Intervention and Treatment Memories

I gained a lot of weight during the time I was on chemo for leukemia.  It’s been very hard to get rid of it, as I’m also perimenopausal, and limited physically as far as what activity I can safely do.  Add a history of eating disorders, and the idea of losing weight is actually rather frightening at times.  I guess in some ways that’s good, since I don’t take for granted how bad things got the last time I relapsed in 1995-1996.  It took years to put my life back together so I could eat normally, and longer than that before I could accept my body without being disgusted by it.  My oncologist told me just to be thankful I’m alive (which I am), and don’t focus so much on the weight.   Easier said than done.

The last time I started to relapse coincided with being diagnosed as diabetic, and suddenly having to account for everything that passed by my lips. I lost about 50 pounds over several months prior to, and after being diagnosed (not noticeably abnormal ), and was holding my own without any eating disorder behaviors (purging- laxatives were my vice, restricting, excessive exercise, etc).  I ended up with pneumonia later that year (November 1995), and lost quite a bit of weight in a few days, and the sensation of being ’empty’ and seeing the scale numbers drop was enough to trigger the old eating disorder stuff that started when I was in my late teens and twenties (early 80s).  I’d been free of the anorexic end of things for many, many years.  It didn’t take long for being around food to cause anxiety, and for numbers on the scale, calorie books, and blood sugar meters to drive my entire life.  I lost another 50 pounds in about three months.  Other people noticed.

I worked at a drug and alcohol treatment center as a detox RN (and weekend charge nurse of sorts- if anything was wacky on campus, I had the last word if it was OK or not, though with serious stuff, I had plenty of folks to call for feedback and input) , so my coworkers were very aware of what addictive behavior looked like.  And denial.  And refusal to listen to rational feedback.  I coasted for a bit, but by the time a formal intervention was done, I was in bad shape.  Eating anything was excruciating.  Every night, I was asking God to just let me wake up in the morning.  And I literally crawled up the stairs to and inside my apartment.  Chunks of skin fell off of my heels.  Things weren’t good.

The day of the intervention was on the day after having worked a double shift.  I got off at 7 a.m. and went to rest for a while in one of the cabins my coworker had (she lived a few counties away and stayed on campus when she worked- we worked weekends and Mondays) while she went to do some discharge summaries, which I planned to do as well once I got some rest.  She came and got me at around noon, and asked me to come with her to get something to drink, and also drop off something in the Operations Director’s office.

I never saw it coming.  Inside the Operations Director’s office were my boss, her husband (who also worked there with the clinical staff), the medical director, day charge nurse, and several other people, including clinical staff who I worked with as well. There were 8-10 people there.  When I saw them all in the office, I knew what was going on.  I was terrified, but also wanted to stop fighting the wars in my head over something as ‘stupid’ as food.  It’s never about food, but that was what was going on mentally.  I was told of the plan to take me directly to my apartment to pack (supervised), then driven to the San Antonio International Airport to be put on a plane.  Someone would take care of my dog (that’s a whole different story), and my car could stay on campus where it could be monitored.  I’d fly to Houston, where an outreach employee would meet me, and be sure I got on the flight to Los Angeles.  That was the only way I’d be allowed to come back to work. What I hadn’t told them was that my primary doc had told me that I probably wouldn’t last a month, tops, if I continued as I was.  Their timing was perfect.  I wouldn’t have been ready before then.

So, off to Los Angeles I went.  Scared to death… I knew they made people EAT in eating disorder treatment.   But, I figured the sooner I got with the program, the sooner I’d get out of there.  So, in a feeble way, I’d begun to surrender on the plane.  By the time I got there, I was so exhausted from the double shift, then the intervention, traveling, etc, that the guy who picked me up thought I’d OD’d on something that made me semi-coherent.   I was just flat-out tired, and told him I was there for not eating (I never looked like I was starving as much as I was- curds of cottage cheese were something I worried about).  I was also exhausted from the battle fatigue from what had been going on in my head for months.  I’d been ‘confronted’ a couple of weeks earlier by a former coworker from another place I worked, about my weight (she was dropping off her child for treatment), and she asked if there was anything wrong with me.  I didn’t know how to answer.  It didn’t register that losing fifty pounds would be visible to anyone.  Seriously.  That jarred me a bit, but the intervention had the biggest impact.

I went to the treatment center in California (they no longer ‘do’  eating disorder treatment, thank God), and it was horrible.  The facilities were pleasant, and the food was really good (which amazed me, since I didn’t like much of anything, but all of the fresh produce ALL THE TIME was great) !  A few of the staff were decent, but eating disorder treatment it was not.  And the primary ‘assigned’ therapist I had was bad news… I was not allowed to speak about some things that seemed therapy-worthy to me. The ED patients had a table segregated from other patients in the dining room (and we were often like an exhibit in a zoo for the other patients who wanted to see if we ate), and one OA meeting a week (otherwise we went to AA).  That was the ED program. They may have been great for chemical dependency and/or dual diagnosis, but I was a generic eating disorder NOS (not otherwise specified) patient.  They didn’t get that right either.

When I first got there, I was so weak that when I went on the ‘beach walk’, I could barely make it.  Walking in the sand was exhausting, and I was having a lot of trouble even keeping a visual on the rest of the bunch who opted to do that activity.  My jeans were falling off, so they gave me a trash bag to tie two belt loops together, then trimmed the excess so it didn’t violate the safety rules about plastic bags.

The day before I was sent there, I’d packed up a detox patient to go there for more dual diagnosis issues than we generally dealt with at our facility, and then I showed up as a patient. Surprised her !   We sort of stuck like glue together, trying to make sense of the place.  Then another patient, AND person who worked where I worked showed up… They were both dumbfounded about the detox and treatment  process (so had a lot of questions), but come to find out one hadn’t told them all of the things she’d been taking. I told her she needed to fess up for her own safety.  They’d come to me (their former nurse) before talking to the staff there.  I wasn’t licensed in CA, and I was off the clock out there- but I was glad to be of some support.  We all needed each other out there.

There were a few of us ED patients, and we stuck together between groups, wondering where the ED services in the brochure were.  But, I managed to survive 36 days out there. The last 10 days, I had a virus of some sort, and wasn’t allowed to participate in any groups or meetings (but wasn’t sent home). They’d taken me to an ER, where they had me pee in a cup, and then decided I had a BLOOD virus- from a pee test…  The group would literally come to my room at the end of the session to say hello.  I could go outside and sit in the sun (or smoke), but no activities anyone else was doing. I could go to the dining room with everyone else, so it wasn’t like they were worried about me giving bugs to someone… but whatever.   I had a few roommates, some ED and one alcoholic,  (at different times) who were nice enough.  But I left there feeling totally unprepared for going home and making it OK.  I had no aftercare.  I was more scared leaving than when I got there.  But it was a great motivator to not want to ever end up in another situation like that was.

One really funny thing happened one evening, during my ‘banishment’ from groups, when I was outside  smoking.   One of the techs (fondly called the ‘clipboard jockeys’) came running around the corner asking if I’d seen the REST OF THE PATIENTS.  All of them !  😮  I told him no, and he was sure I must know something, even though I wasn’t allowed in groups. I really didn’t know. Come to find out that the rest of the patients were doing the evening community group, and after the tech checked everybody off of his clipboard, they went to another room to mess with him, and hide.  Eventually, all showed up, and the tech laughed, but I can imagine the thoughts going through his head about how he’d lost the entire lot of patients, except the puny one not allowed to go to groups.   That would have been a serious pile of incident reports and phone calls.

In the meantime I’d been told that I would NOT be allowed back to work where I’d been working at the time of the intervention until the director of nurses OK’d it (she had some serious boundary issues, and was also a neighbor of mine who had been in contact with my therapist in the treatment center- acting like some sort of information verifier.  The treatment center wouldn’t let me talk about being raped until my boss had reported to them that it had actually happened when she found the info and news clippings in my apartment when I was gone). Anyway,   I really liked that job, so that was a huge loss until I showed I was doing well enough to come back.   Eventually, I did get to go back, and stayed another couple of years until things started feeling unsafe with a huge increase in census, and no changes in detox/nursing staffing for several months.    But I’ll always be incredibly thankful that I got to work in that facility.  I learned a lot, and am a better nurse for my experiences there.  I still am in contact with several people I worked with there.

The intervention likely saved my butt, even though I had a lot of work to do ON MY OWN when I got back.  I got every professional book on EDs I could find, and did an ‘as if’ thing.   I looked at what I needed to do ‘as if’ I were carrying out orders for one of my patients.  I had to detach for a while.  Eventually, I was able to make it about me, and feel like I was doing OK. (The one OA meeting/group in town was ‘lead’ by someone who brought specific diets to show to the group- nothing 12-step about it, so I passed).  Whenever I see the show ‘Intervention’ or someone getting nailed on Dr. Phil, it brings back a lot.  Interventions are terrifying, but there was also a huge sense of relief at not having to go it alone any longer.

For those who think it might happen to them, just go with it.  Let everybody talk, and then be thankful that you don’t have to get well by yourself, and it doesn’t have to be perfect.  One step at a time, even if they’re baby steps.  A slip doesn’t have to become a relapse.  It beats being tied to an addiction that wants to kill you !  Things can get better, IF you are willing to let someone nudge you on your way (feels like an emotional sledge hammer, but in retrospect, it’s more of a send-off to the rest of your life 🙂 ).

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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.