“Have you ever had so much to say that your mouth closed up tight struggling to harness the nuclear force coalescing within your words? Have you ever had so many thoughts churning inside you that you didn’t dare let them escape in case they blew you wide open?” ~ Ellen Hopkins

 Beachy Head Cliff, South Coast of England (Pixdaus)

                             

“Sometimes, when one is moving silently through such an utterly desolate landscape, an overwhelming hallucination can make one feel that oneself, as an individual human being, is slowly being unraveled. The surrounding space is so vast that it becomes increasingly difficult to keep a balanced grip on one’s own being.” ~ Haruki Murakami

Dunstandburgh by Moonlight, by Rainer Mirau (Pixdaus)

I’m not even certain as to where I should begin to pick up the tale that has been my life over the last week and a half. I was finally able to stay connected long enough to put together the two posts that I had drafted on Word. Both are backdated to the time on which they were actually written, but so much more has happened.

As I write this, my mother is in the hospital where she has been since the very wee hours of Tuesday morning. She developed blood clots in her broken leg, and they traveled to her lungs. On Monday evening, I noticed that her leg was very swollen and filled with fluid. I suspected clots, but she did not want me to call 911 again as the EMTs had just been to the house two nights before (more on this later). I reluctantly agreed not to take her in as long as she woke me if anything changed.

Around 4 a.m. she yelled my name. I took one look at her entire leg, down to her big toe, all of which were twice the normal size and called 911. This time they took her to DePaul hospital instead of Leigh; however, I went to the Leigh ER as I did not know about the change. Once I got to Leigh, someone came out and asked my name and told me about the mixup. I broke the land speed record traveling from one ER to the other.

Very long story short, they finally put her in a room around 11 a.m. where she has been since; she will be moved soon to a rehab facility to continue treatment and receive physical therapy for her leg. All of this has really taken a toll on her mental state, which in turn is passed along to me in the form of panicked telephone calls during the times when I am not at the hospital with her.

“One can’t build little white picket fences to keep the nightmares out.” ~ Anne Sexton

The Furrows, Sacramento River, by Stephen Oachs (Pixdaus)

The first night that my mother was in the hospital, the hallucinations began again in earnest. She called me and told me that someone was trying to get into her room, that someone was having a party next door, that children were running down the hall screaming, that someone was knocking on her window asking to be let in (third floor room). She did not want me to say anything to the nurses because they would hurt her.

Three nights ago, she called and told me that she wanted me to listen to the noise and then held the phone up in the air. When I told her that I couldn’t hear anything, she became furious. She said that she was going to call 911, call a taxi, call her neighbor, and she was going to get the hell out of that place.  She wanted me to bring her purse. I refused. The conversation ended with her saying to me, “When you find my dead body somewhere, then you’ll have to live with that the rest of your life.” Turns out my mother can be even meaner when she’s hallucinating.

On Friday, I stayed at the hospital for hours waiting for the doctor who was supposed to come by, and luckily it was a female physician with whom I had spoken with on Wednesday morning. She explained the condition as sun downing, something that happens to people who are in the hospital and begin to exhibit symptoms such as mom’s in the evening. Sometimes sun dower syndrome is associated with Alzheimer’s, but not always.

The doctor spoke with my mother about going to a rehab facility (something my mother had already decided quite firmly that she had not intentions of doing as she just wanted to come home). The doctor pointed out that since my mother is still on blood thinners, if she came home and fell, the chances of causing internal bleeding were good, and she pointed out that I could not do anything for internal bleeding. Finally, between the two of us, we convinced mom that a rehab facility would be a good thing.

Can I just tell you how good it was to cross that particular hurdle?

“Hospitals are places that you have to stay in for a long time, even if you are a visitor. Time doesn’t seem to pass in the same way in hospitals as it does in other places. Time seems to almost not exist in the same way as it does in other places.” ~ Pedro Almodovar

Morning Mist in Holland (Pixdaus)

Currently, she is being given seroquel at night to help with the night terrors, and thankfully, she did not call me last night, which meant that I slept, very heavily I might add.  I decided to give myself time to write this morning before tackling anything else, hence the current, up-to-date post.

I do understand why my mother does not want to be in the hospital. Who does, really? It’s the luck of the draw if you are going to have a nurse who is compassionate versus one who is snotty. And regardless of their dispositions, they are all overworked, which means that they may tell their patient that they are going right now to take care of X, only to return an hour later, having completely forgotten the request.

After my last hospital stay post back operation, I don’t know that I ever want to be in a hospital again. My mother is chomping because they are keeping her completely immobile with a catheter and some are treating her as if she is demented. She told me that someone came into her room to ask her what month it was, and she told them December. She knew the month, but she just wanted to fuck with them.

I reminded her that if she keeps doing things like that, those who don’t know her personality may be inclined to think that she really is out of touch with reality. She maintained that if they are going to torture her, she is going to mess with them.

I did finally have to make someone put a note in her chart that before being admitted, she was mobile, using a walker and standing on her own.

“Funny how life is so like surgery . . . sometimes you can make that rocky davis in that right lower quadrant.. and then there are those days when your bowel ruptures and spells into your peritonium and all you are left with is intense pain and sepsis . . . oh brother, my kingdom for a tenblade when that happens !” ~ Dr. David Morgenstern, ER, “Let the Games Begin”

Fox in the Trees (Pixdaus)

So getting back to the second ER visit, the one that happened the Sunday before the third visit (think it was Sunday, things are blurring together). On Wednesday, October 13, my mother developed diarrhea (too much information, I know). But after three days, of this, I knew that she was dehydrated: I could pull the skin on her hand, and it would stay raised and pinched.

I called her pcp’s emergency service and spoke with the triage nurse, recited the increasingly bad symptoms. She instructed me to get her to the ER, reaffirming what I thought in the first place. Mom, of course, did not want to go. I called for another ambulance as I was alone, and there was no way that mom could have assisted me in getting her to the car. She was taken to Leigh ER again, and pumped full of fluids and potassium. She was diagnosed with c diff (clostridium difficile), which is a microorganism that normally resides in the GI tract and only becomes a problem when it decides to go postal and wreak havoc with the bowels by producing toxins in the GI tract that result in severe infectious diarrhea and inflammation of the large intestine.

Regardless of the c diff, this was still an atypical ER visit in that my mother was joking around with everyone. I think that she was just glad not to be sick to her stomach any more. The more fluids she received, the better her mood. We got home sometime that night, and Corey and his mother were at mom’s house. My mother slept that night.

“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those, who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in a human condition.” ~ Graham Greene

Swan in Fog (Pixdaus)

So here we are:  Mom is recovering from c diff, a broken tibia, night terrors, and blood clots.

In between all of this, Corey’s mom came to town for a few days. Corey was off work, so he was able to spend time with her, but I only saw her during breakfast on Sunday morning and a little bit in between. Everyone (family) got together on Tuesday night for dinner at P. F. Chang’s, but I was unable to go as Mom’s was having too many issues.

In the past few days, I have had a few good things happen: I have found a new musician, Ólafur Arnalds, who is from Iceland. Beautiful music. I have also had an Internet connection long enough to post. The other thing is that I have had some sleep, some even in my very own bed with my husband and dogs.

Small favors.

More later. Peace.

Music by Ólafur Arnalds, “Ljósið”

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“Sometimes a breakdown can be the beginning of a kind of breakthrough, a way of living in advance through a trauma that prepares you for a future of radical transformation.” ~ Cherrie Moraga

 

Durdle Door, Dorset, England

                   

“The question we need to ask ourselves is whether there is any place we can stand in ourselves where we can look at all that’s happening around us without freaking out, where we can be quiet enough to hear our predicament, and where we can begin to find ways of acting that are at least not contributing to further destabilization.” ~ Ram Dass

Tip of The Cobb, Lyme Regis, Dorset, England

It’s Saturday afternoon, two weeks and a day since my mother’s accident. Yesterday, Corey brought over one of the computers from the house since my stay here is obviously not going to be just a few days, and he realized that I am going crazy without a computer. That and the fact that I really cannot leave my mother alone in the house while I go somewhere else to work on my blog.

My mom’s house has no Internet connection, but fortunately, enough people nearby have unsecured networks that I can tap into. I know. Not an ideal situation, but at this point, I have to take what I can get.

So now I have a little set-up in my mother’s living room: an old sewing table, a bit rickety but just big enough for a screen and my Bose speakers (hooray for that). This will be my first official post from my new location. I have one of my playlists going in the background, just loud enough to drown out the constant sounds of television coming from her bedroom. She is one of those people who is uncomfortable with silence of any kind; hence there will always be a television on at any given minute, and the sound will always be quite loud. So “Ruby Tuesday” is currently muffling the sounds of whatever lightweight show she has found to watch on Saturday afternoon (only comedies and game shows in this house, no dramas (with the exception of “Law & Order”???), nothing heavy—remember, my mother is of the “think happy thoughts” school of mental health).

“And which is stronger in us—passion or habit?” ~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Lyme Regis from The Cobb by Peter Spencer

This is the story: My mother has a very large screened back porch with a cement floor and solid cement steps. These steps are the same ones she fell on last year although without nearly the same bad results. My mom has a tendency to put throw rugs all over the place, and she had one on the steps, which is what she tripped on, ultimately landing hard on the cement. Apparently, she pulled herself into the house and crawled to the telephone.

She called a number that she thought was Brett’s and told the man on the other end that she had fallen and asked him to get me as soon as possible. Turns out it was a wrong number, but you would think that the man on the other end might have had the decency to call 911 or something. My mom waited a few minutes and then called my number. I answered, and she asked why I hadn’t come over. I told her that I didn’t know what she was talking about. She asked why Brett hadn’t told me. I ask what was wrong and told her that I would be there in a couple of minutes.

Brett and I broke the land speed record going the two miles between our houses. I walked in, touched her leg which caused her to scream, and called 911. One ambulance and a fire truck later, I was surrounded by five EMT personnel, three of whom were asking me questions simultaneously. My reaction? To answer them while cleaning. It’s what I do under stress—regress to the child who cleaned her way through family fights and insecurities. I picked up laundry, moved chairs, and recited my mom’s vitals. Brett stood by looking helpless, and Donna, the neighbor from across the street spoke quietly to my mother.

Surreal is the only way to categorize the tableau as it unfolded in the living room on Friday evening.

“Our real discoveries come from chaos, from going to the place that looks wrong and stupid and foolish.”  ~ Chuck Palahniuk from “Invisible Monsters”

Town Mill in Lyme Regis, Dorset, England

Brett rode next to the EMT driving the ambulance transporting mom, and I followed in the Rodeo (Brett later told me that the man had tried to make casual conversation during the ride to try to keep Brett calm, for which I am ever grateful), all the while thinking that it would go so much faster if they would turn on the lights and sirens, but it wasn’t really an emergency in their book, so I obeyed the speed limit and followed the transport to Leigh Memorial, a hospital that I truly hate but the one that my mother requested.

My father died in that hospital, and the ER in that hospital misdiagnosed Caitlin when she first presented with symptoms. Needless to say I just don’t get a warm and fuzzy from the place.

I walked into a packed ER, gave the person at the registration desk my name, and tried to find seats that were not directly under the blaring television. Have you ever noticed the unspoken rules in an ER waiting room: Everyone already seated checks out the newest arrival in order to assess if the person has a real emergency—like a dangling appendage, which would be cause to be taken out of the queue. When the registration desk tells the newest arrival to take a seat, all of those already waiting breathe a collective sigh of relief that the order will not be disturbed. Of course, when your name is called and you go between those two magical doors, the ones that can only be opened by the keeper of the automatic door opener, everyone still seated shoots daggers at your back.

Ah, the rich pageantry of life.

I forgot to mention that during all of this, I texted Alexis first with a brief message: “Oma fell. 911. Call ASAP.” She did not respond; what in the hell is the point of using 911 if the response is ho hum, I ask. I texted again, this time to everyone with more specifics: “They are taking Oma to the ER in an ambulance.” Alexis and Eamonn called almost simultaneously. I had already called Corey on the way to the house, but as luck would have it, he was working but supposed to be off at 11.

“The shortest distance between two points is often unbearable.” ~ Charles Bukowski 

Ammonite Light Post at Dusk in Lyme Regis

So back to the narrative: I was told to go through the doors, turn right, turn left, go around and turn right. Right. Got it. I turned right and immediately asked for someone to point me towards my mother’s room.

She had been given morphine in the ambulance, which had made her throw up, so when I walked in, she was clutching a disposable emetic bag that I eventually had to pry from her fingers. I was told that x-rays had been taken and that we were waiting for the doctor. Talk about stating the obvious.

Hours and hours later . . .

The x-rays revealed that my mother had broken her tibia directly below the kneecap, and she was bruised in several places. She had not broken her hip. An immobilizing brace was ordered, and the attending physician told me to call the orthopedist on Monday.

Now this all sounds terribly civilized, but I’m leaving out some good parts, like my mother screaming when anyone touched her, the fact that she was shaking all over from shock and I couldn’t get her a blanket, and she needed to pee. Eventually, she was catheterized, given more meds (I felt like Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment, trying not to become hysterical as I demanded that they shoot some more of the good stuff into the IV. Look, I just can’t get into what I was feeling during all of this, not really, as it was all much too intense and draining). 

As the doctor was giving his parting directions, I thought to myself, “You’re not keeping her??? What do you mean you’re not keeping her??? Have you lost your mind??? Have I lost my mind???

Then there was the Marx Brothers scene in which an orderly, a nurse, and I tried to put my mother into the passenger seat of my car. You see, I had sent everyone home. Brett hadn’t eaten all day. Corey was exhausted,and I knew that I was going to need him when we got home. So the departure was a solo event.

The three of us tried lots of different scenarios with each of us holding different body parts, and my mother screaming “No. No. No. Just put me back.” Finally, the orderly lifted her bodily and placed her in the seat as my mother said, “You’ll get a hernia. You’re going to hurt your back.” Meanwhile, I thought, “how in the hell are we going to get her out of the car when I get home?”

“The human story does not always unfold like a mathematical calculation on the principle that two and two make four. Sometimes in life they make five or minus three; and sometimes the blackboard topples down in the middle of the sum and leaves the class in disorder and the pedagogue with a black eye.” ~ Winston Churchill

Coade Stone Ammonite Pavement Celebrating Lyme Regis’ as the Capital of the Jurassic Coast

                   

I don’t remember the drive home at all, just that I avoided potholes and bumps. I had called Corey, and he was waiting at my mother’s house for us. I told him about the ordeal of putting her in the car. Neither of us had an inkling as to how we would get her out of the car, up the steps, and into the bedroom.

Lots of screaming. Hers, mine, ours.  (look, I’m not being flippant, or maybe I am, but this was two weeks ago, and the only way to deal with some things is in retrospect and with no respect whatsoever). The goal was to remove her from the car without bending her right leg . . . We had the walker, but it quickly became apparent that it was useful as a skateboard.

We ended up carrying her. Don’t ask me how. We stopped on the porch as I opened the doors while my mother yelled not to let Willow (her schnauzer) out. Trust me, Willow was too petrified to bolt. We stopped at the entrance to the hall. Somehow, we got her in bed.

Those first few days and nights were a blur, except for the hallucinations, which I’ll get into next time as they deserve a post of their own.

So that’s the first part of my latest saga. Feels good to be writing about it.

More later. Peace.

Music by Jean Louisa Kelly, her version of “Someone to Watch over Me” from Mr. Holland’s Opus

More Lunatic Tales From The Ether

18_not_easy 

The Other Side of the Looking Glass

When last we left our heroine, she had been disarmed of her sword and was strapped to a gurney being transported to the emergency room for her own good . . . 

The Mexicans in the Walls

Part 3

Final chapter: The Emergency Room 

 So we arrive at the emergency room, where I am parked on a gurney in the hall to wait, for what or whom, I have no idea. I have already assured anyone who will listen that I don’t really need to be there, which is probably not the best thing to say in an emergency room full of people who need to be there. I am going to be taken to x-ray to make sure I didn’t hurt my back when I tried to rearrange the furniture. In the meantime, I am right outside the door of a man who is apparently—and I really am not making this up—dying. This is the only part of the story that is not the least bit humorous, and I don’t think that this was part of my hallucination. He is moaning and crying and no one is doing anything about it. It’s tearing me to pieces to hear this, and I just want to go home. I promise my husband that if I can just go home, I’ll be fine, but I don’t want to hear this man any more.

starting-an-iv
The Correct Way to Start an IV

In the meantime, someone decides that I need an IV. The crew from the ambulance that brought me in assert comically that they need some practice in this area, so one of them volunteers. It’s the female. She gives me the smile given to crazy people to assure them that everything is going to be all right when it’s obvious that it won’t be; then she jabs me with the needle: again and again and again. She looks over at the person who I assume is her supervisor and says, “I can’t do it,” to which I ache to reply, “No shit.” He ambles over, picks up my arm, and declares: “She has really tiny veins.” I reply to his assertion, “no one’s has ever had problems with my veins,” but they aren’t listening because they think that I’m crazy. Well I may be crazy, but I know my veins. This guy tries twice and misses. I give him a look like I’m going to pull a sword out of my butt, and he backs off.

Finally, a technician comes by, (I deduce what she is because she is carrying one of those carts with all of the tubes and needles and stuff), and I tell her what they’ve been doing to me, and she says, “Oh my. Here.” And in goes the needle, and I have an IV. I’m glaring at the EMT’s who are hanging around the vending machines. This is why I didn’t want to come to the emergency room.

Did I mention the medications? Probably not. When the EMT’s were in my bedroom checking my vitals and getting ready to take me out, jefferson-airplane-surrealistic-pillowthey noticed my little castle of drug bottles by the bed, the veritable cornucopia of pharmacopoeias. They looked at each other, and I’ve seen that look: “She’s a druggie.” Please let me pause here. I had just been released from the hospital for back surgery. I had a few meds on my nightstand, along with my medicine for heartburn and other ailments. But they are jumping to the White Rabbit conclusions (you know, “Go Ask Alice,” Jefferson Airplane), and frankly, at the time, all I could think of was Desi Arnaz saying to Lucy, “Lucy, you got some ‘splainin to do,” which would have made me giggle, so I shut up.

I wanted to giggle a lot during this whole episode, but I think that (other than the two cops at my bedroom door), I’m the only one who was finding any humor in the situation.

So now that I have an official IV and an ID bracelet, we sit. And sit and sit and sit. The man in the room is moaning horribly, and I’m getting hungry. I also need to pee. I ask my husband what we are waiting for. He replies that he’s not sure. We’ve already been there for two hours going on three. I get off the cart, and my husband immediately panics and asks where I’m going. I tell him to calm down. I’m not running away from the ER, I just need to pee. But that’s harder than you would think when you have an IV, and people are in rooms, and there is no bathroom close by. I find a bathroom but am not particularly happy about its cleanliness—it is, afterall, a hospital, and they are teeming with germs, and by now, I am very ill-tempered, and I just want to go home.

My beleaguered spouse goes to see if anyone will see us, and comes back without anyone. So I pull out my cell phone and call the ER main desk. I distinctly remember doing this as this is something that I would do under normal circumstances. I call the main desk and ask if anyone is ever going to see me. The person who answers the phone is very confused. She asks who she is talking to. I tell her that I’m the woman on the gurney in the hallway outside of the door of the man who is dying, and no one has even checked me in yet.

A doctor shows up in two minutes. We give him a rundown of what’s going on. He totally ignores me (which proves my whole conspiracy theory), and only talks to my husband. I realize that he’s a resident. I hear him go off and consult with the attending, a female physician who comes back and asks my husband if I want a psych consult. I say, “No. I don’t need a psych consult. I just want you to tell me why I’ve started to have post-op hallucinations.” They order a psych consult.

After four hours, I tell my husband that we’re going. He looks at me, and I say, “Look, obviously, it’s something to do with my medicine. You can call the surgeon’s office when we get home. I want to go home and get back in bed. I’m not hearing or seeing anything any more since I haven’t had any medicine in almost six hours. Just take me home, and put me to bed.” He reluctantly admits that I have a point. Truthfully, at this point, he himself is so exhausted that he would probably agree to me performing surgery in the hallway if it would get a response out of someone.

 I wait for the next physician type to walk by and then loudly announce that I’m leaving. It’s the resident again, and I think that I’m scaring him. The female attending comes back, says that I have to sign papers saying that I am refusing treatment. When she thinks she’s out of earshot, she starts talking about me. This time, I’m not hallucinating.

On a better day, I would have taken her to task, but today I have to admit defeat. I’m tired, and I just want to be gone from this hell-hole.

We go home, and my husband finally speaks to someone knowledgeable at the doctor’s office. Turns out that the whole thing was a result of my having stayed in the hospital on the extra strength kaboom medicine for five days instead of three and then going home and taking extra strength pills that the doctor had prescribed for me without taking into account that I still had all of the other stuff in my bloodstream. In other words, the surgeon didn’t bother to do some measured calculations on how much frigging stuff they were pumping into me those two extra days that I was hospitalized and then sent me out into the world, an hallucinatory event in waiting.

What a pedestrian explanation for a calamitous event. After we got home I heard the music a little bit more, but didn’t say anything. My husband got some sleep. My kids approached me tentatively, and I tried to explain that I wasn’t psycho any more. But as far as the whole family of Mexicans and their card table and coffee behind the walls? I think that they left when the ambulance pulled out of my driveway.

It was one hell of a ride, I’ll give you that. The person who had the worst end of it was my poor spouse, who was just trying to keep me from hurting myself. The cops who turned out in full armor probably laughed themselves silly at the stupid woman who was waving around a sword with a blade so dull that it wouldn’t even cut an apple. And I had to have an MRI to make sure that I hadn’t undone the surgeon’s work when I tried to move a 200-pound dresser to bar the non-existent intruders.

It never occurred to me to ask the Mexicans in the walls for help.  But that’s just as well. Now that there is a lot of time and distance from this event, I find it highly amusing, vitameatavegamin1but my husband? He still is not amused. I cannot imagine why.

So this is the moral of the story: If you have a lot of pain medication when you are in the hospital, and they give you more pain medicine to take at home, don’t be surprised if you start to hallucinate. I’m not sure if you’ll have a Mariachi band as I did. But whatever your hallucinations may be, just know that it’s the medication, and don’t allow yourself to be used for recertification training for EMT’s who need to practice sticking people who are conscious.

And that dear friends, is all for now. Peace.

More Lunatic Tales From The Ether

 unreality-crashes-in

Phantasms Collide With Reality

 

Picking up where we left off. If you recall, when last we left our heroine, she was having both auditory and visual hallucinations, and her family was considering running far, far away . . .

The Mexicans in the Walls

Part 2

New and exciting chapter: The conspiracy.

You are going to love this part. Trust me. I am not making this up. This is like something that W. would say at the microphone before his handlers could stop him and the press is just pissing in their collective pants with joy at the gift that they have been handed. I kid you not. That’s how good this part is, and we aren’t even to the S.W.A.T. team and the sword yet. I have figured out why the Mexicans are in the walls. Hallelujah. In my head, this is more real than Paris Hilton’s suntan or James Frey’s memoir. My husband has gathered all of these Mexican’s in the walls, who at this point are playing cards, brewing coffee (which smells rather good because I do love strong, Mexican coffee), and playing this infernal Mariachi music all night and all day, because he—my husband—has devised a plan of such cunning that it would make a Fundamentalist proud.

Now granted I’m not exactly sure how the Mexicans fit into all of this except that there is a larger plan or was a larger plan. I’m getting ahead of myself again. Let me back up . . . When the visual hallucinations started, my husband called the doctor again, who suggested that perhaps he (my husband, not the doctor, silly) should take me to the ER. Well, I was not having any of that because I was onto the whole ER thing. It was as plain as the brace on my body. If I let him take me to the ER, then he would have evidence that he could use against me later when he wanted to commit me or if he ever wanted to have complete control over me. It would be there, in writing: I was L-O-O-N-Y. It was a conspiracy.

He had brought the Mexicans in so that I would see them and hear them, and then when I did, he could tell them that I was seeing things and hearing things that weren’t there. Husbands all over the country were doing the same thing so that they could control their wives, like Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, and we know where that leads, and I wasn’t going there. I had just read Under the Banner of Heaven, and those people were crazy. So I was not going back to the old ways. Not me, no way, no how.womens-collageThe conspiracy, you see, was that if husbands secretly banded together through some kind of code word (no I didn’t know the word, how would I? Duh. It was a secret), then all of those involved would be able to have something on their wives, like me being loony, to keep them in check. You know, no more freedoms, no more equality. None of that crap. Back to the old-fashioned days when women were never allowed to speak or own land or heads of cattle (not that I wanted to own cattle, mind you). I knew that that’s why my husband was planning, and I told him that I knew, so he could forget about taking me to the ER, because I was not a threat to myself or anyone else, so I knew that they wouldn’t hold me. So there.

Of course, this was before the streamers. In between calling the doctor, my husband had been calling his mother and my daughter, asking for advice, help, anything. My daughter was at work, and his mother was 800 miles away, and believe me, you don’t call my mother during something like this unless you want to make it ten times worse by a factor of 92 or so. But I digress . . .

This is important because of the streamers, which I’m getting to right now. Apparently, every time I went into the bathroom or fell asleep, my husband (or so my deluded mind believed) would do something new to add to my doubts to my sanity.

Well, I woke up in the middle of the night, and there were all of these beautiful colored streamers hanging from the ceiling and walls, and they were not the cheap paper kind—I was impressed—but lovely, translucent gels (where did he get these in the middle of the night, I wondered), and I just knew that my daughter had come over and helped my husband to hang them while I was asleep. Let me just mention here that this is the first time that my poor spouse has actually fallen asleep under the assumption that I, too, have gone to sleep for the night in my cocoon of pillows.

He should have known better. He woke up to me jumping on the bed trying to grab the streamers on the ceiling. I really thought that they were quite lovely, and I just wanted to touch them (also, I had to know how he had gotten them to stick to the ceiling like that).  However, post-operative back surgery, I don’t believe you are supposed to be jumping on anything, even a mattress. He brings me down, agrees that the streamers are lovely, and probably does not sleep any more that night.

Now this is the really weird part. No, the other parts were eccentric, a bit out there, but for pure weirdness, this is it. The morning after the streamers, I am in the bedroom alone. Said spouse is out of earshot. Little do I know, but he is in the backyard on the phone trying to convince someone, anyone, that things are not quite normal in our household. When I call out for him, he doesn’t answer, and then I hear a big noise in the garage. I make a completely logical leap here (in my mind), and decide that someone is breaking into the garage, and they have probably taken my husband hostage.

I crouch on the floor by the closed bedroom door and dial 911 emergency. While I am on the phone with the emergency operator, telling her about the hostage situation, I try to move my dresser in front of the door. This is an old, solid wood dresser, not pressed board, and it is full of clothes. I am tugging on the bottom of the dresser when I remember the swords. I still have the operator on speaker phone when I dive into the closet where we have three antique swords that we bought at a thrift store. I grab the first one that I can get to. If I have to, I think, I will take them all out like The Bride did in that scene in the tea house with O-Ren and the Crazy 88’s, which is just the coolest Quentin Tarantino scene ever, except I don’t have a yellow biker suit, and I don’t believe that I’ll be doing any jumping from balconies.

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How I Saw Myself With The Sword

“Hello?”

“Yes.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yes. I tried to move the dresser in front of the door, but it was too heavy.”

“Do you think that you could open the door?”

“I guess so. I have a sword.”

“You do?”

“Yes. It’s pretty old and not very sharp, but it’s the only weapon I have.”

“Well, do you think that you could open the door and give me the sword?”

“Where is my husband?”

“He’s right here with us.”

“Oh. Okay.”

So I open the door, and there is my husband behind two police officers who, I swear, are trying not to laugh. One of them reaches out, and I hand him my sword, while explaining to him that it’s not very sharp, but he should still be careful because it’s a sword. I am a mom, after all. I know these things.

The police ask if I want to go to the hospital. I tell them not really. They tell me that an ambulance is already outside, so maybe I should just let them check on me. Since it’s the police and not my husband, and they are asking nicely, and no one has kidnapped anyone, I figure, why not.

And that’s how I end up at the emergency room.

 

(For Part 1, see https://poietes.wordpress.com/2009/02/18/lunatic-tales-from-the-ether )

The Silence of a Falling Star Lights Up a Purple Sky

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The Silence of a Falling Star Lights Up a Purple Sky

I’ve Never Seen A Night So Long

Emotionally Raw, Tired, and Overwhelmed

I’m really tired tonight, emotionally exhausted. Trying to write my Grace in Small Things list for today was really hard. I took on a hard topic last night, and it’s still with me. Any one of the three stories that I found would have been pretty bad on its own, but to put all three together—I think that it was just too much.

I cannot get out of my head the image of the 93-year-old man who froze to death inside of his house because of a bureaucratic decision. I cannot forget about the two EMT’s who made the decision not to resuscitate a man based on the condition of his house. My god, if they came into my house right now, this very moment, if anyone who worked for social services or the city government came into my home right now they would think that I’m a terrible mother, that my children are deprived, that my house should be condemned, and most certainly, that I am not worth saving.

My house is a complete and total mess. I have cobwebs because I cannot reach them with my ostrich feather duster to clean them. The last time that I tried to do that, I pulled my back. My living room still has two dining room chairs in boxes because my eldest son refuses to take the ornaments off the Christmas tree. It has become a point of downright contention. My youngest son’s room is neat and tidy.

My room is relatively organized, but dusty. The kitchen looks like a disaster, but is wiped down daily with disinfectant spray, and the sink is scrubbed with liquid bleach. Clothes are washed and dried daily. Everyone bathes daily. I personally clean the bathroom on my hands and knees with a cloth and spray disinfectant because I don’t trust my sons to do it right, and Corey has enough to do around here. I can’t walk after I do it, and I have to get in bed and take my muscle relaxers afterwards, but it’s clean.

Regardless, the house still looks terrible because there are things everywhere from where we pulled things out to start the remodeling. Boxes, furniture, all sorts of things in the wrong places. Would that mean that I wouldn’t get the needed attention from an EMT because it wouldn’t look as if I deserved it? Who were these people to make this decision. I am completely flummoxed.

And then there is the story of the two children: Sage and Bear and their father. I have tried all day to put them out of my mind and find that I cannot because there are too many stories of too many children like Sage and Bear. I just came across another story of a 19-year-old and her boyfriend who beat to death her two -year-old daughter for not saying please, but she did manage to keep saying “Mommy I love you” while they beat the very life out of her.

There are too many stories like this for my heart to hold. I do not know how the men and women who work in these professions can do it, can go to their jobs everyday and hear about these children, or on the opposite side, hear about these monsters. I don’t know how social services can try to work with families who are so obviously dysfunctional but the courts say that placement with the biological parents is preferable. I don’t know how the doctors and nurses can look at the shattered bodies who are brought to them in the aftermath of parental and spousal warfare. I don’t know how the EMT’s can go into a house and remove the body of a 93-year-old man who died on a technicality.

Think of all that this man had survived: two world wars, the Great Depression, the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, the Twin Towers, desegregation, women getting the vote, a man landing on the moon, cars, television, and telephones. He saw great inventions and terrible creations of mass destruction. He saw all of the wonderful things that our country celebrated: the end of wars, ticker tape parades, the first step on the moon, the destruction of the Berlin Wall, and he saw all of the evil of the world: Pearl Harbor, Nazi Germany, Waco, 9/11, and all of the rest. And the final helplessness of dying of hypothermia in his own home.

To all of the people who do the hard jobs that I know that I would like to do but cannot, I offer my sincere gratitude. You walk into houses. You look for the lost children. You do not stop until you find the monsters. You live with the monsters, carry them with you, tucked away in you back pockets so that they do not touch the sanctity of your own families, but they are always with you until you can pass them along to the next link in the chain.

And some of you are never able to let go of the monsters, even when they are dead and gone. That is their heinous legacy to those whose lives they have stolen.

Newest Statistic That I Never Needed To Know

So today I learned from one of the Veterans’ websites that everday approximately 18 American war veterans commit suicide; every month, almost 1,000 veterans receiving care from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs attempt suicide (http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/05/11/8868).

This startling statistic is news to most Americans because the Bush administration did not want this news to be made public to Americans. It has taken a law case, officially known as Veterans for Common Sense vs. Peake, for this news to reach the American public. This case is a class action lawsuit brought by Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans for United Truth on behalf of 1.7 million veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Under the conditions of the case, the VA had to produce a series of documents.

In one letter from Dr. Ira Katz, former head of the VA’s Mental Health Division, Katz opens his key e-mail with “Shh!” Katz advises a media spokesperson not to tell CBS News that 1,000 veterans receiving care at the VA try to kill themselves every month.

Another shocking number is 287,790—the actual number of American veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who had failed VA disability claims since March 25 2008. Other casualty statistics not normally revealed:  Number of American troops wounded in Iraq: 31,948;  Number of troops “injured” in Iraq”: 10,180; Number of  troops “ill” in Iraq: 28,451.

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Those three number total represent soldiers who are so damaged physically that they have to be evacuated to Germany. By splitting the numbers into three categories, it makes the number of casualties appear to be lower. Or, at least that was the thinking in the Bush administration.
 
Personally, the number manipulation just makes it that more tragic. These numbers are people, not numbers. If the American people were aware of just how many of its warriors were dying not only on foreign soil, but also on American soil, after they have come home, after they have been taken out of combat, if they only knew just how its veterans were waiting years for decisions on their benefits, perhaps they would be less complacent. If only we had seen the flag-draped coffins sooner, perhaps the reality might have moved beyond our periphery sooner.
Perhaps tomorrow will be a better day. More later. Peace.

I Truly Do Not Understand What Has Happened To The Milk of Human Kindness

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The Black Angel of Council Bluffs

The Truth is More Horrible Than Fiction

He Deserved More Dignity in Death

In Bay City, Michigan, a 93-year-old man froze to death inside of his home because the electric company had put a limiting device to limit the amount of electricity the man could use becaue of $1,000 in unpaid electric bills. The temperature in the house dropped below 32° Fahrenheit, and Marvin E. Schur died “a slow, painful death,” said Kanu Virani, Oakland County’s deputy chief medical examiner, according to an AP report.

Schur died of hypothermia, which he would have felt first in his extremeties as a burning sensation in his fingers and toes. Hypothermia causes a gradul shutting down of the body’s whole system. Schur was found by a neighbor on Monday morning.

Merry Christmas Sage and Bear

In Jerome, Idaho, on Christmas Day, Robert Aragon set out with his two children, 11-year-old Sage, and 12-year-old Bear, to take them to their mother’s house just one town away. The temperatures were bone-chillingly cold, and there were snowdrifts on the side of the road. Soon, Aragon’s truck became trapped in one of the snowdrifts. Instead of wrapping up his children while he worked on digging out his truck, Aragon decided to choose another solution: He had his children get out of the truck and start walking the remaining 10 miles towards their mother’s house.

Sometime after the children had been put out of the truck and told to start the long walk down the country road, Aragon managed to get his truck free. Good new, right? Did the caring father drive as fast as he could to pick up his children?

NO. He drove back home to Jerome. The children’s mother called to say that they had never arrived. Please note that this means that this cretin of a human being had never even bothered to see if his children had arrived. When authorities found Aragon around 10 p.m., he was at the site where he had put the children out of the truck.

Unbelievable, comments are divided on Aragon’s decision. Some people are trying to be forgiving:  “Who knows what went through his mind? It’s just so sad,” said Ron Choate, who owns a diner in Jerome. “Sure, the dad was dumb to let them walk, but he probably didn’t think something bad was going to happen.”

Others are less kind: “I am sure that the jail cell Mr. Aragon is now occupying is much warmer at night than the snow bank he provided for his daughter,” Pat Brownfield of nearby Twin Falls wrote in a letter to the local newspaper.

Within hours after the children began walking, Sage, dressed in pink pajama pants, a shirt, snow boots and a down coat, was dead from hypothermia. Bear was luckier. When he was found, he was wearing only his long underwear. He had become delusional from the hypothermia, and was found in a deserted, single-stall rest stop more than 4 miles from where the children started walking.

Snowdrifts at the site where Bear was found were around four feet high, and rescuers had to climb over the drifts to get to the boy.

But this is not the end of the story. Also in the car with Aragon on the night was his cousin. Both men face up to life in prison for second degree murder and felony injury to a child. A judge later dismissed charges against the uncle.

When I read this, what I could not believe were the number of comments from people who were arguing for Aragon, saying what a good man he was, how “a jail sentence is too harsh.” I find these comments simply unbelievable. A good man, a good father, does not put his children out in frigid temperatures, dressed in pajama pants to walk ten miles. A good father, upon freeing his truck, does not turn around and drive home.

Of course we do not have all of the facts in this case as to why the children were living with their father and not their mother, why their mother did not go searching for the children when she found out they were missing. There are a lot of glaring omissions to this story. But two key facts stand out:

Fact number one: He took his children out in the cold and put them out of the truck. 

Fact number two: He did not go and get them when he dug out his truck. No. He went home.

I, for one, am totally without words.

(From the AP. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090113/ap_on_re_us/death_in_the_snow)

It’s Not My Job

In December in Brighton, England, two Emergency Medical Technicians had a discussion on whether or not they should perform their job, that being whether to attempt to resuscitate 59-year-old Barry Baker, according to The Times of London. An unidentified source said that the EMT’s arrived in reponse to a call that Baker had placed in November after suffering a heart attack.

But after entering the building the two technicians were dismayed by the condition of the building and wondered aloud whether Baker was “worth saving.” Unfortunately for the technicians, Baker had never hung up the 999 emergency call, so everything that they were saying was being recorded, every petty, horrible, inhumane little piece of tripe that oozed from their shiftless, judgmental lips was recorded for posterity so that now, the entire rest of the world can sit in judgment of them.

(from UPI.com, http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2008/12/31/EMT_workers_arrested_in_British_death/UPI-55681230750341/).

And Through It All, We Pray to Remain on the Side of the Saints and the Angels

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Lady Macbeth feared for her husband because in her estimation, he was weak. He had too much kindness in him:

“Yet doe I feare thy Nature, It is too full o’ th’ Milke of humane kindnesse.”

And it was true. He did not have the blood-letting capacity innate to his wife. But in the end, it drove her mad.

These people who treat life as if it is a coin to be tossed so lightly, bear it without the weight of its consequence. Why surely, God cannot “send to eternal pain a man who has done something toward improving the condition of his fellow-man. If he can, I had rather go to hell than to heaven and keep company with such a god” (Robert Ingersoll).

These people, these faceless companies who have not a thought for the lives they place in the balance when they put ignominious limitations on life-giving heat should be forced to sit in houses in which the temperature dips below 15º Farenheit, and no one looks in on them except for during the “thick night . . . and dunnest smoke of hell” (Lady Macbeth, Macbeth).

The man who makes a choice wholly inconceivable, disposes of children like small animals, left thoughtlessly by the roadside to freeze in the snow, “For a plot hatched in hell, don’t expect angels for witnesses” (Attorney Robert Perry, making summation to trial of John DeLorean).

“My whole soul pants for light and relief on these questions. But I get neither; and in the distress and anguish of my own spirit, I confess that I see no light whatever. I see not one ray to disclose to me why sin came into the world; why the earth is strewn with the dying and the dead; and why man must suffer to all eternity. I have never seen a particle angel-wingsof light thrown on these subjects, that has given a moment’s ease to my tortured mind . . . I confess, when I look on a world of sinners and sufferers-upon death-beds and grave-yards-upon the world of woe filled with hosts to suffer forever: when I see my friends, my family, my people, my fellow citizens when I look upon a whole race, all involved in this sin and danger—and when I see the great mass of them wholly unconcerned, and when I feel that God only can save them, and yet he does not do so, I am stuck dumb. It is all dark, dark, dark to my soul, and I cannot disguise it”  (Albert Barnes).

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” ~ Dante Alighieri 

There is no more need for words. Peace.