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Robert A. Mills

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Blogs by Robert A. Mills

IN FLIMFLAMS FIELDS . . .
11/27/2010 6:52:02 AM

My son was born less than a month after my twenty-first birthday, and what we expected to be a joyous occasion turned into a nightmare of monstrous proportions. First off, the doctor we has chosen suddenly refused service when he discovered our religion was not compatible with his own catechism (remember, this was 1952.)

We found another OBGYN, and the boy was delivered a month early by C-section. His mother was released from the hospital after a week and went home without him. The day he was born he was rushed by ambulance across town to a hospital with a more advanced pediatric ICU; the diagnosis was that he had suffered a prenatal atelectisis.

Back in those days, ether was the anesthetic of choice for major surgery, and apparently the infant breathed some in before he was fully extracted; this caused one of his lungs to contract, stick together and not adequately function.

“I’m sorry,” the OBGYN told me. “Unless the lung pops open, I doubt he can survive till morning. I'll call you if there's any change."

They rushed him to the other hospital, which had an available “iron lung” for preemies. I went home and waited by the phone.

That night, alone in our second floor apartment, I succumbed to the suffocating August heat and fell asleep about midnight.

During the dark of night, I was awakened by a rustling noise in the kitchen, just down the narrow hallway from the bedroom. There was someone in the house — an intruder, a burglar! And I heard him come up the corridor and enter the bedroom!

Just above my head, on the wall above the bed, was a lamp with a single push-button switch. If I thrust my extended finger in that direction and hit to switch on the first try, the thief would be frightened out of his wits. I counted to three and made my move.

I hit to light switch dead on and flooded the room with light — just as a heavy hand dropped on my chest below my throat. But . . . there was no one in the room.

Then, I looked down. Into the beady eyes of the biggest, blindest bat in captivity!

I flung it away and screamed simultaneously as the phone rang. It was the OBGYN, apologizing for calling so late. The crisis had passed, the baby’s lungs were open and functioning normally, but it was two weeks before we could bring him home.

Then, a short time later, we noticed a frightening testicular abnormality, and he was diagnosed with an inguinal hernia that required further hospitalization and immediate surgery. When I walked into the recovery room and saw the infant lying there with incisions exposed beneath spray-on adhesives, I became a limp-kneed jellyfish that had to be assisted into a chair.

Much later, when he was a teenager, he and I crisscrossed the continent frequently to attend the Indie 500 and annual World Series’ events. To this day my eldest daughter complains, “You never took ME anywhere!” Not true; she forgets those exotic weeks in Bermuda and Puerto Rico.

Today, however, the boy (?) is an Eastman Kodak retiree who has bowled a sanctioned 299 game and still pitches for an organized “50 and over” baseball team, The Boulevard. He often visits his own son and grandchildren in Florida and arranges for flights that have long layovers in Atlanta.

Anyway, I was reading the other day about a lady in Pennsylvania who had recently given birth to a baby — a normal delivery — but she was not permitted to take her child home for five days. It seems the hospital extracted some blood from her, and she was found to have a high level of narcotics in her system. Authorities suspiciously labeled her a possible addict and called Child Welfare.

The lady and her husband were distraught. After nine months of diligent preparation and keen anticipation, they left the hospital completely alone, just the two of them, while their newborn languished in the sterile nursery under the tender competency but routinely indifferent supervision of registered nurses.

All because the mother was a controlled substance addict. . . . Or was she?

Thanks to the cruelest prank nature could play, the young mother and father, completely baffled, went home to an empty house, and for five days were unable to hold and care for their baby.

Upon investigation, it was discovered the woman not only did not smoke nor drink, she had never knowingly possessed nor ingested any known narcotic, either in an over-the-counter medicine or a prescribed remedy for such as a common cold! How in the world had she tested positive for narcotic abuse?

Elementary, Holmes: poppy seeds. . . . Say what?

It seems that towards the end of her pregnancy she had eaten a bagel sprinkled with poppy seeds. A harmless bagel with poppy seeds!?!?

Yes, therein lay the hidden culprit(s).

For confirmation, “Myth Busters” and the CDC were contacted, and lo and behold, eating poppy seeds on a bakery item will indeed show up in a normal blood sample as an unadulterated narcotic — even though the victim is a rambunctious narcotic teetotaler!

The Pennsylvania hospital — ostensibly having taken blood without the young mother’s permission — is now the defendant in a lawsuit for erroneously (though cautiously) denying a hapless couple the company of their new baby for five agonizing days. All because of seemingly harmless and edible poppy seeds!

I, for one, was moved by this story. Not only was my erstwhile wife and I denied access to our son for two weeks because of a distressful phenomenon no one could have anticipated, my youngest daughter and her husband are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their first child in March.

It is my fervent hope that nothing disturbs her pregnancy and only joy and rapture await them next year. Neither Alex nor Phillip have so much as “experimented” with narcotics; neither have ever smoked, and their drinking was briefly limited to college fraternity and sorority nonsense in the early 2000s. Since learning she was pregnant, Alex has shunned even coffee.

As a precaution, however, due to my own affinity for Kaiser rolls, I have, as a concerned parent, volunteered to take a bullet for my kids and eat enough poppy seeds for all of us. Any reputable hospital, the ATF, the Red Cross, the YMCA, the IRS, the CIA — or even the Episcopal Church — requesting my blood sample, has only to ask. I have nothing to hide.


Copyright©2010 by Robert A. Mills


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