yummy and salty and good!) and Mom made spaghetti at home for supper.
Anna had her tonsils out a few months before I had my bad spell with asthma, and Dad had taken her to Toys R Us to pick out something (she picked a My Child doll). So the pattern had been set, and I knew I'd get a special toy, too. Dad offered to take me to Toys R Us after I got out of the hospital, or let him go choose something for me while I was still in there. I weighed my options. Getting my doll now (I knew I wanted a Cabbage Patch CornSilk doll) or getting to walk the aisles of the toy store with my dad picking whatever I wanted. . . such a tough one. In the end, my impatience won out, and I told my dad to pick for me. He brought me just what I wanted: a red haired CornSilk doll! (No picture to show, but my original Cabbage Patch doll is on the bed with me in the hospital picture above).
And that was the big adventure at age 8. I'm linking up here to Mommy's Piggy Tales where we're telling stories from our youth.