Memory of a Doctor Visit

Daily Prompt:   What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.

I’m afraid my memories are not arranged in chronological order in my head, so earliest is just a label on a big box full of picture slides.  Snuggled on my dads lap playing with his overall fasteners.  Hiding behind the big green chair in the corner, quiet as a mouse, when company came to visit.  Squealing with delight when I got a little brown Topsy doll and wishing my skin could be as smooth and beautiful as chocolate.  Proudly wearing my pirate patch after getting a chemical fertilizer in my eye.  Sliding down a hill behind my brother on his new toboggan with the wind stinging my cheeks.  Falling off face first into the snow.  Being horrified when our dog ate a cupcake without removing the paper first.  Leaping halfway across the room off our parents bed to avoid being grabbed around the ankles by the monsters who lived beneath it.

The still shots of vivid memories out of context eventually progress to little videos.  Here’s the one from the bottom of the box in the Doctor Visit category.  The memory has stayed with me all this time because of the doctor office hospital smell of antiseptic clean, and because it was one of the first times I remember it being hard for me to drum up a lot of drama with such a no-nonsense mother.


My mother is wearing her long mustard yellow coat with the vertical black pinstripes and the gigantic black buttons.  The big wide cuff feels warm and fuzzy on my fingers as she pulls me by the hand up the snowy sidewalk covered in people tracks.  We walk right in through the door without knocking, because this is a house with a secret office where the doctor works.  I like how the bell jangles.  If we had one of those at home I’d be opening and closing the door all the time just to hear it.  We sit together on a hard deacons bench.  I know that’s what it’s called because I asked.   We don’t have one of these at home either but it’s kind of dark and shiny and not very friendly looking, so I don’t like it much.

On the wall across from us there is a big framed black and white photo of a tiny baby tucked under the covers at the very top of a gigantic bed.  It’s little head is almost lost between two puffed up pillows.  I want to know why the baby doesn’t have a crib to sleep in.  Mom tells me it’s just a picture, for goodness sakes.  The “tree” where our coats are hanging is made from the same black shiny wood as the bench, and there’s a black shiny chair here too.  I wonder if all doctors prefer dark ugly shiny things, but I don’t ask because I think the answer will be it’s just a chair, for goodness sakes.

I also want to know why it always smells so strange and funny in here, like everything has just been polished up with rubbing alcohol.  Or antiseptic, or gross mouth wash or the most disgusting tooth paste ever invented.  Mom tells me it’s a hospital kind of clean.  So nobody will get sick with anyone elses germs.  I guess it’s okay for families to share their germs, because our house certainly never smells anything like this.

The doctor pokes his head into the waiting room and greets my mother who stands up and smiles and greets him right back.  He talks to me and I stare at my feet.  He wants to know if I’m all ready for my vaccination.  Of course I’m not.  How could anyone ever be ready for THAT.  It doesn’t matter what I say, I’m going to get it anyway.

The doctor is about the same age as Santa Claus I think.  He has snowy white hair and a big white moustache, but no beard.  He wears a long white coat and he always washes his hands for about ten minutes while we watch him and I think it’s his way of showing off.  It can’t possibly take that long to clean his hands when he was just sitting at his desk doing whatever grown ups do sitting at desks.  Which looks like a whole lot of nothing to me.

Then he’s holding the dreaded needle up in the air, checking to make sure the pointy end is super sharp.  He asks me if I want it in the arm or the butt cheek.  I want to know which one hurts the most.  He says they feel about the same, just a little pin prick (what a big fat liar) but this one might leave a scar.  A scar!  Well of course I want it on my arm then.  I won’t be showing off battle wounds on my bum.

(Photo: George Frey/Getty Images)

(Photo: George Frey/Getty Images)

I watch as he rubs my skin with an alcohol soaked cotton ball.  I hope I won’t smell like a doctors office all day.  I turn my head and look the other way and scrunch up my face for the needle and it stings and I say OW in a whiny little voice but I don’t cry.  Because it’s already done.  And my brother will ask me if I cried and with mom as my witness I will say no I did not.  It was just a little pin prick after all.  And I’m going to have a scar!  He will be so envious and  jealous.  This rarely happens.  I will milk it for all it’s worth while I have the chance.

The doctor says to my mom that my arm might get red and there could be some swelling and if there’s any pain she can give me baby aspirin.  I love baby aspirin.  I look hopefully at my arm, but so far it looks like nothing happened.  I will check on it faithfully all day long, waiting for it to swell up and change color and hurt enough to warrant medication, but my mother just rolls her eyes and says it’s only a needle, for goodness sakes.