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This Banana Tastes Like Coma

Last updated on October 23, 2018

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes
Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

I was a horrible child.

There. I said it.

I know that this comes to a great shock to all of you as my well behaved, mannerly, polite and lady-like posts as well as videos attest but it’s true. I didn’t just have a short phase of child’s curiosity where they rummage through everything in the house and snoop through all the places mother’s say, “Don’t go near that!” I frolicked there. In fact, as a child, I made it my toodler and early years goal to be awake and up well before my mother was with great, snooptastic excitement. My eyes would snap open the moment dawn blearily cracked one eye open between my blinds and LEAP from my bed cackling with delight. What shenanigans could I get into before my mother with her I-know-you-are-up-to-no-good-without-looking-Mom-Super-Power’s kicked in?

The moment I could waddle out of bed, apparently, on fat chubby little toddler legs I was out to pull the kitchen apart in a quest to whiten my mothers hair before her time. (My mother loved telling this story to everyone. Apparently it’s not just my dad that loved to embarrass me on occasion.) We moved to a base in Alberta that had low income and medium to higher income family housing. My mom and Dad, as a new family just married and just moved, were living in the lower income area: basically prefab homes/trailors from the late seventies with tin rooves and tin siding aptly named: Tin Town.  The trailor wasn’t too terribly small for what they needed, three bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom and living room.

Severe colds and bronchitis were a usual thing for me when I was small. I was sick with a rattling cough and my doctor had prescribed me a delicious Banana flavored cough medicine.  

So apparently this one morning during my cute-wee destroyer of kitchens phase, I decided that I was going to Go Where Mom Said Never To Go. The great mystical magical place that can only be looked upon from down below…The top of the Fridge–where all that delicious Banana goodness was placed.

The top of the fridge was also the place where my parents put the most amazing things. Things that I could not get to as a kid and thus made it 1000000% more interesting than any place that I could reach. With determination I viewed the great white obstacle in my way and formulated my plan. Somehow, at the tender age of three (maybe four?) I picked up a kitchen chair silently and carried it over to the fridge. Once it was placed with great stategry and forethought, I crawled atop the chair and hooked a foot onto the counter beside the fridge. Climbing from the chair to the cabinet made me tall enough to easily reach everything–a basket full of pens and highlighters, Tylenol, the dogs jerky treats (which I ate one. Hey, it was good enough for the dog…why not me? It tasted awful, by the way.) And lo and behold, shining in all it’s prescription white-bottle glory was the elixir of sweet Banana well within my grubby fingers. It’s white paper taped to its outside the dosage information which at that time, I could not read–I think my mother said it was two teaspoons in the morning and night–and I grabbed that bottle, opened it…And drank all of it.

Every bit.

Now you have to understand children, this was the early 1980’s and child safety caps weren’t really around. The cough medication didn’t have a child safety cap and it was the food of the gods to me: overly sweet and overly flavored to hide the taste of medicine. I chugged that motherfucker like it was 18 year old scotch for two year olds, probably belched, wiped my mouth and climbed down. I left the empty bottle on the kitchen counter and went to go see what else I could destroy.

This is where my memory of events end.

My mother said she woke that morning with a heart-thumping start because it was quiet. Too quiet. Every morning so far in my youthful life I had gotten into something which would take my mother hours to clean up and so I had instilled the Toddler Fear into her early. She knew something was off. She said she rolled out of bed and shuffled to my bedroom but I wasn’t there. She then went to the spare room–nope, not there either–checked the bathroom because sometimes I liked to go through her make up…Nope, not there. She checked the kitchen and noticed that I was laying on the couch, sound asleep with angelic innocence. My mom said she made breakfast for herself, coffee, had her morning cigarette and put all the dishes away thinking that I just needed extra sleep. By the time she was done, she thought to herself that it was unusual for me to sleep in so late–so she went to wake me up. On her way out of the kitchen to the living room she saw it.

An entire empty bottle of cough syrup.

My mother said she was sure she tasted her heart in her throat and it didn’t taste like banana at all. She said she rushed over to the couch and grabbed my shoulders to shake me and yell my name.  I didn’t even flutter an eyelid. My mother said no matter how much she shook or how loud she yelled, she couldn’t get me awake. Frazzled out of her mind, she put on slippers and a coat and off we went to the hospital.

This is where my memory of events start again.

I haven’t a single clue what they did to wake me up but they managed to do so and the first thing that greeted my blurry vision was a hospital-grade standard blue plastic cup. Filled with a dark, thick liquid and a pretty pink straw.
“Drink this–” a man in a white coat said with a smiling lady beside them. My mother, anxious behind then with red rimmed eyes nodded. “–you’ll feel better.”
“Drink it all,” my mother chimed in behind them. Not quite awake and not quiet asleep I took the cup and took a big slurp.

Do you know what charcoal tastes like?
I do.
Charcoal tastes like sadness and poop. Possibly sad poop. Possibly poop pooped from sadness itself.

What ensued was possibly six and a half hours of screaming and crying because nobody wants to drink sad poop. Sad, chalky, gritty poop. But not only did I have to drink it and drink all of the cup I had to drink SIX CUPS OF IT. My mother, the doctor and that nurse worked like it was a hostage situation and they were bargaining for the lives of their hostages. They blackmailed me with promises of apple juice or orange juice if I would just drink one more cup of sad poop. My poor mother by the time it was over and we were driving home looked like someone had picked her up, wrung her out like a facecloth and hung her up to dry wrinkled and worn out.

It was late enough that my father was home when we pulled into the drive. Miserable and seeking sympathy for the obvious torture that my mother and the doctors had put me through, I put on my pout face and flopped dramatically with limp-slappy-arms into our house and sulked my way to my father.  My father, the wonderful, kind man that he was promptly took one look at my mouth and teeth and started belly-laughing. This did not help my mood any and I demanded that he stop laughing because I had just drank oodles of poop . You don’t laugh at that, Dad. You don’t.

He picked my sorry self up and carried me to the bathroom, turned on the light and hoisted me up under the arms to take a good, long look at my mouth. It looked like that I had taken a sharpie-marker to the entirety of the inside of my face. My gums were black, my teeth were black, my cheeks and tongue were completely ink-black. With my father laughing at me behind me I couldn’t help but join in. I did look pretty ridiculous.
He said to me, “I bet you will never do that again.”
He was right of course.

I don’t think my mother was particularly pleased with my fathers reaction–but as I hinted at, I learned a valuable lesson that day.

If you drink too much Banana cough syrup you coma and when you wake up they make you drink the poop of sadness.
My parents learned to hide all medication until I was much older.

I never–as far as I remember–ever had any medication that ever tasted good ever again. Every time I take a spoonful of cough syrup that tastes like ass, I remember the charcoal and suddenly everything tastes like roses and sunshine.

Never got over loving Banana though.

Help pay for Mel's tattoo in memory of her mother
[box type=”bio”] Melissa Pence is wife to the husband and wife team here behind 2 phatgeeks. On December 11th, 2011, Melissa lost her mother to a long, difficult battle to diabetes. In her memory, Melissa is blogging 24 hours in order to raise funds for her through the organization: Step Out: End to Walk Diabetes, and for the personal goal to finish a humming bird tattoo on her right arm in memory of her mother. [/box]
Published inPersonalPhat Life