I dreamed in a red haze all night.

The following has been submitted by “Anonymous Guy in Ohio.”


In general, I was a very healthy child growing up in our Christian Science household, so many of the intricacies about CS’s distaste for modern medicine avoided my awareness.  Never had a broken bone.  No allergies.  Outside of a few severe seasonal colds, I never missed school. 

My parents skirted around CS expectations in a curious manner…I got the mandatory vaccinations for school, I went to the dentist regularly–including getting fillings when needed (?) but everything else was off the table.

I very much liked Christian Science growing up.  I remember being disappointed as a kid to find out that it was a lay ministry, meaning that leading services wasn’t a full time job.  If they would have had priests or ministers, I probably would have considered that as a career path.  

I don’t know why, but in my youth I was highly susceptible to testicle torsion.  This is essentially when your testicle twists backwards and circulation is cut off.  Very common sports injury.  Some, like me, just seem to have a predisposition for it–like some people having “bad knees”, I guess. 

 It starts off innocently enough.  A feeling like your leg is falling asleep, except it’s high up in your groin…usually I would go for a short walk, nature would take its course, it would untwist itself, and I wouldn’t think anything of it. 

Then one day shortly before my fourteenth birthday, it happened again–and this time it didn’t turn back.  This is the WORST.  Nausea sets in as the most sensitive part of the male body starts dying.  Worst pain you’ll ever feel.  If I think about it hard enough, even 25 years later, I get nauseous all over again.  

After vomiting for an hour, my mom said that I needed to “get back to God” and start praying.  (I was a mouthy 13 year old–aren’t we all?!)

Several hours later it was now 1am and I was writhing in pain as I vomited off the bedside.  The pain was too great to walk, so running to the toilet was out of the question. 

My mom decided to read “Science and Health” to me….I didn’t hear a word she said.  I told her my balls hurt.  She told me that it was part of puberty and “I didn’t know what boys my age were supposed to look like” when I told her I could feel the swelling in my scrotum.

Finally I punched the wall.  I was out of ways to process the pain.  My mom closed the book and walked out of the room, telling me to get some sleep. 

 I thought about going to the hospital myself, but at 13 years old, I would have to walk there.  In my small town, that was definitely possible, but in my condition, not practical.   

I dreamed in a red haze all night. 

For the next week, I felt part of myself die inside.  They both swelled up to the size of a tennis ball as they fought for circulation.   I was bullied in school for “walking funny”.   I’m pretty sure the Guidance office & a few teachers pulled me aside to investigate, but I was programmed not to discuss family business with them.  If only I had. 

Eventually, one testicle shriveled up and died.

That’s when I fell out of love with Christian Science.  There’s no coming back from that.

A few years later, I got an infection “down there”–this is a common thing if you’ve had this kind of trauma in the nether regions.  It was a different pain, but similar enough that I was certain the whole thing was happening again.

I already only had one testicle–was I now a Eunuch at age 16? 

I demanded to go the doctor.  My mom said, “We can’t, you need to pray, this is what you get for falling away from the Church.”

I told her I was going with or without her because I had a driving permit now, and I didn’t care if I got arrested for not having an adult in the car. If she took the keys, I would walk, because it wasn’t as bad as the last time.   Realizing that I had her, and that a minor showing up at the hospital without their parent’s consent would probably get Children’s Services involved, she relented and agreed to go with me.

My mom refused to sit in the appointment, because the Church would be disappointed.  She said she was only doing this to humor me.

The doctor was done in about 10 minutes.  “Here’s an antibiotic for the infection in your right testicle.  No, your left testicle is never going to grow back.  We’ll schedule a follow up test, but at this point it’s more dangerous to remove your testicle than to leave it.”

I told him that he didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already suspect about my condition, but I would need him to tell my mom because she thought I was only here because I was having a growth spurt and lacked a working knowledge of puberty.

He agreed, brought her into the exam room.  He minced no words.  I will never forget the look on her face as he told her that I was intimately scarred for life, and there was no remedy.

“It’s okay to cry,” she told me as we got back in the car, with tears in her eyes. 

“I ran out of tears a long time ago,” I said.  ” All that’s left is anger now.” 

If I would only know the Truth about my sight, I would not need glasses

By Tessa, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group Contributor. Tessa is a pseudonym, to ensure anonymity.

 

I guess the first and possibly the biggest way that Christian Science negatively affected my life was that I was born nearsighted, and because we never saw a doctor, no one acknowledged this until I was about ten. A teacher saw me squinting and asked me if I needed glasses. I said no, that it was the light coming from the window. She moved me around the classroom, and I blamed the board, the colour of the chalk, everything. Finally, she told me to go to the nurse and I told her I wasn’t allowed.

The teacher must have called my parents, because my mother immediately got our practitioner on the phone. This began about three years of me being told that if I would only know the Truth about my sight, I would not need glasses. There were many phone calls with the practitioner, even lengthy typed letters that I would skim and hide in the garbage when my mother wasn’t around. I remember distinctly how angry I felt reading the letters or listening to her soft voice droning on the phone. I did not want to work at a healing, I just wanted to have glasses so I could see. I knew in my very soul that prayer did not work for me and desperately wished I could get this point across to my relentlessly CS parents.

The other day, I came across a journal entry from when I was fourteen years old. In it, I wrote that after much begging my parents were going to let me get glasses. It had been a decade of blurred vision and headaches before they agreed. I had spent my life to that point afraid to look up, embarrassed to not recognize someone calling my name. I fell behind in certain subjects where the writing on the board was key to successful grades (math and science, for instance). Worse, there were things I was excellent at that I had to give up because of it. I was told by the music teacher that I had an excellent ear and played violin very well. She made me first violin in the orchestra. The problem was that I couldn’t see the music, and it wasn’t long before I fell behind and dropped out. I was a very good actress, but I couldn’t see the Director or follow cues or any of the things one would need to function properly on stage. To everyone’s dismay, I dropped out of acting as well.

I’d developed a complex in which I would start things, but not finish them because I was so sure of failure. I understand that adversity can push a person to greater heights. I wish I could say that that was the case with me, but it was not. My huge lack of coping skills led to very low self-esteem. I felt invisible and lived constantly in a fantasy world of my own instead of reaching out to the world around me. Long after I had left Christian Science behind, I began to realize that I never reached for the stars growing up because I could not see, so I was too afraid. I am still working on changing that.

I was the beneficiary of dumb luck.

By Jeremy, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.

None of us who grew up in loving homes with parents who cared deeply about us ever wants to admit that perhaps our parents didn’t do everything right, and perhaps, just perhaps, they neglected their duty to properly care for us in some very terrible ways, even if they had no malicious intent, and genuinely thought they were doing the best for us. Such is the case with me as I recall some of my early brushes with childhood illness.

I remember two instances when I was in first, and then second grades, where I suffered at length from a painful, hacking cough, and I was home sick from school for around a week or two each time. Since my parents were Christian Scientists, I was not taken to the doctor, so I was never diagnosed, although I now suspect it was either bronchitis, pneumonia, or most likely pertussis. No relief other than prayer, hot lemonade, and the singing of Christian Science hymns was offered. Fortunately, I recovered. In later years, my dad confided to me that he and Mom had been concerned enough about my condition to seriously consider taking me to a doctor. In retrospect, I wish they had. I may not have suffered as I did, as simple antibiotics may have cleared things up quickly.

I also recall several bouts with excruciatingly painful earaches between the ages of approximately six until around ten years of age. I was never taken to a doctor, where the pain could have been quickly abated and the infection properly treated with antibiotics. No, I was made to listen to a Christian Science practitioner, who tried to assure me that as ‘God’s perfect child’, the earache was an unreal ‘illusion’, or some such esoteric Christian Science crap.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have survived my childhood with, as far as I can tell, few if any lasting physical effects directly attributable to lack of proper medical care. While the devout Christian Scientist would say I was ‘protected’, I think I was just the beneficiary of dumb luck.

About a year ago, I related these childhood experiences to a friend of mine who is a retired trauma counselor. She is a survivor of childhood abuse, and is also a cancer survivor. When I told her that I had never seen a doctor as a child, even for these conditions, she was shocked. She bluntly told me, “You were neglected.” I had to let that sink in for a while. While I realized my parents had no malicious intent, and my friend emphasized that, the glaring fact was that they neglected to give me the physical care I needed at the time. Most of us who grew up in Christian Science were neglected in exactly the same way. We’re all survivors, and in some cases, damn lucky to still be alive.