Time Buffers… It Does Not Heal All Wounds

Four years ago this morning, my dad called me at around 8:00 a.m.  He knew I generally slept until noon (up all night), so I knew it was something different and serious before I answered the phone.  He told me he couldn’t walk right, and asked if I could come to the house and see what I thought (have been an RN since 1985, though disabled for the last 15 years- I keep up with medical stuff by keeping myself alive).  I asked him if I had time for a shower, anticipating we’d be going to the ER, and he said yes, but don’t take too long. Dad had been having back issues and some weird symptoms on and off since the November prior to March 3, 2016.  He needed a better work-up, and at this point, the ER was our best bet.

I took my shower and packed my meds/insulin figuring that I’d be away from home for hours.  Then I drove to the house.  I wasn’t really prepared for what I saw.  Dad stood up when I came down the hallway after letting myself in with the garage door opener I kept for checking his house when he was on vacations.  Dad was standing next to the bed, with ‘balance’ that looked like someone trying to stand on an inner tube in a pool.   He had no clue where his body was in space (proprioception problem).  I told him to sit down, and I’d get what he needed.  First order of business was breakfast, even though I suggested he wait because of any lab tests  that might be done, but if I didn’t feed him, he wasn’t going to the hospital.  OK… food first.  I don’t even remember what I got for him. I do know it was in a bowl, and doubt I made oatmeal, so likely cold cereal.

His lady friend (not going into detail about her, as she was a self-serving “care taker” who was handy on occasion) came over and got some of his belongings together to take in case he was admitted.  I wasn’t going to take him home in his condition, so started getting my speech ready for that conversation with the ER doc.   I got his electric shaver and warm washcloth, as well as his toothbrush- he wasn’t going anywhere ungroomed.  Then I told him I was calling 911, since I knew there was no way to get him in and out of the car safely with what I saw of his balance issues.   He didn’t argue.  I knew he was scared.

The ambulance took some time to get to the house, as his address was in the county (by one block), and the station responsible for sending emergency help was several miles away.  They came in and got him loaded up, and I told them in no uncertain terms that we were to go to a specific hospital that wasn’t the closest.  His vital signs were fine, and he was not in respiratory, cardiac, or any other distress physically.  They agreed.  I followed in my car (and lady friend took her car).

I told the folks at the ER that I needed to be back with dad, since he tended to downplay things to strangers.  They needed to know about the months of erratic symptoms.  They also needed to know that dad would not do anything medically unless he could ask ME if it was legit.  He used to say he was getting a return on his investment in sending me to nursing school.  They let me back as soon as they had him gowned up.  He was terrified.

As with any ER, it takes time to sort through everything and get testing done.  We were there for at least 9 hours, in which time he had several tests done, including an MRI that almost didn’t happen because of dad’s claustrophobia.  He almost changed his wishes for a traditional casket burial because of claustrophobia.  They sedated him (a Benadryl made him loopy for a couple of days, so the stuff they gave him IV really made him blotto, which is what he needed so the MRI could happen).  They found some strange lesions on his spine- not what we were expecting.  There was talk of sending him home (alone), and I pitched a semi-dignified fit.  They said that the ER was for finding problems – and not necessarily to admit people. I told them of his living situation, my disability in not being able to care for him adequately when he couldn’t transfer safely, and the other safety issues in sending him home.  They did admit him, and he never saw his home of 40 years again.

I’ll never forget that day, or the 19 hours on April 3-4, 2016, just a month after he was admitted, and going a rehab facility that repeatedly blew off his complaints of abdominal pain.  On April 4, 2016,  he died after a diverticula that hadn’t been diagnosed ruptured and caused catastrophic infections in his abdomen, extending into his bladder and  filling it with gas.  He was a great dad- and I’m so fortunate to have ‘landed’ with him when I was adopted at 10 days old.  He is still missed daily, though it’s easier to remember the good and goofy stuff.  My mom died in 2003, and I couldn’t anticipate the devastation of losing my last parent, and the one who was constantly looking out for me and my best interests starting from that first day in 1963. I didn’t grow  up with siblings.  My mom did things in her own way to show her love, but dad was more open about it. We had a great relationship when I became an adult, and I could tell him anything.  When I was younger, I didn’t appreciate his work stress, or the ways he made sure that all vacations included things just for me along with general sight-seeing.  He’d go out of his way to make sure I got something special out of each trip.

I now live in his house (was also my home for 9 years as a teenager through nursing school), and I’m so thankful.  I have him, and my mom, in every room of this house, whether it’s some trinket or photo, or memories of things that we did here.  I couldn’t live anywhere else.  It’s home.  It’s my family in a house.  It’s what I have left.

When Death Steals Justice From a Murdered Baby’s Mom

This week, the mother of murdered 4-month old Paul Villareal died after a very brief, and unexpected illness.  She was waiting for the trials to start in early 2020 in five murders, including that of little Paul.  She’d been waiting since 1981 for justice to be within grasp.  She won’t see that day.  Her son Paul’s killer will finally be held to account for what she did to Paul, his mother, and entire family.

Her family is now trying to find the way to pay for the burial their mom wanted, and Paul’s youngest sister is doing her best to make sure that happens, but she needs help. While she didn’t want to ask for help, doing a GoFundMe was the most likely way to get the funding as soon as possible, so she can bury her mom, who did not want to be cremated.  I’m now asking for help as well for this family.  They’ve been through so much.

No matter how much or little folks can help, it all matters, and I know personally that the family is extremely grateful and humbled for any help.  I’m in regular online contact with Paul’s sister. This is legit.

 Whether or not you can donate, please pass the link along : 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/mom039s-cemetery-expenses

For those who are unfamiliar with the hell Jones put dozens of families through in the early 1980s, I’m including an article by the author of a book by the same name, “The Death Shift”, which is considered by the families to be the most accurate book on the hell they went through. They were interviewed for the book.

https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/the-death-shift-2/

Jones had been due to be released in March of 2018 because of the “mandatory release” law, that was amended in late 1987, and later excluded violent offenders.

By Elizabeth Zavala of MySA— after the death of Chelsea McClellan’s mom, who was fighting so hard for the additional indictments, and a huge support to the families.

https://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/Moms-keep-up-fight-despite-loss-of-ally-14423719.php

More background on Jones and the alleged murders of 46 babies/toddlers:
https://abcnews.go.com/US/nurse-suspected-killing-46-kids-prison/story?id=19852141

https://www.tpr.org/post/evidence-destroyed-hospital-cover-needed-genene-jones-prosecution

Articles of Impeachment

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

I just watched the news about the specific articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. I’m not reacting the way I anticipated. It is sad, and nothing to be gleeful about, no matter how much this president has abused his office, and obstructed the truth.  But I cried.  This is something that had to be done. I think most folks realize he will not be removed from office, because of the partisan tone to DC and all things political.  But for only the 3rd time in our country’s history, a sitting president has had articles of impeachment issued against him.  It was inevitable if he acted AS president like he did as a campaigner or candidate.

I have been a lifelong GOP voter for the most part (never party over principles), but changed my affiliation to “Independent” before the 2016 election when Trump was named the candidate.  From the relative little I knew then, I couldn’t support a candidate who fits the diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder- with some intense Borderline ‘episodes’ in his use of chaos for personal amusement. He also loves someone until  they disagree with him- that’s the sign of a very insecure person.  His ‘pussy grabbing’ comments will never be defensible to me. Sexual assault is very serious, and he treats women like a vending machine for his ego- without their consent. (and there have been some who consented, and got a big payday to buy their silence).

The people I grew up with are/were conservative evangelicals.  When growing up, hate was not something that was preached, encouraged, or sanctioned.  Now, I don’t go to that church, because my beliefs in treating everyone with compassion, helping those in need, and a non-judgmental view on those who fit into the right wing rhetoric- LGBTQ and abortion- don’t mesh with their beliefs.  I don’t understand what makes LGBTQ folks ‘tick’- but I’ve known and worked with enough, as well as having LGBTQ family members, that I can only respond in love and kindness as I found every last one of them to be great co-workers, friends, and family.  After being raped and ending up pregnant, I did think about abortion. I couldn’t go through with it, but I understand why someone would.  I miscarried, which was about all my wrecked brain could handle during that time between the 6 hour rape and the trial of the rapist. I don’t understand how Trump has any supporters who aren’t neo-Nazis.  I know they exist- I just don’t understand them at all.

Things I can’t support- 
– pathological lying
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/10/14/president-trump-has-made-false-or-misleading-claims-over-days/

– hiding behind a lack of understanding of the Constitution (“I can do anything I want”)
https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/10/08/donald-trump-government-215691

– basing ALL decisions about staff/other people on how they back his fragile ego (too many links to share- you can Google)

– mocking the disabled

– xenophobia and slandering entire groups of people based on race or religion
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_views_of_Donald_Trump

– separating children from their families
https://time.com/5678313/trump-administration-family-separation-lawsuits/

– associating AND DEFENDING dictators and communist leaders
https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/03/trump-xi-jinping-dictators/554810/

– upending trade around the world
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-imf-worldbank-trade/fallout-from-trumps-trade-wars-felt-by-economies-around-the-world-idUSKBN1WY0PZ

– using the office for personal gain
https://www.opensecrets.org/trump/inauguration-donors

– withholding aid from a vulnerable young democracy- and by virtue of being the president of the United States (a much higher rank) to manipulate a newly elected president, making demands before Congressional Bi-Partisan funding would be released…until he got caught.
https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2019-10-04/officials-zelenskiy-feared-trump-was-manipulating-ukraine-before-phone-call

– the erosion of any integrity of the office of the POTUS and the USA
https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/07/01/under-trump-americas-global-standing-record-low

– alienating other world leaders with nasty Tweets (Google to pick your favorite in the list of millions)

– the golf trips…
https://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckjones/2019/07/10/trumps-golf-trips-could-cost-taxpayers-over-340-million/#35191a3f28aa

– his treatment and views on women
https://theweek.com/articles/655770/61-things-donald-trump-said-about-women

How did we get here?  How did so many people (3 million less than those who voted for his opponent) fall for his BS?  How is it not glaringly obvious that this is the political equivalent of a mob boss?

How do we recover?

 

 

When Multiple Local Doctors Finally Beat You Down…

This has been a year I hope to forget.  I’ve had endless appointments and testing done for GI issues (starting with a large gallstone that nobody would remove without repeating tests that had been done two years prior with no change in those symptoms), kidney function abnormalities, etc.   I’m done. They win.   Even though the new primary care doc (different health system) is a far cry (in a good way) from the “healthcare providers” (use term very, very loosely)  I’ve seen this year, I am no longer interested in testing, treatment, or being BOTHERED by sitting in waiting rooms and arranging my limited life around waiting rooms.  My newish primary doc is a decent sort.  But he wanted me to see a GI doc before referring me to a surgeon.  Well, I don’t want a surgeon now.  I don’t want ANYTHING from medical people in this town.  I can use Urgent Care for simple stuff.  That (and any trip away from home) requires getting in and out of the car twice for one appointment/stop.  THAT causes a lot of pain that generally results in at least a day or two in bed to help the muscle and joint/disc pain.

Sent to current doc after messaging about still seeing GI doc AGAIN, when symptoms have improved “enough”:

“I’m SO, so sorry to be a pain in the ass. Really, I am. I just don’t want to be bothered with medical anything other than the bare minimum to stay alive within the ‘cage’ of my house. Appointments are not worth it to me. I’m buying my own Blood Sugar strips/CPAP junk. My labs were better. That should buy time. Plus, appointments are painful with the DJD and DDD. A single there/back = 1-2 days in bed.

I’m just DONE with folks meaning well, but not hearing that I DON’T CARE anymore about finding out about any new problems. I won’t go to the ER. I don’t care about the gallstone. I don’t care about anything but basic maintenance. I’m trying to wean off of all meds I can. I’d like to spend time not thinking about appts, tests, etc. The nausea is better. I’ve had mild nausea intermittently for years, and that is livable. Belching yesterday’s lunch at breakfast the next day tells me that my gastric motility is dull- don’t need a test for that, and don’t want meds for it. The stomach pain is much better since NOT having to deal with the other health care systems.

If I’m not interested, why should anybody else put more energy into something that doesn’t effect them?

My goals: 1) not wasting what little is left of quality of life in one waiting room after another. Nobody will fix the things that effect mobility (clot history)-and my shoulders are not strong enough for rehab anyway, and the rest of it is just not fixable. After the hell with the other healthcare systems in town not giving a damn about what I want out of things, I’m just done looking for anything else that would need anything done about it.  If that means palliative now, so be it. I can’t leave the house in the late spring/summer/early fall during the daylight (heat) anymore. If I have to have anything done, it means hiring “help” and I don’t “do” babysitters. And 2), not contacting your office unless there’s something that can be treated VERY, VERY simply (UTI, URI).

Had I seen you first this year, I doubt I’d be where I am now, but my PCP of 11 years was still here- and she was the ONLY reason I stayed with freaky OSF for so long. I don’t trust much right now (nothing related to you). I hope that changes. I’ve had 2 GB ultrasounds, the endoscopy, and abd/pelvic CT. If there’s something going on that isn’t on any of those, I won’t want treatment anyway. SO why waste anybody’s time?   I’m done on the patient rodent wheel. I’m fully aware of the risks.
I’m sorry. “

We’ll see if this is clear enough with the new guy.  He’s been reasonable in the past (saw him many, many years ago when I was still able to work, and only left when I switched jobs and had different insurance).

DO NOT MOVE TO Northern ILLINOIS if you have a lot of medical issues and expect decent care from  “local” “healthcare professionals” unless you get the one that implies “merciful”  (all sold out to other companies and they’re no longer advocates for patient well-being, but profits, but I’m hoping the one I’m with now is at least not terrifying).   Smaller communities are being paid bonuses to deny care to seniors and the disabled…so they send folks for tests that are cheaper than the fix… and/or hope that folks give up, since that population is limited in transportation options many times.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2016/02/21/aca-savings-paying-doctors-and-hospitals-bonuses-to-deny-care-to-patients/#6a9ec5aa6c46

Well, mission accomplished.  I’m done.

Buying a Reborn Doll

I collect and create reborn dolls.  I often cruise through eBay to find used reborn to either collect as is, or to repair/upgrade them (they’re also USUALLY cheaper)…. and I have found some shady junk inside of those dolls.  And those are the ones that are actually reborns.  Many are just plain old dolls or collectible dolls that are mass produced.  None of those are reborns. They CAN be made INTO reborns- but out of the box factory dolls are not art.  Reborns are an art form.  Those who paint them are reborn artists.

What is a reborn?   A reborn doll is a one of a kind, hand painted collectible doll for adults. They are NOT toys.   It is not a factory made doll. It’s not a doll from Ashton Drake or Paradise Galleries (those are collectible dolls- and many are very sweet).  It is not a “handmade” thing with over 100 available from China.

It takes hours to make a reborn from a blank kit.  The paint is done in layers- starting with the veining, base skin tone, blushing, nails tipped in white, eyebrows and lashes, etc.  Many are indistinguishable from a real baby in photos.

 

They are then weighted and stuffed.  The weighting is done with fine GLASS BEADS- not aquarium rocks, steel wool, rags, newspaper, pebbles, or anything else besides polyfill stuffing.  I’ve actually pulled those things out of dolls I’ve purchased… and immediately fixed.  I personally do not like poly pellets.  They don’t add enough realistic weight, and take up much more space, without providing any real benefit.

Reborns shouldn’t have eyebrows drawn on by permanent markers.  There should be visible blushing. Every wrinkle should be painted.  Hair can vary.  I personally find human hair to be creepy- but mohair rooted one hair at a time is exquisite when done well.  The limbs should be filled half way with glass beads, and the rest STUFFED with polyfil.   The weight in the body and head is done by filling nylon knee highs with fine glass beads, and putting them in the head (so it needs to be supported and is floppy IF the size of the doll is realistic with that- so no floppy 24 inch and up babies.  Another  weight is put in the butt.  The head should be fully stuffed with polyfil stuffing. You don’t want empty cheeks.   If there is a magnet for the pacifier, it should be placed correctly so that the pacifier fits the face properly.

They are expensive. Just the basic materials cost more than 130.00 just for the very basic doll kit (others cost more), body, stuffing, paint, beads, clothing, magnet for pacifier, etc.   That doesn’t include anything for the time it takes, or the ability to do them.   Solid silicone dolls are much more expensive.   And they weigh a ton.  But some are stunning.   The ‘usual’ reborn is vinyl (not the same as silicone, no matter how many times the Chinese sellers on eBay repeat it).   I typically charge $250-350, depending on the size and cost of materials. That gives me about $100 for my work, which takes many hours over several days.

This is how they start….

This is the Caleb kit (first one I did).

So be picky.  Ask questions.  If your reborn doesn’t look like a real baby- and I mean REAL, then don’t waste your money.  Keep looking.    Forever Babies Reborns on Facebook is my page, and where I will post when I have dolls available (studio is being reorganized at the moment).

Well, No More Palliative…

And I’m more than bummed in some ways, but in other ways, I’m really OK with it.  But, considering where I live, and my experiences with the medical folks here, it’s not that surprising that it’s been frustrating.  It’s been 16 days since the nurse was here to meet with me for being on palliative.  I was told that the chaplain and social worker would contact me, to set up a time to come and meet with me as well.  I haven’t heard from anyone.   When I called the nurse today, and asked to be taken off of the list, she asked if something had happened, and I basically said “Yeah- nothing!”.   She told me people had been sick.  Had I known that (COMMUNICATION), I would have understood.  Why can’t someone just let a person know that they weren’t forgotten, and someone would be in touch as soon as they could.  I can understand THAT.  Even a 15 second e-mail… that would have been enough.  I could have sent my well-wishes for the sick staff  in a reply.

At the only meeting, I was basically told that there were much sicker patients than myself, and what did I want from palliative- which sounded like I didn’t belong.  The next day on the phone, it didn’t seem to be an issue, so I didn’t bring it up.   I know there are sicker people out there- I used to take care of them !   But this isn’t a competition !   When I mentioned knowing that they had sicker patients, she said that she didn’t mean it that way… OK. that’s fine.  Good to know.   *thumbs up*

Ended up OK- should I decide later on that I want to try palliative again.  But for now, I’m on my own. Again… or is it still?   I see the gallbladder surgeon on Friday (with a completely different healthcare system in town)… once the gallbladder is out, my days with doctors will be few and far between.   Seems much safer like that, and if not safer, at least much less frustrating.

“You Look OK… “

Well, that’s great !  I’m glad I don’t look like I feel...  I’d have to worry about the dogs mistaking me for a fire  hydrant or other excretory depository.

I’m not sure what THIS looks like: 
– autonomic dysfunction: inconsistent regulation of blood pressure, heart rate, temperature
– diabetes w/complications on insulin
– degenerative joint disease (with one shoulder now having symptoms, both shoulders, both hips, and both knees involved- and no “elective” replacement surgeries because of my history of pulmonary emboli).
– degenerative disc disease, from cervical spine to sacral spine (or neck to butt)
– severe fibromyalgia
– carpal tunnel
– TMJ
– peripheral neuropathy (progressive sensory, diabetic amyotrophy)
– nocturnal epilepsy
– neurocardiogenic syncope/POTS (related to autonomic dysfunction/dysautonomia)
– GERD (fairly severe)
– epigastric hernia (vs. ventral- still getting worked up)
– sleep apnea
– diabetic nerve pain (feels like thighs are on fire, or hot needles in feet)
– defeated patient with little hope of getting anything addressed without some sort of support.

And I’m not sure how ‘visible’ my history is, either:
–  APL (acute promyelocytic leukemia)
– acute, subacute, and chronic pulmonary emboli in all three lobes of my right lung and           right pulmonary artery
–  multiple concussions
–  mild stroke
–  TIAs
–  falls
–  hydration issues
–  kidney injury (related to dehydration)
–  pyelonephritis
–  sepsis (r/t pyelonephritis, cancer, and post knee replacement UTI)
–  and I’m sure things I’m forgetting, including several surgeries.

Now add a doctor for nearly each of those, who don’t talk to each other.   I’m supposed to manage it all, AND manage the communication (or lack thereof) between doctors.   BTDT, and it ain’t working !   My job is to be a compliant patient.  But how can I be compliant when decisions are being made without any input from myself, and the doctors not communicating with each other before ragging on me?  I get to be a participant in my own life !!   If not, I can’t work with that physician/NP/PA/XYZ.   I can’t trust anybody who won’t hear MY concerns.   The first part of assessment is focusing on the issue at hand- and that includes patient concerns.  LISTEN- it’s cheap and used to be fairly standard.

Otherwise, if I’m not a part of my own healthcare, why should I go see those who have ME figured out without my participation?

 

 

 

Suicide Secrets- Time to Spill It… Secrecy Just Makes It Worse

With all of the suicides of notable people in the last couple of weeks, it has stirred up my own battles with depression and suicidal thoughts.  Not to worry- nothing ‘serious’ has gone on for years.  When the physical pain becomes more harsh than usual, or there are more health scares, I do think about the ‘what ifs’ of a longterm and debilitating illness, but I’m nowhere near wanting to end things because of the medical issues that have me housebound. But in my past, I’ve had some pretty dark times. They also followed eating disorders- either initially or relapses. My parents never asked my why I attempted suicide. It was never discussed.  It. Was. Never. Addressed. That. I. Was. In. A. Coma. For. Three. Days. So I felt it was ‘bad’ to acknowledge that I’d been in serious trouble emotionally.  I choose not to deny my past any longer.  I’m not proud of it, but it’s still part of the story of my life.  And I know that there are millions who are afraid to speak out.  It’s OK to talk about emotional health. It’s OK to talk about suicidal thoughts. And most important, it’s OK to need and ask for help.

“Flaws”  were never discussed in my home, even after I’d talked briefly with our pastor about suicide when I was in 8th grade. There were some hard times in high school (murders of skating coach’s kids by her husband, grandma I stayed with a lot died after  9 months of hell from cancer, dealing with what I now think was a math learning issue- and getting reamed for not “getting it” when report cards came out, etc).  An English teacher who was on her assigned hall monitoring,  that I did not have as a teacher,  reached out to me after noticing I was struggling (had 8 classes, and no lunch when I was taking driver’s ed), and did an old, quick depression assessment.  I didn’t do well, and she told my guidance counselor who’d known me since I was two years old.  He talked to my dad (the principal of said high school) , who was furious that I’d made some “not perfect life” comment to those outside of our house.   I was given strict instructions loudly to never tell anybody that anything was wrong.  Verbatim:  “If someone asks you how you are, you say “fine”.  I don’t care if you have an arm dangling by a thread.  You are FINE.”  When I worked in psych and alcohol/drug rehab, “FINE” translated to ‘f-ed up, insecure, neurotic, and emotionally disturbed.   I guess I have been ‘fine’ a few times in my life 😉  My parents never told their respective families where I was (except for one)- just not being enrolled at the U of IL was somehow not questioned. I’d essentially disappeared, and except for one of mom’s brothers who came to the hospital with my flute and Oreos (which terrified me at the time), I never saw anybody except my folks when they were allowed to come and see me. My mom’s mom later told me that she wasn’t told where I was.

Back to the suicidal stuff.   In my early teens, it wasn’t something I considered seriously (mostly because I was terrified I’d get in trouble, assuming I’d mess things up and survive). And I didn’t really want to DIE. It was never about death.   I just wanted to feel less confusion, fear, and emotional pain.  I felt a lot of pressure being the principal’s kid (some self-imposed, some overt instructions from my folks).  Then I went to the University of Illinois after a summer of becoming anorexic.  I was a mess. I’d been born there, and given up for adoption; I wondered if every 35 year old woman I saw was my birth mother, not knowing where she actually lived at that time.  That was the fall semester in 1981.  I was fully entrenched in anorexia, with the malnutrition impacting my thought processes, and adding to the development of clinical depression. I was never suicidal without that malnutrition and internal war over food.

I’d been told I had to see a university therapist to stay enrolled in school, after being shipped to the hospital the first week of classes. My resident advisor decided that someone wearing six pairs of socks and a winter coat in my room, still shivering- in late August in Central IL- wasn’t right. I struggled a lot just to get to and from classes, and there were multiple ambulance trips after passing out.  I’d made arrangements not to go to Florida with my parents for Christmas break, which lead to an irate father telling me I would be going to Florida, so get over it. It was a miserable time, though I was able to ‘escape’ and work at a Christian conference in Urbana, ironically working as a food service forewoman for the local kids who were also working there; I was barely 18. By the first couple of weeks  after Christmas break  in late January 1982 I was at home.  I was an emotional  disaster, with the anorexia getting worse, and being alive felt like torture. Dodging meals was worse. Laxatives were my reprieve.  With my brain starving, my thoughts were not ‘normal’, and dying seemed like the only way to make the eating disorder end. It was about ending pain, not ending my life- but my thought processes saw no other options. But I couldn’t do anything at home.

By the first week of February 1982, I had a plan, a private dorm room, and the whole thing figured out- except I didn’t really want to die. Plan:  I would overdose on the tranquilizers I’d gotten to (presumably) make me less anxious about eating, involve some sort of booze, and go into my lockable dorm closet, locked from the inside, and also make sure my dorm room was locked.   I finally fessed up to the university student health center counselor I’d seen my first semester there, and was still seeing (I don’t think the woman knew I could say anything but “I don’t know” until I told her I had a plan).  She had the university fire department  (overkill much, so to speak?) take me to McKinley Health Center, where they ‘babysat’ me until an adult friend (for a long time, from church) could come and get me- I did NOT want to face my parents.  I was SO ashamed for not being ‘perfect’ enough.   There was a blizzard that made most of IL a skating rink that February, so it took a few days for everything to happen to get me to the hospital near Chicago.   Where my parents were waiting in the lobby (I hadn’t considered them needing to be there to sign me in, since I was on dad’s insurance).   They were allowed to see me briefly, then ‘banned’ from any contact for a month until my assigned psychiatrist tried to sort out the family dynamics. I was there from February through most of April.

I returned to the U of I the following fall semester. I wasn’t a teenage drinker.  I’d  tried a few things here and there, but I hated the whole going across state lines thing on Friday nights,  where the drinking age was 18 at the time.   I was not coping well with feeling like  the designated nut job.  I tried SO hard to make it look like all was well, but it wasn’t.  I started going to bars and drinking 4-5 drinks in less than 2 hours, then stagger back to the dorm.  On September 2, 1982, I got  back from the bars, and was SO tired, but couldn’t fall asleep. I still remember taking the prescription sleeping pills (from the shrink I was assigned to at the hospital near Chicago).  I just kept taking them (there were 10 Dalmane 30mg capsules left, and I took them all), like some sort of automated prescription Pez dispenser was dropping capsules into my hand, that went to my mouth seemingly of its own accord.  I didn’t think about dying, but after taking the sleeping pills, I was told (and stomach contents confirmed) that I then went on to take about 50 imipramine tablets- I remember none of that.  No matter what was going on in my head, my body went into a 3 day coma.   My roommate didn’t notice anything alarming enough to call an ambulance until the day after I’d taken the meds on top of the alcohol.  I told her I was just tired, until I couldn’t speak anymore.  I was told more than once that I physiologically shouldn’t have survived the type and quantity of medications along with the booze, and the length of time before my stomach was pumped. At best, I should have had brain damage. I was sent back to the same hospital, and was there from September 5th through the first half of January, 1983.  I was inpatient for essentially 8 months of 1982 through a bit of 1983. It was never discussed after I got back home– I was sent off to the community college to keep me busy with nursing school required classes (nutrition, sociology, chemistry, English, and anatomy & physiology). And I worked at a local gift shop/dollhouse shop.  I was driven into Chicago 1-2 times a week for months to see the psychiatrist I’d had at the hospital.

I didn’t want to die.  I wanted the expectations and pain to FEEL less intense (they weren’t imposed by anybody but myself at that point, though the fear of facing my folks for not being ‘intact’ was still present ). I wanted the emotional torment of anorexia to end. I was stunned to wake up in the ICU at the same hospital where I’d been born prior to being placed for adoption.   The first thing I remember was someone putting an oxygen mask on me (then I fell asleep again), and later,  a syringe going towards my crotch (at the time, I didn’t know that a syringe removed the water from the balloon of a catheter that keeps it from falling out.  I didn’t know I HAD a catheter… so that was awkwardly confusing).  I remember the results of activated charcoal exiting my back door with intense urgency (I’d unhook the monitor leads to hurry to the bathroom, and end up with a bunch of people thinking my heart had stopped; they asked me to call for help to avoid thinking I’d croaked- my heart had taken a bit of a beating with the overdose). I had pain in my throat where a tube had been, as well as a deep bruised feeling on my breast bone, where they likely took their knuckles to try and wake me up.  For those who know the Glasgow Coma Scale, I was a 3.  It doesn’t go lower.   I also remember not being able to follow the Saturday morning cartoons they’d put on TV, after sort of propping me up in a chair. Bugs Bunny was confusing.

One therapist I saw years later would ask me about suicidal thoughts, and told me she would NEVER ask me to give them up, since having that option to think about helped keep people from feeling backed into an inescapable corner.  She would ask me to hang on just until she called me at whatever pre-determined day/time she came up with.  And that was helpful.  Someone knew I hurt, and having the feelings was fine. Just not acting on them (though she never put it that way).  She never shamed me for essentially just looking for ways to not feel emotional pain.   I never liked “contracts” because I didn’t want to sign something I might not be able to uphold- but the simple verbal request to hang on for  a phone call was enough (everybody is different, and some folks need more supervision, so more formal contracts or even interventions and required hospitalization might be the first step some folks need).  At the very least, I knew that someone cared enough to take 5 minutes to call and see if I was OK the next day.  Sometimes, when things were chaotic in my head, that external reminder that I wasn’t alone was sufficient. I existed, and it was OK.  Even being a mess, I wasn’t disposable. It was OK not to be perfect. And to acknowledge it.  I never thought I was perfect- I felt like a defect. But I felt that being perfect was the only acceptable goal.

I hope someone reads this who is a survivor of someone who completed a suicide attempt, not surviving it.   You need to know that it isn’t about not loving family/friends enough to stay (or reach out). It’s not about wanting to die.   In that state of mind, people truly do believe that the world (meaning their family and friends) would be better off without them.  It’s about not being able to imagine things ever getting better.  It’s a desperate, last-ditch attempt to find some peace.  But it’s generally NOT about wanting to die.  It’s about not wanting to have to endure emotional pain that feels like endless torment that steals every other part of life. It can also be physically painful to be that far down emotionally.

Don’t be afraid to be blunt if you are concerned about someone.  Asking about suicide will not make someone suicidal !!   The best thing someone can do, especially if they don’t know what to do, or don’t have training in crisis negotiations, is just to listen. If they can’t speak, just sit with them.  Don’t judge.  No empty “it’s going to be fine”.   And NEVER “oh, it’s not that bad”- that just says “you don’t care enough to try and understand me”.    Let the person know that you realize that they are doing the best they can.  Let them know that you understand that their pain is overwhelming.   NEVER “I know how you feel”…. you have no clue if you’re not in their head, even if you’ve experienced the same traumas, or identical upbringing. People respond differently.  Depression is often biochemical. It’s not a “get over it” kind of thing.  There are different types of depression- some are expected to some degree (like with grief), others are chemical imbalances in the brain- just like someone with a physical illness caused by a deficiency of some sort.

Empty platitudes are not helpful.  Saying something like “how can I help you?” can be helpful, but at some point, the person may have NO clue about what could be helpful- or that they’re worth helping.  Thoughts get stuck. Attention spans dwindle. It’s all the person can do to simply keep sucking air, and moving in baby steps.  Letting them know that you don’t have the answers, but will do what you can to help is SO much more helpful than someone who is clueless, trying to help someone when they don’t take the time to really understand the situation, and can’t admit that they don’t know what they are doing. Look for a sudden change in mood that looks like the person is doing a lot better, when the days before that were grim. Watch to see if the person starts giving away meaningful possessions. Those can signal that the person is at peace with the decision to exit life. If going to a treatment center is discussed, emphasize that the person can rest, and not fight alone. Tell him/her that it’s OK, and nobody is disappointed or ashamed of the person’s illness that they can not get out of on their own.

Everybody needs support at some time in their life, and treatment centers/hospitals are a safe place to tell staff counselors how bad things feel. I know that in other times that I checked into facilities for eating disorder relapses or PTSD from a violent six hour rape, it was a relief that someone else thought I was worth helping, and recognized that I was drowning on dry land. Some people will fight the idea, and if given an ultimatum where they finally accept inpatient help, expect calls the first week or so that sound like the person has ended up in an inept circus- it’s a lot to cope with being in unfamiliar surroundings with people that are strangers along with the depression that got them there… but when I worked as a nurse in adolescent psych or chemical dependency/detox facilities (adults and adolescents), the first week was hell, the second week was tolerable, the third week was pretty good, and by the 28th day, they didn’t want to leave- they had people who understood them in treatment, and felt safe.

If you feel like you are in over your head with someone who is suicidal, call 9-1-1.   If the person gets mad, they’ll either get over it or not- but don’t put yourself in a position to have unimaginable regrets if the person can’t hang on. It’s better to lose the relationship than that person’s  life.

To those who are struggling now- you are worth helping. You have value, even though you feel unable to do anything through the dark clouds. You may have tried a lot of different things, or you might be terrified of what inpatient help is like.  It might help to talk to someone anonymously at first…  please reach out. There are options, and things can get better in time with the right treatment.  I do not regret surviving. I’m glad I lived. And I’m not defective for having gone through some really hard times, or for overdosing. I understand when pain feels like it will never end.  It can ❤

Call these guys:
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

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Parole Protest 2018… Here We Go Again

Carl Edward Chambers is up for parole again.  I don’t think there’s a lot ‘new’ to say.   He should never walk free. Period.   I understand the asinine rules of mandatory release that the state of TX didn’t think through when they allowed for first degree felons to be freed, even if on parole/”supervision”.  Repeat offenders and those who have caused bodily harm to another human being have no business being among law abiding citizens.  They lost that right with their CALCULATED  DECISIONS to hurt others.    The State of TX is complicit with what happened to me.  All they can do now is keep Chambers contained like the animal he is.

1.  He plea bargained to a 60 year sentence, and is not due for mandatory release (again) YET.   It’s time he does ONE thing positive, and complete his incarceration (as much as possible with “mandatory-freedom-to-hurt-more-innocent-people” still in play with this case).   He’s already botched one round of mandatory release, so why give him the chance to hurt someone else?   THAT is my primary reason for continuing to protest his release.   My life is trashed, and I’ve made sure I have plenty of options for defending myself.   He was very calculated with what he did to me, even stealing my address and phone number from the sister he was staying with, in order to target me.   I can’t be the only woman who reminds him of his first wife…. that’s what I was told- I looked like her.   I’m fairly standard-issue…. overweight, brown/gray haired middle-aged white woman.   Lots of targets in the ‘free world’.

2.  EVERY time he’s been on parole, he’s committed a more violent crime.   Murder is the only thing off of his resumé, that we know of.   Why give him the opportunity?

3.  I’m getting older, and have multiple medical issues, to the point of being disabled for over a decade.   Because of the severity of what Chambers (I refer to him as Numbnuts) did to me, NOBODY else has touched me.  I can’t stand the thought of being ‘handled’ and violated.  The sensation of having another human’s body heat and breath near me is nauseating.   So, I know I’ll die alone.   When I was younger, I always envisioned a life with a husband and house full of kids.   Normal. Happy.  Fun.  LOVE.

4.   My parents are both gone now, but they suffered in knowing what had happened to me.  My dad read the very graphic police statement I gave, when they visited  just  a few months after it happened.  There is always collateral damage when someone violates another human being.  My folks didn’t deserve to have to deal with what happened to me.  They lived 1200 miles away, and I didn’t want them to come initially since there was so much going on with statements, meeting with various legal folks and the rape crisis volunteer, etc.  I encouraged them to talk to their pastor, or even friends… but my mom’s close co-worker at the time took me to dinner the next time I flew home, and asked if I’d been raped- she had watched changes in my mom, and mom wasn’t talking about it.

Initially, my mom just wanted to know if I was pregnant, and I was- but thankfully the spawned little bastard fell into the toilet at about 10-12 weeks after the rape.  I’d never had sex before, so I know ‘what ‘ it belonged to.  I wanted nothing to do with it, but struggled with abortion.  I am adopted, so didn’t want to go that route… so when the cramping started that morning that I’ll never forget, I was SO relieved to see that mass of %50 sociopathic DNA swirl away forever.   Had I gone the adoption route, what could I ever have told that kid if he/she came looking for me ?  How could I ever have spun the tale to make that kid feel like he/she wasn’t one big fat felonious mistake?   And I wouldn’t lie to an adoptee who simply wants the truth about his/her ‘roots’.    That was the only baby I ever ‘carried’…. the impact of the wine cooler bottle that Chambers rammed up my vagina for many, many minutes tore uterine ligaments…. think about that.  What kind of force is required to rip internal, unseen ligaments?    I could not have raised that ‘thing’ without prejudice, and that would have been unforgivable on my part to do to a child.  SO, the toilet ‘delivery’ was a blessing.   And still traumatic.  Rape….the crime that keeps on giving.

5.  The person I was before January 10, 1987 is DEAD.  “She” died the minute I knew what was going on… the knife at my neck, and threats to kill me repeatedly did the job.  My body may have survived, but my dreams of a  husband and kids of my own was gone. For good.   I avoided having time available during ‘normal’ social times like weekends and daylight.   I worked a lot of nights and weekends for a nice excuse to never be alone on a date.   My view of the world was mutated to see ‘plausible risk’ everywhere.  I’ve managed to not be paranoid, but I know that safety is never a guarantee, and nobody really ever knows what someone else is capable of.  That is my worldview post-rape.   There is no ‘safe’.

6.    He still owes me a ‘why?’ answer.   He could easily send it through the Board of Pardons and Parole and it would be forwarded to me.  The lack of any sort of explanation tells me that he would do it again in a heartbeat, and has no remorse.   Just another day for him.  S.O.P.  for Numbnuts.   I used to have ‘revenge fantasies’ early on, involving a vegetable peeler, and Numbnuts restrained in a chair for me to ‘peel’ the part of him that hurt the most.  It’s been years since I imagined that, as revenge isn’t  ‘me’.  But it was a way to cope for a while early on.  Now, I just want what I asked for with the plea bargain.   Sixty years.  No more, no less.  He’ll be in the TX DOCJ system until he’s at least 88 years old.  He’s nearly 60 now- and there is nothing about being 60 that makes him less of a risk.  Last time he was out, he had a lawn-mowing business (enabling him to be alone with homeowners any time he was ‘mowing the lawn’).   How was that idea approved?   He even moved while on “intense” supervision.  So intense he moved without anybody knowing.   Seriously?  That’s “intense” supervision?   I was told he would have an ankle GPS monitor and have to give detailed daily activity plans to his parole officer.   I guess “moving today” didn’t make the list.    Convict + secrets = more crime.

7.    Last go around with parole, he had obviously lied his way into the life of some woman with no self-esteem,  and she married him.  WHILE IN PRISON FOR RAPING  AND BEATING ME.    He’s still manipulating women.  Couldn’t have been honest about what he’d done- or she’s just nuts and passively suicidal.    Her grandsons wrote notes on Chambers’ behalf that sounded like someone with an 8th grade education had dictated them.    I guess Numbnuts was allowed around kids because he opted for adults to violate.   NO WAY I’d let any kid I had be around someone like Numbnuts.  Same idea as letting John Wayne Gacy be a Boy Scout Leader.  Just not a good idea.

8.  I’m a lot more angry now than I was years ago.  Mostly it reflects the isolation and no family of my own.   Had I not been raped, I would have had a shot at “normal”.   Chambers killed me.  He killed my dreams. He killed my belief that most people are good. He killed my ability to feel whole.  He killed any desire to be physically close to another person.  He tormented my parents.   He impregnated me and caused weeks of torment until the spawn was flushed.   He’s shown no remorse that I’ve ever heard about (but he’s a sociopath, so not expecting much there).

Geez… just thought of this.  For  8 years more than half of my life, I’ve been a rape survivor.   Still dealing with the aftermath of someone who CHOSE to make his life useless and cause irreparable damage to mine.   My life stopped at age 23.  And yet 31 years later, I’m still having to justify keeping my “killer” locked up.