First Life Crisis

~~by Nadine Faye House

The norm is for babies to double their birth weight at six months and triple it at a year.  I  was off to a good start weighing 16 lbs. at six months but that is when I came down with a very severe case of eczema that covered my entire body. I managed to get up to 20 lbs. by the time that I was eight months old but then I started to have a failure to thrive. The doctor in Neepawa referred me to the Winnipeg Children’s Hospital (now part of the Health  Sciences Centre)  for intensive care.  My weight at one year had dropped to ten pounds. In hospital I was placed on an elimination diet to try to discover the cause of the eczema but nothing seemed to be working.

At the time it was felt that young children in hospital should not be upset in seeing their parents leave at the end of visiting hours so Mum & Dad could only view me through a window while I was sleeping. You have to wonder if the stress from being separated so completely from my family had an adverse affect on my recovery.  There is no record of how long I was in the hospital other than the fact that I spent my first birthday there (July 22nd) and cut my first four teeth between my birthday and Aug 12th while there.

Since nothing seemed to be working my father decided that if I was going to die anyway that it should be at home with family so we returned home to the farm.  My mother had been given expensive creams to apply but as with most kids my face and hands needed frequent washings which she did with regular soap and water.  When she noticed these areas starting to clear she pitched the creams out the window.

Playing piano with mittened hands

I was usually put in mittens to try to keep me from scratching the affected areas.  The only lasting effect of this experience was very sensitive skin with occasional break outs on my arms and legs and the severe separation anxiety that I went through. Apparently, for over a year, I would panic if my mother left the room without me.  Perhaps this whole experience is also why I was daddy’s girl.

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