Why horseshoe crabs?

When I was a girl, I spent a lot of time wandering the shorelines of Sandy Hook along the Shrewsbury River at the Jersey shore. I felt very close to the horseshoe crabs I discovered there. They wore armor and trailed a spiky tail yet were quite vulnerable as they could be easily overturned, their undersides unprotected by a shell. Similarly, I had a vulnerable underside. As a baby 3-weeks young in 1952, I underwent a surgery for pyloric stenosis (the closing of a stomach valve near the small intestine). This operation affected me and my family very deeply, and I am still understanding the myriad ways in which that surgery determined the future course of my life.

When I was a very young girl wandering those shores, interacting with the creatures of the sea, I found a community of creatures where I seemed to belong. Because of my difficult early beginning, I felt alone, an outsider, and was extremely shy. I was an odd creature like the crabs, and I too loved the sea. I spent many hours interacting with them. Now when I look back to those early musings and experiences, I understand the girl I was so much more–the girl trying to come to terms with what had happened to her early on.

This blog is my attempt to find other adults who have undergone infant surgery. I want to compare notes. I want to emerge from my aloneness and find others willing to explore how an early operation and their family’s reactions to it have shaped their lives. I want to share the story of my journey so far, hoping others will find meaning in it. I am hoping that you will share some of your stories with me. Will you join me?

30 Responses to Why horseshoe crabs?

  1. Yes, what you write very much resonates with me, and I’m sure there will be some significant common issues – some of which you’ve raised and others also.
    I had the same surgery, and it seems similar personality, family, loves and confidence issues. I’ve written about these to various depths, in various contexts and blogsites, and sometimes just interactively.
    How would you like to explore these issues?

  2. Hello Wendy, I just wanted to welcome you to the blogosphere. I am sure you are on your way to building a wonderful, necessary and important community. Hooray!

  3. Hi Wendy, thanks for sharing such an intimate detail of your life with us. I can only imagine what you’ve described in your blog. It warms my heart to have even more compassion towards the things I don’t understand as I too try to grasp the meaning thereof.

    • I’m glad the blog holds meaning for you, Jacqui. Please, pass the word on to anyone whom you think might benefit from my message.

  4. wow ms williams I went the same situation because I also had surgery at a young aged as well.I had surgery on my urine line because the doctor told me that i was peeing wrong so they had to fix it fast before it could effect me for the rest of my life.and i just learned that from my mother becasue she told me about it not that long ago.

  5. hey wendy, i can relate to your story a lot. although i never have surgery of any kind i understand what it feels like to be an out sider.

  6. The most pain I’ve ever gone through was a splinter I got in the fourth grade…even then they gave me a local anesthetic. Poor me, right (I was crying like a baby)?

  7. You say that you “felt alone, an outsider.” Why? You called yourself “odd”…Why? You seem perfectly normal to me. As a matter of fact, you are better than normal, because you are intuned with your self, your being AND the “being” of others.

    • The sea has saved my life more than once, that’s for sure. It does so much for our spirits, doesn’t it Duyen? I’m glad the sea helps you, too.

  8. I imagine you must have quite a scar from the initial incision. Does the seam on the back of the horseshoe crabs resonate with you as well? When I was twenty I received both a deep wound, and the 36 stitches to close it, without anesthesia. Ever since then, when I look at the rugged seam on the back of a horseshoe crab, I think, Hey, I’ve got one of those too!

    • Wow, I never thought of that before! Maybe because my scar is not a line but like a TV antennae askew after a huge storm.

  9. there are probably more adults that went under procedure like u had. Many might not know how to put it out there, but thank you so much for sharing your experience with all of us. I’m glad that you can speak out about your pass. Like I always said, speaking out would heal the wound. at least a little part of it

  10. I do not have any type of experience like that; however, I have someone close in my family who did. My niece had an open-heart surgery after one month being born. It was really hard for us, especially my sister. Not just that my niece have down’s syndrome as well. The first two to three years, she had gone through a few surgeries.

    • How difficult for your niece, your sister, and the whole family! Did you get support from the hospital staff? I heard that some hospitals now have Child Life specialists who are trained to help the family cope with a child’s medical situation.

  11. As you mentioned in the blog “because of my difficult early beginning, I felt alone, an outsider, and was extremely shy.” Hard to tell now, you seem pretty happy and aggressive these days. Love to see you smile.

  12. My son told me his stomach hurt, I told him he was playing he told me ” your not in my body you don’t know what I feel”. I immediately thought of that when reading of your experience. It is impossible to determine any one individual’s tolerance for pain or even if they are in pain. I have scars, and when I look at them… they look right back at me and say… your life would be different if I wasn’t here! Thank you for sharing with me.


  13. Yes, your writing reminds of the loneliness i felt when i was going through a surgery and often i would walk down to the beach to make myself away from the usual routine that everyone would follow but not me. I would like to thank you for sharing this beautiful writing on healing and consequences that might force you in a different direction because of the surgery.

  14. Interesting. The ways in which we describe our difficulties in life are highly personal. I myself find horseshoe crabs representative of great resilience and near perfect adaptation to their ecological niche. I suppose it is all context after all.

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