This is a response to What Pegman Saw, a weekly prompt, that uses Google Maps locations as inspiration for a 150-word piece of writing. We are in Estonia, in Northeastern Europe, this week. I played with the name of the country to come up with my story. Which, actually, takes place quite close to home.
This is my salute to the moment, addressed by the story/poem , Welcome to Holland. This story is often told to parents when they first find out their child has a disability, to help them adjust to the shock. The poem supposes, that even though we planned for a trip to Italy, we actually ended up in Holland. Estonia would work just as well, I suppose. Beautiful in its own way, but definitely not Italy!
I also take a little friendly jab at service providers, including those in the medical community, who are sometimes less than completely supportive. See my post Bedside Manners for Doctors and Teachers for more on that. Thanks for the prompt and thanks for reading!
“Es-t-t-tonia?” Sally stuttered, clutching her six-month-old. The baby whimpered ceaselessly.
Exasperated, the doctor sighed.
“Nurse Joan. Tell Mr. Amerson I’ll be right in.” A beep, from somewhere in the bowels of the hospital, rushed in. Just as quickly, it hushed, as the door whooshed closed, behind her.
“Not Es-tonia. That’s a country, Miss Ives. Hypo-tonia. Tonia—as in muscle tone. Hypo—as in low, or poor.”
The doctor shoved his glasses up his nose-bridge. They immediately slid back down again, like a stubborn toboggan.
“Poor muscle tone? So he can’t sit? But…”
Sally faltered. She had no idea, what to ask.
“He’s such a healthy baby!” she protested.
“Aren’t they all?” chuckled the doctor. “We’ll run some tests. For now, wait here.”
He spun around on his stool. “Where’s your husband?”
Sally’s eyes sharpened to steel.
“I already told you. I have no husband.”
The baby bellowed like a banshee.
For another tale from the hospital room read Winter’s Toll.
Kelvin M. Knight's blog
I feel belittled by this doctor, Andrea, and I am a casual observer. Great you managaed to reel me in so quickly and care for these characters were the doctor was not.
Yes. He needs a little social skills training himself, I think!?
Sadly, I’ve met a few like this, with a chilly disinterested tone, talking down, like you’re an idiot. You capture this so well. But you’ve also given Sally some steal which makes me think that after the shock has passed, she’ll come through this. It’ll be the hardest job of her life, but she’ll do it. Well written and heartfelt
Thank you Lynn. I suspect she will be fine, too. ?
A thunk on the head to that doctor!
You bring this scene to life as only one who knows the territory. Even though this particular version is fiction, it rings of truth. Enjoyed the true version too! Doctors don’t know everything, do they? Sometimes, it seems, they don’t know anything. 😉
Thank you Karen! Like the rest of us, doctors have a lot to learn. ?
J Hardy Carroll
I like the toboggan glasses.
Clever round about way of bringing the prompt into the story, and a delightful story as well!
Yes after trying for a while to think of something set in Estonia, I thought of the term hypotonic, which I heard in my son’s early years. I could not help having a flashback to those days, when we first became aware of our son’s condition.
Every medical term–most of which we had never heard before, and didnt really understand–felt like both an insult and a weasel word. As if, by just naming things using Greek or Roman roots, they could somehow soften the blow of telling us the truth.
It is in such baffling interactions, that your self esteem plummets, from competent parent to bewildered novice. And sometimes, in that moment of confusion, the mama bear comes!
I wrote more about the first months of awareness of my son’s disability in this post, if youre interested.
Why thank you, I had no idea she was you. Please tell me the doctor was fictitious…..
Oh, she isn’t me. And the doctor is made up too. But the emotional content is quite familiar. ?
Well I just read your link. Very tender accounting. Thank you for connecting me to it.
There was a lot to like about this story, Andi. The glasses like a stubborn toboggan was one of my favourites. I can see why Sally’s eyes sharpened to steel – it was that or weep, I imagine. I would not have been impressed by that particular physician…
Thanks Penny. His failure to impress you was exactly the impression i was trying to make!