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Fortuitous Discontent

Post Published: 14 April 2011
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Category: Dear Thyroid Family Letters
This post currently has one response. Leave a comment

Dear My Dad’s Thyroid,

I’m writing to you because these days I’m thinking a lot about as my dad as a boy.  The old farm that was in the family three generations is being sold and when I was there for the last time, rummaging around in the attic, I found letters from my grandfather to my grandmother, about my father, about whom they were worried. My dad, born in 1943, had asthma. His entire childhood an oxygen tank hulked in the corner. He was, in the terminology of the day, “sickly.”

Sickly is no adjective for a child, or anyone, for that matter. It’s diminishing, a judgment, and I’m glad we don’t use it anymore, though “sick” is no better.  How should we refer to illness? I’m still unsatisfied by our vocabulary.

My dad would continue to have asthma, and, when he was in college he had several episodes after crew practice of tachycardia, sweating, and panic. After extensive testing during which time I’m sure he was freaked out (though they didn’t use those words), it was determined he had hyperthyroidism. His mother had hypo, he had hyper — a nice generational yin yang.

He’s taken Synthroid pills every day since.  I used to look at the bottle. Synthroid. There was a good band name.  You know what’s also a good band name? Dad’s Imperfect.

As a child it was discovered that I also had asthma; generational genetic reverb, I guess. And whenever anything went wrong with me, “just in case,” “because of your dad” I always had to get my thyroid checked. It’s never been my thyroid, I have problems with my spine, so that’s new in the family, an evolution. Stupid thyroid, stupid asthma, stupid spine.

I like to think of my dad, newborn, in the letters my grandmother wrote to my grandfather, how thrilled they were with him. Thyroid, no matter what you did,  you never changed that.

I don’t love you, but I love my dad,

Written by: Elizabeth

IBio) Elizabeth Bastos lives in Baltimore with her husband and children. Her humor writing has appeared in The Book Bench blog of the New Yorker magazine, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Big Jewel, The Smithsonian magazine; she writes a monthly parenting column for Errant Parent. She can be reached at Goody Bastos, her blog: www.goodybastos.blogspot.com

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One Response to “Fortuitous Discontent”

  1. Heather Tucker says:

    Great letter! Brings a new appreciation for our parents when we can put ourselves in their shoes, although it is always hard to imagine that they were once our age, and ever scared of anything. 🙂 Thanks for posting!

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