Category Archives: Family

How I Give Thanks

How I Give Thanks
 
The more I have learned about it, the more I don’t like Thanksgiving. It is a ritual meal that celebrates genocide… genocide that is still happening. When I worked in the hospital I frequently volunteered to work Thanksgiving and Christmas in exchange for New Year’s Eve off. It was a good arrangement. The few Thanksgiving dinners I have cooked were awkward affairs with just me, my ex, and my ex mother-in-law. Topics of conversation included why our decision to not have children was selfish, and her unfailing belief that the pill was going to give me cancer.
 
My best memories of Thanksgiving come from my childhood, when my grandma would come visit us from Missouri. One year, the turkey slipped and slid onto the floor. My mom was an animal hoarder, so my grandma cussed and defended the turkey from about 15 cats. I have yet to ever here anyone cuss as fluently as my grandmother did that day. These days, I take place in orphan celebrations with friends … I don’t like that we call them orphan celebrations. When you are good enough friends to open your home and share a meal, you are family.
 
Otherwise, I hate Thanksgiving. The last few celebrations have been hard. Knowing I was getting ready to file for divorce but keeping quiet about it, that time when a cop came to the a friend’s house wearing a pro-gun shirt and I am a racial justice activist. This year, having dated my boyfriend for over a year, I cannot avoid meeting family. I anticipate awkwardness ahead. I’m bringing wine.
 
I hate Thanksgiving.
 
This Thanksgiving we can look to our horror of an election. We have water protectors at Standing Rock, most of them Native themselves, being sprayed with cold water in freezing temperatures. In Denver, there are police harassing the homeless today. Families are meeting today in different shades of awkwardness and anger. I have warned my boyfriend that I will not hold my tongue if someone celebrates our incoming president or makes a racist statement. I believe in the art of calling people in, but I have been pushed thin by anti-choice protesters threatening the lives of myself and my colleagues, the killing of Black folks and other people of color at the hands of the police. I am vocal. I am sharp. I know my talking points. I will not be who I am not. He is bringing more wine.
 
I hate Thanksgiving but I love to give. It fills me with a warm pleasure that nothing else does. When I am working with a patient and there is something I can do to improve their life or even their day. When I can give a friend financial assistance. This year, I am blessed with the ability to give someone a really special, large gift, and when I realized it, I cried with gratitude that my life is now this good. When you are able to give of yourself and the fruits of your labor. When your life is so good you can help others, you have a blessed and full life. It is a time to be grateful that life has been this good to you.
 
We are missing this from our society in strange ways. While crowdfunding has become extremely popular, it can also be stressful when 5 of your friends are running fundraisers for life’s necessities and giving to all of them would put you at risk financially yourself. And while it has become exceptionally easy to give cash, the art of giving of things and of yourself seems to be fading away. Today, when taking a friend to breakfast she gifted with a small pot of lotion she had made. It smells like heaven. I am moved with gratitude.
 
On this ritualized anniversary of a feast, this gift from the indigenous people of our land that white people turned into a genocide, I encourage you to look around your table. Look beyond your table. Someone in your circle is alone today. Someone could use a meal. You have something you don’t use that someone else desperately needs. In giving of yourself, you will find the deepest gratitude to life you will ever know. The ability to give another person stability, food, a safe place to sleep. Never underestimate the value of the small things you can do. To someone else, they are massive.
 
Be grateful you can help. Be grateful you can give of yourself. The way to truly show your thanks is to give. You will be filled with joy and hope for the future. Today give thanks by giving someone else stability, food, a warm place to sleep. You will not regret the privilege you have been given to give.
 
Happy Thanksgiving.

CIrcle of Love for Mama Josie

mamajosie

 

Josie Shapiro is one of the threads that holds Denver’s eclectic bunch of activists together. Whether it’s raising funds for a funeral, for bail, or organizing a march to proclaim that Black Lives Matter, Mama Josie is always there to Defend Denver.

Last year, Josie and her then partner Dave donated their entire savings to pay for the funeral of Ryan Ronquillo, a young man murdered by Denver’s gang unit. After the funeral, they worked tirelessly to organize marches and keep Ryan’s name in the news so that his death would not be forgotten.

After making her activism so visible to the community, Josie found herself tailed by police. Because of her activism on behalf of the Ronquillos, she lost her job, which she dearly loved, providing doula services to families on their journeys to becoming parents.

Not only did Josie donate her own home to use to raise funds for the Ronquillos, she also raised money for the family of Jessie Hernandez, who was killed by the Denver police in January. Like most of the Denver activist community, she found herself mourning the loss of a vibrant teen while also fighting for the freedom of Sharod Kindell.

At a meeting of activists several months ago, the mother and father of Jessie Hernandez expressed, through tears, their love and appreciate for Josie and the tireless work she had done to help them pay the rent, buy food, and bury their child.

Now, Josie finds herself alone. She and her partner of 6 years, the father of her children, are divorcing. Josie is about to find herself without a job, without a car, without a partner, and if we cannot help her through this, without a home. She is looking hard to find work, but continues to pay a heavy price for her activism.

There is no way this amazing, dedicated young woman should lose her home and her independence when she has done so much for her community. Please help us by joining the Circle of Love for Mama Josie, and donating what you can today. Every dollar helps a woman journeying into single motherhood provide for her children and stay in her home.

If you cannot donate, please help by sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and other social media. Donations of social media platforms are absolutely donations!

Thank you.

A Brief History Until Now

People keep asking me “when did you become an activist?” so here’s a brief history

I was born in 1976. Baptized into the Episcopalian Church.

Moved to Nashville in… 1981? I think?

I was burned in 1987.

Took back my name in 1990.

My mother volunteered at political functions, at churches, at homeless shelters. She did a lot to me I can’t forgive but she taught me how to be useful. My grandmother was an active member of the Republican Ladies Association her entire life. She instilled in me the importance of the vote. My mother sent me to Father Ryan High School, which had the unintended result of encouraging me to think for myself. My teachers and host parents in Germany continued encouraged me to broaden my mind.

Went to Germany in 1994.

Graduated high school in 1995.

Started performing poetry in 1996.

Moved to Colorado in 1998. Lost my name again.

I was a Republican until 1999.

A Green until 2000, when I also accepted that I am bisexual.

Sometime around here people started calling me a feminist.

Pre reqs for nursing started in 2001.

Diagnosed with Meniere’s in 2002.

Nursing school in 2003.

Graduated in 2005 (ADN).

Volunteered/worked with OFA from 2007-2008 on the campaign for Obama

Married in 2010.

Volunteered in a small capacity with OFA in 2011-2012.

A Democrat until 2012. Somewhere around here I began to believe I might be a feminist.

Took my name back again in 2014.

I’ve been an activist since the Summer of 2003. The crimes committed at Abu Ghraib were too much. I could not stay silent.

I’ve marched against the Iraq War (which I initially blindly supported),  for Occupy, for Trayvon Martin and other causes. During Occupy, I was one of many people ferrying supplies to Civic Center Park. I’ve participated in Hashtag Activism since a few months after joining Twitter.

I was in college for the last two years (BSN). I graduated August 14th.

Organizational groups need people who can pass out flyers, fill out permits, make phone calls. They need people with first aid and medical training. Working night shift allows me to do these things, as does my 2-3 day a week work schedule. This is what I can do.

I started working with Coloradans For Justice because I cannot stand by and watch the killing of people of color in the United States. I cannot be complicit in acts of war against a group of people due to their race. By being silent, I was being complicit. I cannot be silent.

I will do what I can until the world changes or I die.

 

The volume of my voice is not as important as the amplification I can provide for others who need it.

Just Keep Walking and Why I Stop

Trigger Warning: Racism. Domestic Violence. Violence Against Women

 

My friends who know me, know I stop. I stop for hurting people. I stop for hungry people. I usually don’t have cash or change to hand out but I almost always have some food in my bag. It’s what I can do. I’ll tell you if you need to go to a hospital or doctor or not. One of these days, stopping might get me in trouble, but I’ll probably keep doing it.

It embarrasses my friends.

It embarrasses my husband.

It embarrasses my family.

I keep stopping because I take the role of the nurse in the community seriously. Everyone who knows me knows I’m a nurse. You shouldn’t be shocked. And don’t go #notallnurses on me because we all know there are different kinds of nurses.

I feel guilty about what I’m about to write. I’ve felt guilty for a long time, even though I was a young child when this happened. But I want to speak out about this culture White people have created and what has been adopted. Because ignoring violence against women, especially Black women, is a huge piece of White supremacy that needs to come apart.

It was a sunny day. I don’t remember what time of year. It was in East Nashville. Somewhere along Eastland Ave. We used to live on Benjamin St. I went to Cora Howe Elementary. I think we might have been coming

I don’t remember where we were going but I was walking with my mother. There was an apartment building nearby that had a reputation. Most of East Nashville had a reputation at that point.

A Black woman came running out of the building, screaming for help. A man ran out after her and tackled her, beating her on the ground. I wanted to run to the payphone and call 911. I told my mother we needed to help. She held me harder and said “Just keep walking.”

Now.. was my mother afraid for her own safety? Probably. Was she afraid for our safety? Probably. But could she have knocked on a door or done SOMETHING? Yes. My mother worked for the Metro Nashville Police Department for years. She wasn’t a police officer, but her call would have brought half a squad. I’ve seen it happen.

And she didn’t. She walked us to the car, she got in, and she never looked back. We lived close by. She could have driven home and called for help and never identified herself to the abuser. She didn’t.

I remember that woman. I remember she had long, natural hair. I remember this because the guy used her hair as a weapon. It was how he stopped her before he tackled her. I remember her screaming in our direction, because we were the only people out there. But I don’t know what happened to her.

I also remember my mother  and step-father(s) abusing me and my sister.. I remember when we tried to get help because our parents had threatened us with beatings if my sister failed a test. My sister, suffering from undiagnosed dyslexia, failed the test. My sister is INCREDIBLY smart. She’s just dyslexic. But when we went to the Kroger on Gallatin Rd, that had a giant “Safe Place” sign in the window, we weren’t helped. The police jumped to help one of their own. My sister and I were taken to a counselor, we were never allowed to speak without our parents present, and we were told if we persisted with our complaint, we would be split up, pulled from our school (the only haven we had), and how selfish we were to accuse our parents of these behaviors. I remember how we went to subsequent “therapy” appointments after that, where the therapist called us lazy and told us we had to do more to help our mother. Our abuser. Again, we were not allowed to speak without our parents present.

So now I stop. I call 911 if it’s needed. I help. If I need to, I’ll scream my head off to draw attention to what’s happening. You don’t get to abuse someone near me and feel that’s it’s okay because no one stops. I’m going to stop. If I can’t stop you myself, I’m going to get someone who can. I couldn’t stop when I was a little girl, but I can stop now.
Making rules for yourself and standards for the people you associate with IS NOT easy. It doesn’t even really get easier. But it does lead to a more fulfilled and honest life. I’m not done learning, changing and growing. But learning to stop was one of my earliest rules for myself as an adult, and it’s a good place to start.

A Day in the Life Of

Tonight, I’m just going to write about my day and things that are going in my life. I don’t often share these things with my public blog but I really feel like it tonight.

Backstory: last Monday I was in the ER with chest pain from pleurisy. Tuesday Comcast jacked up our cable rates and we cancelled cable because we’ve been spending too much time on the couch. We wanted to exercise more, read more, talk more, and actually be present in each others company. It’s been such a good week.

It starts at Saturday evening, 5 PM. That’s when I woke up, had dinner and went to work. I had a good shift at work, REALLY nice patients, worked with a new grad I like, and got off on time. I came home and slept for 4 hours.

After I got up, my husband John and I went to the gym. We worked out. On the way home we stopped at Vitamin Cottage and I got the ingredients for the awesome dinner I made Sunday night.  We came home, I worked on my homework for Community Health (I’m in college to get my Bachelor’s of Nursing Science, I have an Associate’s Degree), made that kick ass (like really) dinner.

Last night, I didn’t sleep. Maybe I slept an hour, but I just couldn’t fall asleep. This isn’t new for me. I see a doctor who specializes in sleep disorders and it is not unusual for me to go several nights without good sleep. The last month has been particularly hard because I had bronchitis and now I have pleurisy.  It’s extremely painful. I’m on prednisone, a steroids, which has been keeping me awake at night.

This morning, I got up with John after a sleepless night. I think I slept about an hour. I was in a lot of pain. A LOT. Our automatic cat box, the Cat Genie (which is normally awesome) malfunctioned and smelled. Smells keep me awake, but John had a long work day ahead so I didn’t want to wake him up. Also, I didn’t realize the extent to which it had malfunctioned. We heard the engine start moaning a week ago, so we had the new Cat Genie ready to go, thank goodness.

I couldn’t sleep so I got up and made John breakfast while he made me coffee. He said it was an awesome start to his week. John left for work. He works part-time in office, part-time from home, which is a great arrangement because he works about 60 miles from home. My husband sold his house and drives that commute so that I can live near my hospital. I’ve never met anyone so supportive of my career and life goals.

After John left, I cleaned. I stripped the Master and Guest bedrooms, mopped the wooden floors upstairs, cleaned the guest and Master baths, and did a ton of laundry. My sister is coming to visit in a couple of weeks, so I want everything really, REALLY clean. While in the guest bath, I saw the Cat Genie wasn’t working properly, so I sent John a text to tell him we needed to work on it tonight.

Then I called my doctor’s office and was seen. They gave me a prescription for percocet to take at night. I can manage the pain during the day with tylenol, but at night, the pain is so nagging I just can’t sleep. I still had not slept. I went to the grocery store. I got home, put the Master bedroom back together, flipped the laundry again, and finally started feeling like I could sleep, so I took a 2 hour nap.

I had physical therapy this evening. He’s been working on my severe plantar fasciitis, which is getting better. He also did dry needling, on my back and shoulders. All of the coughing has really thrown my back out of whack. My PT helped me stretch my body back into place and I’m feeling much better.

I got home, and after last night’s fancy dinner, just made some gluten free chicken nuggets and steamed broccoli. After dinner, per my weight loss plan, we went for a 2 mile walk. It’s a beautiful night in Denver, not too cold, and we had a nice walk. We made plans to get a puppy by the end of the month.

So here I am, very little sleep, in a good mood, but in pain, heading towards delirium.

When we got home, we decided to tackle the Cat Genie because if the odor is too much, the cats like to pee on the couch. We do not want the cats to pee on the couch.

We took it apart and John assembled the shiny new one. This left scrubbing the old one (we want to save it for parts) to me. I scrubbed and scrubbed. IT WAS A LOT OF CAT SHIT. There was SO much. Finally, the worst happened. A washer, still covered in poo, flew off and hit me in the face. I came close to losing my dinner, but I’m not a nurse for nothing. I scrubbed my face with antimicrobial dish soap and kept going.

On the way back upstairs, I stopped and poured John a whiskey and myself a glass of wine. We finished assembling the new cat box and watched it’s inaugural run while toasting each other’s awesomeness.

My house smells SO good now.

Getting rid of cable TV has been the best thing we could have done for our marriage. I was watching way too much TV when I could have been out doing things. I wasn’t exercising. At night, we weren’t talking, just watching MSNBC or Aljazeera. When the news wasn’t on, we were watching shows we didn’t really like because nothing else was on. We weren’t talking. We ate every night in front of the TV.

Then Comcast raised our rate by $50 and we had a serious discussion about it. John and I have been cutting our expenses by turning down the thermostat, planning meals and eating at home, planning shopping trips, etc. No way was I going to see money I’d been saving to donate to heat Pine Ridge Reservation and Keep Marissa Alexander out of jail go to Comcast. So we got rid of it.

It’s only been a week, but I feel like I got my husband back. Sitting there in the bathroom, watching the robot do it’s thing, drinking wine with my geeky husband, it felt so good. Like when we were first married. We were such a team. We are that way again.

Tomorrow night, we’re going to have a gym date and workout, then go out for burgers afterward. It’s going to be awesome.

I’m so relieved to have my husband back. Also, very relieved my mouth was closed when that shit covered projectile aimed for my face.
Good night, world.

 

 

How I Found Jesus By Losing Him, Part 1

This is a series of blog posts about my journey from devout, rabid Christian to Atheism. I am writing this at the request of my friend @Quiara.

I was born into the Episcopalian church. I was baptized as a baby, named for my grandparents on my father’s side. I spent the first few years of my life in Missouri, and I remember learning about the 10 Commandments from the priest, who would dress like Moses and recreate the introduction to the Jewish people.

If you read my blog enough, you’ll realize that Missouri sounds like heaven and Tennessee sounds like Hell. It’s because Missouri was the land of my grandparents. It’s where we went to movies and had ice cream and biscuits and gravy and everything was always clean. Tennessee was where my mother never cleaned the house, we rarely had clean underwear, and no one seemed to care if we were clean or dirty. Tennessee was where my mother changed religion with her boyfriends, and allowed her boyfriends to abuse us.

My mother married a Baptist, Merritt. I won’t make a habit of naming people, but it’s hard to keep track of all my mother’s boyfriends. Also, mine. So Merritt. Step-Father #1. We went to the Baptist church. I think it was called Eastland Baptist, and it was next to a Krispy Kreme, which was one of the first Krispy Kremes. We used to sit through church services that I cannot remember and smelllllll those donuts. I didn’t believe in Jesus nearly as much as I believed in the donuts we got during the after service reception.

I don’t remember much about being a Baptist, but I do remember being baptized for a second time. Every so often, they’d invite people to come to the alter to request baptism and be saved. I remember my mom really wanted me to be baptized and I really wanted to impress my step-father. So I stepped forward, at about the age of 8, to declare Jesus Christ to be my lord and savior. As Meryn Cadell said “letting Christ into my heart, I didn’t even know the man.”

My second baptism really deserves it’s own entry, but be assured it was humiliating and terrifying. Full immersion baptism and 8 year olds do not mix well. I promise to do that entry very soon.

We were Baptists until my mother got tired of being a Baptist. About the same time, Merritt’s habit of frequenting prostitutes became known. Between Merritt’s porn and the prostitutes, it’s really no wonder I had some fucked up views about sexuality going into adolescence. So we went back to being Episcopalians.

Until my mother met a Catholic.

My mother sent us to Missouri for the summer, and we LITERALLY had a different step-father when we came home. My mother introduced us to Steve and told us to call him “Daddy.” Merritt, who was previously “daddy” was gone. I don’t have daddy issues, I have a subscription of daddies.

My mother married a Catholic, so we became Catholics.

There was some debate over whether or not my sister and I were baptized enough, but eventually our Episcopalian baptisms were deemed worthy.

I don’t do anything halfway. My mother gave me books about saints and nuns. Soon, I decided I wanted to be a nun. Not just any nun, I wanted to be a SAINT. I really wanted to impress God. I still felt deep, deep fear that my burned scapular meant that I was destined for Hell. I was convinced I was going to hell. I had nightmares about being on fire, being pushed into fiery pits by the saints I read about, particularly Saint Rita, who was incorruptible and I felt could come get me.

Probably should have held back on that book on the Incorruptibles, mom.

I went to Catholic school for part of middle school and 3 years of high school. I cleaned the chapel at the school several times a week. I went to confession frequently. It was years before I told a priest about the burned scapular and received furtive reassurance that would not send me to hell, but I still didn’t really believe it. I taught Sunday School at my church. I worked at Habitat for Humanity. Every time my burn scar hurt, which was several times a day, burning, stabbing, pain, I’d offer it up to Jesus. DEAR GOD, I WANTED TO BE A SAINT. I just knew my time would come. Someone would martyr me, or attempt to assault me, and I’d die, and in dying for God, he’d forgive me everything, and I would be a saint.

That shit is fucked up.

I’m not a saint. I mean, I’m a terrible saint, Sure, I didn’t have sex in high school, but that was fear of pregnancy, not fear of God.

When I returned from Germany (another story for another time), my parents kicked me out. When my parents kicked me out, I moved in with DB, my boyfriend, and they took my Sunday school class away. No one offered me a place to stay or any kind of assistance so that I could live somewhere besides with my boyfriend. Being disowned by my parents meant I was disowned from my church.

I haven’t entered another church in Nashville, Tennessee since.

When I moved to Denver, I tried to find a Catholic church. I still wanted to at least get to heaven. I called the Catholic diocese, hoping to find a church with a lot of young people. I was told that I should just go to the church in my area, and hung up on. Thanks.

I did find a welcoming spirit from the Episcopalian church, and am technically still a member in good standing. I went to a church for several months here in Denver, but moved away from them. The Episcopalian church has always welcomed me, and I go to Mass every time I go home in memory of my Grandmother. There is comfort in the Mass. There is familiarity there. Not believing in God doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the comfort that religion can bring.

For a long time, I prayed to God, even while I wasn’t going to church. I read the Bible. I studied religion. I wanted to find answers.

Instead, I found science. Beginning my studies and nursing career was the start of my journey to not believe in God.

The Hero

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.

 

Yes, You Did.

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.

How a Bad Nurse Inspired Me

When I was 23, my grandmother was dying of lung cancer.

My Grandma H was one of the strongest women I ever knew. She ran her own business, was an active church member and helped found my home church in Missouri.

But she smoked. She and my grandfather smoked for decades. Everyone did.

Then my grandfather got cancer and she quit cold turkey. She still got cancer.

This woman also got Type 2 diabetes and changed her diet overnight.

My grandmother wasn’t perfect. She had a temper, she was set in her ways, and she was, at least, at one point, a racist. She kept her racism well hidden, and I only ever heard a racist comment from her shortly before her death when she was having a lot of problems. I don’t want to think of my grandmother as a racist, but I know it was there at some point. Still, she welcomed her black customers and was well thought of by the black community in my hometown, as I learned after her death. I’ll never know her true stance because my grandmother never taught me to be a racist. She kept her opinions to herself.

I was visiting my grandmother and she was in the hospital. She was dying of lung cancer and COPD. I was staying at my Grandma C’s house. It was quickly obvious that my grandma was dying, and I needed to be there as much as I could. My job at Charles Schwab refused to let me take time off, but I was fortunate to have a standing job offer from a previous employer. So I quit. I’ll never invest with Schwab. They claimed to be a family friendly company and refused me time off with the woman who practically raised me.

At this time I was also trying to decide which college to attend, and what to major in. I wanted a guaranteed job, I wanted to make a difference, and I wanted a living wage. I loved science, and was toying with the idea of being a nurse. I was currently working in customer service and tech support and hated it.

I was at my Grandma C’s house, in my pajamas, and got a call from the hospital. My grandmother was actively dying. I raced to the hospital to find my grandmother pale, her fingers blue, and barely coherent. No one was in the room with her. She begged me for help. I quickly tried to call for help and was told by the nurse “She’s dying.” My grandmother was in agony. I’d only seen her close to that once before, when she’d forgotten to turn her oxygen on. She was not being medicated for her shortness of breath or anxiety. She was literally sitting in a chair, gasping to stay alive. Yes, she was a DNR. This was my first lesson that some medical professionals consider that to be an order not to treat the patient.

In tech support, one of the first questions we always asked was “is it plugged in?” My grandmother’s oxygen was not plugged into the wall.

I called the nurse’s station again, desperate. No one came. I walked out to the nurse’s station to find the nurses sitting down and talking. I quickly asked for help to plug my grandmother’s oxygen back in.

A nurse marched down the hall with me, plugged the oxygen in the wall and said:

“You could have done this YOURSELF.”

Within minutes, my grandmother had her color back. She had her breath back, and she was thinking more clearly, although she never regained her sharpness of wit or memory after that moment.

As I sat there, holding her hand, feeling her desperately rubbing her thumb over mine, which she did to comfort me, but also to comfort her, I thought of that nurse, and I thought: “If that moron can do it, I can do it.”

I filed a complaint with the hospital and received an apology. I was reminded very shortly that my grandmother was dying. I didn’t really think of suing the hospital because I knew she was dying and I had already had a horrible experience with a false medical lawsuit filed by my mother. Litigation was the last thing on my mind. If that had happened today, I would raised hell. But back then, I was 23. I had no idea of a patient’s rights. I was alone in the hospital.

Nursing school was brutal. I worked full time through the entire thing, sometimes just sleeping 2-3 hours a day between classes and on breaks at work. I haven’t gotten to work in pediatrics. I work in surgery.

Every time I go into a patient’s room, from my first day as a tech and until the day I leave nursing, I check the patient’s color, respiration, effort, and whether or not their oxygen is plugged in. If they are on a tank, I bend over and check, every time. I’ve found other nurse’s patients with their oxygen off, cyanotic (blue), and averted a code. I monitor my medicated patients closely.

I’m not a perfect nurse. I screw up. I lack patience at times. I have compassion fatigue and I’m burned out from working a hard, physical job while coping with chronic illness and pain.

But when I had a dying patient, the other nurses covered my patients completely so I could stay with her. I held her hand and turned her toward the mountains, so that if she could see, the last thing she would see was beauty. When I talked to her son who was rushing to her side, I was able to truthfully tell him his mother did not die alone.

I have never told a family member to do anything by themselves. I will never treat a family member like they should have medical training. If my patient is in distress, I am in the room.

That nurse is probably still working. I never got her name. Her inaction made me a better nurse. I will never, ever, let myself become so fatigued, so burned out that I knowingly let a patient suffer while I sit at the station, talking. It’s just not the kind of nurse I’m ever going to be.

Grandma H.

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.

 

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