Monday, July 30, 2007

What The?......

Oh Holy Hannah, but you are absolutely NOT going to believe this...

* But through a rating tool on the web, provided by the blog "A Day In The Life Of An Ambulance Driver" , I was horrified to find out that in the online dating world my blog is rated "R" for "restricted"!! *

And his blog is only rated NC-17!! I just don't understand it.

Mingle2 - San Diego Singles


Can you believe this? I don't even say the F-Word in here for God's sakes. you think it's because all the animals are nekkid????

I mean, I know the horses never have their saddles on, but give me a break---it's 95 degrees out here!

The Message Goat is going to KILL me--- because some of the horses are already starting to get all modest on me....

(On another note: As promised in the comments section of my previous post, "The Story of Belinda", I will have the pictures up soon of Belinda's new baby!)

(And she's fully clothed.)



Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Story of Belinda...


You're waiting for someone to understand you,

But you've got demons in your closet,

And you're screaming out to stop it,

Saying life's begun to cheat you,

Friends are out to beat you,

Grab onto what you can scramble for...


("Hide in Your Shell", Supertramp)



Everyone in Podunk knows that Belinda and I are best friends---but for the life of them, they can't figure out what drives the bond between us...

Because, from the outside, Belinda and I appear to be as different as night and day. Although we are both small in stature, Belinda is a delicately fragile girl with a shy smile who has never uttered the F-word in her entire life--- and I am a boisterous, tattooed biker chick whose wears black leather a lot and whose language frequently deteriorates into imaginative cussing.

I'm going to admit to you that it is very difficult for me to tell you this story. I thought long and hard about it before I wrote about it because I'm not sure that I can tell it in the right way. But I will try my best.

So I'll start at the beginning....

I met Belinda a couple of years ago when we were both hired at that huge, corporate road nurse company---the one I've told you about before where they worked us like slaves, night and day, 7 days a week, relentlessly driving us road nurses to a numbing level of exhaustion which caused us to neglect ourselves, our homes, and our families. We had all tried very hard to endure it because of the employment benefits which that job gave us---health insurance and retirement plans---benefits which are very difficult to come by in rural Podunk's crappy job market.

When I was hired there shortly after Belinda, the first thing I noticed about working there was that many of the other nurses, including the Manager, were treating Belinda horridly for no logical reason that I could decipher. They were all continually rude to her and, in fact, treated her like a dog. Many of them caused her new-employee orientation period to be a living hell. They tattled on her every mistake, ignored her when she tried to ask intelligent questions about procedures---and they gossiped mercilessly about her to anybody who would listen.

Once, when one of the other nurses had again tattled to the Manager about something she thought Belinda hadn't "done correctly", the Manager called Belinda into her office to "write her up", remarking cruelly to Belinda that she "might not be cut out to be a road nurse". I remember seeing Belinda emerging from that conversation in tears.

I was mystified. Because, watching from the sidelines of my own new-employee orientation, I couldn't understand why this was happening. From my view, all I saw was a very kind and sweet girl, an excellent nurse, and a dependable employee. And each day as I watched my co-workers continuing their cruelty towards Belinda, my bewilderment grew as to WHY on earth they were behaving that way??

At first I thought that maybe it was because she was new--- because the nursing profession is notorious for this phenomenom of treating new employees hatefully. But I was a new employee, too---and nobody was being mean to me.

And then one day I found out.

It was near the end of my new-employee orientation and I was on a "ride along" with one of the mentor nurses. While we were driving through the countryside, she began gossiping about Belinda. "You KNOW what Belinda is, don't you?" she asked with a snide look on her face.

Confused, I replied: "No.....what are you talking about?"

The nurse replied with a mean grin: "She's one of THOSE people. You know, that WEIRD religion. The one whose meeting place is over on Highway 22."

I was so totally astonished that my breath was almost taken away.

Religion was the reason people were being rude to Belinda? RELIGION??? I wanted to throttle this big-mouthed nurse and slap that smirk right off her stupid face. I simply could not fathom that people would treat someone so horribly simply because of their religion.

But I kept quiet at that time. Because I was still new there---and I needed the job desperately. I had recently burnt out of my job at a large Emergency/Trauma Center and had also recently recovered from a relapse of my alcoholism. I was broke, in disgrace with my family, at the end of my own tenuous rope, and I didn't want to cause any trouble or draw attention to myself.

But I seethed inside as I watched the daily cruelty towards Belinda.

But I also noticed something else. Although Belinda was being treated harshly on a daily basis, I saw that she calmly, stoicly, and with quiet dignity, persevered through the ugly treatment. She stubbornly kept going forwards in the new employee orientation, continuing to be gracious and kind to everyone---even her tormenters--- and never faltered despite the harshness she was subjected to on a daily basis. A growing admiration for Belinda began in me---and I instinctively realized that she was someone special.

I admired the hell out of her for not quitting that damnable company. Because let me tell you, if I had been treated that way, I would have quit in a New York Minute, running away as fast as I could with my tail between my legs. I would never have been able to stand it.

But Belinda pushed on and completed her orientation, finally earning the right to go out as a full-fledged road nurse. I also completed my orientation. It was a little easier for me because I had already had a few years of road nurse experience behind me before coming to the company. Because although I had primarily worked ER's and ICU's thus far in my nursing career, I had frequently taken breaks from that arena when I felt close to "burning out", choosing to work as a road nurse for awhile to give myself a period of time to recover from the stress of acute care.

As the months passed, Belinda and I began to gravitate towards each other. We found that although we came from completely different backgrounds, we had similar ways of thinking and behaving. Both of us were perfectionists to the point of obsessiveness. Both of us were hard workers and desired only to be good employees and good nurses to our patients. And although I didn't know it at the time.....both of us were living haunted, fearful lives...

Because each of us hid secrets that we were desperate to protect......

Gradually, we became fast friends.

Belinda was a rookie nurse then and very unsure of her nursing skills. Because of the way she was treated by the other nurses, she was frightened to death that her inexperience would bring down more ridicule upon her head from the other nurses---and she hesitated to ask for help when she was faced with a procedure or Medicare regulations that she didn't understand. But as we became friends, she found out that she could ask me for advice and that I wouldn't laugh at her or ridicule her for being inexperienced. I was only too happy to help her. And so, I taught her many things. And she was a dedicated and quick learner.

I went on visits with her and taught her many nursing tasks related to some of the more complicated IV procedures and wound care. And I also taught her about the unbelievably complicated Medicare paperwork and the RN's responsibility for coding regulations on such paperwork. And gradually, with her quiet determination, Belinda became more and more competent. Soon enough, she could hold her own against any of the other nurses.

But still.....I noticed that Belinda had an "old" look in her young eyes. I noticed that her wistful smiles seemed more sad than happy. But she never talked about herself or her family life. Her pleasant demeanor fooled everybody else---but it didn't fool me. And I wondered what it was about. I sensed that I was seeing in her the same thing that I was experiencing myself---some sort of hiding... behind a facade...

My own secrecy was that I was living a lie---I was pretending to be "normal" to everybody. But on the inside I knew that I was an imposter. And I was terrified of being found out. My secret was that I was an alcoholic with chronic depression---and I was attending AA in another town so that nobody would find out. And although I longed to be "normal" myself, I knew that I could never be "like the other girls". And so I kept my distance from my co-workers.

And Belinda had her own reasons for being a loner, although I didn't know what those reasons were at the time. And she, too, kept her distance from others.

The other road nurses wrote us both off as weirdos and left us alone. They thought Belinda was strange because of her religion and its practices. And they wrote me off as being a loner for whatever unknown reasons. But we both worked very hard at our job, trying to accomplish our insane desire for "perfection", and we eventually earned the grudging respect of our superiors for that.

Our friendship grew stronger as we were gradually driven to exhaustion by that company's unrealistic 7-day-a-week workload. And Belinda and I discovered that we could find solace from our misery in our growing friendship. We began sneaking off to meet for lunch. And in due time, we began to trust each other. And with that developing trust, we began to open up to each other about ourselves....

And, finally, we trusted each other so much that we were able to reveal to each other our secrets---those horrible secrets that we didn't want anybody else to know about.

I took the plunge first. I finally admitted to Belinda that I was an alcoholic and battled that disease along with debilitating periods of depression. I even told her of my problems with my family. I related to her about the constant guilt and shame which plagued me because of my family's open resentment and disgust about my problems--- and how I lived in constant fear of abandonment by my mother and sister, the only family members who were still speaking to me.

I told her that my mother and sister had always been "hot and cold" towards me, depending on whether or not I met their expectations. They would accept me into their lives when I was sober and kept my mouth shut about my depression--- because they consider my problems "laziness" and a "lack of willpower". And I told her that I was in constant fear of faltering---either with a depression episode or a relapse in my alcoholism---because then my mother and sister would reject and ignore me after expressing their contempt and disgust with me.

(Which ended up coming true recently when I relapsed in my alcoholism and nearly died--- and subsequently both my mother and sister refused to acknowledge me or even make a phone call to the hospital to even see if I was alright).

Anyway, I told Belinda that I lived in constant fear of abandonment by my family--- and that it was a continual, anxiety-filled struggle for me to try and meet their expectations. I was afraid that Belinda would be shocked and disgusted by my revelations---but she wasn't. She sympathetically told me that she understood completely.

And then.....she told me her own story---some parts of which even her own husband doesn't know.

* * * * * *

Belinda's secrets----to this day----are that her mother has a serious mental illness----and that most of her other family members have serious problems as well because most of them are on Disability....and are drug and alcohol addicts.

And what's worse, she also revealed to me that her family continually manipulates her in a thousand ways---which causes her constant fear, anxiety, and financial problems. Her mother and other family members continually ask Belinda for money, week after week, day after day---to the point that Belinda is constantly broke. Belinda is so extremely kind-hearted and generous that she has a very difficult time refusing her family these requests.

To make matters worse, Belinda's chauvinistic husband is continually angry with her for helping them. It annoys the hell out of him and he derides Belinda about it constantly. Like my mother and sister, he states frequently that he "doesn't believe in mental illness" and that he thinks her mother's mental illness isn't an illness at all but is simply "laziness" and "selfishness". And since he knows that her other relatives are drug and alcohol addicted, it enrages him whenever she gives them money. He rails at her, screaming that they waste money on drugs, cigarrettes and manic shopping trips. Which is true---but Belinda loves her family and simply cannot bring herself to refuse them.

And her family is aggressive. Whenever one of them is broke---for whatever reason---they begin their persistent begging of money from Belinda, even calling her repeatedly at work or actually stopping by her office, complaining that they are facing their electricity being cut off or not having enough money for groceries---and Belinda can only stand up under so much of this constant pressure--- and so she usually caves in to their requests and gives them whatever extra money she has.

Thus, Belinda is constantly broke. And her anxiety level is always very high. She told me that some nights she can't even sleep because of her worries about finances. And she also worries about her mother's mental state, which waxes and wanes depending on whether her mother is taking her medication or not. Sometimes I've seen Belinda worry so much that she loses weight---which she can't afford because she's a small girl already. I've even seen Belinda become so overwhelmed with her problems that she suffers panic attacks.

She also told me that she frequently endures the same harsh treatment from other townspeople that she endures from co-workers. Because many people in town gossip that her family's problems are due to their belonging to that "weird religion". Belinda hears the constant town gossip labeling her family "crazy" or "cult members and drug addicts" ---and it causes her untold shame and embarassment.

And so she tries to keep a low profile in the work place and in town. She doesn't want anybody to find out just how chaotic her home life is. Especially when her mother has flare-ups in her disease and does illogical or dangerous behaviors. She is afraid that people will think it is because her mother does drugs, which isn't true. Her mother has been diagnosed by a psychiatrist with a very serious mental illness. And Belinda is also frightened to death that people will find out about how she continues to give money to the real drug addicts in her family---because she is afraid that if people come to know the full extent of her family's problems, that they will label her "crazy" as well--- and that this would affect her ability to be employed in Podunk.

And so, with these revelations to each other, Belinda and I found great relief in finally being able to share our feelings with somebody about these things. Because, heretofore, we had never been able to talk about it with anybody.

And, gradually, we began to help each other in our struggles....

* * * * *

Eventually, Belinda was finally able to tell me even more details of her tortuous upbringing with a mentally ill mother. My heart broke when I heard the horror that she had endured---and still endures to this day.

She related how her childhood had been filled with fear and confusion because she and her father never knew when her mother's illness would flare up and create chaos..... and danger....

There is one particular incident that Belinda has not even been able to tell her own husband for fear of his ranting about his contempt and disapproval....

One day when Belinda was only 5 years old, her mother (whose disease symptoms had been building due to not taking her medicine) began hallucinating both visually and auditorily. She thought she could see "demons" talking to her. She became paranoid. And the clamoring voices in her head began telling her to do certain things.....

And suddenly, as Belinda watched with horror--- her mother took a large kitchen knife out of a drawer and proceeded to stab the family cat to death while muttering gibberish and vague sentences about the cat needing to be "condemned to hell".

Belinda's bloodcurdling screams of terror caused her father to come running from the next room ---and he arrived just in time. Because after killing the cat, Belinda's mother had then turned and charged towards Belinda--- intending to stab her as well. She was screaming unintelligible things about how "Belinda must die to save her soul" and she raised up the the knife, intending to plunge it into Belinda. But Belinda's father threw himself across Belinda to protect her--- and he received the stabs intended for Belinda in his own body instead. He managed to thrust Belinda out of the way and then overpower his wife, getting the knife out of her hand.

To this day, he still wears the scars from those stabbings on his arms and shoulders.

I asked Belinda why she hadn't ever told her husband this story. Because I felt that maybe if he knew the severity of her mother's mental illness he might be more understanding. But she only said sadly: "He wouldn't understand. Whenever the subject of my mother's behavior has ever come up, he starts harping about how she is just 'trying to get attention'. He just doesn't believe in mental illness. So I have learned to keep quiet."

* * * * *

Belinda never has a moment of respite from her worries. Belinda's mother calls her on her cell phone at least 6 or 7 times a day. No matter how much Belinda tries to explain to her mother that she is at work and isn't allowed to have personal calls during work time, her mother continues to call. And this used to frequently get Belinda into trouble at that old company we worked for, where co-workers would witness those frequent calls and tattle to the Manager, who would then write Belinda up for "excessive personal calls".

But what nobody ever knew was that the only way that Belinda ever knows when her mother is about to go into a flare-up of her illlness is by hearing her talk. Belinda stays on a constant vigil of close attention to determine whether or not her mother is going into another exacerbation of her illness. Belinda says that she has learned to be able to tell the subtle clues that her mother has stopped taking her medicine--- and then subsequently begins losing touch with reality. And it is then that Belinda must work very hard to convince her mother to take her medicine---the medicine which keeps the illness at bay and the voices in her head quiet. Belinda worries constantly that her mother will become so ill that she will be committed to the State Mental Hospital.

* * * * * *

One thing that developed within Belinda's and my friendship is that I began to feel very protective towards her. She is a fragile girl emotionally---and is usually unable to take up for herself whenever someone is being cruel to her or is attempting to take advantage of her kind nature--- especially on the job. Belinda is frightened of confrontation.

And frequently when we worked for that other company, we road nurses would be asked by our superiors to do dishonest things. Very dishonest things. Things such as documenting that we had performed home visits to patients when we actually hadn't performed a visit. Or else we were surreptitiously asked to change the Medicare "coding" designation on the documentation of certain patient visits to indicate that such visits were of a different type of visit than had actually occurred. We were asked to do these things because either the Manager had made a mistake with the visit schedule (causing a visit to be missed, meaning lost revenue for the company) or else because the company simply wanted to increase their revenues by lying on the paperwork, again to garner more reimbursement money to the company from Medicare. And some of the nurses there would actually do as they were asked. Even though doing such things is illegal and is called "Medicare Fraud". It is punishable by fines and jail.

Our Manager knew that Belinda had a hard time saying "no" and would frequently pressure her to do such dishonest things. But she would ask her in private so that nobody would hear the illegal requests, promising her that "nobody would ever know". And it was tortuous for Belinda since she has such a hard time saying no and was afraid of losing her job. The Manager also frequently asked me to do such illegal things as well. Although I had no trouble saying "no" to such requests, Belinda would agonize over it. She would tell me about the Manager's sneaky requests, wringing her hands and saying: "What am I going to do?" in anguish.

And so I stepped in for Belinda. I went to the Manager and announced in no uncertain terms that neither Belinda nor I would document patient visits that we had not actually performed, nor would we change the coding on our visits to increase the amount of monetary reimbursement the company would receive from Medicare. And this annoyed the management no end. They were slowly starting to see that Belinda and I were buddies and swapped information.

In fact, I soon became known as Belinda's "heavy".

This not only stopped the management from trying to take advantage of her, but it also stopped the gossip about Belinda. Because woe betide the person who made a gossipy remark about her in my presence. In fact, I was once written up for hollering at another nurse who had made another nasty remark about Belinda's religion. I had gotten right in that nurse's face and exclaimed: "Listen and listen good. The last time I checked, we were still in AMERICA--where we have FREEDOM OF RELIGION. And I don't EVER want to hear you say another thing about her religion again, DO YOU FRIGGING HEAR ME?!!"

I didn't care about being written up because it was the last damn time anybody ever said anything bad about Belinda within my earshot.

But there were other things some of the other nurses would do to torment Belinda. I discovered that whenever Belinda was on weekend call, some nurses would purposely "miss" their patient visits on Friday--- which meant that those visits would then automatically be put onto Belinda's schedule for the weekend since she was the on-call.

But I solved that problem, too.

After one such weekend, I went to the office of the nurse who had pulled this trick the most often. I stood in her doorway and, with a meaningful smile on my face, said: "Hey girl, you know what? Two can play at this little game. And so the next time you're on weekend call, I'm going to fix it so that about ten of my worst visits will fall on YOU for that weekend! You'll work your damn ass off both Saturday and Sunday, ya hear? Now, have I made myself perfectly clear?"

I must have made myself perfectly clear because it never happened again--- with any of the nurses. The news was spreading that I would get even with whoever treated Belinda badly. And there was nothing anybody could do about it because as much as Belinda and I needed our jobs, the company needed us as well. There is a severe shortage of experienced road nurse RN's in Podunk and Belinda and I were both considered good at our jobs.

* * * * * * *

As much as Belinda is timid and shy, I am the opposite. Although I always want to get along well with other people, and will give you the shirt off my back if you need it, I can be very tough and intimidating when I have to be.

Actually, I pretty much HAD to learn fearlessness and toughness to survive during the time when I was a road nurse on the streets of gang territory in east Kansas City, MO. I was married to a computer guy in those days. And during the years on those mean streets, I witnessed gunfire, drug activity, and criminal goings-on at every turn. It was not unusual for me to take care of patients who lived in such dangerous neighborhoods that the patient's relatives had to physically escort me to and from my vehicle for my own safety when I arrived at their home. And they also had to leave someone on the street to guard my vehicle while I was inside with the patient.

I was once so close to a drive-by gang shooting that the puffs of smoke from the gun's barrel floated within inches of my head. And one night I was startled to see that my patient visit route was the exact area being highlighted during an episode of the TV show "Cops".

And then later, after I divorced the computer guy, I polished and further honed my street-smarts when I married a tough biker man, whereby I lived on a biker compound and became a tattooed "biker girl" for several years.

So although I, too, hate confrontation and conflict, I am definitely able to rise to the occasion when I have to. And I particularly hate it when people pick on the underdog, treat patients badly--- or are cruel to Belinda.

* * * * * *

As much as I became known as Belinda's "guardian", she became the "calm in the storm" for my own tempestuous emotions. We began fighting our battles together----and we each helped the other in times of trouble.

Once, while we were still working for that large road nurse company, Belinda's mother again began going downhill in her mental state. She had once again stopped taking her medication and had begun to visually and auditorily hallucinate. She became convinced in her mind that the demons were talking to her again. In fact, she became so ill this time that she didn't even recognize Belinda at all.

Belinda knew her mother well enough by now to know that this time it would take hospitalization to help her mother. And Belinda didn't want her mother to have to be committed to the State Hospital where they simply warehouse patients and let them languish for months. Belinda desperately wanted her mother to get help in a private psychiatric hospital where she could get better, more individualized attention.

But Belinda's mother had no insurance....

So Belinda begged a psychiatric hospital to admit and treat her mother, promising them that she would pay for the hospitalization out of her own pocket. She asked them to allow her to pay the exhorbitant cost by making monthly payments since she didn't have the money up front.

At first the hospital balked and gave her a flat out "no" answer. But Belinda stubbornly persisted and kept calling them, begging them to reconsider. Finally the hospital gave in---but they stated they wouldn't admit her mother unless Belinda could come up with a down payment deposit of $1,000, a sum of money which Belinda did not have.

When Belinda tearfully related to me the circumstances, she was in a panic. Her mother's behavior was so bizarre that Belinda was having to call in sick to work in order to watch over her mother 24 hours a day to keep her from doing dangerous behaviors. And she didn't know how on earth she was going to come up with $1,000---but I assured her that we could come up with it.

And so we did. Belinda used the balances on two of her credit cards--- and I gave her the rest of the money.

And thus, her mother was admitted to the hospital, where she was treated successfully and begun on medication which brought her back to reality. She has been fairly stable ever since then, thank God.

Belinda is still paying those monthly payments to this day.

* * * * * * *

I was the first to leave that large road nurse company. That is when I came to work at the company I currently work for. But it took Belinda longer to leave. She was frightened of changing jobs. But the working conditions at that company finally became so unrealistically miserable that she finally did leave. She hired on with another road nurse company, taking Bonnie, an LVN, with her. But both of them quickly became disatisfied with that company, too, for similar reasons as those of the old company.

Thus, Bonnie quit the company and went to work at the hospital. And Belinda was talked into going to work for a nurse she and I both knew named Lindy, whom we'd worked with at the old company--- and who had just started her own road nurse company with her husband. Lindy lured Belinda to work for her with the promise of a high salary and a realistic workload.

But soon after beginning her job there, Belinda figured out that Lindy had lied about a lot of things. The company was very disorganized, Lindy and her husband frequently, and violently, would argue about things in front of the other employees--- and it became obvious that Lindy and her husband were either embezzling or otherwise mishandling the money.

Because frequently the employees' paychecks were delayed and they would be asked to "wait a couple of weeks" for their money---and sometimes their paychecks were less than they should have been according to their original salary agreements.

This of course caused Belinda constant nightmares about her financial situation, and she began worrying and fretting about her household finances, never knowing if she would get paid or not. And due to her family's constant demands for money, Belinda and her family were already living practically paycheck-to-paycheck.

At the time this was going on, I had become Manager of the Podunk branch of my current company. I needed another RN and so I hired Belinda away from Lindy. (I also hired Bonnie away from the hospital.)

And so at last, Belinda and I were working together again. Only this time we were working for a company which treats its employees decently.

But during the first 2 weeks of her employment with us, Belinda began fretting because she still had not received her last paycheck from Lindy. And it was for quite a large sum of money---and Belinda was down to her last $100. She called Lindy about it a couple of times, gently asking about the paycheck, and had finally gotten an assurance from Lindy that the check had been mailed and would reach her "by Friday".

But Friday arrived---and no paycheck. What's worse, Belinda had believed Lindy and had counted on receiving the money Friday---and had written checks to pay household bills. When that paycheck did not arrive, Belinda knew that all those checks she had written were in danger of bouncing, creating financial disaster for her.

Belinda was terrified not only of the financial consequences of those bad checks--- but also of her husband finding out about the situation. He would be sure to become enraged because he has never approved of her being a road nurse in the first place. He has always expressed his disaproval of the cutthroat and mercurial world of road nursing--- and this situation would be sure to give him plenty of ammunition to torment her further over her chosen profession.

Belinda was now in a pure panic state. So the first thing I did was loan her a few hundred dollars to cover the checks she had written for her family's bills. And the next thing I did was to call her old employer, Lindy, to demand that she send the damn paycheck. I told Lindy that if she didn't send the check immediately, that she'd have to "deal with me instead of Belinda". She assured me that it had been a "misunderstanding" and that she would mail the check immediately.

Finally, the paycheck arrived in the mail. But when Belinda went to the bank to cash it, it was refused for "Insufficient Funds". Lindy had written Belinda a hot paycheck!

Belinda called me from the bank, in tears, sobbing her heart out. "Oh my GOD!" she cried. "They won't cash the check because of Insufficient Funds! What am I going to do!? I'm out of money! My husband is going to KILL ME!"

Now I was really pissed off. And so I told Belinda to return to the office. When she pulled into the parking lot, I was standing out by my Jeep.

"Get in," I stated simply.

"Why?" she replied fearfully, seeing the determined look on my face. "Oh God, Bo---what are you going to do?"

"I'm going to get you your money," I stated simply. "So get in."

She climbed into the Jeep and I drove us over to Lindy's office.

I parked the car outside the small building and told a quaking Belinda to stay put--- I knew she couldn't handle a "bad scene".

I strode into Lindy's building and headed to her office--- where I proceeded to kick the door open. Lindy had been sitting at her computer but shot straight up out of her chair with shock and surprise when I kicked the door open. When she saw that it was me, a look of fear came over her. Because she knew exactly what I was there for.

"What the....what the h-hell are you doing here?" she asked shakily, trying to sound nonchalant and unafraid. "Isn't it enough that you hired my only RN away from me? And now you think you can just come in here and kick my damn door in?"

"You know EXACTLY what I'm here for, Lindy," I said quietly. "I'm here to get Belinda's money. You used to work with us back at the old company and so we used to consider you a friend. But now here you are screwing Belinda over. You are 2 weeks late paying her--and then you have the damn nerve to write her a hot paycheck."

"Oh....that check was hot?" she asked innocently, unsuccessfully trying to appear surprised.

"Don't pull that innocent shit with me, Lindy," I continued. "Now listen very carefully. You are going to give her the money today or I'm going to do something you really won't like...."

"Oh yeah?" she replied belligerantly. "And just what are you gonna do about it? Are you gonna pull your biker chick routine and beat me up or something? My husband will kick your ass up and down the Interstate if you so much as touch one hair on my head."

I stood my ground and said calmly: "No, Lindy, I'm not going to do that. But I'm warning you. You had better give her the money today or you and your idiot husband will both be sorry."

Lindy's response was to turn her back on me and make a phone call to her husband. I stood and waited for a few minutes until I realized that she had no intention of addressing me further or doing anything about Belinda's paycheck.

I turned and walked back out to the Jeep where Belinda was waiting. Tears began running down her face when she saw my mood. She knew that I hadn't gotten the money. I climbed into the Jeep and said: "Okay, now we're headed to the police station."

"The police station?" she cried. "What can they do about it?"

"They can do plenty," I replied. "You've got that rejected paycheck in your hand. And in Texas it is a crime to write a hot check. It's called 'theft by check' and you can be arrested for that. And not only that, but I think it's a felony for an employer to write a hot paycheck."

And so we went to the police station and explained to the cops what was going on. The cops knew Lindy and her family very well---especially since they have had to arrest Lindy's husband many times for various criminal behaviors. And so they had no problem believing that Lindy and her husband were running a shady business.

Belinda and I returned to Lindy's office......accompanied by two policemen in separate patrol cars. By now Lindy's husband had arrived---and he looked enraged as the two of them emerged from the building after seeing that police cars had arrived with me and Belinda.

And so, right there on the sidewalk, the policemen informed Lindy and her husband that unless they made good on the hot paycheck as soon as possible, that Belinda could make out a criminal complaint against the two which would ultimately result in an arrest warrant being issued for them. The court costs would be high, and if Lindy and her husband were convicted, the charge would go on their records and there would be steep penalties.

I could tell that Lindy's husband was so angry with me that he could barely conceal his rage. He looked at me with a significantly long and hard look, his eyes telling me wordlessly that he wanted to hurt me and hurt me bad. I knew he was thinking that he'd love to get me alone in a dark alley sometime. And I also knew that he is a very violent and rough character--- and has been in jail many times for assault.

But I returned his stare, silently daring him to act up or threaten me in front of the policemen.

"Now," one of the policemen stated calmly, looking at Lindy and her husband. "Do y'all think that we can clear this up today without any further problems? Can you give this girl the money that is owed her?"

Lindy's husband was silent for a moment--- and then he spoke with a deliberately calm voice which belied his angry expression. And he made his statement while looking directly into my eyes.

"Okay, Bo," he declared finally, his face breaking into an evil smile. And it was then that I knew that he was planning to wait until another day to deal with me. "You win....this time."

In the end, Lindy's parents came to the scene and used their own money to give Belinda the money that was owed her. The policemen waited at the scene until Belinda had received her money and we had safely driven off in the Jeep.

And ever since then I have had to be careful to watch my back---- for Lindy's husband.

* * * * *

As you guys know from previous posts, Belinda helped me through my recent relapse of alcoholism and depression. And that I was able to return from the detox center just in time to be here for the birth of her beautiful baby. And I will cherish the memory of that day for the rest of my life----the memory of standing alongside Belinda and her new baby in that hospital room, our hearts nearly bursting with the joy, hope and love that the birth of a new baby brings.

She and I have come through the fire together---after finding an unlikely friendship in the midst of the desperation and exhaustion of working under slave-like conditions for that old road nurse company, throughout endless struggles to find hope within the dark shadows of depression and fear, throughout the despair of living under haunting memories of family tragedies and ongoing troubles--- and then through the joyful discovery that we could lean on each other while trying to overcome life's spirit-sapping obstacles together.....

Because here we are... working together again.....still standing tall.... still helping each other.....and still seeing patients together as road nurses....

And knowing that no matter what....

We will always be true-blue friends....



Thursday, July 26, 2007



For once I was running into Podunk Hospital for something good......

I had rushed to the hospital with Bonnie, Jane-Anne, and the new secretary in tow, and we had almost wrecked all four of our vehicles trying to hurry and park them just as fast as we could in the hospital's packed parking lot. We jumped out of our vehicles practically before the wheels had come to a full stop and then ran as fast as we could into the hospital--- where we then proceeded to impatiently punch the elevator button a hundred times in rapid fire so that it would "hurry up and come" .

When we reached the Labor & Delivery floor, we burst out of the elevator so fast that we collided with old Doc Jenkins, who had been innocently standing nearby eating contentedly from a bag of popcorn. Popcorns went flying all over the hallway---including the one he had been about to put into his mouth--- and it had irritated him no end.

"Where's the GD fire?!" he hollered at us.

(Hickese translation: In Podunk, a staunchly Baptist community, nobody----and I mean nobody (not even old Doc Jenkins)---would ever be caught dead uttering the word 'goddam', because somebody would tattle to the Pastor of their church for sure. So everybody says 'GD' instead---as long as they're not within earshot of their grandmother or her next-door-neighbor.)

After we made sure old Doc Jenkins was in one piece (although we couldn't save the popcorn), we continued our 50-yard dash to Belinda's room. We were carrying presents and balloons galore---and I was clutching a large be-ribboned bag containing the three baby sweaters and blanket I had knitted for the new arrival to Podunk.

Because Belinda had delivered a completely, perfectly, beautiful--- baby girl.


Which reminds me.....


I have never told you the story of Belinda.....



Monday, July 23, 2007

Enquiring Barnyard Animals WANT to KNOW!!!......

* "Hey, didja hear the good news?!"

"What news?"

"Hallelujah, my baby birdies! It's almost here! Chirp out the news far and wide!!"

"What's almost here? That new alfalfa hay?"

"No silly! The BABY! Spread the joyful news!"

"You!....not...Belinda's baby? Is it that time already?"

"Yes! Belinda's BABY!!! It's almost here! Spread the joyful news!"

"Okay---I'm hurrying as fast as I can!"

"All I want to know is if Bo finally finished knitting that dang crrraaaazy-colored cashmere and wool baby blanket. And did she block it properly? You've got to treat good merino wool and cashmere properly, I tell you!"

"Yes she did! So spread the joyful news---Belinda's baby is almost HERE!!!!"


"Dammit, why am I always the last one to know anything around here??"



Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Part Two of "Tales of a Bohemian Road Nurse": The Unsinkable Mockingbird Brown


Some folks whispered, some folks talked,

But everybody looked the other way,

And when time ran out

there was no one about

on Independence Day...



("Independence Day", Martina McBride)


Every now and then The Lord does me a slight favor. But also, every now and then He plays little jokes on me...

And I don't always think those jokes are very funny.....

I was purely mortified to show my face in town when Bonnie and her husband brought me back from the detox center after my relapse on alcohol. I kept asking myself how it had happened? But I knew only too well why it had happened.

I had stopped attending AA when I moved to tiny Podunk. I hadn't gone because I hadn't wanted anybody in this small, gossipy town to "know" that I am an alcoholic.

Anyway, I told Bonnie that I was too embarassed to death to be seen in public. I didn't want to go to Walmart for groceries or anything.

"Don't worry about it," Bonnie said, as we entered my apartment. She was going to help me pour out the rest of any leftover liquor still in there and then help me take all the empties out to the dumpster.

"You just hold your head high and go on with things," she continued as we worked at the unpleasant task.

"Hold my head high?" I asked incredulously. "You've got to be kidding me! I'm scum. I'm a loser. And it's all over town, Bonnie. Every dang person in a three county radius knows what I did. I've already seen the stares and heard the whispers. Somebody should just take me out back of a barn somewhere and shoot me like they do to useless horses..."

"Well actually...." she stated haltingly. "You just may have lucked out on the gossip deal. Because actually....your drinking of the alcohol isn't so much what they're talking about as much as they're talking about a couple of other things...."

I waited....and then I exclaimed: "Oh no!---did somebody die?"

"No," she replied. And then she filled me in. "Everybody's talking about LuLu. She stole your thunder, thank goodness. She got arrested the other night for Public Intoxication and Disorderly Conduct. She got into a bar fight again and tore the shirt clean off some girl she was fighting with. All the boys were happy as larks because they not only got to see gorgeous LuLu in another catfight but they also got to see Lorinda Madison's tits."

(Remember LuLu, my old boss? The Manager I had replaced when she got fired for being on drugs and having affairs with married doctors? Got drunk one night and plowed through the town surgeon's landscaping and over his $3,000 bricked mailbox? That LuLu.)

"Oh crap!" I exclaimed. "Do you realize what this means? When LuLu gets convicted of that Public Intoxication charge, she'll get placed on Probation---and you know what that means. She'll be required to attend mandatory AA meetings for the duration of her probation."

As Bonnie looked puzzled at this revelation, I explained further.

"Here in Texas, any misdemeanor charge involving alcohol gets you put on probation for a year or two---and they always require at least 3 mandatory AA meetings a week during that time. And there's only one dang AA meeting here in Podunk. And that's all I need---is to have to sit next to LuLu at an AA meeting. Oh, the irony....."

"Hell, don't worry about it, Bo," Bonnie replied. "Her lawyer might get her off of the charge like he did for that DWI she got last year. Or else he will be sure to drag her case out for the next entire year. And if she does get convicted, once she hears about you joining Podunk's AA she'll be sure and go to that other AA meeting in her own county."

We worked a little while longer and Bonnie helped me unpack my bags. And then I remembered.

"Hey, wait a minute," I said. "You said the town was talking about 'a couple of other things'. What is the 'other thing' besides LuLu's stuff?"

She hesitated before replying--- and I felt a degree of dread rising in my throat.

"What IS it?" I demanded. "Oh Lord, I knew it. What did I do while I was drunk? But.... I couldn't have done anything! Because for the entire time I drank I was hiding in my apartment---- so I couldn't have done anything strange!....did I?"

"Well... it's what you did in the ER..." she said haltingly, not wanting to divulge the "bad news". "I guess I can tell you because Belinda will tell you about it anyway when she calls you later tonight."

And so she told me.

"Apparently, when the paramedics loaded you into their truck they were scared shitless because you were nearly dead. One of the ER nurses said later that the medics had screamed into the ER's radio that they were just across the street from the hospital at your apartment, less than 200 yards away, but that you were nearly dead and they didn't think they were going to get you there in time. They ran you into the ER like bats out of hell and the team was waiting there to receive you---but then they couldn't get an IV line into you. Not one of the ER nurses was able to successfully stick you. Finally, they rushed an ICU nurse downstairs and she was able to get a line into you. While all this was going on, the doctor was examining you and yelling out orders said something to him...."

"Oh my God, what did I say?" I cried in anguish. "What in the hell did I say?"

I was imagining awful things---and with good reason. I mean, I've said some strange things to doctors before. Once when I was being put under anesthesia for oral surgery, the nurses told me later that I had turned woozily to the doctor and said: "Baby, you are DAMN good-looking" before I fell asleep. Although it had cracked them up, it had utterly mortified me to death--- and so ever since then I've been afraid of being in a senseless state in front of good looking doctors.

(I think it's that starched white labcoat with their name embroideried on it that gets me....)

(Or if they have nice chest hair that sticks up out of the V-neck of their scrubs....)

Where was I?

Oh yes....I had asked Bonnie what in the hell I had said to the doctor.

"What DID I SAY?" I demanded.

"Okay, okay," Bonnie replied. "The way I heard it, you suddenly became conscious for a minute....and you whispered to the doctor that you 'knew what he was thinking'. And it startled the hell out of him that you were able to speak, considering the state you were in. I mean, you were actually dying right in front of them and they couldn't get a line into you and Belinda was crying and everybody thought you were a goner for sure. And then you shock the hell out of everybody by speaking up and telling the doctor that you knew what he was thinking...."

"And?" I prodded, as she had trailed off again.

She sighed before she spoke, and then she resolutely blurted it out.

"So... the doctor leaned down to hear you better and he asked you exactly WHAT it was that you thought he was thinking. And you said....oh shit---YOU SAID THAT YOU KNEW THAT HE WAS THINKING THAT YOU WERE AN ER DOCTOR'S WORST NIGHTMARE!"

"I did?" I asked quietly, looking at the floor in shame.

"And...uh...that's not quite all of what you said..." she replied quietly---and my head suddenly snapped back up to attention. Oh GOD, I thought. Here it comes.....

"Did I tell him he was good looking or something?" I asked fearfully. "Please don't tell me I said that he was good-looking---please don't tell me that. For God's sakes I know I looked hair was messed up and I was wearing that damn biker girl T-shirt that says 'This Bitch Don't Fall Off'...."

"," Bonnie continued, the corners of her mouth turning upwards with the beginnings of an involuntary grin. "You didn't say that. But you did blurt out 'I'M A DRUNK...AND I DON'T HAVE INSURANCE!'"

* * * * *

I don't want to think about that day anymore.

* * * * *

I took my last drink on the Fourth of July---Independence Day. I joined Podunk's local AA meeting last Friday night and I've attended every day since then. I've already got a sponsor--- and she's a nurse, too. And she has 14 years of sobriety. I'm already earnestly working the assignments she gives me.

When I got to that first meeting I was so relieved----I hadn't realized how much I missed my AA meetings. Sadly, I realized what a dreadful mistake it had been to stop going to AA when I had moved to Podunk. I had been so frightened of "the whole town knowing I was an alcoholic".

But now I don't give a shit if anyone knows about it anymore. I want to live. I want to be sober. And I simply WILL NOT let this damnable disease beat me. I refuse to be a statistic. I will beat this monster if it takes every last damn ounce of strength I have.

And the fact that my family abandoned me isn't anything I'm going to worry about right now. I never could meet their expectations anyway, so this relieves me of a lot of pressure and anxiety I had been feeling for quite awhile. My first night at AA, the person chairing the meeting said: "We'll be your family now. You are home."

And so I begin again....thank you God.....

* * * * * *

Amazingly enough, the owners of my company didn't fire me, even though they sure had a damn good reason to and I wouldn't have blamed them a bit. And so I am grateful beyond words for that. I love working there with my good friends and I was relieved to be able to stay there. Their only stipulations are that I give them the phone number of my sponsor and also that I give them a key to my apartment so that they can get into there if I ever "hole up" again. But I told them that I don't intend to do it again.

Because I'd die for sure next time......

The first thing I did when I returned to work Monday morning was to send Belinda home to begin her maternity leave. She is almost full term and she looked tired as hell. The baby is due anytime now. I told her to turn over her schedule to me---and announced that I would be the field RN while she was on leave. She gratefully took me up on my offer.

One neat thing is that while I was gone, the owners finished training a new secretary and brought Jane-Anne up to par on being Office Manager. They had trained the two to do more of the office's daily paperwork, chores, and chart audits so that I won't be so overloaded with trying to manage the place and do mounds of paperwork while trying to train new employees or rookies at the same time. Now I will be able to mostly devote myself to seeing the patients along with Bonnie. What JOY!

When I told the new secretary that I would be taking over Belinda's route, that sweet little girl (who happens to be Belinda's cousin) brought me my week's worth of patient visits paperwork. She had painstakingly put together my whole week's schedule and had organized for me all the visit paperwork that I would need---day by day---including Post-It's stuck here and there to remind me what teachings or tasks needed to be performed for each visit.

I almost fainted. It was the nicest blessing I've ever had. And then she shyly told me that she would do it for me every week.

Lord knows that I don't deserve this.....

Thank you GOD......thank you thank you.....

* * * * * * * *

And so, stubbornly, and with a new resignation in my heart to beat the hideous beast called alcohol, I am on the road again.

I am once again riding the trusty Jeep on the roads, free as the wind.....seeing patients out in cattle ranch country, chicken farm country, and in horse pastures. It is almost like medicine for me. I have returned to visit my favorite cows and paint ponies. I have walked down to the ponds to see the turtles sunning themselves on rocks and the cranes swooping in for a landing. I have again been able to breathe in the pleasantly sultry air of Texas cattle country...

And I forgot to tell you.....

When I returned to my apartment that day with Bonnie---guess what was on the balcony in one of my hanging plants?

You guessed it----another nest---a THIRD ONE--- with four baby mockingbirds in it, cheeping away! They seemed about a week old, already getting feathers. And I couldn't resist taking more pictures.

But that got me into a little trouble. Because yesterday I went to a retirement home to see several patients, and they have a parakeet in the main lobby there. Thinking that I am now a bird "expert", and the dear little thing WAS singing in such a friendly way, I went over to its cage and stuck my finger in there, saying: "Pretty Birdie? Pretty Birdie?"

And the little asshole hopped right over to my finger and PECKED it.

I started arguing with that stupid bird, saying in a belligerant tone: "Peck ME will you?..." But I stopped when I noticed that the cleaning lady was nearby---and was looking at me like I was a lunatic.

Damn parakeet. Who does he think he is? I mean, I never minded getting pecked to death by a parent mockingbird protecting their babies. But a pissant PARAKEET?

I'm never going to call him a Pretty Birdie again.

* * * * *

A Note to my Readers:

Thank you, dear friends, I can never thank you enough for your notes of encouragement and support. I am grateful beyond words for your comments, kindness, and concern. I think of you daily, every day, and I am embarassed to death to disappoint you with this relapse. It was unprofessional of me and damn stupid, so very very stupid. I let you down. And I let my co-workers and patients down. I let everybody down. So I am going to do my best to work very earnestly to not allow this to ever happen again. I am going to follow the program of AA, beginning again at Step One, and try to again become a contributing member of society instead of an alcoholic hiding in a back room drinking alone in desperation and despair. Because there is a way out for me---and it has always been AA---and I'm going to take this chance that God gave me and run with it.

Again, thank you so much for your notes. I bawled my eyes out reading them because of your kindness. Words simply cannot express my gratitude. I don't know what to say except thank you--- from the bottom of my heart.



Thursday, July 12, 2007

End of Part One...


I said, Ahem, ladies and gentlemen?

This is your Message Goat speaking. I have an announcement to make regarding The Bohemian Road Nurse.

I will not mince words here and will state it simply:

Unfortunately, to her everlasting shame, Bo drank alcohol again--- for a ten day period of time.

Bo almost died this time. When she was taken to the Emergency Room, she was in shock, her blood pressure being 53/22. The doctors did not think she was going to make it. And thus, Belinda frantically found Bo's sister's number in her cell phone and called to notify the family.

Later, Bo's sister called back and stated that neither Bo's mother nor sister were concerned and would not be coming to the hospital. They stated: "Bo has done this before and we're tired of it."

But Bo did surprise the doctors by fighting to live--- and live she did. And after that, Bo's best friends in the whole world, Belinda and Bonnie, drove Bo to a treatment center to recover more fully.

I am told that, although weakened severely, Bo has stated that it is her intention to rise from the ashes and continue her battle with this terrible disease, a disease she has fought for so long in tandem with the depression which plagues her. She stated that she has "no idea why God allowed her to live" but that she is determined to find out.

Thus, Part One of Tales of the Bohemian Road Nurse has ended.

I will notify you when Part Two begins.

(Also, all comments which have not yet been published WILL be published as soon as possible. )

That is all from Your Message Goat at this time.