“I can see you have a deviated septum.”

I went to the dentist a few weeks ago. He took a CT to rule out a suspected cavity, which is when he uttered the words above and then quickly started ticking off the other findings from the scan.

Me. “Wait a minute. What’s a deviated septum?”

Dentist. “It’s from when you broke your nose.”

Me. “I broke my nose?”

As I asked that question, it all came back to me.

In the family I grew up in, I have four siblings. The first three are much older than me. After the 3rd child was born, seven years passed before I made my entrance into the world. I am the 4th of five children, therefore, sibling #3  was the “baby” of the family until I came along.

Not good.

I remember hearing family stories of how #3 would “play” with me by grabbing my feet and spinning me around the living room, unfortunately, my face hit the ground on some of those spins. I think I was about four when this first happened, so I don’t recall my nose actually breaking, only the “funny” household stories retold many times stating that it had.

What I do remember is that my nose gushed buckets of blood and that it took my mother forever to get it to stop bleeding.

Hearing that story again as a teen, my mom added something new. She said I bled so much that it was like I having my period through my nose instead of the usual place. The new spin seemed strange at the time, since what girl gets her period at four? Still, I just took the information as presented, even with that weirdness thrown in.

Anyways, I couldn’t process the rest of the dental findings for thinking, “Wow, that really happened! My brother really did break my nose.”

I don’t know why, but somehow it didn’t seem true until the dentist mentioned my deviated septum. Weird, huh? To hear a tale your entire life and not have it sink in until something seemingly innocuous like that comes along?

Later that week, I went for a chiropractic adjustment.

Bob is a man I’ve grown to love. He’s not one of those drive-by chiropractors, he works on me for a good hour or more. Given that, we have plenty of time to chat it up, and there’s usually a couple of laughs to be had.

Bob. “So, anything happen this week?”

Me. “Yeah, I went to the dentist …” and I told him the story.

Manipulating my body this way and that, Bob said, “Your brother broke your nose? What did your mother do?”

“Nothing. She just stopped the bleeding.”

“She didn’t say anything to your brother?”

“No, he was the Golden Child. In fact, he was the only kid in the family that my parents truly adored.”

Incredulous, Bob repeated, “Your mom didn’t punish your brother for breaking your nose?”

Having never given my mother’s non-reaction a first—much less a second—thought before, the story didn’t seem so funny anymore, and I became somewhat incredulous myself.

“My brother actually broke my nose twice. And there were two other times when he grabbed my arms and started spinning me around the living room and dislocated my shoulder.”

“My God! Did it hurt?”

“I don’t remember it hurting when my arm came out its socket, only when my mother put it back in place.”

“Your mom did that by herself?”

“Yes. She grabbed my wrist, held my shoulder and yanked my arm back in place. It hurt like mad!”

“And your mother didn’t do anything to your brother after that either?”

“No. It seemed like she was mad at me for always causing a problem.”

Bob is a very gentle person and I could see him holding back some of his thoughts, like “Man, your family is some kind of nuts!”

Knowing that to be true, I felt a bit embarrassed, but since I was still reeling from my “new” dental discovery, I didn’t say anything more.

Bob continued adjusting me, and we were both lost in thought for quite a while before he asked, “Is the shoulder that we’ve been working on all this time the one that was dislocated?”

Bringing the childhood scene back to mind, I said, “I think so.”

Later that day, I went for my walk and ruminated on all the other incidents related to #3.

Years ago, I remember kidding around with him, saying, “Christ, you must have had some case of sibling rivalry when I showed up!” My brother’s blushing face told me that what I’d just said was truth.

I don’t know how I “know” things sometimes. Words just come blurting out of my mouth and they’re always truthful. And there it was again, me joking about a truth that I didn’t consciously know until I heard myself announce it to the world.

Here’s to you! if you also grew up in a madhouse and yet you strived to create a beautiful life for yourself. I’m glad to know these facts. Still, never in a million years would I wallow in victimhood, because where does that get anyone? By the way, #3 stopped talking to me several years ago. I never harbored any resentment towards him for his childhood actions, but guilt has a way of making people do strange things. In this instance, my gut tells me that my brother’s terrible case of sibling rivalry is exactly why he tossed me from his life—it’s sort of like when you lend people money and they’re so embarrassed by it that they end up hating you for it. Much to Funk’s astonishment, I remain loving my brother and if asked, I’d likely do most anything for him. Afterall, we do come from the same crazy family.

The Photo: Me, with my wide nose. Now I know why it’s so.