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Illness & Injury – 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History
October 18th, 2011 by Jessica

Week #11 – Illness & Injury Week 11: Illness and Injury. Describe your childhood illnesses or injuries. Who took care of you? Did you recuperate in your own bed, on the couch in front of the television, or somewhere else?

The best explanation of “my burn” is written in my Autobiography called Memiors of a Black Rose:

By this time, Kathleen’s bedroom was locked up with a small hook and loop that she could reach to enter, but I could not.  Or at least, that was the assumption.  Unfortunately I outsmarted everyone by using a little red chair and Kathleen’s baton to pop the lock and trespass in her room when nobody was looking.  I used to drop her Battleship game pegs down the register and listen to them fall into the basement.  I melted her crayons on the register once I figured out it was hot enough to do so.  I flushed her Barbie Doll heads down the toilet because I was fascinated with the spinning action, and how they would disappear inside!  I just couldn’t figure out how it all worked.

Recovering from my burn, 1982

Recovering from my burn, 1982

That little red chair would get me into a lot of trouble.  So much trouble in fact, that its next use landed me in the emergency room at St. Mary’s Hospital in Saginaw.  Just before my fifth birthday in August 1982, I was definitely considered Daddy’s little girl.  Being Daddy’s little helper, I waited for his coffee to ‘ding’ its completion in the brand new microwave we had just bought.  What I didn’t know at the time, was that my Mom had just made the fresh pot of coffee.  My Dad wasn’t paying attention, and he poured some and put it in the microwave for two minutes on high power.  Our new microwave had an aeration tray to allow heat to move around all sides to heat it better.

Ding!  As I slowly pulled the coffee cup toward the front of the tray while standing on the little red chair, I was so careful not to spill it!  Then I heard my name yelled as part of the argument that my parents were having, and I swirled around fast to see what I had done this time!  As I turned, my hand caught the mug handle and pulled it partway into one of the giant holes in the aeration tray.  The boiling coffee spilled down my front and boy did I scream!  I screamed and screamed as my father grabbed me off the chair and layed me down by the kitchen sink.  My Mom was frantically grabbing washclothes out of the hallway closet, soaking them with ice-cold water and draping them over my stomach.

My Mom called the hospital and told them what happened.  They said to bring me to the emergency room.  My mother drove, and my father sat in the back seat with me, changing the washclothes frequently.  I don’t remember arriving at the hospital, but I do remember after a few days I was allowed to go down to the Arts & Crafts room to make projects.  I loved the neat stuff they let us make, like Styrofoam birds glued together with feather hats, a Styrofoam and pipe cleaner monkey cage with a red plastic monkey and lots of coloring projects.  It really helped to pass the time during my stay.

I was at St. Mary’s for four days, and then sent home.  When I was asleep the night I finally came home, I scratched the bandages around my body open!  My burns became infected and I had to go back to the hospital, although this time it was St. Luke’s Children’s hospital.  I spent five more days there with an infected burn, where a nurse would come in every day to “frost my tummy” with the ointments.  She said, “It’s just like frosting a cake, honey!”

I did not go near a microwave for more than six years after that.  To this day, I refuse to handle coffee of any kind.  Ironically, I do like the smell of fresh coffee beans.  But I will never drink it, and I will never again pick up a cup of coffee.

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© 2013 Jessica M. Green