You know how some things are so traumatic, the memory sticks with you even decades later? This got me to thinking about how important back story is to a character. Really,a writer can make a character do anything (no matter how cray-cray it is) as long as it’s properly motivated. And, wow, does a childhood trauma ever qualify.
My trauma happened when I was five and had to go to school. It wasn’t the school that was traumatizing but what I had to go through so they’d even let me through the doors. Of course, at five all you know is that this is where you’re supposed to go, right? And you kinda, sorta trust your parents – my first peeps – to do the right things for you. I had to be vaccinated. It sounded innocent enough (remember that trust part?), so was I ever surprised when I found myself in a doctor’s office with a nurse and a HUUUUGE needle coming at me. I would’ve sworn it was the length of both my arms stretched wide. And no way was she going to put that thing anywhere near me.
I cried, I squirmed, I held onto my mother’s arm like she was my lifeline. And the nurse kept coming. Finally, the old witch (because by that time that’s what she’d become in my five-year-old brain, complete with broomstick and black robe) took one look at me and said, “See this needle? I’m going to put it in your arm, and if you don’t stop moving, the tip will break off and go to your heart and then you’ll die.”
To this day I remember it all: the tears, the fears, and the utter desperation.
Obviously I survived the experience. Sort of. I hate needles, which makes it kinda hard when the doctor orders blood work. Also explains why I don’t go see him a lot. The first time I went in for a draw the dear, sweet, young tech poked around my arm and said, “I can’t find a vein. Might have to try a couple of times before I hit it.”
I left. The doc never did get a blood work-up.
Second time, Mr. Alexander went with me. And I had to lay down before I’d let them do anything. Cried like a baby while he held my hand and tried to soothe me. Poor man promised me anything I wanted (dinner out, jewelry, a shopping trip, even a cruise), and even that didn’t calm me down. Got myself so worked up the tech had to switch arms to find a vein. She’s lucky hubby talked me into staying. Probably didn’t want to have to go through it all again.
Third time, several years later, I sat in a chair like normal people. (This was at a different lab so I figured I had a clean slate from the ohmigod-I’m-gonna-die-while-lying-down experience.) Mr. Alexander was in the room with me, a few feet away. Teasing and distracting me while the tech did her thing. (What a hero!) Got through that with no tears, so I felt pretty proud of myself.
This last time was danged near perfect. I walked into the room all by lonesome like I’d done it a gazillion times before, chatted like I’d had way more than three cups of decaff coffee that morning, and learned some interesting facts about my tech:
* She’d been a tech for thirty years.
* Became one because she wanted to be in the medical field but couldn’t afford to go to nursing school.
* Still loves being a tech! (Which was a good thing, because any other answer would’ve shot me out of the chair.)
* Moved sixteen years ago from Utah because her father moved here, was getting up in years, and she figured he needed family close by.
* Loves living in the Pacific Northwest. The weather, the outdoors, and the farmer’s markets are so awesome in our area.
* Has children who still live in Utah, and she visits every now and then.
* Would never move back to Utah, though, because the weather is so awful. And it’s not the hot weather, either, but the winters. They’re brutal, and she doesn’t see any reason to go back. Except for her children.
And just like that, she’d finished.
I’d finally conquered my fear of needles!
Next time, Mr. Alexander can stay in the car instead of the waiting room.
Have a great week,