When I think of going to the doctor as a kid, aside from the routine visits to Dr. Hicken’s office for shots and strep swabs and a horrific, exquisitely painful toe injection for ingrown toenail removal, two experiences come to mind.
First, when I was maybe 6 or 7 I was playing in my backyard with Devin Rushton who lived right next door. We did everything together, though as this experience points out he seemed to have his way with me whenever he wanted. Our backyard wasn’t landscaped yet and it essentially had two levels with a sloping hill between them. For some reason there was a long 2x12 plank going from the hill to the bottom level (I imagine it was placed there by a couple of 6 year olds looking for an activiny). As I recall we took turns walking down the plank, which at its greatest height must have been a foot and a half off the ground. Great fun. On my way down I remember that Devin pushed me off of the plank, and I twisted my ankle on the crash landing. I remember screaming in pain, for quite some time – something that I apparently was notorious for in the neighborhood – and was shocked that instead of coming to my aid Devin took off and left me alone. I remember lying in the dirt, in pain and crying for someone to come to my aid but it seemed like no one could hear me. I’m sure my Mom or someone else finally came to my aid – likely 30 seconds later - and the next memory I have is being at the hospital in the radiology suite getting x-rays. I remember being so afraid of the big x-ray machine. I remember that the room was so plain and sterile looking. I was sure that the x-ray was going to hurt. As it turns out it was painless, and the bones were fine. I think I was a bit of an over-reactor.
Second, somewhere around the same time, maybe I was a little older – 8 or so- I cut my right chin open twice within about the same month, each time requiring stitches. The first cut happened as we were cleaning out the garage, someone had propped a large inflated inner tube up against the back bumper of the station wagon and I was jumping on it. The tube somehow came out from beneath me and I fell forward, hitting my chin on the chrome bumper. My memory of the old hospital in Bountiful which has since been torn down (I think it was on the northeast corner of Orchard Dr. and 500 S.) is going into the main entrance of the red brick building with a foreboding sense of doom. I don’t remember the stitches because I imagine that I was sedated for suturing. I do remember going back for suture removal and thinking that it killed to have the stitches out.
Then a week or two later I cut it open again. This time I was riding my bike down Charlene Dr. as it curves downhill into Davis Blvd. I was showboating, riding without my hands on the handle bars. I was headed to Jeromy Cushing’s house on Davis Blvd. and I remember looking back to see if he was coming. My next memory is being airborne as I sailed forward over my handle bars, and landing face first with my chin against the asphalt. This time I legitimately screamed the death scream all the way home. I think I had quite a bit of road rash with that crash. Then again it was back to the hospital for stitches. My only memory of the hospital was again of the suture removal hurting a lot.
So really none of those memories involve a doctor or a dentist, do they? But they do recount stories of emotional trauma as well as physical pain and scars, and a brief interaction with the health care system. And although it’s not part of my memory, I imagine a doctor was involved at some level in all 3 visits.