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FARM LIFE Chapter 9

FARM LIFE Chapter 9

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Published by Al
Big Ed has a heart attack and loses weight. Martha is skeptical that her cancer has returned. They are both bad patients, Big Ed remembers his father's suicide.
Big Ed has a heart attack and loses weight. Martha is skeptical that her cancer has returned. They are both bad patients, Big Ed remembers his father's suicide.

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Published by: Al on Oct 29, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Heart Attack and CancerSecurity at the small hospital which served the town and the population ofmany square miles of surrounding counties made it impossible to hide. One entrancefor the public and everyone went through the same check point, townies andstrangers both in the same uniforms patrolled. She averted her eyes from anyone ina white coat. She was just another local to these hospital workers.“You missed your appointment.” Not even friendly recognition, her legsspread open in front of him. A dour nurse for a witness, what could go on?Doctors are now aggressive salesmen selling temporary cures and you did not knowyou were sick.When Martha was first diagnosed with cancer she laughed. She was not yetthirty and felt strong and healthy. It did not seem like a threat to someone whohad taken control of her life at age eighteen and been places and done thingscompletely unexpected by leaving the luxury of suburban dome life to become thehard working wife of a farmer.The second time, when cancer signs appeared first in her blood, her attitudewas no longer that it would not slow her down like before, now she thought, Youhave to die of something. She resigned herself not to go through that processagain, of being a good patient who was manipulated like a piece of bread dough.It did not help to be in the hospital every other day visiting Jody’sfather, seeing a man who was a vigorous leader of the family now pale andstretched out with pipes in his arms and nose. Death was in the room like a lightthat cast no shadows while it sucked out our life and each visit to Old Ed leftMartha less able to resist for herself.She was no different than the housewife who got miners lung from doing thelaundry. Jody could laugh that he never got any insects or weeds growing in hislungs but the reality was that while he was in the center of the cloud of chemicalspray he was sitting in a bubble and inhaling triple scrubbed air.The first time the doctors trivialized the procedure but Martha was sure ifit was a case of men doctors who had to cut other men’s balls off it would not besuch a common procedure. The procedure is the second most common, she was told,after tonsillectomy. As a well read mother she new the tonsillectomy was no longerdone so quickly as it once was. Caring for a child, a husband, in-laws and herpersonal project to feed the hungry she thought far less about the removal of herovaries and trusted the doctor. For years since she took pills to supplement towhat remained after they had removed so much of what she was. At first sheaccepted it, glad just to be alive but when her gynecologist started changing hersupplement almost annually she wondered what was up. The pharmacist new everyone’ssecrets and all of the doctors patients where getting their medications switched.This is better, right? But the pharmacist thought the only difference was that thenew one cost more. Each refill cost a little more. None of them could reallyreplace what had been taken from her.Changing medicines began to erode her confidence in the institution ofmedicine. Her entire procedure had been based on faith since only blood tests toldthe doctors that she had something wrong. After removing her ovaries the doctorsaid he couldn’t see anything and that was good since the condition was arrestedwhile still microscopic. At that she questioned the doctor, Can you do amicroscopic biopsy? The doctor’s response was a condescending smile, No, he said,we don’t do that.When she was melancholy about what she lost, not just the egg production butthe ability to hold and nurture a child within, it was not ‘out of site out ofmind’ for her. That was in the dark of night the only thing to counteract herdarkest thought, What if something happens to my child? It was like they had leftan open pit that she kept falling into, or dug a grave inside of her and at thebottom of the grave was a toxic waste pile. She was told the same thing byeveryone, it’s just hormones. John’s mother said it too, she was raised in Montanaand been on a farm all of her life, she had a pronounced mustache, white and
tobacco stained, “We all go through it at some time,” she said in a husky voice.Ultimately alone, Martha thought, what would my mother do if she had this?She dialed the familiar number. First a lecture about them not having a view-phoneon the farm and the plea that she return home. She said, Mom, I’m sick, and hermother began a different monolog, how she embraced life’s torments knowing she hadthe means to trump them. Mother could go either way on the issue, being married toa lawyer allowed her to vent her spleen. She wanted to sue the doctor for notdoing the biopsy. She insisted Martha get the latest implant developed, it was inall the lady magazines, the artificial ovary. After seeing herself reflected inher mother Martha retreated, she became unexpectedly meek, she was not about tosue the only gynecologist left in this entire quarter of Iowa. She was temptedabout the artificial thing but that was trendy, big city medicine, it meantmaintenance surgeries every few years. She felt trapped by the alternatives andcaught in the stare of her mother and the doctor and the army who stood with thedoctor. With no where to turn she surrendered to the idea that she might neverfeel like and will not be her old self again.Martha’s mother thought it was the perfect excuse for her to come back tothe dome and see a ’real’ doctor. Pride, resentment, obligations and possiblyhormones prevented that. John was a new born the first time and there was alwaysfarm work to be done. Only then when she thought she could blame the geneticsinherited from her mother’s mother who died young did she accept what theconsequences were amounting to, her life. But she lived unchanged, for a while.Now she treated her latest diagnoses like she treated her mother, hoping that ifshe ignored it long enough it would fade into the background and go away.So much of her life had been a reaction to her mother. Her mother wasdemanding, self centered and spoke with the support of generations of her moneyedfamily. Like it or not those women knew what was expected of them and did it. Inresponse Martha became essentially self effacing and took her pleasure from herson, husband and her in-laws. The house Martha grew up in always had an outsideelement running through it, as if her mother could not do anything without hiringsomeone. Be the work her face and figure or changing a roll of toilet paper.Father never seemed to have enough income to satisfy mother and she was alwaysurging him to buy and expand. They were a distant couple, father knew how to havefun and when he had the time he would be with Martha, they had fun together.At fourteen Martha wanted to go to a public high school but could not gether way. Not even father supported that. When it came to college it was her choiceor nothing. Her father said he would miss her but it took a while for the messageto sink in. Her mother did not care and her father trusted her. She became aliberal in high school just to stir up excitement at home. She tried to embraceradicalism in college where liberalism was so commonplace. But the radical kidswere too sad and slovenly, wearing wool knit hats in the summer they were a bunchof miserable neurotics. Martha felt she had too much to give to spend time onirrelevant causes. Her high school education exceeded the college of liberal artscurriculum at the faraway farmer‘s college she chose in order to get away fromhome. In an effort once more to do the unexpected she turned to science andveterinary medicine which was why her college was first built and was stillrenown.The vet program was highly competitive and she struggled, it was in meetingJody that the circle of her life became complete. He was a man, not a portfolio.She experienced as feelings the things she dismissed in high school as corny andthe basis for women’s oppression, that being self-oppression by surrendering tomaternal urges. By sharing her life she learned how to be a complete person.Her degree in general agriculture was like a home ec degree but she did notmind. The liberal in her was redefining Liberalism.There had been many beautiful years. Dying would be all right.Old Ed was rallying after several weeks of blood thinners and a starvation

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