A Girl Named Hope

A while back, one of my readers said he would like to hear about some of my calls when I was running EMS.  We discussed our calls among ourselves, even though we were bound by those pesky HIPPA laws but if the Mayor was transported after a drunk driving accident, it wasn’t like we all didn’t know.

There were calls that bothered me, calls that annoyed me and calls that pissed me off.  I remember them all but I decided to write about one that was incredibly memorable and sad.

In EMS, we have patients we run on regularly and they become known as “frequent flyers.”  We get to know them well and form a sort of bond with them.

This is the story of Hope.

My partner and I got a call for “respiratory distress.”  We got on scene and were led to a back bedroom.  That was the first time I saw Hope.  She was a twenty-six year old girl who weighed 852 pounds.  My partner and I each weighed about a buck fifteen.

Because of her weight, she was bed bound and frequently had difficulty breathing.  She kept apologizing for the “trouble.”  I told her it was no trouble and we were there to help.  I could see the embarrassment in her eyes when she took my hand and said “I’m sorry I’m so fat.”

I don’t know if I ever ran across a patient who had a sweeter disposition than Hope.  Even while she was struggling to breathe, she said “you are so kind and you have such beautiful hair.”

I asked her parents how long she had been having trouble breathing.  They said it had just started and then asked me if they could feed her before we left.  They seemed to be more concerned about her getting to eat than being able to breathe.

Her mama was less than five feet tall and couldn’t have weighed more than a hundred pounds.  Her daddy wasn’t much taller and looked like a toothpick.  Hope was their only child.
Her mama took me aside and said they didn’t want Hope to be hungry.  I told her that the hospital would give her something to eat but we needed to get her there before she got worse.

I knew that we were going to need help getting her to the hospital so I called dispatch and asked for any available crews to come assist.  I also asked them to send the fire department.  I knew she would never fit on our stretcher so I requested that one of the crews bring “Chitty.”

Chitty was our critical care ambulance.  The cab was the size of an eighteen wheeler and the “trailer” was as large by half.  The fire department had a “whale carrier.”  Since it was a coastal city, large marine life would sometimes get stranded and the carrier was how they moved them.  It was the only way we could get Hope out to the ambulance.  We had to remove the standard stretcher mounts and slide her onto the floor.

She was naked, so I used my sense of humor to distract her from the indignity of being eyed and handled while she was being loaded and made sure that she was covered to prevent gawking neighbors from seeing anything.

After we got her loaded, she started crying and said “I don’t want to die.”  I told her she wasn’t going to die on my watch.  She said she had tried to lose weight and wanted to have gastric by-pass surgery but she weighed too much and then started apologizing again.  I told her she had nothing to apologize for.

This was the routine for several months.  I got to know her well and she was such a sweet child.  She was the same age as my youngest daughter.  We talked about music and movies and as soon as I would get her to the hospital, she would always say the same thing.  “I don’t want to die.”

As soon as we got her in the bed, her parents wanted to know when she was going to be fed and again said “we don’t want her to be hungry.”

It was so heartbreaking when her parents talked about wanting her to not be hungry.  Every time she was hospitalized, her parents would sneak buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken into her room.  The nurses finally had to threaten them with loss of visitation rights if they continued.

I was on shift on Christmas Eve and had just dropped off a patient.  I stopped at the nurses’ station to get some paperwork signed and one of them asked if I had heard about Hope.  I said “of course.  I’ve brought her here many times.”
The nurse shook her head and said “no.  Hope died.  She went into cardiac arrest about an hour ago and we couldn’t bring her back.”

She was down the hall in a room but I couldn’t bring myself to go see her.  The nurses said her parents had asked for a few minutes alone with her, which of course, they granted.

When they went in to disconnect the machinery, one of them noticed something trickling from Hopes’ mouth.

While her parents were alone with her, they stuffed her mouth full of candy.  They didn’t want her to be hungry while she was alive and they didn’t want her to be hungry after she died.

 

The Versatile Blogger Award

versatile-blogger-award-large
A big thank you to Olive over at Newtbyolivemegamean for this nomination!  She’s a blogger who wants to “pursue something different every week.”  She is a beautiful and remarkable young woman of mixed race who talks about balancing two almost opposite cultures and the obstacles she has faced and is still facing.  She talks about being open-minded, which is an admirable quality and something that everybody should aspire to embrace.  If you don’t already follow her, you will find her blogs inspiring, interesting and entertaining.

 

THE RULES:

 

• Display the award on your blog.

• Thank the person who nominated you.

• Share 7 facts about yourself.

• Nominate up to 15 bloggers for the award.

 

SEVEN FACTS ABOUT ME:

 

1.  I NEVER discuss politics…publicly or privately…even with my closest friends.  (It’s one of those situations where you can ask but if I tell you, I’ll have to kill you.)

2.  When I was younger, at least once a week, one or two men would walk up to me and say “has anybody ever told you that you look like Angie Dickinson?”  One of them actually said “Ms. Dickinson, can I have your autograph?”  (They were obviously all drunk.)

3.  Many times, I have been called “Scarlett O’Hara,” a “firecracker”, a “Southern spitfire”, a “force of nature”, “Joan of Arc” and a “Puritan.”  (I declah!  Whateva do they mean?)

4.  I despise junk mail and unsolicited credit card offers, especially when they are addressed to my former name.  I take advantage of their postage paid return envelopes by cramming them full of my utility, cable and credit card outer envelopes along with grocery store advertisements and everything else I can find.  It is accompanied with the following message:  As long as you keep sending me your junk, you will continue to pay the postage for my junk.”  It works.  (Now bite me.)

5.  I watched my own knee surgery and asked the doctor if I could put the screws into my femur and tibia.  He said “no.”  It pissed me off but he did let me snip the last stitch on one of my incisions.  (Putting a sharp pair of scissors in the hands of a “firecracker” you have pissed off?  Not a good idea.  He was lucky.)

6.  I very rarely leave my house.  When I do and I come out of the store, I can never find my car because I don’t drive it enough to recognize it.  I know it’s an Infiniti and I know it’s silver but sometimes I walk right by it.  When I finally do find it, I think “well, law day…is that what my car looks like?”  (This gal needs to get out more.  On second thought, nah.)

7. Asking me to come up with seven facts about myself is like asking me to walk all the way through my house on my hands.  (Wait a minute.  I can actually do that.  Never mind.)

 

MY NOMINEES:
1.  https://ease@wordpress.com   This blog is by a young mother who is a devout Muslim.  She tells about her life, raising her five children (basically without a husband) and how her family reacted to her conversion.  She gives excellent information about her faith, which in so many ways, parallels other faiths.  If like me, you are interested in other religions, she is more than happy to oblige with the renderings of scriptures and prayers.  She has become a wonderful friend and her blog is well worth checking out.

2.  https://buffalotompeabody@wordpress.com   This blog will have you in stitches and you will sometimes almost pee in your pants.  (I know most people say “pee my pants” or “pee the bed.”)  I have never understood that phrasing, because aren’t you actually IN your pants and IN your bed when you pee?  Anyway, I would call the posts “a hoot, a holler and a high-de-ho!”  If you need a pick-me-up or a hearty laugh, check out this blog.

3.  https://staceyloringblog.com   She is a new find for me and she is fucking hilarious.  She describes herself as “crass, crude, controversial, politically IN-correct and opinionated.”  She is indeed that.  She reminds me of me…unapologetic curse words, snarky remarks, biting humor, telling it like it is and roaring while you do it!  You should check out her blog if you aren’t already following her.  For those of you who are interested in the paranormal, she also writes about that.  (Sign me up for a voodoo doll!)
(Footnote:  When I told her I was nominating her, she said “it better not be that Leibster bullshit!”)  See what I mean?  Irreverent and my kind of gal!

4. https://spearfruit@wordpress.com   This blog is about a lovely man who is battling cancer.  He has an equally lovely partner, standing for the most part in the background.  (We should all remember those who silently offer support because they too, are suffering.)  He tells of his treatments and always tries to put on a brave face, even when it is difficult.  Those of us who have been touched by this horrible disease in some way or another can understand the trials and tribulations.  Give him a read.  You will find his blog uplifting and as I said, you will come to know two extraordinary and lovely men.

6.  https://JohnCoyote@wordpress.com   John posts his own poetry which sometimes has an almost audible sadness but his gentleness never fails to come through.  He is so generous in promoting and re-blogging others’ work.  He has known grief, disappointment and loss but has never let it diminish his love of life…and it shows.  He is a veteran, which touches my heart as well as many others, I’m sure.  Give him a read, if you don’t already.

 

Of course, there is no pressure to participate but I happen to know Brian Cranston personally and if you don’t…HE WILL FIND YOU!

 

Dragons Don’t Always Win – Chapter Five

Ebbys’ words haunted Nate.  “Because he wouldn’t have known it was me.”

Who was that man, and what had he done to her that had left her so obviously damaged that she was prepared to kill him, he wondered.

She hadn’t yet done anything other than the one gesture, but Nate was afraid for her and he was afraid for himself.
If he did nothing, she would be a murderer and he could potentially be an accessory before the fact.  He knew that his feelings for her were clouding his judgment, but he tried to dismiss them.

Ebby hadn’t come to the bar all week, and Nate was concerned.  Would she go to the cemetery on Friday?  He struggled with whether or not to be there if she did.  He wasn’t even sure if he wanted to be there.  He was hoping that she would change her mind, especially since she knew that he had been following her.

When having conversations with himself as to what he should do as a police officer, Nate equivocated.  He was certain that something was going to happen and he had the power to prevent it.

As he expected, Ebby went to the cemetery, but this time, she didn’t hide behind the trees.  It was Nate who was hiding.
He watched as she took the gun from her purse, and held it to her side as she walked up to the man standing in front of the tombstone.

His back was turned to her when she said, “Hello, Arnie.”  He slowly turned around and said, “do I know you?”  Ebby asked, “You don’t remember me?”

Suddenly Arnie said, “Ebby!  Of course I do.  Look at you.  You’re all grown up now.  How are you?”

Ebby looked at him and asked, “How am I?  How am I?  How do you think I am?  It’s been thirty-eight years but did you really think that I would ever forget what you did to me?  Did you really think that I would ever forget how you used to sneak into my room at night?  Did you really think that I would ever forget your smelly breath and your sweaty hands?
Did you really think that I would ever forget that your wife had to start sitting beside my bed at night to try to keep you away from me?  Did you really think that I would ever forget that you took my innocence?”

She raised her voice as she said, “More importantly, did you really think that I would ever forgive you?”

Ebby raised the gun, and pointed it at Arnie.  He started backing up and said, “Ebby.  You have to understand.  I was a different man then.  I was drinking too much and I was confused.  I’ve changed.  I haven’t had a drop to drink in more than twenty years.  I’m a deacon at my church and I have another family now.”

With cold, dead eyes, Ebby said, “That’s a shame.  They’re going to miss you.”

Arnie looked at Ebby and said, “what do you hope to accomplish by killing me?”

Ebby smiled and said, “justice,” as she pulled the trigger.

She walked away but hesitated for a moment as she cast her eyes to the left.  She knew Nate was there.  He watched her make her way down to the entrance, where a taxi was waiting.

As she got into the back seat, Nate clicked his two-way.

“Dispatch,

 

An Deireadh.

 

 

 

Dragons Don’t Always Win – Chapter Four

Despite what Nate had witnessed, he continued to follow Ebby to the cemetery.  There had to be a story, and he was determined to find out what it was.

Although he had only seen her pull the gun once, Nate had sworn to uphold the law…to protect and serve, but when it came to Ebby, he had chosen to close his eyes to a potentially dangerous act.

There were so many unanswered questions.  How much longer would it continue?  How long would it be before she pulled the gun again?  What would be the eventual outcome?

Nate decided to confront Ebby.  He stopped by her condo, unannounced and uninvited.  When Ebby opened the door, she looked at him and said, “I’ve been wondering when you might ring my doorbell.”

Nate had a sense that Ebby knew exactly why he was there, and he was unsure if he should be confrontational or apologetic.

She offered him a glass of wine and he accepted.  They stood in front of each other, having a silent conversation with their eyes, as if they were reading each others’ thoughts.

Nate was surprised when she took the glass from his hand and sat it on the table.  He momentarily forgot what he had planned to say to her when she said, “I want to tell you something.”
He wasn’t sure if what he was feeling was excitement or fear.  He wasn’t even sure if he wanted to know what she had to say.

She said, “there have been many men who have wanted to be in my life.  Some blew in like a raging storm and some drifted in like a gentle breeze.  None of them were right, but all of them left a mark on me.”

He was taken aback as she gently took his face in her hands and said, “I do believe that you are the finest man I have ever known.”
Knowing what was coming next, he said, “but I’m not the right man.”
She said, “in another time, in another place, you might have been.”

Nate said, “why do I get the feeling that you are telling me goodbye?”

Ebby said, “sometimes there are things that we have to do and say, and we never know which day is going to be our last.”  She walked toward the door and opened it.

As he was walking out, it was clear that Ebby knew what he had seen as she showed no sign of surprise when he turned and asked, “why didn’t you take the shot?”

As she was closing the door, she cast her eyes downward and said, “because he wouldn’t have known it was me.”

 

To be continued_______________

 

 

911- The Falling Man

Today marks the 15th anniversary of September 11, 2001.  As usual, the stories and broadcasts of that day are being shown on television.

It’s a time for reflection and the underlying message, spoken and inferred, is to hug your children and tell your family members that you love them…because we never know when something might happen.

It is becoming more and more difficult for me to watch these recounts because I don’t have a husband or family members or children to hug anymore but I will watch them until I no longer can.

I watched a special titled “The Falling Man.”  A videographer captured a man falling from one of the towers.  It was a ten second descent that was going to end his life in a most gruesome way.

Only a handful of newspapers ran the picture the next day.  There was the expected response from readers, which was absolute outrage.
Why did it cause such outrage?  It was a reality of what happened that day.  Perhaps for some, it made it too real.

During the height of the Iraqi war, a marine was dragged through the street, hung from a bridge and set on fire.  Loser grappled with the decision of whether or not to run the picture.  His belief was that people needed to know what was happening over there.

George Bush wouldn’t allow pictures or videos of the soldiers being brought home.  The numbers of the dead were released but numbers are just numbers.  When you couple those numbers with flag-draped caskets, those numbers have an entirely different impact.

Loser decided to run the picture albeit inside and with a strong warning on the front page.  Like the falling man, the reaction was thunderous.  It was just too real.

I saw the picture of the marine and it took my breath away, even though I thought I was prepared for what I was going to see.  It was sickening.
Loser asked me what I thought and I said “it’s one of the most horrific things I have ever seen but if it was my son, I would want everybody to know what happened to my little boy.”

I don’t defend yellow journalism but I do defend freedom of the press.  There are still a few journalists and editors out there in that dying industry, who believe we have a right to know the truth…the truth about terrorism, the truth about war and the truth about the devastating results.

The picture of the falling man has never been run again.  An effort to identify him was met with great resistance, although it is believed that they now know his name.

Nobody knows if he jumped or fell.  We know that there were hundreds who suffered the same fate.  We know that there were people on the airplanes who struck the towers, the pentagon and drove into the ground in Pennsylvania.  We know there were people inside the towers when they collapsed.  We know there were hundreds of firefighters who died, trying to save lives.
We have heard their names read aloud.  We have seen them on the memorial.  Again, those are names.

When you attach a name to an image, I think it becomes too painful.  I believe that’s why there is such difficulty when we see the faces in the very instant when those people lost or were losing their lives, such as the marine or the falling man.

There were multiple requests to Loser to print pictures of the devil that apparently showed up in the smoke as the towers fell.  There was no outrage over those pictures…only requests to re-run them.

Would you want to know if the falling man was your loved one?  Would I want to know?  Yes, I would.  I think it would give me closure.  I could mourn the loss without the perennial hope that some day, through some miracle, he might come walking through the door.

When I was looking at the still shot of the falling man, it flashed through my mind “at the very moment that picture was taken, he was still alive.”

Let’s remember that day.  Let’s remember those lives that were lost.  If you have family members, hug them…call them…tell them how you feel….because you never know when they or you….might be gone.

Dragons Don’t Always Win – Chapter Three

The next time Nate saw Ebby, she acted as if nothing had happened.  He was greeted with the same smile and gesture to come sit with her.  He decided not to broach the subject of the dinner and instead, returned the invitation.

“I’m off tomorrow night,” he said.  “Would you like to go to a nice restaurant and have dinner?”  He wondered if things had changed between them when she gave but a quick glance into his eyes and coolly said, “no thank you.”

Did she think of him now as someone who had invaded her life?  Was she afraid that maybe she had shown him a part of herself that she had so carefully tried to hide?  Only time would tell if their friendship had suffered, but she now had become even more of a puzzle to him and possibly even more of a challenge.

Nate continued to drive by her place and eventually noticed a pattern.  Ebby visited the cemetery every Friday at the same time, without fail.  The same car was always parked at the church.
On the days he was on duty, he would take himself out of service for the few hours he spent watching Ebby.

Nate kept up his vigil for more than two months.  It was impossible for him to surveil her and the area on foot, and he was growing impatient.  He wanted to know the reason Ebby was there.
Bringing his binoculars solved the problem and he immediately realized that Ebby wasn’t mourning over a grave.  She always stood behind the trees and just watched, and what she was watching was the same man who, like her, was there every Friday.

One day as Nate was watching, what he saw made his blood run cold.  He watched as Ebby took a gun out of her purse, carefully attach a silencer to the barrel, and then point it at the man who was standing in front of a tombstone.  He was an elderly man and it was he who seemed to be mourning.

Nate was unsure of exactly what he should do.  Should he approach her?  Should he try to stop her?  If he did, she would know that he had followed her.  Before he had to make a decision, she took the silencer off, and put the gun back into her purse.

He was rattled in a way that left him questioning his actions or more accurately, his non-actions.  He was an officer of the law.  He had a duty to act, and he had just witnessed a crime, although technically, pointing a gun at someone was just a simple assault.

He was thinking, “who is this man?  Is he a random stranger or someone she knows?”  More importantly, stranger or acquaintance, why was she pointing a gun at him?

Nate wondered what he was going to say or do the next time he saw Ebby.  He knew she could read him, but he was just as adept as she at disguising his feelings.

He had skirted the law by following her, and his surveillance had not been warranted by any probable cause, other than his own personal interest.  Now he had knowledge about her life and that knowledge was garnered by what he was sure she would consider to be…a betrayal.

 

To be continued_____________

 

Dragons Don’t Always Win – Chapter Two

No one knew how Ebby spent her days, and no one asked.  Everyone probably assumed that she was like everyone else, working a 9 to 5 job, and coming to the bar afterward to unwind and forget the daily grind.

Nate noticed how she positioned herself in the bar.  She always had her back to the wall, which Nate thought was either subliminal instinct, or an intentionally protective act.  Or possibly it was because every time the door opened, she glanced toward it, studying the face of who was walking through as if searching for a certain someone.

Ebby became an almost quiet obsession for Nate.  He treasured and respected their friendship and even though he was silently aching to take it to another level, he knew it would never be possible.

Nate too, began to wonder what filled her days.  He wondered about her life outside the bar.  He wondered if she worked and where.  He wondered where she lived.  Against his better judgment, he decided to follow her home one night.
She hailed a taxi and Nate was surprised to find that she lived only two blocks away in an old warehouse that had been converted into luxury condos.

He wondered if she had taken a taxi because she didn’t want to drive after she had been drinking.  Maybe she didn’t have a car.  Many people who lived in the city didn’t have cars, due to the lack of parking spaces and congestion on the roads, so it was nothing unusual.

The next day he drove by and ironically, saw her once again, getting into a taxi.  He quickly turned the corner and parked on the side of the road.  As the taxi drove out of the condo, Nate suddenly became a clandestine stalker, but justified his actions as nothing more than curiosity.

He was shocked when the taxi drove to a local cemetery.  The unkempt graveyard was off to the side of a century old church, and was nestled inside a circular grove of huge oak trees.  There was but one car parked at the church.  The taxi discreetly dropped her at the entrance where she could not be seen.
As she got out, she looked around as if hoping for invisibility.  Slowly walking toward the cemetery, she seemed to take cover behind the huge trunks of the trees.

Nate suddenly felt as if he was invading her privacy, and decided to leave.  Perhaps she was there to mourn over the grave of a loved one.  Knowing nothing of her past, he was left to only speculate and possibly mourn a little with her.  Whatever the reason she was there, he felt ashamed that he was there.

Several times while they were at the bar, he considered asking her how she spent her days, but she had made it clear that her life was her own and he didn’t want to show even the slightest micro-expression that would give him away as to what he had seen.

She surprised him one night, when she invited him to her place and offered to cook dinner.  Pretending innocence, he asked for her address.  When he arrived, she greeted him with a warm smile and a glass of wine.

As he looked around, the absence of anything personal caught his eye.  There were no pictures other than a few reproductions of famous oil paintings on the wall, which struck him as not at all being what he would have expected.

While she was in the kitchen, he walked in and simply spoke her name.  She violently jerked around and cowered in the corner.  She screamed, “don’t you ever touch me again!”

Nate was dumbfounded and in as non-threatening a voice as he could, said, “I didn’t touch you.”
She clumsily tried to recover by saying, “I meant scare me.”  Nate could see that she was trembling as she managed to get to her feet.  He started to walk toward her but she held up her hand as if to say “stop.”

The rest of the evening was a bit unsettled.  After dinner, Nate finally broke protocol by asking her why she had reacted the way she had.  She tried to downplay the incident by saying, “I just don’t like for people to sneak up behind me, that’s all.”  He asked, “is that why you always sit with your back to the wall in the bar?”

She had an icy cold stare when she said, “I think you need to leave now.”  When he asked her why, she said, “you just need to leave now.”

As he was driving away, he couldn’t help but wonder why she had that reaction.  He had seen fear many times but what he saw in her face was absolute terror.

 

To be continued____________