... You were thirty years old, and your mother was also my patient? What if she said you wouldn’t speak to her? What if she said you told her your grandfather sexually abused you? What if she said, “My father was a lot of things, but he was not a sexual predator”? What if she called you “a liar”? What if she didn’t believe you because your sister denied it happened to her? What if you knew that she knew? What if I couldn’t convince her to validate you? What if you cut off all family ties and turned to drugs? What if you killed yourself?
The jolt of pain shot up my back. Oh shit! I immediately stopped rowing. But then I recommenced my “high intensity” work out, with some modifications, not saying a peep to the instructor. Within a day, I had searing pain down my right thigh, like someone was tearing apart my quad with hot tongs. Every time I tried to stand, I turned ashen white and collapsed down. Me, the marathon runner; me, the active ob/gyn; me, the one who doesn’t know how to say no. Me, brought to my knees by overwhelming pain.
Immediately, I’m texting my partner. Prescribe me some steroids please. I’m thinking it has to be a herniated disc. My daughter drives me to the pharmacy, and I can’t make the walk to the back of CVS. I stop part way then, when I’m close, collapse into a chair. My daughter looks scared. “Just ask them for my prescription,” I tell her, trying to sound calm. I don’t know how I’m going to get back to the car.
"We need to leave. Joan's father just died."
My husband, Richard, our newborn baby, Andy, and I were in Binghamton, New York, where Richard was interviewing for a postdoctoral fellowship.
I had been in our host's guest room nursing Andy when someone called Richard to the phone. As I overheard Richard's words, my consciousness split in half. One part registered the information with dismay. The other continued cooing to Andy, enchanted that he had just awarded me his first smile.
For almost forty-five years, I have been angry. While this anger never leaves me, it becomes more profound on December 11, my son’s birthday. It was on that day in 1973 that the seeds of anger were planted.