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.




net said...

Atta girl!


Anonymous said...

You go, Girl!

Hugs to you.

Lisa said...

We are your family too!

Call on us when ever you need us!

Anonymous said...

good thoughts and hugs are always coming your way from podunk michigan.

Anonymous said...

Bo - you've kicked yourself in the butt enough now. You may stop apologizing. You are only human, like the rest of us - a litle bit perfect and a little bit IMperfect.
One day at a time, okay?

Anonymous said...

Welcome back to sobriety! My enemy was scotch, 21 years ago last February. You can do this, no matter what troubles come up in the future.

tottergirl said...

Our hugs and prayers are still around you. Yippy for the new mocking bird babies!!!!
Don't take any guff from dumb parakeets and DON'T stop going to AA. Or some of us out here will have to come there and kick your behind. You really dodged a bullet, don't do it again. Ya hear me?

mielikki said...

Yay! Your back! Good to read you, again!

Anonymous said...

WELCOME back Bo!!
You keep working that program and you ARE a contributing member of society and for crying out loud you have a disease. Quit being so hard on yourself.
Your pictures of the birds are wonderful. You have quite a gift.
You go girl!

may said...

glad to see you back in the swing of things...warm thoughts still going your way:)

Lin said...

Welcome home, girl, welcome. You disappointed no one here a'tall. We are just glad you're feeling better. As Willie says: "On the road again."

{{{{{{{BIG HUGS,BO}}}}}}}

Taueret said...

yay! seeing this post made my day, made my week. Please take care of yourself. In other news, I was telling my kids about your mockingbirds and my husband suggested you put out a nesting box (birdhouse?) to help keep the babies safe from owls etc?

Anonymous said...

People aren't disappointed in you. It's a relief that you're doing better. Your internet family loves you!
Hugs and prayers

Cyndy said...

Out of the fire she steps; Our golden girl ;0). A little dented, but she still has that special glow.

In some ways you are lucky Bo. You know more about yourself than most of us can ever hope to in our lifetime. We keep asking and stumbling and wondering about the world and our place in it.

Here's hoping that your birdies make it Bo. Pissant parakeet..... It's great to know that our oldies are safe from him now that he's caged.... Could you imagine the kerfuffle if he pecks one of them????? All that paperwork....... ANd parakeet pie, I'll bet....

Love to you Bo. And keep up the good work. And beat yourself a little less, ok?

Unknown said...

I'm so glad you are back!!! You go girl!!! Big hugs hun!! <3 We all fall down, it is just getting back up again that's the hard part and you have certainly started to get up again! Love ya hun!!

Brewgal said...

Welcome back!

Anonymous said...

I should probably read all the better put comments, but...

If you had diabetes, would you be embarrassed because you about died of insulin shock? How many patients have you had who had horrible diseases and refused to quit smoking, or eating sugar or what have you.

So here is the deal...Lots of people are drinkers that just haven't been caught or convicted yet. Lots more are holed up in their apartments and die there. Working at a law office, I could tell you stories. Many have done worse things than hit on a doctor or nurse under anesthesia (I apparently cused at a doctor when I was learning to walk because he was stitching my head - my mother was mortified).

You haven't done nearly the embarrassing things the other future AA attendee has done, and here is the kicker. I firmly believe that when we get to heaven, our illnesses are healed and God remembers the good things we have done, saving mockingbirds, patients, what ever.

Okay, last thing before I get down from the soapbox... It takes GUTS to admit you had done this in the first place on your blog. You could have told your readers you were on a great vacation to Hawaii and didn't have your computer available and most of us wouldn't have known the difference, so even if we aren't at an AA meeting with you, or there to snatch some of your family bald, we love you anyway. As does your company and your coworkers and now maybe they will realize some of their actions haven't helped the situation and your working environment will improve.

Lisa H

Warrior Knitter said...

Oh, Bo. I know it's impossible to believe sometimes but God never ever leaves us out there in the cold. One of my favorite stories is the Footprints story, the last parapraph in particular, "My precious, precious child, I love you and would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."

No one can do this thing called Life alone. Not me and not even you, brave and wonderful and caring as you are. We'll all in together and it's up to us to help each other and comfort one another.


Enoreios said...

I'm running late for an appointment, but I glanced at my RSS feeds as I picked up my keys from my desk... And I saw that you'd posted. And I just had to read it before I left even if it means being late.

Gotta run, but I want you to know that reading you post made my day!

Anonymous said...

Youe plant still needs water!

Anonymous said...

And we'll be here, with you, every step of the way of that fight, hon, as long as you'll let us!

Anonymous said...

You talk about being ashamed, embarrassed, mortified.

Last month, I spend 3 weeks in partial hospitalization. I completely lost my shit--I have bipolar disorder, and my symptoms were out of control due to the recent deaths in my family and friends. I'm not ashamed of going to partial--but I am keeping it a very close secret. No one at work knows except for my boss--however, one of the patient's mother worked at my hospital, and knew who I was. Another patient works in the gift shop at my hospital. So there's potential for this to get out--and of that, I'm ashamed. I'm worried about people not trusting me.
However, you and I both need to remember that 1, this is our personal business. My answer to the question, "where have you been?" has become, "Dealing with personal stuff." That's all they need to know. Yes, I know that living in a small town, everyone knows your business, but you have the choice to not talk about it. 2, remember that it's a disease, not a weakness. Should someone insist on talking about it, or putting you down for it, make that your answer. You have an illness, and you sought treatment for it.

I know this is long and rambling, but basically, what I'm saying is: I feel you. I know what you're saying. I support you.

Anonymous said...

Remember, you are not alone...many others are walking with you....and we all stumble at times, and fall at's all about getting up and trying again, one day at a time...just one foot in front of the other, and listen to your sponsor and your group and can do it!

girlvet said...

Yeah she's back and there are more birds! Life is good

Anonymous said...

It is great to see you back!!

I don't have any magic words of advice, just profound respect and admiration for your strength and resolve.

poody said...

Oh Bo, I am so glad to "hear" you are doing better. You didn't dissappoint me in the least! I was just worried sick about you though! I so wish I was there to hug your neck!Ans as far as beiing stupid,welcome to my world! I always say it is ok to do something stupid just make sure it's not the same stupid thing over again. Hindsight is 20/20 girl don't we all know it! You are a great person and if we lived close to one another I would like to think we could be fast friends as well. (((HUGS))) As for the small minded people in Podunk F*** 'em!Now, if that ain't great advice then I don't know what is! Loe ya loads! P.S.You are always welcome at my house. We got yarn here too ya know!

Anonymous said...

Welcome back. And a few comments - up to you to decide it they apply.

You write: "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."

NO - you did not let us down. You let yourself down, but not us. We've all been down and up ourselves, and although we worry about you and are rooting for you, your behaviour is your choice and your responsibility is to you, not to us. Hope that came out like I meant it.

Second, a lot of us have two families. One is our biological family, over which the membership we have no control (And believe me, with some of my relatives, if they weren't kin, I wouldn't want to know them). The other is our family-by-choice, and that is the important one. I call some people sisters-of-my-heart. They are closer to me than my biological sister. That family has extended immensely with the web, and some of my e-sisters I will never meet, but I care deeply for them. Hopefully a lot of us out here are members of your family-by-choice.

Finally, the offer stands for yarn. I can't give you a real hug or a cup of tea, but I could send you some sock yarn if you could use it. E-mail left on previous post or search socknitters for banphriosa.

E-hugs to you, aj

My Own Woman said...

What a brave post! I wonder how many other alcoholics you have helped by this post alone. What an inspiration to post something so open and honest. The shame you speak of would have been if you stayed on the ground; but you chose to get up, dust yourself off and renew yourself towards a positive direction. My prayers will be with you.

Anonymous said...

Glad to have you back, Bo. (:

Anonymous said...

Yeeee haw!
You go girl!
Love you - and sending lots of hugs at ya!!! (better not see you duckin' them!)

Katherine said...

Welcome back! My thought and prayers are with you. You have family out here in blog-land, and we believe in you! Hold you head up high and be proud of your accomplishments.

Mother Jones RN said...

Sending good thoughts your way.


Anonymous said...

You fell off the wagon but the important thing is you got back on.

You got too low, drank too much and nearly killed your self. But you’re not dead and you didn't harm anyone else. In the realm of terrible things a person can do I give that a weak 3 or 4.

It sounds like some people let you down, but many more were very supportive and helpful.

Shame on people who work in ER's and are judgmental and/or mention information they are privileged to hear. It is their shame not yours.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Parakeet technically don't peck, they bite, due the shape of their beaks.

Also, if you had ever had a pet parakeet, you should know they are almost all bastards who bite people.

yorlor said...

been a while since i've checked in on your tales of life in podunk. makes my heart glow when i read you. keep at it.
want to say that you're among the bravest women i know for getting back up on that horse and riding free and clear, again. keep on, girl friend.