My parents recently experienced what they should probably consider one of their less proud moments of parenthood. Maybe they don't feel that way at all. Perhaps they think it wasn't their fault in the least. They weren't the people who left me alone in a a house with some edible-only-to-goats creation baking in a 400-degree oven and without the ability to safely exit the house. It was, however, their decision to leave me with the people who did just that.
My mom is still sick with kidney-related problems. She is home now and can somewhat take care of herself, but she can't take care of me. My aunt needed to work. She is a nurse practitioner; she doesn't work regularly, but she fills in for weeks when other nurse practitioners or office managers take vacation time in her husband's practice.
My dad has to work. He has stayed home with me a little, but he says he can't do it anymore.
I have an aunt and uncle who live in the sticks. I'm not allowed to divulge the location. The uncle in this family is an MD, but either because they have so many children or for some other reason, they sometimes have difficulty making ends meet financially. My uncle Steve was scheduled to attend some sort of medical seminar in the Lake Tahoe area. This would only be about an hour's drive from the nameless aunt and uncle's house. The plan was for my Uncle Steve to drive me to the unnamed aunt's and uncle's house when he drove to the seminar near Lake Tahoe. My father offered to pay them two hundred dollars per day to care for me. The reasons he was offerring to pay so much were: a) the people are in dire straits financially; b) I need help getting to the bathroom and have to either be carried up and downstairs or have food brought to me upstairs; c) I still needed nightly antibiotic injections, and medical care is something for which a provider should be compensated.
I begged my parents not to take me there. I offered to pay for a private nurse from my own savings. I offered to call each of my friends' moms and offer them whatever amount of money my parents would authorize. My parents overruled me and made me go to stay with the aunt and uncle.
My aunt and uncle waited until my Uncle Steve left to take me to my "bedroom." It was a cot with a sleeping bag in an unfinished attic. There was no bathroom. I asked if it was going to be inconvenient for them to help me get to the bathroom. My aunt brought up a stack of Pampers (her almost-four-year-old still wears them, and the kid's so chubby that his Pampers fit me; if anything, they're a bit on baggy on me) and a package of baby wipes, along with a reclosable plastic garbage bag. She told me that, one-armed and legged [temporarily; I'm not an amputee] or not, I would be expected to manage my toileting needs independently.
As I may have told you, I do not own a real cell phone because I once ran up a huge text-messaging bill. My Aunt Heather was concerned, however, so she sent me with a cell phone. I would have used this cell phone to call for help, because surely my parents wouldn't have left me in such conditions. My plans for using the phone were thwarted when my unnamed aunt found it. She gave it to her fifteen-year-old daughter to use.
As far as the injections I was supposed to receive from my unnamed uncle (my Uncle Steve had prepared the syringes in advance), it never happened. At first, I was pleased with that. I hate shots. Eventually, though. I noticed the infection returning in greater force than ever. If I changed a Pamper as soon as it was wet, I would run out of Pampers too soon, and my aunt was only letting me have six a day. If I didn't change it promptly, the stinging was horrendous.
Once a day, my aunt would bring up three sack meals. One would usually be an English muffin with nothing to put on it. Another sack would contain half a peanut butter sandwich on dried-out bread. (Day-old bread was probably all the family could afford.) The third sack would contain a self-opening can of Spaghettios or Raviolios, which I cannot stomach even heated up, much less cold. My aunt also delivered a two-liter recycled soda bottle half filled with water.
As picky an eater as I am, I knew I had to eat something, as disgusting as the offerings were. I settled on the dry English muffin and a few bites of the even drier peanut butter sandwich each day. After a few days, I could feel my temperature beginning to go up despite the relative coldness of the attic. I told my unnamed aunt this on what I think was Wednesday morning. (I had arrived early Monday morning.) my aunt said that I would only be there for three more days and probably wouldn't die in that amount of time.
On what I think was Thursday morning, I heard alarms of some sort going off downstairs. Eventually smoke rose to the height of the attic. It was clear that if my aunt were even home, she had no intention of helping me out of the house. I dropped in my sleeping bag and scooted in it along the attic beams so that I wouldn't get splinters in my bottom. (In retrospect, it seems odd that splinters were even the least of my concerns.)
I remembered one time the first day I was there, when my aunt had come upstairs and told me she was grocery shopping and that the seven-month-old baby was asleep. I should listen for the sound of the baby crying. With my limited mobility, only God knows exactly what I was supposed to do about it if the baby had woken up and began screaming. Keeping that in mind, it concerned me that my aunt might have left the baby in his crib. I didn't want it on my conscience that a seven-month-old infant had burned to death, so I used my semi-good arm to scoot on my bottom down the hall to the children's room, where, fortunately, there was no baby in the crib. I have no idea how I would have gotten him down the stairs without hurting him.
So I scooted back down the smoky hall, went down the stairs one at a time on my bottom, and eventually pulled myself high enough to release the deadbolt and get outside. I scooted myself the best I could along the sidewalk to the curb. Smoke was pouring out the open front door.
This is the part that is a bit gross. Don't read (as though anyone actually reads anymore)if you're squeamish. The quality of the food I was being given, and the conditions in which it was being stored, probably were not of health department-certified quality. I ended up with a case of Montezuma's revenge despite having never been south of the U. S. border. I hadn't been able to bring extra Pampers, and even if I had, I probably wouldn't have felt comfortable changing myself on the curb, even though everyone in the entire subdivision seemed to be working or at least somewhere other than at home. After what felt like hours but was probably more like forty-five minutes, a lady from down the street drove by. She saw the smoke and the unattended and obviously sick child (I look much younger than 15). She called 911, and the rest is practically history. (I still haven't quite gotten rid of the diaper rash, and my aunt and uncle haven't yet regained custody of their children from child protective services.)
As it ended up, my aunt had received a call from her seven-year-old's school that the child was sick. She took the baby and the almost-four-year-old with her to pick up the sick child and to take him to her husband's medical office. In her haste, she had forgotten that she'd left a gosh-awful concoction baking at a fairly high temperature in the oven. There was never an actual fire.
I was admitted to a hospital somewhere not too far from Reno, about fifty minutes away, and was considered in the custody of child protective services until my Uncle Steve, who carries papers authorizing him to take custody of me if my parents are not available, arrived. My kidneys were barely functioning. I was air-lifted to a hospital where my Uncle Steve and my father have privileges. My aunt Heather, who is of a less genteel background than anyone else on either side of my family, offered to drive to the sticks and kick the unnamed aunt's a$$. My dad said he was tempted to accept her offer, but he'd prefer to let the legal system take care of her. He also demanded the money back that he'd foolishly paid in advance for my care. He said it's not really the money, but that you don't take two hundred dollars a day to care for a child and then practically let her die.
I was in the Nevada hospital for one day and in the hospital near my home for five days. I will need one more surgery on my leg, but my kidney infection has to get better first.
All this went down in a tight little Mormon town in the sticks. the Church can't prevent charges from being filed, but they can and will illegally hold files so that nothing ever makes the news . . . not that I'd want it reported in the news that I have diaper rash.