One of my earliest body memories is when I was 6. My family was going away for the weekend with our friends. It was Labor Day weekend and I noticed that my housecoat (bathrobe in American) was missing a button. I endeavored to sew one on, finding the basket where thread, needles and scissors lived. I settled onto the carpet to sew the button, threading the needle and with one hand reached across the space for the scissors and put my hand down on the carpet, feeling a prick. I rubbed my hand and didn’t think much of it. I sewed the button on my pink quilted housecoat, cleaned up the supplies and returned them to the sewing basket.
We drove to Lake George in the Adirondacks of New York state, 4 or 5 hours from our house. I began to experience a dull ache in my hand and told my parents about it. The next day I swam in the lake and likely played marathon Monopoly with our friends. During the night my hand began to ache and I woke my parents up. They gave me baby aspirin and told me to go back to sleep. My mother told our hosts what was going on the following day. The friend was a pediatrician and examined my hand. She assumed that I was getting an infection and gave me antibiotics for the rest of the weekend. The pain continued and intensified, I cried and cried and no one understood why.
On Tuesday morning, on what would have been my first day of the first grade, my mother took me to the emergency room. The doctor examined my hand and scratched his head, poking a little more, perplexed as all the adults were. According to my mother, a nurse attending this procedure asked, “Do you think something is in her hand?”
I was in emergency surgery a short time later where they extracted an entire needle, broken in half, and a piece of thread still threaded through its eye. I was in the hospital for a week. The staff soaked my hand in some kind of antibiotic solution. My mother cried uncontrollably because she thought I would lose the use of my hand or have it amputated. Although my hand hurt, I enjoyed the time in the hospital because all the of the nurses came into the room and colored with me, there was a man nurse who I thought was handsome, and my father came to see me after work and brought me a doll. A doll. She was blonde like me! I was so happy. This was a time when parents couldn’t sleep at the hospital with their kids.
I recuperated at home then returned to school several weeks after it began. I tried desperately to write with my left hand. Never happened. I am right-handed and my handwriting remains illegible. I have a scar the length of my palm which only had 3 stitches. It gives pause to palm readers every time.