Douglas Howard

My Life: The Early Years (Part One), by Doug Howard

When I speak with my mother regarding my early childhood, she believes it was a not-so-great experience. I beg to differ.
I. some ways my life has been defined by health issues. My myriad health problems began when I was around six months old wherein I has admitted to the hospital, Virginia Baptist in Lynchburg, Virginia, for asthmatic bronchitis. Of course I do not remember this as I was so young. The first couple of years of life and the illnesses were relayed to me by my parents. I was born with and grew up and was ill many times during my formative years. The fact that I was sick so much early on in my life, it became second nature for me. I never knew a winter that I was not experiencing some form of respiratory distress several times and was hospitalized between 25 and thirty times by the age of sixteen. I do not know exactly how many times actually as I and my family tried to retrieve my medical records from the hospital only to learn that they no longer exist.
I said that I do not recall a bad childhood, I suppose, because illness was all I knew growing up as I was, sadly enough, accustomed to being sick so it wasn’t strange to me at all. There was, in fact, an expectancy of some form of illness or another, whether it be pneumonia, bronchitis, severe asthma attacks which almost always led to bronchitis or a combination of those illnesses. My illnesses were so severe and frequent that the physicians treating me tested me for systic fibrosis and tuberculosis on a number of occasions. Those conditions, thankfully, never plagued my life.
In some respects the 1970’s were a blur to me, although, and a number of psychologists would agree, many of us have vivid memories of the bad we experiece in life and those very good experiences are more difficult to recall. I seem to recall both with equal vividness. There are some traumatic experiences my psyche or perhaps God Himself by His Grace withheld from my memory until recently but that will be revealed in my upcoming posts. I will say, now, however my life was shaped by my childhood experiences, good and bad. To one degree or another my childhood experiences, even the frequent illnesses played a role in my current confinement. Over the course of time I may try to connect the dots in how all of this, in my mind, is true.
I had so many good, caring and dedicated nurses watching out for me during the years I was admitted to the hospital for some form of respiratory infection. There was a time I began to think of them as family. Sadly I cannot recall their names but I most definitely remember their faces and how well they treated me and my family. We were regular visitors to the pediatric wing at Virginia Baptist, so much so these kind nurses would set up a cot for my mother so that she could be near me during those sleepless nights of illness. Mom rarely left my side during those frequent hospital stays. I would not have survived those very difficult years without the love and care of my mother and father. I owe them a debt I cannot repay. I would see Dad in the evenings after he got off from work at the Lynchburg Foundry where he workd very hard for about seventeen years before cancer forced him to retire. I recall with much joy and tears the smile I would see on his face when entering the hospital room on those evenings. My grandmother Katie who we affectionately called Nanny would often watch my sister Wendi during those times when mom and dad were both at the hospital at the same time. Seeing that smile and the calm assurance his presence engendered made me feel everything was going to be alright. I was loved, indeed, cherished by my parents as there was never a time I did not feel as if I were loved and cared for by them. I know sadly many people have not had that experience as a child. I was the fortunate one in this respect. The love of family, in spite of all the illnesses I endured, made it a good childhood for me. Love makes our lives whole, just as Christ’s love for us makes us complete in Him.

Doug Howard
DOC #1051074

Categories: Douglas Howard

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