Emergency Room From Hell

There is a local emergency room that actually scares me.  I’m not the only one- whenever I mention its name to someone (even my new oncologist who works for the same organization) the reaction is usually “Oh, I know what you mean. I/my brother/mom/dad/friend/ etc went there and almost killed me/them.”  Their posted patient satisfaction percentages have been in the %60 range. That is BAD.  Hospitals run on patient satisfaction surveys (which is a whole other nightmare for healthcare professionals).  Reputations are hard to fix.  What is so bizarre is that the rest of the hospital is fine, or at least survivable. I’ve had many outpatient tests, a couple of admissions from the ER, and also a knee replacement at the same place, and the staff was good.  I did have some complications after the knee replacement that were figured out a bit late, but nothing as bad as their ER.

One time when I was admitted, I had a nurse tell me that I needed to go home.  At the time, I was on a heart monitor because my heart rate had dropped into the 30s and was being erratic. But she looked familiar- I think she was one of the hags from the ER who was working on the cardiac floor.  I never could figure out how nurses could be so nasty.  I’ve had some unlikable patients, and some that were really unpleasant to deal with- but I’d never be inhumane or callously disregard their dignity.

I’ve got multiple chronic illnesses, and I’ve been an RN since 1985.  I’m on disability, but I keep my license current, and I know the appropriate manner in which to speak to and deal with patients. I’ve been a staff nurse, supervisor, charge nurse, and department head.  I’ve also been sent to various ERs over the years, though this scary one has been the worst, hands down.  I was often sent there from work, unconscious, either from being post-ictal (what happens after seizures when people sleep very deeply) or my blood pressure bottomed out from my autonomic nervous system not working right (dysautonomia), and I’d pass out.

Other times, someone called 911 when they were either with me, or on the phone with me, and they could tell something wasn’t right (turned out I had some medication interactions that weren’t figured out for quite a while that contributed to some of the blood pressure problems).  I was labelled a ‘frequent flyer’, which is an extremely derogatory term given to patients who generally don’t have primary doctors and are often non-compliant. Neither of those applied to me. I saw my regular doctor monthly, and all blood levels of anticonvulsants were always therapeutic. I’m on disability because my seizures are not controlled. I’ve had testing done to see if part of my brain could be removed to stop the seizures, and that turned out not to be possible without causing more damage than it could help.  I’m not some joke patient who shows up for the heck of it (I’ve been accused of being bored, and using the ER for entertainment at the bad one).

But, the nurses and doctors at this ER didn’t care about me as a human at all. They never asked about regular doctor visits.  I was told I was a ‘wasted bed’ because I’d been brought in with seizures.  I was told that it was highly unlikely that I was compliant with anything.  They didn’t understand- or even try to find out- what I was really like as a patient- when I said anything that contradicted their assumptions, it was ignored. They made their assumptions and treated me as the parasite they thought I was.  The dysautonomia isn’t all that common as a given diagnosis.  It causes extremes in blood pressure and heart rates (and for me, heat and pain are major triggers).  My blood pressure would drop to a dangerous level at home  and per my primary doctor’s instructions, I would call 911 when it got below 70/50.  It was often much lower, and the lowest I know it to have gone is 44/16 during a tilt table test.  Even with objective symptoms, I was treated like a head case.

I rarely remember getting to the ER.  I had learned that when I woke up and saw the drop ceilings and bright lights and equipment, I was in the ER.  One night I woke up and a doctor was counting my pills from medication bottles EMS had brought from my apartment when a neighbor called them after I passed out in her apartment.  I asked him what he was doing, and he asked if I’d overdosed. I said definitely not- and asked what happened. It had taken 4 bags of IV fluids to get my blood pressure up to 80 systolic, and the nurses were getting me ready to go to ICU for dopamine (a resuscitative drug to maintain blood pressure). I ended up not needing it, since I managed to stay around 80 systolic, and I was making sense once I regained consciousness. But in the preparation to send me to ICU, a urinary catheter was inserted.  The balloon that keeps it inside was inflated before it got all the way into my bladder, and stretched my internal sphincter (what keeps the urine in the bladder) and upper urethra…talk about pain. I told the nurse it wasn’t all the way in, and she turned to leave the room without saying a word. I pushed it in the rest of the way myself.

Another time, I had just ‘come to’ and saw a doctor walking past the stretcher. I was still groggy, and he didn’t say anything to me, so I didn’t talk to him. I didn’t know what he wanted (or for sure that he was even a doctor for that matter- some guy in a white coat). He proceeded to begin to insert a breathing tube into my airway- something that isn’t done without someone to suction in case the patient vomits, some paralytic drugs to dull the gag reflex (to prevent vomiting) and calm the patient IF they need to be intubated, and without asking the patient if they are awake and know what is going on.  I have no idea why he wanted to intubate me (which more than likely would have landed me on a ventilator). He started putting the metal blade of the laryngoscope down my throat (has a light on it to see where to put the tube), and then the tube, which did trigger my gag reflex and I started to throw up. I turned my head to the right to let the puke fall out, and the metal blade (still down my throat) nicked my right tonsil, and it started bleeding. A nurse came in (finally) and since I was trying to breathe and reflexively trying to get the stuff out of my mouth and airway, they tied me down.  The doctor finally took the stuff out of my mouth and asked if I’d OD’d… I said “No!”.  He said “That’s all you had to say.” I couldn’t believe it… that was all HE had to ask !  I didn’t even know why I was there (still don’t), and it was HIS job to assess me before attempting to put in an endotracheal tube. It could be that because he assumed I’d OD’d that they were going to pump my stomach, and the ET tube was part of keeping my airway safe. But, nobody said anything to me. My medical record would have shown other ER visits with similar symptoms and ‘clean’ drug screens… There was one nurse who was helping me get cleaned up after the throwing up who was kind. She had a daughter with seizures and understood the post-ictal period.  I was just mortified.

I never got on the call light (when I could reach it), and would undo the monitors myself if I had to go to the bathroom, and put myself back on the monitors when I got back. I never asked for pain meds. I didn’t ask for anything.  I was never there for psychiatric reasons (patients who are not thought of well in most medical facilities, mostly from lack of knowledge and exposure to the various disorders). And yet I was treated like I was a total pain in the butt and whack job.

When someone comes out of seizures, there is generally a period of time when they are either extremely sleepy (and even coma-like) or mildly confused for a little while. Not everyone ‘comes to’ the same way. Not everyone has ‘TV seizures’.  I have complex partial seizures that turn into generalized seizures at times (when I end up ‘out cold’ the worst).  When I come to, I can hear things first, and then gradually get back up to speed- but sometimes my response time is slow.  The nurses at this ER from hell didn’t like that, so they’d double team me and put TWO  ammonia inhalants under my nose and hold them there as I gasped for air.  I was awake and knew what they were doing- but I wasn’t ‘all the way back’, so my response time was too slow for them- so they assumed I was a psych case being difficult. Or faking.  They were punitive.

When Social Security was reviewing my disability paperwork, they had over 1000 pages of medical documentation over the previous 3 years, including abnormal EEGs (brain wave tests used to help diagnose seizures/epilepsy) and blood pressure crashes.  But the nurses at that ER thought I was a nut job.  I was horrified that SO many nurses like that exist.  When I’d worked in Texas for 17 years before returning to Illinois, I worked with great nurses. Even if someone wasn’t necessarily going to be a ‘friend’ outside of work, I never saw cruelty or pure meanness.  We had a lot of wild shifts at work- and I never saw one of my coworkers in Texas act like those hostile nurses in that one ER.  I’d worked in another hospital in this town (pediatrics) and then a nursing home- and those nurses were also good to their patients.  But the nurses in that ER of the religiously-affiliated hospital were downright nasty. The docs weren’t much better.

When I was taken in for very low blood sugar one time, they got my blood sugar up with two ‘amps’ of D50 (sugar solution given IV), and then called a cab.  The nurse told me that it would be about 45 minutes until the cab got there, and I should wait in the waiting room. Basic treatment of hypoglycemia instructs people to eat a snack with protein and fat to prevent blood pressure from crashing again once the D50 ‘wears off’, unless their next meal is within the next 30 minutes.  I was sent to the waiting room with nothing (usually a half a sandwich, or peanut butter and crackers is standard hospital fare for low blood sugar after it’s brought back up).  Fortunately, I had my purse with some change for vending machines, and my own blood sugar monitor.  Within a few minutes, I could feel my blood sugar dropping even though I’d gotten a bag of peanuts from the machine.  I tried Coke, and it was still dropping. When I told the person at the triage window, she told me I’d already been treated, and if a nurse had time she’d come and talk to me.  I was safer on my own.

There had been a weird period of time when I was having episodes that were much like the autonomic disorder, and a bit like seizures, but not quite. I had been in the ER (per home health instructions) several times in one month. One night, I was having more trouble with my blood pressure, and went to the ER. The doctor actually told me I’d been there too much that month, and he wasn’t going to do anything. I asked if they could at least check my blood pressure again (it had come up somewhat from being moved from the ambulance stretcher to the ER gurney), and he refused to tell the nurse to simply push the button to do another BP reading.  He never got within 5 feet of me.  Ten days later, I had severe chest pain, and ended up going to another ER (per the instructions of my doctor’s nurse, who was affiliated with the scary place), and it was discovered that I had multiple blood clots in my right lung (all three lobes) and right pulmonary artery that were pushing into the base of my heart, causing EKG changes that showed my heart wasn’t getting enough oxygen (just from the pressure of the junk in my lung).  The clots were of various ages- acute, subacute, and chronic- so would have been present during the time when the doctor negligently blew me off. He could have killed me with that decision.

I’ve written to the hospital with the creepy ER, and got the standard ‘we aim to give the best possible care’ letters. My own doctor was told by one of the few nice doctors at the bad ER that he’d witnessed how I’d been treated. It wasn’t just me being snarky.  My doctor believed me. The ‘new’ ER saved my life.  I had asked the doc at the ‘good place’ that night the pulmonary emboli were found if I could go home and get a few things since I was being admitted for a few days, and she told me she didn’t think I’d live that long; the next night I was in ICU getting clot-busting drugs when I started having the same pain again.  I’d driven myself to the ER… not recommended.

For those in nursing school, new grads, or starting to work with different types of patients,   consider this:  You aren’t going to understand everything about everybody you encounter as a nurse. But just because YOU don’t get it doesn’t mean it’s OK to take out your lack of knowledge on the patient,  who could very well teach you something.  Cruelty during urgent/unstable medical situations  is never justified.  And it’s not something that can be ‘fixed’ later. You represent where you work, and your profession.  It’s not about you when you’re assigned to take care of someone.

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Christians, Rape, and Abortion

Periodically,  I see something about adoption being the ‘best’ option with pregnancies from rape, usually by someone who has never been in that situation.   I got pregnant from a 6 hour violent rape in 1987, and was tormented about what to do.  As a Christian, abortion was something that was too painful to even think about, but I did think about it (and felt guilt and shame for just that).  And I understand why other women do as well.  I’m in no way condoning abortion, but I understand the pain behind it.   Being adopted, and knowing how much that had consumed my life with wanting to have contact with my biological family, giving away the baby would have been incredibly difficult as well.  Now that I’ve had contact with my biological family, I understand how that changed my bio-mom’s life forever.  She wasn’t given a choice about what to do with me… she was shamed  (or totally ignored about that pregnancy after returning back near her childhood home) because of getting pregnant with me when she was 17.  Nobody really thought about HER during that time.  Just get rid of that baby (me).  In terms of emotional outcome, a forced adoption leaves lasting, intense scars; so does an abortion resulting from painful circumstances, even if the latter involves more relief as well. The situations  are very different- but it would still have been very difficult to give away something that was %50 ‘mine’.  And a disaster to raise it.

It was a horrendous 10-12 weeks from the time of the rape and the actual miscarriage that started  one morning before work.  God saved me from the decision. I had horrible morning sickness all day long starting very early in the pregnancy.  Whenever something was in my mouth, I dry heaved.  I lost 30 pounds in the first month, and agonized over what to do with ‘it’. The ‘dismissal’ by other Christians that I see in various articles/posts about other people  is really hurtful.  “Just pray.”  Prayer is so important, but sometimes God could use another Christian to actually DO something tangible to be of some support to a woman going through a pregnancy from rape, without judging (something Christians are so good at).  The shame gets dumped back on the rape survivor.  I was VERY thankful that God took the decision out of my hands.  That miscarriage in my situation was a huge blessing. I still have the image of it in the toilet.  It took years to tell anybody about what had happened.  Ironically, it was a nun who happened to be the nurse practitioner doing my annual female exam who validated what I’d known for years.  I’d been pregnant.

Normal Christian response to a rape pregnancy:  “Just buck up and give birth to the kid”.  THEN get rid of it through adoption.  It’s not that easy!   But that’s what most Christians want done with babies from rape, mostly in situations they have no personal connection to… makes their judging so much easier.  No consideration for how difficult the decisions really are for the one who was raped, impregnated, and then basically disregarded by the Christians she grew up with, or even didn’t know (why turn to a church who shows disdain towards someone who is hurting).   The platitudes are incredibly painful.  God can do  anything- I truly believe that.  But He doesn’t keep those who love Him from making some thoughtlessly  painful comments.  Those who knew me before the rape know just how much I loved babies.  I spent eleven years in the church nursery taking care of little ones during church services. By the time I moved to another state, that was half of my life.

I need to clarify a few things. I am not pro-abortion.   I’m not even moderately pro-choice. But I ‘get it’.  I couldn’t go through with it.  I also don’t believe that it should be a legal/political matter; legal or not abortion will happen regardless.  People don’t want government in their business, but they’re all too eager to crawl up in a woman’s womb and tell her exactly what she should, or can do.  Having been through the experience of needing to make decisions, I ‘get it’.  It is excruciating It’s not done with some flip sense of apathy- at least in my situation. I was a virgin, and was raped for 6 hours to the extent that uterine ligaments were torn from the ‘impact’ of his penis, fists, and a wine cooler bottle he used repeatedly to  impale me- for six hours.  I still couldn’t choose abortion.  But I definitely understand the mindset for many who do…. they’re not hateful women who don’t care.  They’re traumatized women facing more trauma.  This wasn’t some flash of consideration of an abortion as some sort of cheapened birth control from a mistake the woman made…I’m absolutely opposed to  lack of accountability for actions.  But getting pregnant in the case of rape isn’t by consent… the woman who is raped is forced into accountability for a criminal action and situation that  she didn’t initiate.  Or deserve.

I’m also adopted. That wasn’t a choice I was comfortable making, and not so much because of the adoption itself. I believe adoption is  a very viable solution to unwanted children in many situations.  I’m thankful my birthmother didn’t get rid of me (I was born before Roe v. Wade) and I was even more thankful to know I wasn’t conceived in violence, or even indifference.  There was love behind my existence. That was hugely helpful in feeling like I did belong on the face of the earth after all !   I was the product of monogamous teenage love (who ended up staying in contact until my biological father’s death in 1994, though they’d gone different ways to have their own families, primarily because of my biological maternal grandmother’s absolute refusal to have a bastard child in her family).  I wasn’t the product of deceit, violence, and pain.

I  don’t think I would have made it emotionally if I’d had to carry a baby to term, and then give it away, even though I didn’t want anything around me that reminded me of the man who raped me (he got a 60 year sentence after being shot in my bedroom by police, and is in and out on parole; he’s a career criminal, each more violent offense committed while on parole, including my rape- not fodder for genetic material).  I feared that my ability to parent without prejudice towards the kid wouldn’t be good for the kid- and yet ‘giving away’ a baby also hurt, though would have been the only option when it came down to it.  But, I felt backed into a corner, and my 23-year old brain wasn’t doing well. I wasn’t equipped to cope with any of it.  My faith in God was strong.  I think people don’t think it was, since I don’t tow the  pulpit line of ‘no clue’ when it comes to actually being in an inflicted  felonious situation with ongoing complications.    God got me out of that rape alive (the ‘plan’ , as the rapist spoke to me during the rape,  was to dismember me alive, then leave with my car; I was still on workman’s comp for a back injury, so nobody would have missed me for a while).   God  gave me the opportunity to escape after six hours- as soon as it was as safe as it was going to be, I got out.  God  allowed me to meet my downstairs neighbors (where I ran to, in a towel and barefoot) just days before the rape, after moving to a new apartment complex.   And I talked to God a lot during that morning.   God is the reason I survived.  And I’ve known that as far back as when the rape was still going on.  My faith has been intact when it comes to God.  My ‘faith’ in many of His followers?  Not so much.  I know of a man from my childhood church who survived a brutal attack, much worse than the beating I survived .  Nobody questions anything he had to deal with afterwards.  Of course, no unwanted child involved there.

What would I tell the child when it came looking for me 18 + years later?  How could I ever make it “right” that the child was fathered without my consent by a career criminal?  How could I ever tell that kid that it was never wanted by the woman who carried it to term, even if indirectly just by saying the word ‘rape’ ?   I know all of the Christian platitudes by people who have never been in the situation.  I know of some stories about Christian women who have carried the rape-baby to term and given it up for adoption, and how they all ran towards each other in lavender fields one day, to live happily ever after. That’s great that it happened to be such a blessing  for them to get raped (you know what I mean).  I was just flat out violated and tormented.  My miracle was surviving.  I could never have moved forward with any sort of intact mental functioning with a rape-child returning as an adult.  As it was, when the parole protests started I was a mess. A lot of stuff I’d managed to bury for 20 years blew like Vesuvius ( 20 years is 1/3 of the mandatory part of the 60 years he agreed to in a weird plea bargain).  Twenty years after the rape, it was like I was back being threatened again.   My faith was strong (still is).   That doesn’t make dealing with ongoing reminders of Jan. 10, 1987 easy.  Nobody forgets that kind of attack.Miscarriage for someone who is actively trying to have a baby, or who would welcome a baby at any time during their life, is a kind of pain I can’t even imagine.  I’m not saying I’m thankful for the miscarriage itself;  I was SO glad that the situation was ‘fixed’.  It’s never over, but I had no decisions to make about a child.   My heart goes out to anyone who has suffered the loss of a child through miscarriage (or any other reason).  That has to leave a huge hole in someone’s heart. My mom (adoptive- one I grew up with from the time I was 10 days old- so who I consider to be my mom) lost two newborns a couple of years apart in a time when it was just sort of explained as what was ‘best’ (babies were too sickly).  She wasn’t even allowed to see either baby, who lived two and six days (now they would have had more than a %90 survival rate).  Her derailed grief process went on to impact her intensely, as she was unable to really acknowledge any bond with me. She was terrified of another loss. I truly believe she wanted me and loved me – but she wasn’t able to convey any sort of warmth in a way that a child understands.  Looking back, I see all sorts of examples of her love.  But a kid needs things that are much more tangible- hugs, patience, etc.  That isn’t the same as what I went through at all.  I understand that.   I recognize her losses as the losses of wanted babies.  I hope that one day in Heaven I’ll see that unwanted baby that I lost, in a place where pain is erased.  But for here on earth,  God saved me from the agony of deciding what to do, and the aftermath.  Giving up a baby isn’t ‘simple’, regardless of its conception.

What saddens me so much is that the people who claim to be all about love and God are the ones who judge and shame  the most.  I’m a  born again Christian, and have been for more than 45 years.  I’m far from perfect, but I know where my spiritual foundation is. I love God deeply, and am so thankful for what Christ did on the cross for me. And yet, I’m afraid of having any sort of deep relationship with Christians because of the level of judgement.  I never get that shame from non-believers.  With most Christians, finding out that someone they know from church has been raped is met with silence, not support.  It’s as if I somehow deserved it- even if the silence is just out of ignorance. Ya can’t talk to a Christian about rape !   I wonder how many Christians suffer in silence over rapes they feel shame about, when they have nothing to be ashamed of.   I’ve had things edited and censored when I’ve tried to reach out to an age group ready to head out into the world on their own.   How I got raped was all about ‘helping my neighbor’, without thinking about myself, and that almost got me killed.

I’d never been taught at church that assessing my personal safety, or listening to that funny little voice that says  something isn’t right, is OK  (and in fact Biblical- Proverbs 27: 12 “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”).  I didn’t deserve it. Nobody does. Rape is about violence and defects in the rapist.  I was wearing a sweatshirt from the Christian  camp I went to as a kid  (and worked at during 2 1/2 summers in my late teens)  when he started to violate me. I was answering a call for help (turned out to be a lie, but I took it at face value, and felt obligated to ‘help my neighbor’).  And yet, Christians are the ones who have been the most critical of me (or anybody who is raped) and the things I have felt about the pregnancy.  I’d love to speak to church high school groups (and their parents if they wanted to come) about making smart decisions when going out into the world/college.  Being a Christian isn’t a safeguard from non-Christians who have evil intentions.  Evil comes disguised as a beautiful creature, remember.   We’re in the world, even if we’re not of it. 

I also thought about what I’d do if I’d had the baby, given it up for adoption, and it later came to me asking about its father. I would not have lied to that child.  To have a child come back in 18+ years and ask about its biological family, only to hear that it wasn’t wanted from the get go (no matter WHO wanted to adopt it) would have been heartbreaking for the child… and there’s no way to tell a kid they were conceived during a rape, and make it out to be a desired conception.  I know what sort of things ran through my head as a kid long before I met my biological family.  Even if “God has  a plan for you” would be pretty hard to take after “You were conceived during a 6 hour rape, where your father was shot by police shortly after I got away.”  How can that come out as something less than devastating?   I found out I WAS wanted (even if unplanned), conceived by teenagers who had been monogamous for several years, and who loved each other.  I couldn’t give that to the child of rape.  I couldn’t sugar coat it, nor would I; a child seeking birthparents deserves the truth.  Finding a biological father’s primary address over decades is the Texas Department of Corrections would have been a nightmare for the product of a rape. The child would deserve answers, delivered with compassion.  But the truth no matter what.

Some may view me as ‘ a bad Christian’ for my views-  and that’s fine; they’re only human beings.  It hurts immensely, but judgement from  people is essentially meaningless in the long run.  God knows my heart. He knows the struggles I had with being pregnant, and trying to figure out what to do. He knew I wasn’t emotionally strong enough to handle what was going on. That is why the miscarriage was a blessing. That is why I can understand why some people consider abortion after rape.  That is why I couldn’t just give a baby away, though I wanted nothing to do with it.  It’s NOT simple.  It’s horrifically painful, and continues to be a very tender subject.  And I know that I can’t depend on the majority of Christians I know for any sort of support when I’m having a hard time (every three years there is another parole protest).  Christian love goes out the window when abortion, rape, and rape pregnancies come up.  Forgive the church member having an affair, but get that pregnant woman out of town if she’s not married, or was raped.   Regardless of the lifelong pain of being raped, and it not being my fault, there is judgement because I understand why someone would consider abortion.  Not because I had one.  That gets forgotten.  Just because I am honest enough to say I wanted nothing to do with that baby, I’m considered “less than” acceptable to include with the people they know.   Again, God knows my heart.

Here’s an idea to those who make abortion a political issue…. it’s going to happen no matter what the laws are.  It’s a choice that is between that woman, possibly the sperm donor,  and God.  HE is the one who will make the ultimate law when that woman stands before Him, and He sees her heart.  If Christians don’t like doctors who perform abortions, don’t go to them, and pray for them !  Don’t like an organization that deals with abortion?  Don’t support them, and pray for their management folks.  We have bigger issues in this country right now (like getting Congress to work?). Why is so much time blown on making abortion a political issue, when it has nothing to do with government?  Don’t like funding issues?  Then vote for a special referendum. And pray for the folks doling out the cash.   Maybe put more effort into realizing that an unwanted pregnancy deserves some compassion (for the baby, if not the mother), so the woman feels that there is some support out there to get the baby to term, and into a loving home.   Fussy, fussy humans trying to control the choices of someone else, who (in the situation besides rape/incest) made a bad decision, wasn’t on birth control to prevent more consequences from random/unprotected sex, and got “in trouble”.   God will forgive.  Why won’t His followers? Forgiveness isn’t condoning.  It’s leaving it to God, and is a mandate BY God (Matthew 6 and 7 ), and has little to do with the “offender”, but in the relationship one has with God themselves.   Even self-righteous Christians aren’t in charge of judgement.

Try timing the contractions of a 12 year old in labor with her father’s baby, and not thinking about appropriate times for abortion.  I had to do that when I worked adolescent psych.   Talk about heart wrenching .  Her child (a baby girl) was put up for adoption, and the 12 year old and her three younger sisters were put in foster care. The twelve year old was appropriately terrified (not even sure if she knew how she GOT pregnant).   All she knew was that daddy diddled her.  That was her ‘normal’.   Christians don’t like to think about the real world.  It happens if they think about it or not.  And the real world could use a LOT more Christian love, and kick the judgement to the curb.

The rape is how I ended up never letting anybody get close enough to end up in a marriage, with my own family of kids.  I always thought I’d have at least four kids.   And, church is how I never thought it was OK to protect myself if I was asked for help.   The ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’ argument can also end up in one rape plus one pregnancy/abortion = one suicide.  Is that better?   I’m thankful God got me past that and took that baby away to a safe and beautiful place.  He definitely was in control.  And I’m eternally thankful.

EDIT: After seeing a comment on one of the searches for my blog, and seeing  “I was raped, am now a Christian, and can’t get over it”, I MUST let anybody who is raped know that it is NEVER your fault. Rape isn’t about anything you did or didn’t do, or what you wear, or anything else- it is an act of violence committed ON you- you aren’t the one who did anything wrong.  God isn’t going to judge you for being raped. ❤  Please, please… know that you are NOT damaged goods, and you are still a precious child of God.  I wish I knew the folks who are in pain who end up reading this- I’d want so badly to let you know that you’re not the one who is defective- it is the one who raped you who is accountable for what he did TO you.  Please know that God cares about you and wants you to feel His love for you.

Everlasting Moments

When I was 15 or 16 years old, I was into writing poetry.  One of the short ones was titled

“A Minute”

What is a minute in the course of eternity?

Every minute a life begins.

Every minute a life ends.

A minute is forever.

In going to the celebration service for Mary Kay Meeker, who died one month ago, I’ve realized that her lasting influence on me came in momentary interactions.  I first met her as a 8 year old 4th grade camper (I was always young for my grade).  For 7 summers, I looked forward to seeing Mary Kay. She was a constant, and someone who held attention by being attentive.  Then I spent 2 1/2 summers on summer staff at the same camp, and had longer (though still brief) periods of contact- and she never ‘wasted’ time she spent with anyone.  She made people feel as if they were the only one on the planet when she was talking with them.  When I saw her in July of this year, it was the same thing. We had probably 20-30 minutes together, along with her husband Greg, and it was like we had been in regular contact over the years and were simply catching up.  It was a very comfortable conversation that again made me feel like I mattered. And she is the reason I even made the effort to get there; my medical situation makes leaving home precarious- but she reassured me, and basically “told” me I’d get there and be just fine.  🙂

That was one of her gifts that I gravitated to the most over the years.  I didn’t feel much consistency at home, but at camp I could depend on Mary Kay to be her usual  (awesome) self.  She was incredibly talented in various performance arts- music/piano, ventriloquism, drama, skit-writing, etc…. and as much as those talents caught the attention of the campers (and the staff), her ability to interact with people on a 1:1 basis was beyond what I knew from all but a very few people.  During that time of my life, it made a huge difference in my relationship with God.  She was the consistency I needed in order to understand a consistent and loving God- even if I didn’t see her all the time, she was the same each year at camp. Very few people in my life have shown me that so steadily.

She was a solid frame of reference for living as a Christian in a way that started when I was a little kid- in a way that a little kid could understand.  She was able to apply Christ to various developmental stages, and that made the difference between telling a kid a story, and teaching a kid how to apply a life-lesson. The consecutive years at camp built on each layer of teaching from the year before, making a stronger foundation for my spiritual life and beliefs. It wasn’t lip service- it was walking the walk.  I’m still working on being better at that- she is one of a handful of people that I consider my spiritual base and role model.

Her death has been really hard, and I somehow don’t feel the ‘right’ to feel her loss as deeply as I have. I didn’t have a lot of contact with Mary Kay, though we had been in touch on FaceBook over the last few months of her life. And seeing her again in July of this year was like I had been at camp just days before. We had ‘moments’ of a relationship.  But she made moments count.  Her interactions had impact.  She didn’t waste her breath on pointless or unproductive speech.  She could be as goofy as they come, but there was a consistent message that God comes first, and He’s got it all under control. She was incredibly silly at times, but not at the expense of her commitment to God. She could be intensely deep in her dramatic skits- and yet it wasn’t some plastic display.  She was the real deal.

She is an example of how I want to live my life.  I don’t want to waste time on stuff that essentially useless, or possibly hurtful.  I don’t want to be one of ‘those’ Christians, who pushes people away from the faith we have in Jesus, and the promise of seeing each other again after death on earth.  I want to be able to incorporate the silly things into a joyful way of living that lets others know that God has me in His arms. (I do believe God has a sense of humor…. ever look at an emu up close?).  Even in her death, Mary Kay Meeker is showing me how to live.  Each moment counts.  Each moment can impact the rest of someone’s life.  I need to be responsible, and make those moments time that can be used by God for His good.  In the ‘end’, nothing else matters.

America’s Shameful Truth

To other countries, especially those we send financial aid to, it may seem unbelievable that ANY American lives in poverty, or has any problem getting enough food.  Looking at our obesity rates, it looks like we need to be sending more food overseas, and subsidizing treadmills here.  But it’s much more complex and complicated than what the surface image shows.  Malnutrition isn’t just about inadequate food, it’s also about inferior and altered foods.  Poverty isn’t just about living in recessed or depressed areas, but a result of the trashed economy.

Per the 2011 statistics from a hunger statistic website, 15% of Americans were living at or below the poverty limits.  (Roughly one in six Americans is poor). Those limits are low enough to make basic expenses impossible to meet. Poverty limits are, however, above minimum wage if someone has one full-time job. (Our minimum wage supports poverty).  The standard set by the government to define poverty is ridiculously low. And people are out there living below that limit.  I’ve visited areas in this country, with our tourist brochures of amazingly beautiful parks and tourist sites, and maps of the movie stars’ homes  in Hollywood, that consider a cinder block house with a tin roof to be a sturdy- and enviable – home.  I’ve seen them.  I’ve seen the barefoot kids with the hollow eyes. I was only 16 myself at the time, and it’s an image I won’t forget.

According to those same statistics, 50+million people in America don’t have enough food.  Often the foods that are affordable are nutritionally bankrupt. Fresh produce is a luxury and at the bottom of the grocery list, as it’s more important to get calorically dense items for each dollar spent. Much of that is junk food, so it’s very  possible to have someone who is visibly obese, yet deficient in many nutrients.  Over 16 million children in this country know hunger as a daily part of their existence.  How that will affect their physical development and well-being is better known than how it will affect the country as a whole, as their generation will be compromised in their ability to learn. That will result in kids who never fill their potential, or maximize their earning potential- and ability to get out of the cycle of poverty and hunger.

Americans are often portrayed as relatively wealthy and lacking nothing. When it comes to food, our obesity rates are horrible and getting worse.  With the economy being as bad as it’s been in the last several years, the effects of ‘not enough’ are hitting socioeconomic groups that had been very comfortable and stable.  Homeless shelters are getting more families with educated parents who simply can’t get work, and who have lost their homes.  Americans need help here ‘at home’, and all of the financial aid sent to other countries is frustrating when the statistics here are so unacceptable.  There are many who are very hesitant to ‘give handouts’ as it perpetuates a cycle of dependency in those of a mindset of entitlement.  That is different than people who legitimately can’t get adequate nutritious food.  Yes, there are Americans whose greed and inability to deny themselves nearly everything they want makes them look rich (but in debt up to their eyeballs). There are those who are successful, and doing well.  But there are far too many who actually have very basic needs that aren’t met. 

There are wonderful private charities that do what they can. There are rescue and homeless shelters. There are food banks and soup kitchens run by non-profit organizations. There are thrift stores that benefit programs for the homeless and poor. They all work very hard, and do a wonderful job- but the job is too big. Our own citizens are still in a world of hurt.  NO child in this country should leave home for school without a nutritious breakfast. No child should come home after school to the bleak fact that they won’t have anything for dinner.  More than sixteen million kids live in that pain. They don’t just have poor quality food, there isn’t enough of it.

I think it’s great that we help other countries. I think it’s important that we continue to do so- and yet we need to get our own house in order.  We need to walk the walk, and quit with the cheap talk.  If other countries sent people to document areas in the Appalachian mountains,  depressed rural communities, inner city school kids who are falling asleep because they don’t have the energy to stay awake,  or the people who would do anything for a job, but can’t find one- and see the reality of this country right now, they’d be sending us aid.

The quality of American crops/food products is also an issue. GMOs- or genetically modified organisms- are what make up the vast majority of corn, soy, and canola crops in the US.  Few processed foods don’t include one or more of those crops. A lot of rice is also genetically modified. This is done to increase the yield per acre, so for financial gain, even though the studies on rats have shown tumor growth and organ failure, and human studies were never done. Monsanto (a pesticide corporation) is the manufacturer of these seeds used in our food supply. A bug killer company makes  the building blocks of our food.  Any product made from their corn, soy, or canola crops are also genetically modified, so high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, soybean oil, soy protein, etc are also ‘contaminated’ by the GMO process.  Many countries will not let GMO products into their borders, or ban the growth of them there.  The US government doesn’t care about the human effects of GMOs.  Bovine growth hormones, used to increase milk production in dairy cows, is also of questionable safety.  Artificial sweeteners also have links to Monsanto.  There are ‘organic’ options- but unless a product is labelled ‘USDA Certified Organic’, it’s possible that a GMO seed was used, but grown without added chemicals.

So, we continue to send billions of dollars to countries that aren’t solid allies. We cut back on nutrition programs here. People (and the politicians) fight about ‘handouts’ while kids go to school hungry, and don’t see dinner. Our obesity rates soar, partly because of disordered relationships with food – but also because nutritious food can be inaccessible financially. Junk is cheap.  Families are in shelters because jobs aren’t there to make rent or mortgage payments possible. It’s sad.  The ‘new’ American dream has been greatly altered from the post-WWII dreams of owning a home and living with minimal debt (and that debt was for needs– not wants).  It’s a new definition of survival.  Yes- the vast majority of people in the US are making it- however well or poorly. But there are millions…MILLIONS… of US citizens who are malnourished from hunger.  I don’t have any solid answers…but I do think that our priorities need to shift from such a ‘fix your neighbor’ mentality, to ‘save our skin’ outlook.  Maybe not permanently, but until we get a handle on our own horrible social and economic issues here.

America is hurting. Add to that the divisiveness of our politicians,  the more extreme members of political parties (to the point of hatred and absolute repulsion for the other ‘side’), and the relationships between ordinary citizens based on the same hatred, and the idea that anything will be solved seems unreachable.  I know that people from 23 countries have read my blog posts.  I wonder how many of those countries know how crazy things are here, and how many of OUR citizens are in need of help.

Numbnuts’ Revocation Information

I recently sent for and received the packet of information surrounding the parole revocation of the man who raped me in 1987.  I knew it had to involve some sort of assault/battery, or at least some sort of ‘physical’ crime.  I ended up getting more information than I thought I would.  It’s taken a couple of days to be able to write about it.  Even 25 years after the rape, I still have physical reactions to most things that involve him, and at the same time, I need to be informed of what is going on so I can do the best I can to protest any and all future parole eligibility reviews.  No matter where he happens to be (in or out of prison), he will be serving the sentence for raping me until the year 2047.  Thirty-five more years.

The first thing that hit me when I read the information about why he is back in custody is that a woman actually married this guy while he was in prison for a rape conviction. I knew about that when he was first released on parole, but it still blows my mind. Granted, he can lie very well; it’s how he got to me.  But what makes a woman even consider marrying someone who has a criminal history, is STILL in prison, and will be in prison or on parole until 2047?  That’s not a  good background check.  How can someone trust a man who has only known her from the other side of bars?

Numbnuts is 53 years old now, and his first adult conviction in December 1976 was when he was 18 years old, for forgery. He was given a 5 year sentence, and at some point was put on parole- which was revoked when he was convicted of burglary (while on parole).  He then got a 12 year sentence for kidnapping, and was released on parole in 1985. In April of 1986, he was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was released on parole in December of 1986; on January 10, 1987, he raped, sodomized, and beat me for six hours- and changed his plea to guilty part way through the trial. He got a 60 year sentence (in a plea bargain) for aggravated sexual assault with a deadly weapon. During the arrest for my rape, he was also shot by police, and had assaulted one of the officers who was first on the scene.  Then, he gets out in January 2010, on parole again. In the summer of 2011 he assaulted a man (a misdemeanor in Texas; a felony if against a woman), but was able to stay out of prison. In January of 2012, he was being considered for a lesser degree of supervision…within days of being notified about this (and protesting the idea), he had a warrant issued for what I now know was a domestic violence charge against his wife (I was initially told it was a ‘parole violation’).  He plead no contest.  He didn’t try to stay out of prison.  At least three times, he’s committed crimes while ON parole.  Twice, he did not fight the charges.

I had originally been introduced to Numbnuts by his sister, whose baby I took care of 5-6 days a week while she worked.  The introduction was brief, and very generic. I’d gone to see her about cleaning my apartment as I’d just been released from the hospital where I’d been for 10 days for a back injury.  I’d been moved to a new apartment by coworkers while I was in the hospital  ( the move had been planned before the hospitalization, and I was ‘stuck’ with needing to move out), and needed help getting the ‘old’ place cleaned.  She agreed, and Numbnuts first got a look at me. During the time right after the rape, and during the trial, his sister helped the prosecution.  In the packet of information, it says that he was again living with her, and was actually arrested in her home in January 2012.  While she hasn’t been a part of my life since 1987, it still stung that she’d house this monster.  She knew what he’d done to me. She was a part of the trial, testifying against her brother. I nearly lost my life going to get her son (part of the lie he told me needed me to go get the baby because of an emergency). Blood is thick, blah, blah, blah… Career criminal is a deal breaker in my book, even with family.

He also has step-grandsons. As a registered sex offender, I’m not sure how he’s able to have contact with those kids, unless the restrictions depend on the age of the victim he’s convicted of assaulting.  Maybe he’s not a risk to kids; I wouldn’t let my kids near a convicted sex offender, regardless of the age of the victim.  Would. Not. Happen.  But his brilliant wife, with her outstanding judgement and decision making, allowed the relationship with the kids. The two grandsons wrote notes to the Pardons and Paroles Board asking for their ‘grandpa’ to be allowed to come home because he was a ‘good man’…(where they could witness more domestic violence against their grandmother; no word on how often they’re with her- or where their parents are). The notes were very ‘scripted’, and I’d doubt the kids came up with the content…even if the notes were in their writing.

Mrs. Numbnuts also has a letter in the packet of information, saying that the neighbors must have called and they’ve got it out for Numbnuts.  It’s all someone else’s fault.  I wonder about her police record.  I have no information that she even has any record whatsoever, but the lack of personal responsibility sounds pretty sociopathic to me. Just sayin’.

The next time Numbnuts is eligible for a parole review is in three years.  There is no ‘mandatory’ release date for about 18 more years. He’d be 71 years old. He won’t be off of parole (or out of prison – whichever happens) until he’s 88 years old.  And I still don’t think he could make it. If he’s too gimpy to hurt someone else, he’d be a suicide candidate.  He gets ‘good time’ shaved off of his sentences- he is successful as a prisoner. He craps out in society. He’s a danger, and I would be horribly saddened, but not shocked, to hear that he murdered someone. That was the ‘end’  planned the day I was raped, but I got away after 6 hours when he passed out in my bed.  I’ve blogged more about the details, so will leave it at that for now.  But it was life-altering hell.

I’m still mulling all of this around in my head.  The level of dysfunction that results in a  Numbnuts ( or a  Mrs. Numbnuts, for that matter) is incomprehensible.  What horrible chain of events and circumstances makes someone like Numbnuts?  Nothing takes away his responsibility for his actions, but the reasons for why he’s like he is just don’t come together in my head.  I’ve worked with adolescent psych patients, and adults with trauma issues, and while they had dysfunctional coping skills,  they weren’t a risk to anybody.  I guess that’s good I don’t ‘get it’, and I really don’t spend a lot of time thinking about why he’s a violent sociopath, but when I get stuff regarding parole issues, I do think about it.  What makes a monster?   I remember his sister as being sweet and young (she was 19 when I babysat her son). I’d heard she had some minor drug busts with minimal amounts of pot, but nothing dangerous, and I never saw her wasted.  She was a hard worker as a department store housekeeper. She did the best she could for the baby.  She and Numbnuts were raised in the same house.  She did say that he’d always been the ‘black sheep’ of the family, and I got the idea that he had a sizable juvenile record before hitting the adult prison system. As an adult, his crimes got more ‘personal’ and more violent; I’m glad that his wife- bizarre as she is for marrying him- didn’t get visibly damaged (sounds like her psyche is already trashed). Or worse.  He was picked up before he left a body behind.

He may have gotten a 60-year sentence for raping and beating me…but I also got a life sentence that day he assaulted me.  It’s not over after the courts get done. It goes on and on, and every time something comes up about parole, or a violation of parole (arrest warrants issued), I am notified.  That’s how I want it for my own protection. But it does take a toll.  I’m reminded of everything he did to me during those six hours.  Speaking out helps me, and I hope in some way it helps others.  I survived that day for a reason.  I believe that things happen for a reason (Romans 8:28).  Maybe I can at least let someone else know they’re not alone.

My Crazy, Amazing Schnauzer Mandy

Since my  11 1/2 year old miniature schnauzer was diagnosed with heart failure about six months ago, I find myself looking at her and thinking how blessed I am to have gotten her. As in the very specific and individual her. When I got her, my previous schnauzer had been gone a relatively short period of time. She too had heart failure, and had been put to sleep while in my arms, after a good year of treatment. But her time had come, and the decision was ‘easy’. She couldn’t go on; she was actively dying and struggling. I had already decided to get another dog; being single, I loved the companionship.  I finally found a breeder a couple of hundred miles away in Houston, TX, and contacted her. The arrangements were made that I’d get a female salt and pepper puppy with her next litter, that was due soon. But she needed to be seven weeks old before the breeder would send any puppies to their new homes. I didn’t get to see Mandy before I made the 9-hour round trip to get her, so had to rely on the breeder to pick out my new ‘baby’.

When I first saw her, the breeder was in her front yard, holding Mandy and talking to some guys working on her roof.  Mandy had a bright pink bandana around her neck, and weighed less than three pounds. She was about 6-7 inches tall when she was sitting.  I was instantly in love 🙂  I had to drive through Houston traffic to get home, and during most of that time while still in Houston, I was trying to keep Mandy in the clothes basket lined with a quilted cat bed. She wanted to be in my lap, but I didn’t want to take the chance of her getting hurt, or deciding to explore the car while on I-10, and in 5 lanes of cars.  Finally, somewhere near Katy, TX she settled down and fell asleep.  The drive home was otherwise uneventful.

From the get-go, she was a mama’s girl.  I’d taken vacation time from work when I got her, so had a week home to get her used to being with me. She slept under a clothes basket, on a waterproofed cloth pad, next to me on my bed. Initially, the clothes basket had been right-side up, but the 3rd morning, I heard a little bark next to the bed. She had jumped off of my bed, and was on the floor looking at me. I was scared she’d get hurt. So, I flipped the basket over, and she’d crawl under it every night. If she needed to use her papers in the middle of the night, she’d cry a little, waking me up.  During the day, she slept between my left shoulder and collarbone, curled up.  She’d suck on my earlobe at times, making weird little puppy noises.

I had a desk job as an RN, so I was able to bring her to the nursing home where I worked for several weeks. She stayed in her crate under my desk, and visited with the residents periodically.  The socialization was good for her, most of the residents loved her,  and I loved knowing she was nearby. The first time I left her home in the kitchen I was so sad. I knew she’d be fine with her bed, toys, pee pads, and food and water bowls, but I hated leaving her. The first time I left her home with the run of the place (after she’d shown consistency with using the pee pads), I wasn’t sure what I’d find when I got home. I have a realistic baby doll collection, and they were on shelves where their feet were very accessible. I feared coming home to toeless dolls. What I found was a pile of baby socks by the back door, and all toes intact. She hadn’t hurt them- just removed ALL of their socks. 🙂

Over the years, I realized that Mandy has some odd quirks.  She loves appliances, especially the dishwasher and clothes dryer. When I remove lint from the lint trap she gets so excited!  She actually pays attention to when the dryer turns off, and gets up to trot on over to where it is, looking at me as if to say “Well, get moving! We have lint!”. She also hates when I sneeze, and if I say I’m going to sneeze, she leaves the room.  She understands an eerie number of words. It freaks my dad out a bit. When he tells her the same things, she blows him off. If I tell her to do something, she’s amazing. She does not like the digital camera at all, and leaves the room if I take it off of the charger.  Taking photos of her is a nightmare. She wasn’t like that with my old 35mm SLR, and I can only think that the little noises the digital camera makes must be what bugs her.

Mandy, age 11
Nothing like some good cataracts !

As she’s gotten older, she’s not as good with ‘hygiene’, so I’ve started getting her groomed in a very short cut, leaving only a schnauzer face. It’s either that or use baby wipes on her girly parts to keep her clean.  She also leaks a bit if she doesn’t use her pee pads before bed, so I tell her to ‘go potty’ before turning in for the night, and she will.  She’s rather private about the whole thing, and it’s good that the linoleum entry way is behind a partial wall, or she’d sulk.  She also farts more as she’s gotten older, and I find it all very amusing. She can be in a nice sleep on one of her many places to nap, and suddenly be airborne, landing on her butt and staring at it as if something must be there violating her back door. Then she looks at me in a somewhat accusatory way.  She is fond of simethicone gas pills (for people), and if I ask her if she needs a gas pill, she very eagerly comes over and gets one. I saw the same ingredient  in dog gas pills at a pet store, so I know it’s safe.

Over the past six months, she’s had some fainting episodes that break my heart. When Mandy gets overly excited, and hyperventilates, she tips over- out cold- and lets out some deep cries that sound just agonizing.  Yet, she recovers quickly and goes on about her day.  Last Friday, she had one of these episodes while moving around in bed, so no activity preceded it. That bothers me a lot.  This week, she went to the vet to get some blood work done to check to see how her kidneys are handling the diuretic (water pills) she needs to keep her lungs less congested.  That came back normal, so there’s a good chance she will do well for many months to years.  Her heart failure was caught earlier than her predecessor, so that is good.  She likes taking her pills, as I stuff them in pieces of freeze dried mandarin oranges. If I ask if she needs her pills, she heads for the kitchen where I keep them.

But I know what’s coming. I know the time will come when her breathing takes too much effort to make it humane to keep her with me, and that breaks my heart. Each of my three dogs (starting when I was an 8 year old kid) has been special in her own way, and I missed the last two terribly when they died. But being home 24/7 because of various disabilities has created a different bond with this one. Mandy is THE living thing I see the most.  She’s the one I communicate with more than any human.  She understands a lot of what I tell her to do, and has the goofy quirks that have endeared her to me very deeply.  I have been making a mental list of things that signal that it’s no longer right or fair to make her keep going.  So far, she’s nowhere close to any of them.  But when the time comes, I must do what is best for her, as much as it will hurt. And I’ll get another schnauzer. NO dog could ever replace Mandy (or the ones before her), but each has soothed the wound of grief a bit, and quickly made her own way into my heart.

A Summary Of High School

I’ve been thinking about this on and off, and I’m sure there’s more rattling around in my thick skull than I can fit in one ‘basic’ length blog, so I’ll start with the basics !  I went to a school that was, at the time, a school where over %70 of the kids went on to college. (Now it’s a pit, from what I’ve heard). There were many opportunities for advanced placement classes, and because of the number of kids in school, a very long 10-period day to ensure all kids had the chance to get the minimum 5 classes in each day- at least during my first two years- then I think it dropped to 8 periods in a day and I was expected to keep busy in all of them to get ahead. My dad was the principal of that high school. That wasn’t so bad on some levels (ride to school each day, didn’t have to carry my books home on foot, there if I needed lunch money), but on the other hand, I never knew who actually wanted to be my friend, or just wanted to get some message to my dad. I’ve got yearbook signings that tell me to “tell your dad….”.  That was never received well. My suggestion to those folks was to go talk to him themselves.

My freshmen year, a couple of things stand out.  I started that year when I was 13 years old. I was always younger, as my birthday is in November. I was used to that. The second thing that happened that year was the murder of my figure skating coaches’ six children by her husband on January 7, 1978 (Google: Simon Peter Nelson).  I had no way of knowing how to cope, and the overall message of that whole thing was if parents get mad at each other, kids can die.  I’ve never stopped wondering how my coach managed to carry on with life. I saw her a few times after that when she returned to the rink; then she sort of disappeared months later. Word had it that she’d changed her name and moved away.  I could understand her needing to leave, but I was a young teenager, and really felt connected to this coach. She’d call me when I was babysitting one of my ‘regular’ kids to see if I was ok. On the ice, she’d joke around and show me adult attention that my mom wasn’t capable of doing. She was a role model. I missed her deeply. I had absolutely no life skills to help me cope with all of that, and didn’t know where to go for help.

Another part of my freshmen year involved the residual effects of a couple of bad concussions I’d gotten in eighth grade. I’d fallen off of the uneven parallel bars early in the year, and in the spring, during rehearsal for a skating show, I landed hard on the ice…that one was bad. I’d landed directly on my head- no ‘butt’ hitting first, from what I was told. My folks were in Brazil, and I refused to give the people at the rink my grandparents’ phone number (grandma would have been hysterical worrying).  Anyway, I’d begun having some nasty headaches, and what have since been diagnosed as complex partial seizures. But at the time, the testing available didn’t show anything wrong, so I was told to quit complaining. So I just shut up, but still hurt, and I was still having times when I felt spacey.  I felt completely misunderstood. And alone.

My sophomore year was relatively mellow.  I did meet the first guy I dated for any length of time, and had a lot of fun when I was out with him. We spent time on the phone in the evenings, and most of our dates involved doing outdoor sports. He also taught me to drive his Audi Fox in his church parking lot.  We’re still in contact, thanks to reconnecting on FaceBook. My grades that year weren’t too bad.  I had started dabbling with over the counter cold medications to numb the pain from the murders, and my chronic headaches.  If I looked spacey, chances are I was taking very legal, unsuspected drugs. I had also been told  I no longer liked skating…really?  I LOVED skating- but that was the way I was told that lessons were over.  I later found out that my coach and another person at the rink had approached my mom about intensifying training to get into the national competition circuit.  I would have moved into the rink if someone would have allowed it.  Another loss.

Junior year was a train wreck.  I was taking over the counter medications fairly regularly. Babysitting money bought them, and since they were legal, nobody thought to ask about them. Plus, I was known as a ‘good’ kid.  I was still not doing well in dealing with the murders, and then my grandmother died in October. She’d been sick for about nine months, and happened to die when my folks were in Florida looking for a winter condo. My other grandparents were staying with me when I got the call at school  to call my uncle at my grandfather’s house before I left school. That was kind of weird, but I complied, and was given the news over the phone in my dad’s office. The assistant principal (and a friend of dad’s) saw me, and drove me home.  I got on my bike and took off for a while. I just wanted to be away from pretty much everyone. This was the grandma that I’d stayed with for 1-2 weekend nights each month since I was a baby, and most Christmas and Easter vacations when my folks travelled during elementary and junior high school years.  My grades weren’t good after that, and since dad got my report cards before I did, there was no minimizing the damage. I was miserable.

That year, I’d started with 8 full periods of classes because of drivers’ ed (no lunch break- my mom always thought that missing meals wouldn’t kill me).  One of the English teachers who had hall patrol on the hall where my locker was knew I didn’t look good, and did a depression screening. I flunked. She went to my guidance counsellor, who went to dad.   I was allowed to drop physics, since I had to get my drivers’ license, and had my science requirements done.  I got in trouble for complaining to the teacher… I hadn’t approached her. She had approached me.  I knew to keep my mouth shut about how I felt about anything. That had been made very clear.  I didn’t have anything dreadful to say, but  I was told that because of dad’s job, things could be taken out of context, and that could be bad. So, I shut up as best I could. The depression didn’t really go away, but at least having a lunch break helped with the exhaustion, which did help overall.  Since I had to drop physics in order to be able to function that year, the plan to graduate a year early was screwed up. I’d taken US History (gag) during summer school to get it out of the way- now it was just a wasted summer.

Senior ‘year’ was just more time to be served before getting released early for good behavior.  I finally got out of there at the end of that first semester.  A week later, I was sitting in classes at the community college.  They were basically time-killing classes- philosophy and more of the hated US History. I was headed to the University of Illinois in the fall; the credits would transfer.   I also worked part time at a dollhouse and gift store- that was fun.  I’d given up the over the counter medications. They hadn’t done anything for me, and I was too chicken to try the ‘real’ stuff. I was doing better, but not enjoying much.

During the time in high school, I’d been involved in various clubs- creative writing, American Field Services (foreign exchange student sponsors), track for a brief time until I was asked to run during a meet- I was afraid I’d fail, so quit, and I think that’s it.  I was involved in any foreign language trips that were offered (usually to the Milwaukee -Wisconsin- annual ethnic festival…those were fun)…otherwise, my time was spent babysitting, and going to church activities and choir practices.  I did have a few friends from school with whom I did some things outside of school, but most of my ‘social’ friends were from church.

I did NOT want to go to the graduation ceremony, but wasn’t given a choice. I hadn’t been in class for 4 1/2 months, and life had moved on, but I had to go. My dad handed me my diploma, which was sweet, and there were a lot of cheers and clapping during that moment (now, I appreciate that much more than I did then). At the time, I was just glad it was over.  I think that the murders and my grandma’s death probably had a whole lot to do with why I was so NOT amused by high school.  Nobody really gave me a bad time about being the principal’s kid (aside from the message requests, and those were from people who wrote them in my  yearbook, not talking to me face-to-face). The teachers were OK- nobody treated me any differently, which would have been a nightmare.  I’m still in contact with my Algebra and Geometry teacher.  We’ve stayed in contact over the years.

I hear about how high school is supposed to be the best years of someone’s life.  I hated it.  I’m liking each ‘new’ decade much more than the last one. I’m so glad there isn’t some high school equivalent later in life. I’d drop out.  I’m not a social person. I hate the fake interactions.  I much preferred working my butt off as an RN for the 20 years I was able to work.  Doing something for someone who is going through a rotten time is much more fulfilling than anything in high school was. At least in my experience. I’m glad there are folks out there who enjoyed their high school years.  God blessed you 🙂