Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Mama Told Me There'll Be Days Like This: The Top Ten

     I'm dealing with a temperature of 104.8 and hoping it doesn't get any higher. My thoughts are a bit jumbled but not altogether nonsensical. My visual and fine-motor skills are probably impaired, though, so my wonderful friend Alyssa is acting as my secretary tonight and is typing this blog for me.

     While this post may sound much like a plea for sympathy, it really isn't. it is instead my was of keeping things in perspective.  if any reader (there are a few occasional readers from RFM who hate me) wish to consider it one more attempt my Alexis to garner the sympathy of the world, or at least the world of my readers, I cannot help what such people think. my hope is that most of yu can see where i'm coming from. We all have bad days. These are just ten of my worst.

     I've lived through a number of really rotten days. Some  days that should have been my worst -- days doctors were not sure my mom would make it through the day and night, or the time my mom thought she would never see us again --  happened when my brother and I were too little to grasp the situation. There was a day when, while my mother was being treated for cancer and a relative of a relative who supposed to be watching us fed herself but not us. Matthew rummaged around the cupboards and foraged through the fridge enough to keep himself going, though it probably was the weakest period of nutrition in his entire life. I used every bit of money I had to buy candy from the mini mart about two blocks from our house, Just about the time my money ran out,so did my desire to eat anything. I collapsed one December day just after my sixth birthday and had to be rushed to the hospital when I was unresponsive. That was a particularly bad day.

     I remember 9/11 as being an especially traumatic day in my life. My little parochial school didn't handle it very well. We knew something was terribly wrong, but no one would tell us what it was. Anyone whose parent was free to pick him or her up from school did so. The rest of us were forced to remain in class all day long, including through recess. Lunches were brought into the classroom. They didn't want us to get together in large groups and to share information. I didn't do school lunches. My mom was leaving early that morning to attend a seminar in the southern portion of the valley, and in her haste to get herself and us ready, she forgot to pack a lunch for me. The featured item in the school lunch that day was an egg salad sandwich. I tried to tell the teacher that I could not eat it and would be better off with crackers if anyone had some and nothing if they didn't, but she wouldn't listen. She forced the egg salad sandwich into my mouth, which resulted in continuous vomiting (even coming out of my nose) for probably fifteen minutes. I was sick for the remainder of the day. The teacher didn't even try to make me work but just left me with my head on the desk for the entire afternoon.There was no nurse, and my mom couldn't be contacted My aunt, who usually picked me up, had a breast cancer follow-up appointment and couldn't pick Matthew or me up. Her children were picked up by an aunt on the other side of the family, but due to some oversight, the aunt was not authorized to pick us up. There were five of us among the thirty-seven children  normally in the class who were forced to stick it out. That was a rough day.

     The day I donated blood marrow to my mom was hard. I had much family support, but I didn't have my mother, and I wasn't allowed to let her know of my part in the procedure. I would have gone through it again a thousand times had it been necessary to save my mother, but not having her there with me, or even having her know I was going through it, was very difficult for me.

     The entire nearly four months with Mrs. Moore as my fifth-grade teacher was rough enough, but the particular  day she sort of snapped and held up my rather bad school picture while encouraging all of my classmates to laugh me and ridicule me for what  a very ugly picture I took was devastating to me at the time and cut into the core of my self-image where my appearance is concerned. I don't think I will ever consider myself pretty. Maybe I wouldn't have anyway and it wasn't all Mrs. Moore's fault, but her almost daily comments to the effect of, "There's someone in this class who may think she's pretty, but she's not . . ." while looking directly at me had the effect she desired. Teachers have a great deal of power over their students, and some abuse it.

     The day I had the clavicle fracture along with the compound fracture of my tibia and fibula (part of my tissue can probably still be found deep in the crevices of the all-weather track, and thank God it was an all-weather track and not a dirt one, in which case I probably would have lost the leg) though I can't remember it well, was incredibly traumatic. All I can remember is intense pain until I lost consciousness, and the pain returning again any time I regained consciousness.

     The time my mom had used up all the days she could stay home with me and my dad had to be at a conference somewhere on the east coast and my Aunt Andrea had to cover for her husband's nurse practitioner whose daughter was giving birth via c-section, so my parents decided the only solution was to kill two birds with one stone by sending me to the home of a paternal aunt and her husband (and MD) who really needed the money my parents would pay them for providing care for me. (They didn't realize they would almost be literally killing one of the two birds.)The problem was that they provided no care for me. They stuck me in a sleeping bag on a cot in their unfinished attic and didn't give me any of the twice-daily pre-prepared antibiotic injections for my kidney infection. (As a hater of shots, I thought this was OK initially, but then as i could feel my temperature climbing higher and my body growing weaker, I knew this was a problem.) I had no bathroom facilities in the attic and my aunt and uncle were unwilling to help me transport myself to the bathroom on the second floor andand back to the attic, so each day they gave me a small supply of diapers and wipes, along with a stale peanut butter half-sandwich and a small can of spaghettios with no spoon, and a rinsed-out 2-liter soda bottle half-filled with tap water. My aunt ignored my complaints of becoming sicker. One day she left the house to take care of some LDS church business. She took her to preschool-aged children with her but left the baby sleeping in his crib and told me to deal with him if I heard him crying. I was immobilized by my fractures; my broken clavicle rendered me unable to use crutches. Then one day she left without telling me, and left the stove on with something in it that filled the house with smoke and set the smoke alarms off.  Then the house filled with smoke and I began to fear for my life. I slid along the unfinished board of the attic and down the attic staircase in my sleeping bag to prevent splinters. Though it was a long shot that my aunt would have left the baby in his crib without telling me,  I knew I had to check because I couldn't have lived with myself if I'd escaped while leaving a baby inside to burn to death or die of smoke inhalation. As I had suspected, the baby wasn't there. That actually made it easier to make my way back down to the hallway and down the last flight of stairs and to the doorway. The front door had a deadbolt that was deliberately set high to keep the little kids from escaping. I had a tough time pulling myself upright and stretching to reach it with my one good arm while choking in the toxic air and balancing on my one good leg, and fell twice in the process, but I finally managed to get the door open. Smoke poured out through the open door, and by then the loud alarms - like burglar alarms - were sounding in addition to the ones designed to alert those inside the house. I couldn't crawl because I had the use of only one arm and one leg, so I had to scoot on my butt. I eventually reached the curb and waited what seemed like forever for someone to drive by and notice there was a problem. Eventually a lady who taught physical education in a local school but whose child was sick arrived home across the street after taking her child to see the doctor. She called 9-1-1 and the rest was history. While waiting in her house for the paramedics, my aunt arrived and pounded on her door, guessing I was there by the car in her driveway. She tried to convince the paramedics when they arrived that everything was fine and that they should give me back to her, but the paramedics fortunately did not listen.That was one of the all-time worst days.

     My aunt Jillian had an intestinal bleed-out shortly after her cystic fibrosis diagnosis and nearly died. That was a very bad couple of days.

     I had the incident where a goon stole a paper I had written from a teacher's file and turned it in to another teacher. The other teacher, not even considering that the topic didn't match the assigned topic, submitted the paper for an award. The teacher to who I had originally turned in the paper was on the judging panel for the award. He recognized the paper. He checked his file, and the paper was missing. He thought it had been mine, so he had me called in the next day to ask a few questions about the paper, which I answered. He then turned the matter over to the principal as a paper that the thug had stolen from his cabinet that had been written by me. The principal chose to handle it s though we were equal suspects, wasting an entire day of education for me. Eventually parents were called, and because my mother was an assistant superintendent for the district at the time, the superintendent was called in to mediate. When it was all mediated and the thug was proven not to have authored the paper and I was proven to be the author, I asked to used the bathroom - a privilege which had been denied to me all day. The principal sent my mother across the county to a meeting. She said that she was concerned for my safety and wanted to take me home before she went to the meeting. The superintendent guaranteed my safety and said that he would see to it that his secretary drove me home. My mother was sent to the meeting. Then the thug asked to use the bathroom, but he went to the girls' restroom instead of the boys' room. When he arrived, his girlfriend and a friend of hers, with whom he had plotted the attack by cell phone,  were already knocking and slapping me around. I had been knocked to the floor of the bathroom, and one of the girls stepped on my leg right where the not-quite-healed fracture had taken place, re-injuring it. She also burned me just below my collarbone with a cigarette. When the thug came in, he ordered the girls to undress me. They pulled off my clothes. He pulled out his sex organ. I vomited, which caused him to lose his erection. (I know that now because of what I've learned in medical school. At the time, I didn't even know what had happened.) This made him angry. He delivered two swift kicks -- one to my right rib and one to my crotch. I had in my pocket a simplified cell-phone with a chip indicating my location. I pushed the top button, which I knew was 9-1-1. The operator heard enough to, along with the chip, locate me. When two officers stormed into the administration building, several faculty members followed. The more culpable of the two girls tried to escape when the police officer opened the door, but the football coach (who was initially there to protect the thug's interest, as the thug was one of his offensive linemen) stopped her from escaping.  I had to be photographed nude by law enforcement personnel before being transported to the hospital. All of the people who entered the restroom initially saw me in a state of nudity before the football coach took off his jacket and placed it over my body. It took school and hospital personnel over an hour to locate my mom and to bring her to me. I spent the night in the hospital. That was a very, very terrifying day.

     The next night, after I was home from the hospital (with a bladder catheter in place) but before my dad had made it back home from Europe, the thug and his accomplices, plus one additional co-conspirator, drove to my house and used a large sling-shot-type device to propel a brick through my upstairs bedroom window. That was a very bad night. I never spent another night in that bedroom.

     I've had other bad days and nights, but the ones I've listed were the worst. So while today was a rough day for me -- any day when your temperature hovers between 104 and 105 all day cannot be a good one -- it ranks as a garden variety bad day. It didn't help that my uncle named Steve was especially unkind to me, but still the day doesn't make my top ten list.


  1. There are some very shitty parts of your life. I have had some, too, and they still have an effect on me decades later. Make sure you find a counselor to help deal with it. I've tried on my own, but every now and then my life gets crappy and I can't figure out why. It usually ends up going back to those incidents of my younger life.
    I was hospitalized for about three weeks at the age of seven with a temperature like yours. I was hallucinating dinosaurs outside my hospital window. Get well soon.

  2. Thinking of you Alexis. Hope you are feeling better very soon. (IMO, people are jealous of you, not hating you.) I think of you as a thoroughbred racehorse who is eager to run the race - even to exhaustion.) laperla

  3. I think you've had enough rotten days to last the rest of your life. Hope your fever is down.