Banana Medicine (Part II)


Maybe I’m afraid of doctors because the only time I’ve ever seen them is in times of panic. But isn’t that true of most people? Why else would you go.

Maybe I’m afraid of doctors because I’ve always had a strong dislike for science—not in a vaccine hating, let meningitis run free kind of way—in the way that I used to fall asleep in chemistry class, and even the things I thought I’d find beautiful or interesting like astronomy or biology fill me with this instant and all-enveloping boredom that makes me feel resentment and anger towards whoever is talking. Except Bill Nye, obviously.

Maybe I’m afraid of doctors because I’m afraid of death. But isn’t that also true of most people? How boring!

My mom says that my sister and I both came into the world exactly as we are now. I was all wide-eyed and impatient, staring right into her face. Long story short, I came much too fast and the doctor at the small town hospital assumed she was trying for a home birth, disapproved, and treated her abhorrently as a result. He demanded she stand up shortly after delivering me which led to her losing a lot of blood and falling to the floor all while I was screaming my little head off down the hall, all colic-y and jaundiced and ready to get things rolling.

That’s kind of how I’ve been feeling this week. Colic-y and jaundiced and trying to do everything at once. Just chill, Gena.

There’s more to the story, I guess, but more what I’ve been thinking about this week is whether trauma really can be inherited. Whether our cells divide and hide in solidarity with, or in response to, the pain of our parents and their parents and their parent’s parents.

In any case, I’m better now.

Banana Medicine (Part I)

I finished the first draft of a long project last week and then my body immediately gave me a huge middle finger and now I’ve been sick for about a week. When I was little, I had bronchitis a couple times and then asthma, so whenever I get this deep phlegmy, rattling chest cough it always reminds me of being a kid. It’s like it was a characteristic that I’d forgotten about—like, my hair was curly and light before I started dyeing and straightening it, my favourite flavour was sour like sucking-on-a-fresh-lemon sour, and my chest was an empty and booming metal space. Think of the scene in The Wizard of Oz when they pound on the Tin Man’s chest. Boom boom. I forgot about that space but it’s been rattling this week.

When I got sick when I was younger I had to take this sickly sweet banana medicine that the doctor prescribed. That shit was so hot in the 90’s. I had trouble getting and then keeping it down though. For much of my childhood I had an intensely strong gag reflex that I always related back to my polio vaccine. In my memory, they gave me that vaccine in my mouth, under my tongue. That can’t be right, can it? It must have been medicine I swallowed or else a normal vaccine. But last week I was having a conversation with a coworker about my phobia of needles and of the doctor (like the proverbial all-seeing doctor, not a specific one), the same conversation that I’ve had a million times where I start to sweat and feel nauseated while I describe my inability to be in the same room as those yellow, opaque needle disposal boxes on the walls of doctors’ offices, when the co-worker casually said so where did that start? This coworker is a sensible person who studies science and I looked at him and was like what the fuck do you mean, this shit has no start, this shit is imprinted on my DNA or spirit or driver’s license or dream database, it was just there when I woke up in the morning and it ain’t going nowhere. In actuality I was like dunno. But I’ve been thinking about it since then.

The project I finished was the first draft of my thesis. For someone whose first and truest love is fiction and who generally takes a long time to warm-up and open-up to people, the fact the this thesis is both non-fiction and deeply personal is kind of fucked up. I don’t really know where that started. I once had someone—an acquaintance who happened to be a lawyer—warn me to never become a lawyer. I replied that I wasn’t planning on it to which he responded neither was I, it just happened. And that’s kind of how this project coming to fruition has felt, I put a little work in everyday and then suddenly I had this deeply personal, non-fiction thesis, one that I will need to create censored versions of for my family, in particular my grandmother, if I want to maintain my calm and collected image. But maybe I don’t have that image to begin with. I have a rattily chest. I have old memories of banana medicine. And all this after taking a few days off after finishing this first draft. Strong proof as to why I should never ever stop working.