Forbidden Underwear

In the winter of 1975 at the age of thirteen, I was hospitalized with pneumonia. Because I was so dehydrated, it was necessary to do a cut-down in my ankle in order to inject fluids and medicine. As a result, I couldn’t wear underwear.

One day, not realizing this, perhaps in an attempt to cheer me up, Mother bought me a pair of purple underwear from Gibson’s, a local department store. Because of my limited vision, I really appreciated scents, and I loved the smell of the store and its products. I breathed in the underwear’s aroma and longed to be in that store instead of in the hospital room with its antiseptic odors.

I also wanted to wear that pair of underwear. An aide took pity on me. She devised what she thought was an ingenious plan. She threaded the garment through the IV tubing and was able to slip my feet in the appropriate holes and pull up the underwear. I loved the feel of the cotton against my skin, and with my private parts no longer exposed to the elements, I was more comfortable.

Late that night, I awoke to find two nurses fussing with my IV tubing. Apparently, the underwear was clogging it, and the medicine wasn’t getting through. One nurse commented that whoever did this should have their head examined. I wasn’t about to say who did it. Needless to say, the underwear came off.

I never saw it again. It probably went the way of many such garments belonging to patients. Now, I always wear underwear unless I’m in the shower or working out in the YMCA swimming pool. Like the apples on the tree in the Garden of Eden, it was once forbidden fruit.

In your life, was there anything you wanted that you couldn’t have? Why couldn’t you have it? Please tell me about it. I look forward to hearing from you.


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

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Author: abbiejohnsontaylor

I'm the author of two novels,, two poetry collections, and a memoir with another novel on the way. My work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. I'm visually impaired and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my totally blind late husband who was paralyzed by two strokes. Please visit my website at

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