Archive for January, 2009


January 27, 2009

empty stairs-drawn by jay herron 2006

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

Sunday began as any usual weekend day. Then came the pain. It was a horrible pain from the lower right side of my gut-I’ve been having uncomfortable pain from that area for several years-nothing like what was searing through my body on Sunday.

It worsened. I believe I began to hyperventilate-I know I got scared…I dialed 911.

The 911 operator stayed on the line with me as I writhed on the floor-I was literally crying from the pain and fear.

I made the decision to be taken to the VA (Veterans Administration Hospital) Emergency Room. By the time we got there I had some what calmed down,the pain had stopped it’s agony and I was feeling less afraid.

I have never felt right about being a patient at the VA medical center. Because of my ‘duty’ in my few months in the military was so disgraceful I never felt right standing and waiting to visit a doctor next to men who lay in the dirt and mud and misery of war. I always felt I was not rightfully a veteran-other than boot camp my only actual service to my country was the short time I was on board ship,and that wasn’t very long. My duty was lost in a detention barracks.

I was not comfortable going to the VA Sunday. I had not planned to try to resume care there until everything has been settled with my newly awarded ‘service connection disability’. The only thing I had to prove I could legitimatly be a patient at the VA was my papers from the VA judge that state I am-so I carried them with me.

My presence there was less than welcome. By the time I adjusted myself on the ER bed my pain had subsided and my treatment was as if I was taking up space. I was asked to give a urine sample-but the space was open and the front wall was partially glass with the office staff on the opposite side…I am entirely uncomfortable in that much activity to pee, a phobia I’ve had since barracks D.

I explained to the first medical tech I have difficulty peeing in such circumstance and explained my issues with PTSD with hope to get help to go to the privacy of a toilet-his response was that the drape would offer me privacy. I could not pee,so I laid down.

A girl game  in and inserted an IV. They did draw blood. They never checked my blood pressure-it was very high in the ambulance,no one seemed concerned, just bothered that I was there. I laid there for a long time with out any attention. Then the pain returned. I tried to relax myself but the pain was intense and I began to ask for someone to help-no one came. I began to cry-the pain was that severe.  Finally a nurse does show up and asks why I am crying and I replied that I was in pain-and that is why we were here.

I was given an injection of something to calm me down.

My son got me home around 8 o’clock Sunday evening. We spent the ride home talking about how they had treated me there, his word was ‘rude’-he said they weren’t even listening to what I said. The doctor that finally saw me said I “keep walking to the bathroom” as if I made multiple trips-he dismissed anything I said and dismissed me too.

Around 10 o’clock it happened again. I tried to relax-but it wouldn’t stop. The pain was awful and relentless-I called my son and told him something was wrong and he knew it from how I sounded. He called 911 this time.

The ambulance crew told me if they took me back to the VA a second time that the ER will make me sit in the lobby and wait all night and I had made up my mind never to return to the VA again. They took me to a hospital across town.

I waited in their waiting room too-but not all night. By midnight I was in a room with a wall and privacy to pee. They listened to me that I have issues with PTSD-they dimmed the lights because of my eyes.

I was given an exam with what is going to end up costing me a fortune-something I have no money for. They did discover a cyst on my kindney was pressing against a part of my stomach where it appears to be a part of my gut has something stuck in it-to say it as least gross as I can.

They treated me with morphine to ease the pain and sent me home with medications that will ease the pain and some that will work on the problem in my gut.

My son and I talked about it as we drove home from the hospital-the ride was slow because of the early morning Florida fog so we had more time than usual. He remarked how notable the difference in the care that was given. It seems my attacks of pain weren’t life threatening-at the moment they seemed just that. But the difference in respect that was shown-why does it seem missing at the VA Hospital?

I was embarrassed by the treatment I was given by the physician that discharged me. He dismissed me in a way one would shoo a fly from a sandwich-I was speaking to him and my son told me that the man was completely ignoring me. I was relieved that he saw it that way too. My son said he noticed it because a part of his job at the Sheriffs Office is transporting convicts to medical care and that I was being treated like I was one of those convicts.

I had thought that since I recieved vindication from the VA judge that I had an equal right to medical care at the VA Hospital-I see that it is my mistake.


January 22, 2009

I am absent because of the weather.

The temperature this morning before daylight was ‘frozen pipes’….or,one thermometer said 23 and the one outside said 18 and the clunk in my heart said ‘frozen pipes’ when I turned the faucet on to fix a hot breakfast drink.

These last few days have been fridgid…this morning promises to be the best of them all. My task is ahead of me-having to wait for the pipes to thaw and then hunt for the splits which are most certain to be in the pipes,then the repairs.

Crawling under the house is not my idea of beginning the day! I have other things to do.

January 9, 2009

014I can’t seem to unloose the depression. I have been unable to come out of it. There are things that need to be done-and all I can do is look at them.

I’m told it is a chemical imbalance-I believe it is set off by memories and anxiety. As a matter of fact-I am exhausted because of the anxiety and that cinches  the chains that anchor depression on me. I feel the fear of doing the simplest of things-sitting for an hour or more trying to muster up the ability to move on doing them.

The recent season of holidays is guilty of most of my low. I dwell on the memory and the losses always-but it seems more compounded as the holidays approach. I can’t miss but thinking of it.

I’ve begun to notice my clothes are becoming worn-my jeans are getting past the desired status of faded and are becoming just plain loose and my shirts are shameful with stains and holes. I noticed that a few weeks ago and realized it has been nearly two years since I’ve been in a store to shop-the stress of having to go in that booth and remove my pants to try new ones. I have no way of describing the fear and hurried manner of how I do end up doing it. I find the size that fits-and every time it seems choose the wrong size. Returning goods is hard too.

It’ll be a week or two before people stop saying ‘happy new year’. I know I have to be polite and say it in return-but my mind reels back to barracks D and what happened. It always has-and always will. I think about it in my sleep-in my nightmares of prisons. Every time that annual greeting comes forward I am reminded even more.

The officer I reported my rape to told me to “get used to it”. He chuckled and then in reference that I was going to be spending some time in barracks D he said “get used to it”. I’m always wondering what part he meant? This morning as usual every morning I woke and went to the bathroom. I am reminded every time I go to the bathroom. Also in the shower. Those following some nights of dreams like nightmares of being locked in some prison-forever. That followed by waking into an instant recall of what happened….and it happened 39 years ago. What part of “get used to it” am I going to have?

I wish every time I sat down to write something that it would always be something inspirational. I wish I could say-healing is there and think happy thoughts and all would be well,but I can’t say that it is that easy. Twice this past month I’ve had two different folk say to me “when you’re unhappy and feeling depressed-think of something happy”!  That does not  cover it folks.

I remember the man that issued me my bedding just moments before I entered barracks D. He was a large man-but yet he spoke like a woman. He said to me “Welcome to barracks D…Drugs,drunks and degenerates” in a feminine lisp and less than a minute later I was set to my own circumstances with an expanded metal gate closed behind me.

When I sized up my where I was I had no previous experience being in a place like this-a detention barracks. In seconds I saw empty bunks way back in the back-past other empty bunks. I chose one of those and made my way through the rows of men and past until I got as far away as I could. I know now that might have been a mistake. Like the following morning when the officer told me to “get used to it” I only had just short short moments to make decisions. I had already been raped when the officer told me to “get used to it” so I knew something of what was yet to come. It only took a minute to walk from his building to barracks D next door. I had only that much time to think of what to do. But , checking into barracks D I had no idea what my world was going to be like-then and forever. I only had mere seconds to find a haven in this confusion. Just days before I was having a good enough time with my friends on board ship and had plans for a future…never could I have imagined this.

When I returned from my meeting with the officer and the expanded metal gate closed behind me and I faced those same men-by then many had to know I had been attacked,I felt like I was walking through a pit of snakes.

My body ached from being punched and my rectum burnt from the attacks-my mind raced about collecting everything that had happened, how vivid many of those memories are at this moment. I laid there in my bunk wanting to cry and wanting to wash but too afraid to do either-like the fear from the night before,I wanted to go to the head but could not.

There was a hero-a guy named Bob, he showed up later and ended  up keeping watch while I showered. That was about the only good thing that happened new years eve 1969-70.

Happy New Year?