Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Sickly Child and a Katydid



      Recently, I found a katydid in our back yard. It reminded me of being in the hospital.

      I was about 18 months old, and had polio. Polio, or infantile paralysis, was one of the most-feared diseases. There was no cure. Some people died. Some got well. Many were left paralyzed. Our tiny town of Vici, Oklahoma, didn't have a hospital, so my parents took me to another town.
      Mama, the biologist, watched over me. She saw that the hospital kept the babies' half-drunk bottles in the same ice used for patient glasses. Horrified, she saw that I was moved to another hospital, which meant yet another town.
      On Wednesday night, all of the churches in Vici prayed for me. The next morning, I was getting better. A miracle? Maybe. An answer and a mercy? Certainly. I recovered totally, but was weak.

      I was eight years old and had surgery. In April we'd moved a hundred miles across Kansas, from Great Bend to Salina. Now it was June. I was taken back to our former town for surgery. It was planned; correcting a hernia I was born with. The hospital room was green.
      The day after the surgery, a husband and wife came to see me, but really came to see my folks. The people talked and talked. Daddy took them out into the hall where they kept on talking. I was glad when the couple left.
      A nice nun came by to see me.
      On the day when I was to leave, Mama found a katydid in the room. I guess the windows opened. I don't know if there were screens. She brought it over to show me. I was happy.

      I was ten years old and had pneumonia. I said I smelled something like popcorn. My parents concluded that I smelled my own feverish self. They were frightened by that. They looked at my fingernails, which looked bluish. They were more frightened. They put me into the back of our 12-year-old Chrysler and took me to the hospital. Every bump hurt. I told Daddy to slow down. He didn't.
      At the hospital, they gave me a shot of antibiotic in my rear end every few hours. A nice minister came by daily to see me; shared a verse and a quick prayer. I was glad.

      All of that was many years ago. I'm thankful to be a healthy adult; thankful for people who have made God real to me and thankful that there are still katydids.

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