I remember when I was nine-years old. I had a cold and my throat hurt
very badly. My mother let me stay home a day from school which was rare. My
head was very clogged and when I spoke it felt like something was stuffed into
my ears and it felt like little hammers hitting the back of my throat when I
swallowed. I kept asking to go to the doctor but my father said that it was
just a cold and it would go away on its own.
"I get bad colds
all the time," he said. "I go to work on top of it," he added.
My mother just gave me chicken soup and tea
"It's a cold for
Christ's sakes, learn to ride it out," he said.
The hammers kept slamming and my head felt like it was underwater. One
day I remember taking this toy ray-gun flashlight and looking at my throat. My
tonsils were very red and swollen and there were tiny patches of pus all over
them. With my forefinger, I tried to scrape the white patches of pus off my
tonsils. It didn't work.
The next day I was back at school my head was less clogged but the
hammers were still there. I was in gym class and we were outside. I t was a
warm March day. I remember we were playing Frisbee and I kept tasting this
strange taste in my mouth. I'd swallow and it would go away, but it kept coming
back. When we finally went back in the building I went to the water fountain. I
took a sip of water and spit it out and there was blood. I spit again without
sipping water and there was blood again more than if you ripped a loose tooth
out, undiluted and red against the steel fountain. I ran to the nurse's office.
T he nurse looked in my throat and made a scared face and called my mother. S
he also informed the principal who came down to look. T he nurse gave me ice
water in a Dixie cup and told me to sip it. I kept spitting in her sink. I'll
never forget the salty, metallic taste and the hammers and the red in the white
My mother arrived shortly with my sister and they drove me to the
emergency room. O n the way there I kept spitting in a bunch of tissues and
they would all turn red. I threw up in the car because you could only swallow a
certain amount of blood before your stomach pushed it back up. We got to the
hospital and they took me immediately when they heard I was bleeding from my
throat. I lay down on a bed in the emergency room and a doctor looked down my
throat. I overheard him tell my mother that I was haemorrhaging from my right
tonsil. He said that they were so swollen he was worried about the space in
between closing up. I overheard them considering doing an emergency
tonsillectomy, but then deciding against it.
I lay there in the small curtained-off space. I felt calmer now that
the doctor had examined me. About fifteen minutes later a nurse gave me an
injection of penicillin in the buttocks. The doctor checked my throat again and
told me that the bleeding had ceased. I was sent home a few hours later
My father took me to the doctor the next day. T he doctor said I had
one of the worst cases of tonsillitis he had ever seen. I stayed home a week
from school. I kept spitting in the bathroom sink because I imagined that
horrible brackish, tinny taste on my tongue
over," my father said. "Stop worrying about it for Christsakes," he said.
He didn't understand my need to check for blood