Saturday, February 10, 2007

1112 Waking Thought

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Look away! It's an even numbered day and I'm not supposed to be here! I wanted to write this down while it's fresh, because by tomorrow it will be "well, yeah, duh."

I don't usually have to get up at any particular hour, so no alarm clock, so I awaken slowly. I like that, because I often have thoughts as I'm waking up and I like to follow them.

This morning I woke with an amazing thought. Not an amazing idea - it's something I've known for like forever, but I'd never brought it to the top and put it into my own words before. Right now it's in my mind in big blazing red letters.

I woke up slowly, thinking disjointedly and concurrently about the group discussion about the astronaut, and about other similar cases, and about my wanting to kill my father, and finally I got stuck on about how some people punish their mates by withholding love (nothing to do with the other topics - my mind wanders), women who withhold sex, or men who stop talking, to punish. "I'm mad at you, so there!" I mulled that a while, because I don't understand it.

I don't understand it because

You don't punish someone you love. Ever.

Not even your children. Children do need discipline. They need to know that there are things you do and things you don't do, and if you do things you shouldn't do then there are consequences. But consequences are different from punishment. Punishment has an element of turning your face away. Consequences involve working together to define a problem and fix it.

Same in an adult relationship. If there's a problem with someone you love, you work together to solve it. If you turn away, if you punish, if you threaten withdrawal of love, then I question your love.

I guess this is why I don't like to think of prisons as a place for punishment. I knew that the "callous" woman of entry 1110 was a nurse; what I didn't know is that she had worked in a prison, the very one, in fact, that Amy Fisher had been in. In a later post, she defended her lack of compassion, but later in that same post she mentioned that many of the inmates had been physically and emotionally abused as children. She has been calloused.

I don't like the idea of punishing people for reacting to what had been done to them when they were defenseless.

On the subject of my planning to kill my father, I think now that maybe Dr. K. was right. I suspect that faced with the actual act, I'd have diverted. I desperately wanted to love my parents. I think no matter what our parents do to us, we still need to love them. (And I'm still having trouble with that.)

I suspect that I would have actually pointed a gun at him if it came to it, but instead of the bullet between the eyes, I would have shot him in the left shoulder, then called the cops and the ambulance, and held him off at gunpoint until the authorities arrived.

He'd have been in such a state in the emergency room that there'd have been a psychiatric consult. And finally, someone would realize that this was serious. Someone would finally really listen to us kids, instead of just shrugging and brushing us off with "Just don't make him mad." Mad had nothing to do with it. The violence was random, unprovoked. Sometimes he set traps for us so he could claim justification. Next younger brother and I tried to tell people, but no one would believe us.

Maybe, just maybe, with a bullet in his shoulder, even he would finally realize that beating his wife and children has consequences.


Friday, February 09, 2007

1111 Assurance...

Friday, February 09, 2007

Dr. K., who helped me to realize that I really was an ok person, assured me that even if my father had hit BB, I would not have done it. I'm not so sure, but Dr. K. was the expert, and he said so. I don't know what he figured I would have done instead.

Daughter was very ill, hospitalized, when my father died of a heart attack (before I started with Dr. K.), so I didn't go to the funeral. For a long time, I didn't really believe he was dead. On the top of my mind, the reasoning part, I believed it, but deep down where the emotions live I was afraid that he wasn't really dead, that people just told me that so I wouldn't kill him.

For a few years after my father died, I had nightmares. I would dream that he really was alive, and was searching for my baby brother to hurt him, and that I was hiding BB from him, and he was close to finding him, and no one would help me because they insisted he was dead. Very detailed dreams. Think of the scariest horror movie. Like that. Panic.

I dreamed of him in college, too. After my first semester, I had the only private room on campus, because I screamed and cried so much in my sleep that no roommate could sleep. Those dreams were almost silly. One I had over and over was that my parents were visiting the campus, and we were walking up the hill and there was a bright red VW beetle parked in front of Carver Hall, and for some reason my father took a dislike to the beetle and he started beating it with a ... something, bat? Board? I was trying to stop him from destroying the car. I screamed "No, Daddy, no! Stop! Stop, Daddy! Please don't!"

Apparently anyone within hearing found this very disturbing.

Dr. K. figured the VW beetle was BB, but I used a car instead because I couldn't handle not being able to protect my baby brother, but it was almost ok to not be able to protect an anonymous car.

The nightmares didn't stop until after I accepted fully that he was dead.

By the way, some relatives hold me responsible for his death anyway. After I had told him that I'd kill him if he hit BB or my mother ever again, he had nowhere for his anger to go. They blame me for his heart attacks getting worse. (Think about the injustice in that for a while.) But he'd been having minor attacks for years, and would not go to the doctor, so I feel no responsibility. Well, very little. Well, maybe I gloat sometimes. Just a little.


1110 Why Do I Try So Hard to Understand?

Friday, February 09, 2006

There's a discussion going on in our Yahoo group. One of the guys wrote, concerning the diapered astronaut, "I don't expect an answer, but I have to ask: How can such smart people do such dumb things? This woman has an MA in aeronautical engineering for Christ sakes!"

I replied, "Passion. Deeply hurt feelings. Emotional pain. Just like enormous physical pain, it can send logic and self-respect out the window, making it absolutely necessary to do something, anything, to make the pain go away, or to stop the source of the pain. Smarts has nothing to do with it."

A second member chimed in, "Silk is absolutely correct. Anyone who's been there knows."

And then a third, "Hmmm. . . at the risk of sounding callous. . . should we be trying to dignify this sordid situation by sympathizing with the woman's feelings? After all she is already married & has 3 children. How about her husband & children's feelings when they find out she was lusting after the Commander all this time, instead keeping her mind on the robot arm? Not to mention reading in the papers about her driving 900 miles in a diaper?!? [...] I think she's about as sympathetic a figure as Amy. . . what was her name? The one who made Joey Buttafuoco famous. Or Caroline Warmus. Or Jack the Ripper."

(I think milady does in fact sound callous. There's a self-righteousness to her attitude that disturbs me.)

The first questioner comes back: "You're rigth[sic], of course, in thinking, that such behavior must be addressed seriously. However, understanding the motives for criminal acts does not, in itself, imply sympathy for those acts. Yet one can't have it both ways. ....Therefore punishment can fit the crime, and our sympathy, without a tortured need for justification, can go out to the criminals while they do the time.

My two cents: "Exactly, [questioner's name]. Understanding and sympathy does not mean you excuse the acts entirely, and the exercise is good for your soul. Forgiving does not mean forgoing all punishment or protective actions (although I think therapy is preferable to punishment in cases like this). I understand and pity Amy Whats-her-name, and the woman who drowned her children in the bathtub, and others like them. That doesn't at all mean I have forgotten the victims. It's not one or the other - it's both."

So, that led to thinking about why I need to understand why people do things, and why, once I understand, I'm willing to be more charitable. The answer is fairly easy, actually.

I was brought up to think that I couldn't do anything right, and that everything bad that happened, not only to me but to everyone around me, was my fault. I wasn't good enough. I didn't do things right. So by my twenties, whenever anyone hurt me, I took the blame. I just wasn't good enough. I deserved hurt. Worse, I would then wag my tail at those who hurt me, grovel at their feet, trying to get back in their good graces.

It took a long time and lots of therapy for me to learn that it wasn't always my fault. I am nice, and good, and capable. When people do hurtful things to me, the reason is not because I am bad or stupid or deserve it. Sometimes it's their problem, not mine. I was not a bad girl. My father was just plain clinically batshit.

But there's enough of that little girl still in me that I need to understand. I need to understand people's motives. Otherwise, the guilty feeling, the feelings of inadequacy, still creep in.

I also grew up feeling that I had no control over my life. I know well the feeling of having no control. When you have no control over your life, it's very easy to lose control.

I made elaborate plans to kill my father, twice. My baby brother (BB) was born when I was fifteen (1959, back when a man had a right to domestic abuse), and because my mother was in the hospital for so long after BB was born, he was essentially my baby. When he started walking and getting into things, I decided that if our father hit BB, the first time he hit BB, I was going to kill the SOB. I started going to the range with the airmen. I knew I'd get only one chance, so I learned well. I scored sharpshooter with a light handgun or rifle. I'd get him between the eyes even if he was moving.

As it happened, before he ever hit BB, something happened such that my mother had to sweep me off to Scranton to live with my grandmother, on 10 minutes notice, before my father got home, because when he got home he was going to kill me, or at least break several more bones.

I never lived at home again. But when I was 26, I visited for my youngest sister's wedding, and walked into the kitchen just as my father hit BB. I freaked. I told him if he ever hit BB again, I'd kill him. "I'll know. Someone will tell me. And you won't know when I'm coming. You'll turn around, and I'll be there. And I will kill you." (Other brother said "If she doesn't, I will." Other sister said "And if they both miss, I won't.") The SOB never hit BB again. But when I got home from that visit, I made elaborate plans for in case I had to do it. That astronaut had nothing on me. I am sure I really would have done it, and I didn't much care about consequences.

I know that good people can sometimes do bad things, but still be good people. They are often very hurt people.

1109 Yesterday

Friday, February 09, 2007

I got a lot done yesterday. Finished shredding the rest of the medical records, mailed payments for 11 bills, ran several errands (groceries, drug store, lube sheets for the shredder, two separate trips to the bank, four days worth of take-out Chinese food, and a few other things I've forgotten).

I decided that if I got home by 5 pm, I'd go to trivia. I got home at 4:45, but by the time I'd put stuff away, it was after 5, so I didn't go. I haven't been to trivia since something like mid-December, when Tom gave me the terrific back rub. I'm afraid he might think that the back rub is the reason I haven't been. It isn't. It just seems like every Thursday night I'm either tired, depressed, or busy. The next two Thursdays have dinners scheduled.


A excerpt from my Daily, February 2001, between Jay's last surgery and the start of the immunotherapy, when he was hemi-paralysed and suffering from a bad bout of intracranial edema:
4:45 pm - nausea, wants basin
5:59 pm - he says "the gifts have been given out", attempts to sit up on side of bed
6:00-6:40 pm - reasonable discussion, crying, can't eat dinner, drinks ice cream-banana-peanut butter slushy
6:40 pm - urinal
6:55-8:23 pm - read to him, calm, reasonable
8:23 pm - attempts to get out of bed, major struggle
8:34 pm - wants urinal
10:30 pm - falls asleep
11:15-11:45 pm - wants clothes off, I made him put CPAP* on
12:25 am - announces he has hired a company to take his clothes off
12:28 am - wants toilet, gets bedpan, wants urinal, piddles
12:50 am - nothing in bedpan, remove
12:50-1:25 am - squabbling over CPAP, I put it on 4 times, he removes 3 times
1:40 am - removes CPAP, says that "the remote control says there's not enough oxygen to use the tire"
1:57 am - wants another headache pill
2:20 am - fussing about olives
2:40 am - CPAP back on, wants TV on
3:15 am - he's lost, wants to know where we are
3:20 am - wants to discuss scheme involving PVC pipe
3:40 am - "used bedpan", bedpan not there, changed sheets
4:22 am - attempt to climb out of bed, one leg tangled in bars
*CPAP = constant positive airway pressure device, keeps his throat open during sleep. In later months, we had it connected to an oxygen concentrator.

2001 was the Year of No Sleep. Eight months of 2001, anyway.

What amazes me is that family caregivers of Alzheimer's patients do it for years!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

1108 Shredder

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

[Later edit - disguised the name of the medical facility. Sigh. Would you believe that within 2 hours of my posting, someone from that facility was reading this entry? If you come back, folks, the incidents were in 1999 and 2000. I assume that by now you have fixed the problem.]

I recently bought a shredder. I got the crosscut kind, 12 pages at a time. It produces little diamonds. It'll do credit cards and CDs, too. Interestingly, if you shred 20 lbs of paper, you get 20 lbs of little diamonds. "Of course!" you say. But it's still somehow a surprise. (They're gonna take away my Mensa card.)

A three inch stack of plain office paper will fill two large plastic garbage bags with little diamonds. That I really wasn't expecting. I really expected them to compact better. I mean, they're little flat diamonds!

I spent a good portion of yesterday shredding old medical records. I'm kinda hoping maybe I can use the results as mulch. Maybe I can start a compost pile. I've always wanted one of those barrel composters that roll on a stand. Ex#2 promised I could have his when he moved, but he gave it away. Of course, he also promised me the utility trailer, but then he sold it.

My mind's wandering.

The records I'm shredding are from Jay's illness. I'm trying not to read anything as I go - I could get all caught up in it and never get finished - but every so often I come across my handwritten notes on a bill, or a sticky-tab, and it jogs my memory.

I had forgotten about all the hours I spent sitting next to the little old ditsy lady in the billing office at A1bany M3dical C3nt3r, trying to straighten out the bills and payments. She'd send bills to me and to the insurance company. The insurance company would send checks, and I'd send checks for our copay, and she'd apply the payments to the totals, not to specific line items, and since since her records were sorted by date of service, not by date of billing, (some departments in the hospital were slower than others in submitting bills), she was applying payments to services for which we had not yet been billed, and then re-billing for earlier services, which, of course, the insurance company refused to double pay. I had to take my stacks of records in every two weeks or so to show her what had been billed and paid, and what had not yet been billed.

She never got it. She really didn't seem to understand that a payment had to be applied to a specific service. I don't know what other sick people who didn't have an advocate did. It was a mess.

And then there's stuff like this:

Can you read it? Back in 1036 The Hell Hole, I complained about the nursing home Jay was in while undergoing immunotherapy on Stat3n Island, and the difficulty with his records there. The above is from the Discharge Summary they handed me when I took him home from there. Those are not notes from the doctor that are meant only as mental notes for the doctor - "mutterings". This is supposed to go to his next caregivers. People are supposed to be able to read them. The next page contained instructions to me for his home care. I couldn't read them, and when I asked a nurse to translate, she couldn't read them either.

Not that it mattered. I knew more about his care and was better at it than they, anyway.

Most of this could go to the recycle center as is, doesn't really need shredding, but I haven't been able to make it to the recycle center during open hours since mid-December. I figure that since I need to shred some, it's faster to just shred all, save time by not sorting. Just more mulch.

Besides, it's fun.

Except the shredder makes a hot metal smell that worries me. Seems like every other time in my life I've smelled that smell, something burst into flames. Usually a cord.

I need more mental stimulation.


1107 Are You There?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

[Later edit - grammar correction.]

I had corresponded with a gentleman, a contractor in Iraq. I guess we had different timetables, expectations, definitions, and he felt some disappointment. I have respected his feelings, and have not contacted him since he expressed those feelings. But that doesn't mean he's completely out of mind. I worry. I'd like to know that he's ok.

So, N.S., if you're reading this, leave an comment on this entry. If you want to leave the comment anonymously, you named something after me (you showed me a photo, do you remember?) - mention that, and I'll know it's you.


Monday, February 05, 2007

1106 The Rest of the Story

Monday, February 05, 2007

I found the urban legends book I mentioned in the previous entry: It's Too Good to Be True, The Colossal Book of Urban Legends, by Jan Harold Brunvand. When I took it out of the tote bag, I had put it on top of the pillow on the other (lonely) side of my bed, under the comforter, so it would be there for reading in bed. When I went looking for it, I did look on, around, and under the pillow, looked everywhere around the head of the bed, but it wasn't there.

I found it way down deep IN the bed, when I swung a leg over to that side last night. Miss Thunderfoot had probably been bouncing on the bed and it slid off the pillow and kept sliding on feather fluff and cat pushes. My edition is a big book (7" x 9.25" x 1.25"), but it was buried in so much feather fluff it made no noticeable lump.

I found the other book I had lost, the novel, on the kitchen peninsula, right out in plain sight (well, between stacks of magazines). I thought I'd looked there, but maybe not.


Continuing the story of the guy who stole my purse:

As detailed in the previous entry, just like the urban legend, he had called me claiming to have found my purse, and then went to my house while I was out "picking up my purse". We were not robbed only because I'd left the dog in the house and her barking alerted the neighbor.

When I got home, I called the police, who interviewed the neighbor, and the description of the car matched that of one stolen two days before. Mr. Brunvand can say this urban legend is untrue all he wants, but the police told me then that it's a common ruse, that the thief will try to get you out of the house so he can rob you.

I had already stopped the credit cards, and luckily I knew the exact number of the last check I'd written, so the bank put an alert on my account, and would not pay and would turn over to the police all checks presented past that number.

A few hours after I had gone to DOE and discovered I'd been rooked, he called again. He tried to convince me that he was genuine, and had merely been out of the office, but I said I knew that he had visited the house, and he could forget that because I changed the locks this afternoon. I then did something I knew I shouldn't have done, but I couldn't resist.

The pocket watch in the purse had great sentimental value to me. It was a beautiful little thing, 14K, small, with the usual snap-open cover, case beautifully incised, and the face inside was painted with pink roses. That watch had been used to time contractions when Daughter was born, and to time breastfeeding after. I intended to give it to her for her first baby.

I begged the guy for the watch. I told him I'd buy it from him. All he had to do was come up with some safe way to make the transaction. Or maybe he could pawn it, and then tell me which pawnshop and send me the ticket, so I could redeem it.

This was bad, because it gave him a hook to jerk me around on. He started calling, just to chat, holding out the watch as a lure.

They put a thingy on my phone to trace and record calls, so even though I knew he'd never return the watch, I had to talk to him when he called, to keep him on the line. The calls all came from pay phones, so it wasn't much help, except for general location. He scared me, because he often knew where I'd been that morning, what I'd been wearing. I started taking the dog with me everywhere. Remember, I didn't know what he looked like. The police had descriptions, but no photo, and he sounded like half the young men I saw every day.

It didn't take long before forged checks started pouring in. From the first check, the cops had known who the guy was. He was a local "most wanted". Among other crimes, he had recently mugged a woman and her son at gunpoint, taking her purse, the young man's wallet, and their car. He was writing the checks payable to the name on the stolen driver's license, and using the license to cash them. As he stole more licenses, the names changed, connecting him to a series of muggings and burglaries.

There was a young detective assigned to the case, let's call him Officer Joe Goodguy, and I talked with him almost every day. By the way, this was maybe 1979 or so, no cell phones, and driver's licenses had descriptions, but no photos.

One day I got a call from a deskclerk at a motel on the east side of the beltway. He said he wanted to verify a check. He said that a man had stayed at the motel, but didn't have enough money to pay the bill when he checked out. The man had a check from me, made out to him , payment for some yardwork, and he wanted to cash it. That was against motel policy, so the man had endorsed the check anyway, and had left the check and his driver's license as security, and was going to return later with cash, to redeem them.

I told the clerk that I was going to look up the motel in the phone book and call him back, just to make sure who I was taking to. I called him back, and told him that this guy was wanted by the police, was considered armed and dangerous, that the check was stolen and forged. I told him to immediately call Officer Joe Goodguy at (telephone number). And I immediately called Officer Goodguy.

Officer Goodguy sent cars to the motel, and when they talked to the deskclerk, the clerk verified the story, but, and this is absolutely unbelievable to me, the clerk said the guy had already been there, had paid his bill in cash, and had left with the check and driver's license. (Again, late '70s. No security cameras.)

Officer Goodguy's theory was that the thief had done another "job", and scored cash, but not a suitable replacement license. Otherwise, he would not have returned. The motel clerk was more concerned about getting the money than catching a crook.

A few more days, more calls, more checks written, another mugging, a carjack. Other victims going through a lot of the same stuff. Officer Goodguy has developed some intellectual respect for me, and has become very protective (not so with Ex#2. He's mostly out of town on business throughout all this). We change my phone number, and make it unlisted. End of phone calls.

One day I got a call from Officer Goodguy. His voice was strained. I could see big eyes and raised eyebrows even over the phone. A check had been cashed and turned over to him by the bank, and when he looked at the back of the check, written on the back is "Officer Joe Goodguy", and his phone number! Officer Goodguy is completely freaked out! How did this guy get his name?! How did he know?! Did he write it on the back of the check knowing that Officer Goodguy would see it? Was he taunting him?

I reminded him of the motel incident. I had told the clerk to call him, and the clerk had probably written his name and number on the check.

The whole thing petered out after about a month. They never caught the crook, but he seemed to have disappeared, moved on to somewhere else.


Something else happened during that time. I didn't include it above because I wasn't sure it was him, but it was very scary.

The master bedroom was over the garage, and was set back a bit, so there was about five feet of sloping roof outside the bedroom windows. Ex#2 was away on business during most of the time all this nastiness was going on. He came home one day, and in the middle of that night, I was awakened by creaking on that piece of roof. I heard someone touching the window just above my head. I knelt on the bed and moved the curtain aside, but saw nothing on the roof. I tried to awaken Ex#2, but he objected to being disturbed, finally declared it was a cat or raccoon, refused to look into it, and went back to sleep. Having been away, he had no sense of how frightened I'd been, being stalked by an "armed and dangerous" felon.

The next morning, he got in his car in the garage to go to work, electronically raised the garage door, and backed out right into a metal extension ladder leaning over the door up to the roof.

The day before, he'd been doing some work outside that had involved the ladder, and had left the ladder lying on the ground along the side of the garage. Someone had put it up to the roof, and there really had been someone on the roof the night before.

I don't know if it was the crook. It could also have been neighborhood kids. I reported it to Officer Goodguy, and he was worried. Ex#2 was apparently not. He left the next day on another business trip. I locked the ladder away.