Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Bunny Who Sailed Away In A Boat

My mum and dad used to laugh about the pictures I would draw of people as a little kid. Everything was normal and in proportion except for the ears. The ears I drew almost as large as the head itself and within the ears I put several circles to signify the tubes and eardrum inside.

I was plagued by ear infection as a kid.

At least once a year I would wake up with my head on fire. The infections usually lasted two or three days and there wasn't much you could do about it. Antibiotics, sure, but the symptoms just had to be endured.

One time, however, stands out from all the rest. I was having trouble hearing. I hadn't noticed it until I got one of my typical infections. When I went to my pediatrician he told us that my ear was completely blocked with wax. I know, gross. But it was affecting my hearing.

What I remember of the pediatrician is the plaid pants. Or maybe plaid suit jacket. There was a touch of the plaid about him and he seemed like a comic book figure to me. He had big bristly black hair and huge eyebrows and a fat fleshy face which held twinkly eyes. I was conflicted about him because he was really nice and funny but every time I saw him I was in agony.

This time was no different. The pressure in my head was extraordinary. But the doctor had a solution for the blockage in my head. A giant syringe full of water. He assured me that it wouldn't hurt which was a big fat lie.

He had me lay on my side and he flushed the wax out of my ear with a jet of warm water. It was like a knife in my brain. I screamed. I kept screaming. All of a sudden my mother was back in the room. The pain was intense but the most indelible facet of the whole experience is how much more SOUND was coming into my skull. The sound of air hurt. The slight hiss of a wind against a windowpane was like a gong being slammed inside of me.

I was given a shot of a painkiller. I don't know what it was. I don't even remember the needle, so lost in the rush of sound and fury was I.

The doctor and my mother then left the room, turning off the light to give me the opportunity to calm down. And this is when it happened.

I was staring at the painting on the wall, a bunny in a small sailboat on a slightly choppy sea. I'd seen this photo a hundred times. I knew it by heart.

So when the boat started to move across the water and the bunny moved within the boat I knew something was up. I watched with fascination as the boat turned away from me and began to sail off toward the horizon instead of parallel to it.

I was hallucinating!

On the ride home I told my mum about the bunny in his boat. I also told her not to drive so fast because everything looked funny. The doctor would later tell me that I'd have been deaf if I'd been born in the 1800's. Which was oddly reassuring.


Sheila O'Malley said...

I remember that story about the syringe!!

And there's something so heartcracking about your childhood drawings with big prominent anatomical ears. :(

Brendan O'Malley said...

I know. My very first drug experience too.

Siobhan O'Malley said...

oh brendan. these stories are so sad