Obtaining a complete medical history can be tricky business….
“YOUR MOTHER’S CASE IS PUZZLING,” the surgeon says.
He has just emerged from the surgical wing, come out through the automatic double doors into the waiting area. I stand up. He has her file under his arm. He’s come to tell me everything went smoothly.
“It’s strange, though. This diagnosis is usually the result of either tobacco or alcohol use, so without a history of either of those, it’s hard to say why this developed.”
I quickly take in his face again, then glance at the name on the file.
I stumble and stutter a bit.
“Well, Doctor…..my mother is an alcoholic.”
I don’t wish to violate my mother’s privacy, but I feel the doctor deserves to be told before he sends her case off to Harvard for further investigation.
He flips wildly through her chart. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize.”
“She hasn’t had a drink in years, but yes, she drank heavily most of her adult life.”
“There’s no indication of it here! I’m sure I asked.”
“I’m sure you did, Doctor.”
* * *
IN THE RECOVERY AREA lays a seasoned Alcoholics Anonymous speaker, someone accustomed to telling her story, a story that always starts with the words, “My name is —- and I’m an alcoholic.” How many times had she said those words? And to how many people?
But she couldn’t bring herself to tell the doctor.
Makes no sense.
Makes perfect sense.
“I didn’t want that nice doctor to think I’m a drunk or something,” she tells me later.
not in agreement, but in understanding, reminded.
Though one may break a habit,
breaking with the shame of it is a separate work.
I make a note to myself about this.
* * *
Read all the Child-of-Alcoholic series HERE. Public commenting is disabled for this series, but emails are welcome. I read every one of them. Your stories and reflections are powerful and they keep me from falling into the “Aw, nobody will care to read about this stuff” line of thinking.