Odd choice for a one-word title?  Yes.  However, this evening I had a long conversation about my grandfather’s medical history today after he had some light surgery for a hernia.  The man (now almost a full-blown cyborg/Energizer bunny after adding a build-in defibrillator to his body on top of already having two hearing aids) survived a slew of ear infections during the Great Depression.  As a remedy for said infections, he was held in isolation at County as his adenoids were operated on for 15 or more weeks.  At the young age of six, he had to communicate with his mother (visiting only every few days) without any knowledge of how to read.  He described the visits when she would be two glass hallways away with chalkboard that was useless to a barely-schooled youth.

And so he sat.  Without any antibiotics in that decade.  Waiting for the next surgery to hopefully remove all of the infection before he was profoundly deaf.  Changing the dressings was utterly painful, he says,  sand there was no skin grafting to help heal over those sores that were opened so many times.  So, those bandages had to be changed for weeks after as the healing process was slow and measures had to be taken so that the scabbing would not be re-infected.

I looked at my grandfather tonight and marveled at the growing-up he did by himself in a quarantine chamber at County.  During this entire story, he was enjoying an Oberweis chocolate shake that I brought to him this evening before he went to bed.  His is a situation that some cannot fathom anymore after the medical advancements the human race has made.  From his procedures, he is quite hard of hearing and sometimes wonders if his careless attitude towards school was influenced by his hospitalization and resulting impairment.  (Enter discussion from my Ed. friends who shared a very awesome SPED course with me last Fall.)  Now, ear infections come and go in our young lives.  Today, if you have too many for the antibiotics to keep up with, doctors will give you fit you with some tubes to drain your ears.

A simple hernia operation from his perspective is nothing, especially since very little in your abdomen can impair your communication with your friends, family, etc.

I used to ask what he remembered from the Depression, and his response was very dismissive.  But who knew he was perhaps one of few ‘sheltered’  (?) from seeing (and even hearing) what was going outside of those hospital walls?

I know more reflection will follow, but in the meantime, I need to let the oncoming sugary coma of Oberweis take me for a snooze.

Leave a Reply