I remember the woman at the North Hollywood library pointing to her daughter who was sitting near me and telling my mom her daughter had the mumps. I remember having the mumps and thinking it was the worst sore throat I’d ever had. I remember my dad calling me chipmunk for days. I remember living on big stick popsicles because it was the only thing that soothed my throat and lying on a hot water bottle to sooth my ears.
I remember the pain of the doctor taking off the bandages on my eyes after my eye surgery when he shown a bright light in my eyes to see if they would react. I remember seven years of seeing nothing out of my left eye and having limited sight in my right. I remember my first word according to my parents was “LIGHT” because light is important to a kid with limited sight. I remember my mom telling me I had had a twin. I remember mom telling me I couldn’t see because someone had given her the measles when she was pregnant with me. I remember getting my first pair of glasses when I was two and a half and my mom told me later I shouted, “I can See!” but I really couldn’t I could just see better than I had. I remember the kids who called me 4 eyes in school and the one who shoved me down and broke my glasses because I was the only one in the entire school in 1959 who had glasses in first grade.
I remember going to school with deaf kids whose moms taped the hearing aid batteries to the top of their heads. I remember Steve and his Braille type writer and guiding him around Grad Night at Disneyland with my friends because no one else would help him. I remember kids with CP and the ones who couldn’t walk at all, all of them because their mom’s like mine,had had German Measles.
I remember my mom’s friend Mrs. H who gave rides in her chariot (wheelchair) to all the kids to make sure no one was scared of people in wheelchairs or who couldn’t walk. I remember riding in her lap and her telling me about having polio. I remember getting the first polio vaccine in a sugar cube after standing in a long line at school with my class mates and having to get another one a year later because it didn’t work.
I remember having the chicken pox and thinking I wanted to scratch my skin off my body and my mom telling me if I scratched I’d have a scar so I picked a spot on the back of my knee to scratch because I HAD to scratch something or I would go insane and the scar on my left arm where I scratched without thinking. I remember baths in huge tubs of oatmeal because the doctor said it would help and it did, for about an hour. I remember the blisters and wondering where the next one would appear. I remember two weeks later my little brother getting the chicken pox so bad on his eyes they had to bandage them. I was 6, he was 4..
I remember him getting the measles and being so sick but he never got the mumps but I would get the measles 12 years later my Senior year in high school and giving it to my class mates. I remember the school nurse not letting me go home even though I had a high fever because my mom was at work. I remember walking home carrying my guitar in the pouring rain and thinking how good it felt. I remember the next morning when all hell broke loose. I remember fainting at the top of the stairs after telling my parents I didn’t feel well and I was thirsty. When I fainted I missed the wrought iron at the top of the stairs by less than an inch and my sister told me I looked like the Statue of Liberty because I went down holding a cup of water high in the air and going straight back. My last thought was “Don’t spill the water.” Dad said I was dead weight and impossible to move until he got my brother and I only weighed about a hundred pounds. I remember all the red spots. I remember the nurse being furious at me for exposing the school and her face when I told her it was her fault when she was the one who hadn’t let me go home. I was off school for two and a half weeks.
I remember it was the first day of the Sapporo Olympics and my mom gave play by play yelling up the stairs of the Opening Ceremonies because I had to sit in the dark and wasn’t allowed to read or watch tv because it would damage my eyes.
I remember getting the Hong Kong flu in high school after the rest of the family had gotten it and stayed home together and had what I thought was fun and I was home alone and miserable in 1968. I always get the flu vaccine.
I remember my dad telling me about losing his mom after his little brother was born in the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1919.
I remember the doctor trying about once a year to give me the smallpox vaccine and it never would take but they kept trying for years. I’d get the scratching on the skin and nothing and mom telling the doctor that my not reacting scared her. So I have no small pox scar that was such a badge of courage that every kid had one on their arm.
I remember when the only vaccines were DPT and mom and dad telling me how horrible Whooping Cough was.
I remember pain and sickness and trips to the doctor and I know that now that is totally unnecessary and that today’s parents never had to have any of that and they don’t remember how scary it was for us and for our parents when we caught diseases that there was no vaccine or cure for except time and hope.