My current doctor knows my story.
…or lack thereof…
I’m comfortable with him.
By staying with him, I can avoid THE QUESTION that adoptees abhor.
THE QUESTION is what a doctor asks you at the very first exam.
THE QUESTION goes something like this:
“Any history of heart attack, stroke, debilitating diseases in your family?
For me, when I hear THE QUESTION, being an adoptee, my eyes glaze over and my thoughts wander.
In my mind, I’m suddenly a character alone on a stage, a stage bereft of life, perhaps only a lone tree, possibly like Waiting For Godot.
I always liked the name and was once certain that I had Russian roots.
I speak haltingly, yearning, confused, perhaps speaking to Godot himself, gazing blankly into the distance.
“Family medical history?
Is that what you ask, good sir?
Is that the data you require?
(I walk to the front of the stage, peering out)
I…I don’t know. I just don’t know the answer.
I wish I knew but I don’t.
(I pensively take my bowler in my hand)
I do wonder – will death arrive soon?
A heart attack?
Perhaps already growing?
(I lean against the tree)
If I were to somehow know this history…would I then be safe?
But that is an impossibility.
Knowledge is an impossibility.
The records are sealed.
Far from here.
So, I wander the earth.
Waiting for the inevitable diagnosis.
(Blackout. Thunderous applause)
In actual earth time, about one second has passed since the question was posed.
I say calmly to my new caregiver, my torturer.
“I don’t…know my family history. I’m adopted.”
My doctor, taken aback, stares for a few seconds at the void, then proceeds.
“Well, then. Let’s have a listen to that heart.”
Things, however, are different since I found my mother.
Now I know some family history.
Now I’m ready for THE QUESTION.
I actually look forward to it.
But no one asks.
What I need, I have concluded, is a new doctor.
A new doctor would ask me THE QUESTION.
I’ve waited my entire life to answer THE QUESTION.
With a new doctor, I would at last have my triumph.
I’m quite sure it would go something like this:
“What’s that you ask, doctor?
My family medical history?
Well, I just happen to have that information.
Heart disease, it seems, was rampant
with many dying quite young from it.
My grandfather Jack, for instance, died of it in his fifties and his father, August –
he hailed from Southern Germany
near Stuttgart –
a town called Uhingen –
died of it in his forties.
My Uncle John, he was a hell of a drinker and, coming home late one night, drove he and his girlfriend –
he was married at the time with six kids –
anyway, he was plastered apparently and drove his red ‘65 Chevy Impala into a telephone pole and killed them both instantly in a fiery wreck.
Oh – and Uncle Rich –
he was tall like me –
he was what we’d today call bipolar and shot himself behind the barn.
Unfortunately, he didn’t die immediately but was laying in the cow manure too weak to move for three days with the crows pecking at him.
That’s what the coroner said anyway.
That explained the missing skin.
My great grandfather Heinrich had severe depression –
Or “the blues” as they his wife Hildegard called it –
and apparently walked the earth like a zombie, barely lifting his eyes to meet yours,
except when he flew into a rage.
Everyone called him a “good for nothing.”
And Aunt Jeannie, my mom’s sister, insisted on a having a career but the family put her in an asylum for being uppity.
Too much electroshock took her down.
And Jake, my grandmother’s first cousin –
he drank himself to death on highballs.
He had both been diagnosed with incurable bone marrow cancer
and understandably wanted to drown his sorrows.
My new doctor glances up at me over his glasses.
beaming with pride,
finally grounded in the earth
and not a leaf adrift.
Alcoholism, depression and suicide?
At least it’s something real.
Sign me up!
Author: Mike Trupiano
Copyright May 8, 2017