This is Grimalkin, also known as Malkie. She died nearly 3 years ago. Malkie was a feral rescue and lived up to the term. She was a mean, possessive, territorial, poorly behaved cat, but she was my cat for 15 years and I will always miss her.
I hate porn. I find it dull and uninteresting. If I want to see people having sex, well, I never want to see people having sex, but there are better places to go about seeing people having sex. I might never post how I know this.
I was exposed to porn at a very early age. I think I was 9 or 10 when I found my step-father’s copies of Penthouse. It gave me really warped ideas of sexuality, because I didn’t even know about sex yet.
I don’t remember my mother ever having the sex talk with me, but I remember hearing from her over and over that I’d be pregnant and have to drop out of high school. CONSTANTLY.
It didn’t take a lot of intelligence to know that the way to not get pregnant in high school was TO NOT HAVE SEX IN HIGH SCHOOL. So I didn’t. I’ve discussed my intense fear of ever being pregnant, yes?
Once I became an adult, I experimented with a lot of different things sexually. Sex is an awesome thing, but I’ve always used protection and I’ve stayed on the pill, and I haven’t looked at porn.
I moved to Colorado without knowing a single person here. My singlehood was noticed by a coworker, and I was set up with RH.
R was a nice guy. Computer Engineer. Stable job. Our first date was a group date at the Renaissance Festival. We hit it off.
R was a little…. stiff. He wanted to wait for marriage to have sex. I liked him, so I was okay with this.
We dated for 2 years.
At some point in our relationship, R had to go out of town on business and asked me to stay at his house to watch his dog. Sure. Only, when the time came, his house was FREEZING. I’d brought pajamas, but was still cold. So I went into his closet to find a sweater or sweatshirt.
I found a 3 foot tall stack of porn magazines. It was disgusting. For a man who professed to feel that sex was something so precious it could only happen during marriage, it was incredibly hypocritical.
It also was a huge trigger for so many things in my life. All the way back to finding the porn in my house. And I was fucking angry. Here I was leading a life of abstinence because my partner so strongly believed in it, but he obviously was okay with porn.
We broke up for a little while, and then I made a huge mistake. I TOOK HIM BACK.
After that, we kept dating, and started talking about getting married. Oh, Jesus. I have made some poor choices.
But let’s talks Moms. His mother really hated my guts. So much so that when R said he wanted to marry me, she threatened to disown him. Oh, yes.
He chose his mother. I think that says a lot about a person.
My internet searching tells me that he’s married, which means he’s finally gotten laid. Thank God it wasn’t me.
I’m not the hero but that doesn’t mean that I was never brave… (Tegan and Sara)
Everyday, I get home, all three cats run to greet me and get loves and treats and breakfast.
Except today, only 2 cats greeted me. Our little orange Maine Coon kitten, Oz, was no where to be found.
I threw my clothes back on and ran around the house, not finding him. I looked outdoors, nothing. I called my husband and yelled “WHERE’S OZ???” at him.
I found in in the cellar. The filthy, coal dust ridden cellar where the furnace, water heater, and Christmas decorations live.
He had meowed until his voice was just a rasp. Then John remembered going into the cellar at about 8 PM last night, after I’d gone to work.
Oz is nuts about his people. He always has to be right near us at all times. I don’t know how John didn’t notice his little shadow was gone.
John also forgot to feed the cats last night, which would have further triggered a “Where’s Oz” thought.
So I walked home from a 12 hour shift, got hysterical, found the cat, and then I had to wash the coal dust and dirt out of my cat. He is not amused. But there were RIVERS of dirt coming off of his paws and belly. Poor lil dude.
I’m so scared of losing any of my cats. Willow and Lilith are pretty terrified of the outdoors, but Oz is curious. I thought maybe he’d gotten out while John brought in the milk.
My mom would give away our pets as kids. She’d hoard too many animals and when the city told her she needed to get rid of some, it was always our pets that went.
My mother once even fed me my pet rabbit. She said she didn’t know I considered it my pet, but I did. If they were going to be food, she shouldn’t have let us name and play with them.
And then, after they kicked me out, I couldn’t find a place where I could have a dog and I had to leave my dog Belle behind. I heard she died, hanging from a fence on their property where they’d tied her. I was so poor, barely making it, I couldn’t afford the dog I’d taken on when I was 13 and didn’t understand. I feel so guilty about Belle.
This was mainly going to be a blog about my exboyfriends, and I’m still going to get around to them, but I’m going to deal with some heavy shit, too. This hysterical fear if I can’t find my cat is not helpful.
My mom likes to keep tabs on me online. All I need to do to know she’s watching is mention her on Twitter.
Today my mother denied ever abusing my sister or myself. She denied ever hitting us. She denied ever hurting us.
So let’s be clear.
My mother neglected me to the point that I got a 3rd degree burn. Afterwards, her neglect continued until I developed a massive infection and lost most of my left breast. It’s already covered in this blog.
My mother HAS hit me, although mainly just across the face. She preferred the neck splitting slap to the face. Did I mention I had a massive scar on my neck? Any smart mouthed word was enough to earn the slap, which at times was enough to split my burn scar open. My step fathers (both) were fans of whipping you with a belt on bare skin.
I’m a smart mouthed woman. I was a smart mouthed child. This is something you deal with, not something you beat your child about.
Over the last few days, I’ve been binge watching “Orange is the New Black.” It was funny, it was serious, and then, it was triggering.
Woman on woman violence will never stop triggering me. I will never stop being afraid of other women. Even though I still consider myself bisexual, I know that the choice to be with a man and not a woman is still at the back of my mind. I am afraid of other women. It’s hard for me to be friends with other women. I have very few female friends. I’m sure my husband thinks I’m exaggerating. He’s never met her, or dealt with her hoarding and filth. When I see another woman get angry, I get scared.
In nursing, I primarily work with other women. I’m a crier. I get shaky and scared if another nurse gets mad at me. Slowly, I’m getting tougher, but I know I would have calmer reactions if I wasn’t so terrified of another nurse getting violent on me.
My mother has called the President of the United States the N-word. She has called him an idiot, and other degrading terms. She considers herself a Constitutionalist, but I seriously doubt she’s ever read the Constitution. She has changed religions with her husbands. As much as she likes to deny that she is a racist, she told me to “stay away from black men, because every black man wants to fuck a blond woman.” Seriously, mom? So very untrue.
She denies ever hitting me. She denies neglecting me. I have two surgeons who have told me the same story that I’ve written about before. My mother neglected me, she was threatened with social services, and finally I got treatment. I also have my grandparents and father to reiterate this story.
If 5 people tell you one thing, and one person tells you something else, who is the liar? When there are copies of medical records to back it up?
Doctors don’t get in touch with social services unless it’s a last resort. It’s a huge pain in the ass.
My mother thinks I judge her because she has medical conditions. I don’t judge anyone for that. If she really hated having children around so much, she should have given us over to social services. Yes, it would have been horrible. I have no doubt. Instead, I got to hear that she should have had an abortion, that I stole her youth. I got to deal with her attempts to rope me into Amway and steal my identity.
After I started consistently calling out her bullshit on Twitter, she cleaned her feed up. She stopped calling the President nasty terms. She started complementing black people. She has an ulterior motive. She always has.
She WAS abusive. She WAS neglectful. Children learn what they are taught, and all of that is inside me, even after years of therapy.
I will never have children because I know I have it in me to abuse a child. I met a man who doesn’t want children. I think I would love to be a mother, but I will never deliver a neck splitting slap to another human being.
I am a good person. I am trying to be a better person. This struggle will never end, but I know I will never be you.
D was a musician. We dated through my senior summer and long distance when I went to Germany on scholarship during my Senior year.
When I got back from Germany, I went back to work at McDonald’s. My mother immediately (as she always had) demanded my entire paycheck. I offered to pay rent for my room and utilities, but I was working over 40 hours a week and felt I shouldn’t have to give her my paycheck, especially when I wanted to save to move out and go to college.
College. Another story for another time.
I first met him when I was dating a guy named Brian and he had a girlfriend. The next Summer, he started coming through my drive-thru (God, I know). He was my second musician. He had a brunette mullet and a car. He was in Brian’s heavy metal band. He loved my singing, and I started to sing back up in the band. When I had to go for the Summer, he gave me a Candlebox CD. It’s still one of my favorites. He introduced me to heavy rock, and had a real passion for his music. He was an incredibly talented drummer.
Over the year I was in Germany, I thought we were broken up. I didn’t hear from him for a long time, and even thought he had forgotten about me. I saw someone else. Then I started getting long, long letters, expensive phone calls, and cassette tapes with music and talking, which he preferred to writing.
When I got back from Germany, my parents gave me until the end of the month to move out. I LITERALLY MOVED NEXT DOOR THE NEXT DAY. I’d had a horrible blow up with my parents. D’s parents let me spend the night in their guest room. I mentioned it to my neighbor who said I could live with her for $50 a week and housework. I made about $1.50 over minimum wage, so the price was right. D recruited his band, and while my parents were out of the house, cleaned out my bedroom and carried everything over. I’ve never been back. One month after graduating high school and I was effectively disowned, so I thought.
I got a second job. I worked at 2 different McDonald’s because it was my only marketable skill. My parents had an old car and they lent it to me. It was a 1981 Ford Fairmont in horrible condition. My friend Kevin taught me to drive in a day, and then he found me a better job coding mail at Lockheed Martin. It had insurance. I got on the pill. I was having sex with passionate, muscular, 18 year old male. IT WAS AWESOME.
My roommate decided she was going to leave Tennessee, and so I needed to find a place to live. So I made the first major mistake of my adult life. I moved in with D.
It was okay at first. I worked my two jobs. He worked a job with a lot of overtime, so we bought furniture and painted our little duplex. I got him a ferret, then a second ferret.
Then things started getting weird. I was working night shift at Lockheed Martin, and would be mad that I slept during the day. He started acting really weird.
Valentine’s Day came. I bought a silky nightgown and snuck into our room to surprise him. He literally threw me out of bed, into the wall. He broke up with me right then and went to work. A few minutes later, my glasses broke. I was so humiliated. I called my mother for help because I couldn’t see and she took me and got me new glasses.
My mother also called a local radio station and told them her darling daughter had just been dumped and could they please find me a date for Valentine’s Day? I BECAME A RADIO SHOW CONTEST. The radio station decided to have their producer come and take me out. His name was Larry. He had buck teeth and chewed and spit. He had a mustache and the tobacco juice would get stuck in his mustache.
I went out with Larry, came home, slept, and went to work the next day for evening shift. I was resigned that DB and I were breaking up. HE THREW ME AGAINST A WALL.
When I got home, all of the furniture except for my bed and a dresser was gone. All the lightbulbs had been removed from the sockets (I used to be afraid of the dark). The fridge was gone.
He thought he’d left me in the dark, but I still had a lamp he’d hated, in a closet, light bulb intact. I plugged it in, and resolved to change the locks the next day. He’d left me a note saying he didn’t want the ferrets I gave him. I couldn’t believe this was the boy who’d sent me songs and letters while I was in Germany. It was so wrong.
I was in a panic. I’d been paying all our bills while D paid for furniture because he got a discount from work. I called my Grandma and she wired me $500. A girlfriend helped me pick out a couch at GoodWill, cheap dishes, and groceries. My landlord had a really old fridge he brought by. It was old, but it was cold. The stove I’d bought from another friend, and he hadn’t taken it. He had also left A SOUNDBOARD, which I promptly took hostage so he could not take anything else.
I moved on. I lost our washer and dryer, because we’d bought them from D’s parents, but I started using a laundromat. I had kept my second job, so rent wasn’t a problem. I took a trip home and was gifted with a TV from my Grandma H and a load of canned food that weighed down my car. I started going to poetry readings. I learned about Tori Amos. I got a cat and named it Easter.
A woman I knew from some of D’s shows stopped me one day and told me she thought I should know she’d been sleeping with my boyfriend and she had an STD. Ashamed, incredibly ashamed, I went to my doctor and found out he’d given me an STD. Fortunately, it was chlamydia, and curable, and early. My doctor was incredibly supportive, but as he was my pediatrician, he then referred me to an adult provider and a GYN. I got tested for everything else, and was negative.
I felt so awful. I’d finally had sex without a condom on, because my partner was supposed to be monogamous, and he wasn’t. I was young and naive. I never made that mistake again.
I got a better job. I met someone new. I moved on. If only I’d learned more.
A decade later, I was on my computer, on AOL (oh, the days), when a message popped up. D had tracked me to Denver with a private investigator.
He informed me that while I was on nights, he’d gotten into drugs with his band. Nearly ruined his music hopes. Gotten into rehab. He needed to ask me for forgiveness for his behavior, for the STD, for everything.
I gave it to him. I finally had an answer.
I love Buffy. That year, the Buffy website had a competition for some video tapes. The contest? Worst Valentine’s Day ever.
I fucking won that shit. I love me some Buffy.
I once dated a guy in high school named Brian. I met him when he came through the drive-thru of my McDonald’s. It was after AJ, after Matt 1, before Matt 2, before D. I don’t remember his last name, so he’ll just be Brian.
Brian was my first musician. He had a long, blond mullet and a car. He was in a heavy metal band. HE WAS EXACTLY THE KIND OF GUY MY MOTHER SHOULD HAVE HATED. But she didn’t. No curfew. Brian would drive down and take me home from work and we’d make out in front of the house. I was so ashamed of my mother’s house I honestly think I never took him in.
Brian liked to sing to the radio, and he liked to hear me sing. He came by every night I worked, and called me every night I didn’t work. I was busy with a job, but it was a Summer romance, so I had plenty of time.
WE WOULD MAKE OUT IN FRONT OF MY HOUSE. I never let him past third base, though. My mother told me from a young age she knew I would get pregnant before high school, and I wasn’t on the pill and didn’t trust condoms. Or boys. I was terrified of getting pregnant.
One day, after a date when we were making out, Brian decided it was time. We’d probably been dating a few months. He literally told me to put out or get out.
IN FRONT OF MY HOUSE.
And that is the story of Brian.
Last year I lost 30 pounds.
For a year, I worked out on a regular basis, saw a personal trainer, but the real way I lost weight was by decreasing eating to once a day, with maybe a snack or two unless I was at work.
Since then I’ve gained 40 back.
First, I got diagnosed with Morton’s Neuromas. They are fibrotic growths in between your toes. I have them on both feet. They cause searing nerve pain through your feet. Because I’ve been warned to avoid surgery at all costs due to benign hypermobility syndrome, so I ended up getting 3 rounds of injections into each foot, between my third and fourth toes.
Drug users don’t even go in between the toes, you guys.
So I had to stop working out. The pain was too much. I got depressed again, I started eating too much again.
Then I agreed to have some corns removed from my left foot. This was before my primary care diagnosed the hypermobility syndrome. The corns took 3 months to heal. Working was excruciating and I still get nerve pain where they were removed. Never again.
A few weeks ago I started trying to walk more to drop weight and hopefully not starve myself. I had to walk 15,000 steps a day, work out for an hour every other day, but I finally started to lose weight.
Then my foot gave out. I’ve been getting steroid shots into the arch of my foot and once again I’m under instructions to walk as little as possible.
I hear people talking about fat acceptance and learning to love your body, but I truly hate my body. I’m already covered in scars, and while I got thinner for a little while, now I’m fat again, too. I like my body better when it’s thinner. I feel like I’m never going to be able to lose weight. My metabolism is so slow. I literally have to barely eat and workout daily as well as take an hour or two hour walk daily on the days I don’t work to lose weight.
To add to it, I have anxiety related to dieting. Even though I’m more comfortable in my body when it’s thin, when I start losing weight, I start to have huge amounts of anxiety and I want to eat. I mean, I want to eat until I feel like I’m going to explode. It’s not that I don’t have the ability stop feeling hungry, I just feel the need to constantly be eating. I wish it made sense.
This fight with weight and depression. I see a shrink. I take my meds. They help more than they hurt.
I don’t have to go to school full time, I have 3 part time semesters left. Hopefully not having as much school work will mean I can dig out of this awful place I am, get some weight off, and get it to stay off. I think it could, if I didn’t feel so anxious when I feel the slightest bit hungry.
I really, truly, wish I understood my brain. I know that part of my food anxiety probably comes from not always having enough to eat when I was young, and when I was out on my own. Knowing why something exists doesn’t really make it go away.
AJ wrote me back on Facebook!! This is incredible news, because at one time someone told me he was dying. He does have a chronic, degenerative illness and life is hard, but I’m so glad to hear that he’s still alive.
He’s happy. Married with kids. I’m happy for him. Now we’re Facebook friends and he gets to deal with my feminism like everyone else. It’s a good thing to have him back in my life in some way. I’ve always wondered what happened to him.
These are out of order because I don’t have time to write about JD. That’s going to be later. Plus, it’s not that funny.
When I moved to Colorado, I knew 2 people, and only through the phone at work. I had good recommendations, and received excellent travel compensation from Corporate Express. After everything I’d been through with my mother, I needed to get the fuck out of Tennessee.
The new office was welcoming and I quickly made friends and was invited to the every Friday night get together, where I met Roger, from IT.
I didn’t know the warning signs. A single man in his 30’s, living in a studio apartment. I mean, I lived in a studio apartment, right?
Roger and I country danced at the steak house in Bennett where we all went on Friday nights. You cooked your own steaks at this place, and I started to get over my fear of fire. When it snowed one night, Roger followed the Tennessee girl home on her first drive through Colorado snow.
We went on a few dates. I honestly can’t remember if I slept with him or not. I think I did. It wasn’t impressive. But I was lonely.
I didn’t understand one night stands at this point. Roger just put me off and whenever my computer broke at work, it was terribly awkward. I started to talk to the tech support people more and Roger less. I learned about my computer and the company’s computer system, laying the ground for a later promotion.
I met a poet, David. I moved on.
I never dated another co-worker again.
Amen. I don’t think people understand that each of our actions has a reason, and we don’t always have time to explain, especially if a line or tube is at risk. I also think we have been portrayed as weak and retiring and the playthings of doctors for far too long. When nurses are portrayed, we are mocked, or shown as drunks or drug users, and this does nothing to advance the science and profession of nursing.
And let’s be honest, no one really wants to know what we do. Our patients don’t want to know we are busy with other people, doctors don’t want to know their orders don’t come first and not even our families and friends want to hear about how hard our job is. If we’re not soft and caring, we’re bitches. If we refuse to be abused, we’re bitches. If we have to stop to go to the bathroom, we’re lazy bitches.
The funny thing is, I think many, if not most of us, went to nursing school with the idea that we would be holding hands and healing hearts as well as bodies, only to find out we actually are expected to juggle the maximum (if not more than maximum) safe load. It’s enough to make anyone abrupt and short tempered.
In high school, I dated 2 Matts.
Sophomore year, I was smitten with this tall, pale boy who liked to draw. He went to my church as well as my school. I began to flirt, and we eventually began dating, which lasted for about a year and a half.
Matt was a sweet boy, always nice to me. He always stood in the same place in the hallway, outside the art lab on class breaks. The art lab was next to the music room, so I’d seem him there. He was a Junior. He had a car. I also never took him in my parents house, although they met him at church. He never gave me the “put out or get out” speech, although we had some hot and heavy make out session behind movie theaters, as teenagers do.
Matt began helping me to teach Sunday School at my church. I taught the preschool class. Unfortunately, Matt had never had chicken pox, a situation my preschoolers were happy to notice and rectify right before prom. Our prom pictures featured a bespeckled Matt, still tall, still very pale, with lots of red dots.
Matt and I went to prom together, and finished out the year. At the beginning of the school year, I broke up with him by giving his best friend a note. Matt was a nice guy, but I was kind of a dick with guys.
My Junior year came and I was in pickle. I had no prom date and was pretty upset about it. Then I heard that this other boy, also named Matt, needed a prom date. We’d always gotten along. Prom was beautiful. I was on scholarship to a wealthy Catholic school in Nashville, and the theme was Phantom of the Opera, with an actual Phantom singing. We had a great prom, a fabulous after party. Matt kissed me goodbye at the end of the prom, I thanked him for taking me and we never went out again. We were friends, after all, and Matt was graduating.
Years later, I was at Books-A-Million off of Gallatin Road in Nashville, up near Rivergate mall, and I ran into Matt and Matt. I was back in Nashville on vacation and checking out my old haunts. My first poetry reading was at that Books-A-Million. I said hi to both of them.
It’s important to know here that my mother never informed me of the existence of gay people. Once she forbid me to hang out at the house of two women living together, but she wasn’t really clear as to why. It adds hilarity if you know that my favorite band, since the age of 13, was the Indigo Girls. I NEVER KNEW THEY WERE GAY AND NEITHER DID MY MOM. Now that I’m far displaced from her, I find this to be one of my more hilarious pull overs on my mom, and on myself.
By this trip to Nashville, I was 22 or 23, and aware of gay people, but bad at picking them out unless they were very obvious. Matt and Matt were not immediately obvious. We all talked for a few minutes and they stood there smirking as I walked away and a short time later it hit me.
OH MY GOD THE TWO MATTS I DATED WERE GAY AND OUT TOGETHER.
Then I wondered how that works in the bedroom. Then I stopped wondering what was going on in their bedroom.
I’ve never seen them since.
I met a boy named Kevin at my high school. I was introduced to Kevin by a Mr. Kenny, my Scripture teacher, who told us we would be good friends and for many years we were. Freshman year, we became good friends, and over the Summer, we had a phone romance. He lived in Murfreesboro, I lived in East Nashville.
After Mr. Kenny told us to go forth and hang out, so we did.
Kevin is one of the few people who knows the whole story of my mother.
When school started up sophomore year, we found that dating really wasn’t for us, but we stayed good friends. I started dating Matt 1, Kevin and I hung out.
Kevin met my sister.
They started dating.
Junior year, Kevin asked my sister to prom and THEN DUMPED HER THE DAY BEFORE.
This put our friendship on hold.
To be continued…
I was a girl scout for most of my childhood. Being a member of the Girl Scouts was an incredibly positive influence in my life. I learned valuable survival skills.
My mother was, for a time, a Girl Scout Leader for my sister’s troop. This meant I attended a lot of Brownie meetings. I was not alone. Another Leader had a son, who I’ll call A.J.
Our families were close. Really close. We hung out all the time. Around the time we were 11, my mother and AJ’s mother started talking about how great it would be if we fell in love and got married. No pressure here, folks.
We were both gigantic nerds. High grades. Star Trek. Science interests.
Eventually, our budding hormones and the hours spent together alone and our parents lackadaisical attitudes towards our time alone worked and somewhere around 12 or 13, AJ became my boyfriend.
When I say our parents really didn’t care what we did, I mean it. We never had an open bedroom door policy in either house. We saw each other several times a week alone, and honestly, it’s a very good thing he and I had a great deal of reserve. We also were probably two of the only kids paying attention in Sex Ed and both of us wanted to go to college.
AJ was a good first boyfriend. He never pushed me to do anything I didn’t want to do. He didn’t kiss me until I asked him why he hadn’t, and then he told me he wanted to be sure I wanted to be kissed.
AJ was my “boyfriend” for about 3 years, off and on. If we couldn’t see each other, we talked nearly every night. He was my second kiss, and 2nd base. He gave me mono. He warned me he had mono, I just didn’t know it was so bad. After that, we suffered together. As we got older, I sometimes met other boys and I think he probably met other girls. During those times, we wouldn’t talk as much. Then our parents would start to wonder why we weren’t talking and we were back on again.
Eventually, they moved further away and AJ and I entered different high schools. I met a boy named Matt at my high school and dropped AJ like a cigarette I’d stuck in my mouth the wrong way. He took it like a responsible young man and never argued. A couple of years later, we were talking on the phone and he asked me why. I told him the truth and apologized. He forgave me.
When my parents kicked me out, I lost touch with AJ. A long time ago, someone told me he had MS. I tried every number I had for him, but nothing worked. To hear that someone who was such a good friend to me and such a part of my childhood and adolescence had such a terrible disease was upsetting, and I wanted to know how he was doing.
Last night, I googled him and found his Facebook. I’m going to send him a message to say hello and see how he’s doing. From his profile, I see he’s a right leaning Libertarian right now, so I doubt we have much to discuss, but I’d like to know he’s okay.
My parents and AJ’s parents both wanted us to marry young. I really believe that my mother wanted me to get pregnant as a teenager. I can’t think of any other reason for the very loose rules I had as a teenager.
AJ married in 2012. I married in 2010. I like to think we both disappointed our parents when we thwarted their plans.
Tonight I was watching the Colbert Report, having a laugh, and then the commercial came on. It was for Bloch & Chapleau, a lawfirm that claims to specialize in men’s rights. The commercial showed a mother being stripped of her rights to her children while her ex-husband and attorney clapped. It ended with a child saying “I MISSED YOU SO MUCH, DADDY!!”
Now, there are bad mothers. Dear God, do I know there are bad mothers. But there are also bad fathers. There are fathers that abuse their wives, their children. There are fathers who bring children on drug deals. There are good fathers.
I have never known a woman to refuse a good man the right to see their children. I remember always wanting to see my father, and I saw him once during my childhood. Once, when I was 11, I spent a week at his house with my step mother, and I didn’t see him again until I was an adult. At that point, my father asked if we could “just be friends.”
I wish I could see that this law firm doesn’t exist only as a way for men to get revenge on their ex-wives, but the commercial clearly showed a revenge scenario. I am sickened.
If I didn’t already have such a paranoia of having children, this would increase it even more.
On my first shift as a Registered Nurse, I went into a patient’s room to change her IV fluids. Instead of taking down the bag, I just pulled out the spike, showering myself in D5. The patient and my preceptor laughed so fucking hard.
A few years later, I was taking ice in to do a dermatome check, reached up to grab a glove to put it in, and poured ice down my scrubs in front of the patient and his 5 family members, who laughed their asses off.
For my last JoAnne moment of the day, someone spilled vanilla ice cream on the floor. I came running around the circular nurse’s station, I always move quickly, slipped on the ice cream, went airborne and fell on my ass. I got a standing ovation from the doctors, patients, and nurses, as well as a trip to the ER.
My Grandma H, as I have mentioned, was a great lady. She loved her grandkids more than anything. She had a hard life, born after the 1918-1919 flu epidemic, lived through the Great Depression, ran her own dry cleaning business. She saw it as her duty to raise her grandchildren with morals and work ethic, because we weren’t getting it from our mother.
For years, my Grandma H. would come to Tennessee for Christmas. Every year, she’d clean out my mother’s hoarding disaster, and for a few weeks, the house would be clean. She never said it, but I knew she bought a lot of our Christmas presents.
When we went to stay with Grandma H, our clothes were always clean. She taught me to iron, and how to care for my own clothes, a valuable tool when living with a hoarder.
She also took in my sister the year I went to Germany, when my mother had obviously grown tired of her daughters and wanted to focus on her new husband and new son.
She bailed out my mom over and over, and after my Grandma H died, my mom called me over and over for money. I was barely making anything, but she had bought my glasses (see DB later this week) during a crisis. So I would buy her groceries and prescriptions.
Grandma H. was indefatigable. She worked into her 80’s until the year she died, caring for an older woman with Alzheimer’s who just needed guidance. SHE CARED FOR AN OLDER WOMAN.
My grandma was awesome.
She believed people died in their beds, so she slept in a chair. Now, I know it was because of her lung cancer and COPD. My grandma died in a chair.
That chair. That recliner. We used to sit on her lap. One day, after work, my Grandmother, my sister and I all sat in her recliner and we all LEAAAAAAAANED BACK and the recliner tipped over. We all laughed so hard we could barely get out of the pile of grandmother and granddaughters.
I miss my Grandmother. Her life and death played an integral part in my decision to become a nurse, and an inspiration in my poetry. You’ll see that tomorrow.
The job market for nurses has shifted permanently. Not only is care, and the relevant jobs, moving out of hospitals and into alternative inpatient care settings, the home, and the community, but our health system is moving from an illness treatment model to a prevention and maintenance model. The bottom line is that nurses – both new and experienced – need to look in new directions for employment, must learn new ways to find and get those jobs, and will have to take steps to get and stay competitive in a new job market.
So what’s a new grad to do? For starters, focus your job-finding efforts on networking (a.k.a. word of mouth). One way to do this is to join and attend local meetings of your state chapter of the American Nurses…
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This is not just a story about a burn. This is the start of stories about my mother. This is also the story I judge people by. The rapidity with which a person asks me about my scars has replaced any other first impression I have from people.
I would not be able to tell this story without the help of my surgeons and grandparents. I contacted my surgeons years after my injury and surgeries, when I had started nursing school. My mother’s stories didn’t match with what I was learning, and I needed the truth.
When I was a 10 year-old girl, I did not make wise choices. One of those very unwise choices was to ignore multiple warnings against playing with flammable items. Some neighbor kids, my sister and I blew things up. We did it for at least 2 days. We were putting chemicals from the house into a Planters peanut can and blowing them up. At some point, someone kicked the can. I think it was my friend Terry, because I remember his shoe caught on fire.
My shirt, covered in fumes from the chemicals, and made of polyester, caught fire. I didn’t stop, drop and roll. I ran, tripped and fell. Someone (I think my sister?) grabbed the hose and sprayed me. I remember I said the Hail Mary.
I ran into the bathroom to put more water on the burn and my sister ran to our neighbor’s house. My sister had just turned 9, so her actions were remarkably well controlled for her age. My neighbor came over immediately. I remember she brought her aloe vera plant. Immediately, she ran and got her car, scooped me up and took me to the Emergency Room. Julia, wherever you are, thank you.
I was treated in the Emergency Room for my partial-thickness to full-thickness burn, which extended from my ribcage, across my left breast and neck, and burned off quite a bit of hair, but not scalp. I nearly lost my ear from infection. I was lucky. I remember getting a tetanus shot that made my arm ache forever, but I was crying and flailing, so I don’t blame the medical staff.
My doctors immediately recommended hospitalization, but my mother insisted on taking me home. My doctor wanted to send me to a plastic surgeon for reconstruction and grafting immediately, given the placement of my burns and my proximity to puberty. My mother refused.
That was July 27, 1997.
First: Why were we alone?
My mother and step-father worked. We had a babysitter who was the daughter of a friend of my mothers. I remember her name was Tammy, and I remember she watched television all day and paid no attention to what we were doing. I also remember hearing people say later that Tammy was developmentally delayed and never should have been tasked with watching children.
My mother did what she always did when something terrible happened, she called her mother. A couple of days later I was driven to Missouri with my sister and my grandparents took over caring for my burns until school started. I saw Dr. TJ. When he first took down my bandages and saw my wounds, he asked why I wasn’t in a hospital getting a skin graft. He reluctantly took my case when he was told my mother refused to let me have surgery.
I don’t remember much of that Summer. I sat in my grandmother’s cleaning shop, in the heat, in bandages, on pain meds. Sometimes I sat at my other grandmother’s house. They took turns. They changed my bandages. My grandfather devised a method of washing my hair without getting my ear wet, getting the chemicals out of my hair over a week after I was injured. That’s right, I went for at least a week after this injury without any kind of a bath.
Changing my bandages was hell on my grandparents. I screamed, I fought. My grandparents were told to wipe of the Silvadene cream, an antibiotic ointment from the raw burn, reapply it and rebandage it every evening. They did this the best they could. Sometimes they gave up or did as much as they could with me flailing, screaming, and at times hallucinating.
My mother had recently returned to her Episcopalian faith and was flirting with Catholicism at this point. She’d given me a scapula to wear. My scapula melted into my shirt and after the fire was out, I believed I would go to hell because I had burned the sacred pictures of the saints. I had nightmares and pain induced hallucinations about burning in hell. I had these nightmares for years after my injury. I would cry in my sleep, which would further break my grandparents hearts.
When school started, my mother had to come pick me up. I was sent to school in bandages. My mother was tasked with changing my bandages. She encountered the same problems my grandparents did. Eventually the doctor prescribed valium for doctors visits and dressing changes, but I don’t remember it helping much. I was still on Tylenol 3 for pain.
I lived with an open wound for months. My doctors tried again and again to talk my mother into surgery and she continued to refuse. They tried implanting a mesh called pigskin (not sure if it was real pig) over the open wound in order to give my breast a chance to heal beneath it. My breast began to heal. By this time, my neck and armpit had healed into horrific contractures, locking my head down and to the left, restricting the use of my left arm.
At doctor’s visits, I went through debridements, painful procedures where the doctor would pull dead tissue off the burn, and scrub it, while others held me down. I went through whirlpool sessions, which I was unable to tolerate because I felt like the bubbling water was going to boil and burn more more.
Second: Why Wouldn’t My Mother Allow Surgery?
Months went by. People at church called me the “little burned girl” and offered my mother help, and attention. Everywhere she went with me, people felt sorry for her and wanted to do things for her. I do not know for sure, but I think she took money from people for my care. Yes, my care was very expensive, but my mother had healthcare insurance through her employer, and I had Tricare insurance through my father. My healthcare should not have cost her much with those two programs. The Air Force would also have provided me with excellent burn care, but my mother refused to seek out their care as well.
My mother is also an animal hoarder. We always had at least 10 cats, kittens, dogs, and rabbits in the house. An immunocompromised child combined with that many animals is an accident waiting to happen, and on Halloween night, 1997, it did. A kitten jumped onto my chest, sinking it’s claws into my freshly changed bandage.
A few days later, I was massively infected. The pig skin and tissue under it turned from healthy pink to green. The smell was incredible. Years later, my doctor said seeing the infection felt “like a kick to the gut.” He told my mother surgery was required to save my life, and threatened to involve social services. My mother finally agreed, and I met with Dr. B, a plastic surgeon who specialized in breast reconstruction. He immediately asked why I wasn’t brought to him months ago.
On November 11, 1997, I underwent a resection of the burn, removal of my nipple, and reconstruction of my neck and armpit. I remember waking up and thinking “I’m straight.” My neck was straight for the first time in months.
My doctor prescribed physical therapy to rebuild my atrophied left arm. I don’t remember going to many appointments.
Getting the skin graft was the beginning to the end of so much of my pain. The raw, infected tissue was removed and covered with new skin. The worst part of the procedure was getting the skin graft dressing off. I had also lost many, many nerves. To this day, I have daily pain in my neck and breast, “phantom pains” from my missing breast. I will never breast feed. My right nipple is there, but too damaged to ever allow milk through. That’s a whole other rant.
I was fitted for a Jobst pressure suit to improve the chances of my neck healing correctly. Due to the position of my burn, on my neck, the suit was not very effective, and I still have a severe contracture that gives me neck, shoulder, and headache pain. I have tried to have reconstruction done, but have been denied each time by my insurance because the surgery is now considered “cosmetic.” My doctors have sent xrays, letters, talked on the phone, and been denied each time. United Healthcare. Cigna. Kaiser. I have given up.
I did have 4 additional reconstructive surgeries following my burn surgery. During these procedures, plastic expanders were placed under my skin. Weekly, I went to the doctor’s office and had saline injected into the expander. The first expander operation failed. In the Summer after my burn, my mother converted to Catholicism, divorced my first step-father and married my second. She literally introduced us to another man as “Daddy.”
She also sent us to a new Catholic school. Kids are cruel, and some of the kids at this school were exceptionally cruel. Given the weight of the expanders on my fragile skin, I was not supposed to lift. I was required to share a locker with another student, and was given the top shelf. He would frequently throw my books down on the floor. Eventually, the incision holding the expander dehisced, opening up. The next day I had emergency surgery and the surgeon attempted to do a reconstruction, but there wasn’t enough skin growth. Another set of surgeries was planned, and my surgeon insisted I be kept out of school.
I stayed at home alone during the day, except for twice a week visits from a teacher. It was during this time my love of science began. My teacher quickly noticed I loved science, and encouraged me to complete the book. I don’t remember her name, but my teacher was with me for 2 years off and on.
The second reconstruction was successful, but we began to run into “cosmetic” surgery refusals from insurance companies. My grandfather is a Mason, and used his connections to win me an offer of help from Shriner’s Hospitals. The only catch was that I would need to stay in Cincinnati, Ohio for a month. I was now 14. My mother refused to allow me to go to Cincinnati unless someone paid for her wages and for her to stay in Cincinnati with me. My one chance to receive reconstruction was gone.
I didn’t originally know half my breast was gone. I had fatty tissue and a firm scar, so I had what looked like a breast, but once I was in my 20’s, it became obvious something was different. I had an X-ray that showed I had one full breast and one half breast. I was never told about the removal of my breast. At this point, I was in nursing school, and contacted my doctors.
They told me the above story. Since learning the truth about my burn and reconstruction, I have been unable to be civil to my mother. When I confronted her about her choices, she first denied the doctor’s stories and then just said “Well, I’m a bad mother.” My decision to cut her out of my life came a few years later.
Today, I’m okay. I get annoyed when people ask me about my scar, unless it’s children. Then I tell them I played with matches. I finally learned to say “it’s not your business.” Someone’s got to be a cautionary tale. I tried going to a burn survivors support group, but I really didn’t fit. My burn was 15 years old by that point and while I don’t like my scar very much, I’m very used to it.
My decision to enter nursing versus medicine was partially based on my experience with the nurses in the hospital. It was not my doctor’s fault, but I associated them with pain and terror. The nurses were gentle, and brought pain medication. They spoiled me. Combined with my interest in science and other life events, nursing eventually became an inevitable choice.
That’s another story for another time.
I’ve never told anyone about this.
When I was a little girl, so young I don’t remember my age, I kissed a little boy. It was between 8 and 9, I think.
I don’t remember his name. He probably doesn’t remember mine, either, and I sometimes wonder if he remembers me at all.
There’s a reason I never told anyone about this first kiss. He was a little black boy and I was a little white girl with racist parents growing up in the South. I knew even then that if I told my mom I had a black friend I’d be in trouble. Telling her I’d kissed a black boy probably would have gotten me whipped. I’m not kidding. For all I know, his parents would have been angry with him, too. Racial lines were clearly divided in my early childhood.
All this time I’ve kept this secret and I just realized it didn’t need to be a secret anymore.
This is Grimalkin, also known as Malkie. She died nearly 3 years ago. Malkie was a feral rescue and lived up to the term. She was a mean, possessive, territorial, poorly behaved cat, but she was my cat for 15 years and I will always miss her.
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