What is worse than a pin in your foot?

Hospitals, apparently.  Something bad must have happened to me in one once.  I remember having an anxiety attack while visiting someone in a hospital when I was around 12, and it was caused by nothing more than a smell.  I smelled something familiar and wham.  I locked myself in a bathroom and wouldn’t come out until it passed.  This nurse was yelling at me and pounding on the door and I wanted to scream at her that she was only making it worse, but that wasn’t how I was raised.  So I told her as politely as I could that I was not coming out until I was ready and then tried to calm myself while this nurse continued to yell and pound. (She meant well.)

Here’s my guess about why that happened.  I was born with a hole in my heart, which was an even bigger deal back then.  Open heart surgery was a lot dicier in those days.  Luckily the hole closed, but I was sick all the time my first few years of life and must have had an unpleasant experience in a hospital.  Given all the misconceptions at the time about babies and pain, and how to treat children, I’m not surprised.

Anyway, the whole point of this story is to explain why I have a pin in my foot.  Sometime in my twenties a doctor x-raying my feet found a small pin floating inside my right foot.  “How could someone get a pin of this size stuck in your foot and not go to the doctor,” he asked, amazed. But I could definitely see how child-Stacy might prefer to tough it out and avoid the hospital. Today I got my feet x-rayed again (I have problematic feet) and the doctor very kindly printed out the x-ray of my pin.  It’s a little hard to see, and it looks so tiny because I had to shrink this to fit.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

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