This must be the high school yearbook photograph. For four or five years, I'd been really sick with ulcerative colitis, terrible pain that made me double up, followed by a toilet bowl filled with fresh blood.
Was it between my eighth and ninth grades that I'd landed in the hospital in Chicago? I had been taken there to summer with my step-mother and her second husband in his house on the river. There was a one-armed bandit in a bar a short distance away. Many tiny frogs. And a water macosin (spelling?) in what was once a fountain area in a neglected rock garden on his property. That was when I had to whisper mother and call her Lou out loud. I remember that the colitis stopped as soon as I was admitted to the hospital, but that didn't prevent them from giving me a transfusion because I'd lost so much blood.
Perhaps I was in eleventh grade, when someone suggested a specialist who thought that all my problems came from a poor diet. He was doing a research paper on this, I think, or perhaps I imagined that I became one of his subjects because he was so interested in my case. His prescription for food lead my father to do the shopping, for bags of food to be brought into the house, and for me to start feeling better until my step-mother returned from a visit to her second husband in Chicago and I became just as sick as I'd ever been.
I imagine that, except for one very bad time when I lost twenty-five pounds, I looked pretty good, managing to say the lines I thought appropriate. I've forgotten so much of that time, but not the fact that I was sure that no one was going to help me.