It all happened a few years ago. Blaine and I were still married and lived here, in the same duplex we live in now
I was working as a Road Nurse at the time and my territory was huge. I saw patients on both sides of the State Line--- the Missouri side and the Kansas side. Although I went to far, rural areas to see patients on corn plantations or other produce farms and ranches, I also saw patients in the "inner city" of Kansas & Missouri---which was (and still is) extremely dangerous "gang territory".
It was not uncommon for me to go to a house to see an elderly patient where criminal activity was going on. I would ignore it and go about my tasks quickly and quietly. Usually the criminal family members held great respect for nurses who would come to that dangerous area to help their mother or grandmother---because most Road Nurses refused to go to that area. In fact, in my Road Nurse company, there were only two of us who would go into gang territory--me and my buddy Janet.
The rules for gang territory were easy---you don't go any earlier than 10:00 or 11:00 am in the morning....and then you need to make sure you're out of there by around 2:00 pm. The reason for the peculiar timing was because those hours are when the gang members and criminals sleep, having been up all night doing their criminal activity.
Gang territory was so dangerous that the police told us Road Nurses that if we ever got into a vehicle accident in that part of town to NOT
get out and wait for the cops. They told us that instead of getting out of the car to assess the damage or exchange insurance information with the other driver, we were to simply drive to the nearest police station to report the accident--- and they would not cite us for leaving the scene of the accident.
It was dangerous to be a Road Nurse in gang territory. The gangs knew that we carried a lot of medical supplies in our vehicles---things like sterile syringes they could use for shooting up drugs....
As I mentioned above, there were only two of us at my Road Nurse company who would go to gang territory. My buddy, Janet and me. Both of us went into the inner city on a daily basis---and it was usually for wound care, managing bedsores on elderly bedbound patients. Or we went to perform wound care on diabetic ulcerations on patients' legs or feet. Sometimes we had to establish an IV to deliver medication to a patient. And we always had to teach the whole family about things which would promote better health, enable them to heal their wounds, prevent infection, how to prevent bedsores, and about diabetic diets, etc.
The patients we saw were usually heartbreakingly poverty stricken. And many of them were so helpless, they couldn't do housework--and so they lived in filth. It was not uncommon for a Road Nurse to be kneeling down on the ground to take care of a wound on a patient's foot and cockroaches would get onto her and start climbing up her legs---and if we were doing a sterile dressing change there wasn't anything we could do about the roaches until we finished the dressing---and only then could we brush the offending cockroaches off our legs. And because of the cockroaches, we Road Nurses fought to make our bandages so secure that the cockroaches couldn't get into them.
Sometimes our patients were the mother or grandmother of drug dealers. And so we Road Nurses, keeping our eyes low, went to the patient's room to perform the wound care while the drug dealers in the front room conducted their business--- either haggling with drug buyers over the price of the drugs, or else assessing the worth (in drugs) of whatever item a drug buyer had brought to exchange for the drugs.
And let me tell you, there all kinds of people who would come to the inner city to buy drugs. I saw doctors and lawyers in expensive suits coming to buy drugs alongside of gang thugs with no cash and were instead bringing things to barter for drugs; i.e. TV's, stereo systems, microwave ovens, or common household blenders to trade for drugs--- items which were usually stolen.
In the really dangerous areas of the inner city, the patient's family members would escort Janet or me from our vehicle to the inside of the home--- and they would guard our vehicle while we performed the visit. And then they'd escort us back to our vehicle to make sure we were safe. (And we appreciated that very much.)
There was nothing glamorous about being a Road Nurse in gang territory. Janet and me wore jeans with one or two cell phones clipped to our belts. And neither of us carried any sort of weapon. The police advised us to carry pepper spray but Janet and I never did.
I don't know what Janet did, but when I left the house in the morning to go on my rounds, I simply asked the Lord for a Guardian Angel to ride along with me. And, curiously, I think the Lord actually provided me one on a certain occasion.
It was a day when I had gotten out of my car to go into a tenement building to see an elderly woman patient. This tenement was deep in in a slum which was home to a certain gang known for its violence. When I got out of my vehicle I noticed a group of obvious gang thugs standing on a corner. I didn't pay them any mind. I just lugged my nursing bag up up the slightly hilly street towards the tenement.
I felt twinges of fear because I could see, out of the corner of my eye, that the men were looking at me, assessing me.... and I wondered what they were going to do. Whatever it was, I knew it would be bad. And so I said under my breath: "Lord? Didn't I ask you for a Guardian Angel? You know how dangerous this street is and if You don't do somthing I suspect I'll be pushing up daisies soon....."
And then it happened.
The group of thugs began walking towards me. Their facial expressions were such that I knew they were up to no good. Some of them leered at me with evil smiles on their faces. And I couldn't escape because they were between me and my vehicle. I knew I was toast. Desperate, I looked around to see if anybody was nearby so that I could shout for help. But the street was bare except for this group of men and me. Oh shit, I thought. There is nobody who will hear me scream.
And suddenly, a strange thing happened.
The group of men stopped short in their tracks .... and stared at me strangely. And then they began backing away.... slowly, hesitantly....and then they turned around and quickly walked out of the area completely. Relieved, but puzzled, I looked around to see who it was that caused the thugs to flee in fear. But there wasn't anybody around. Nobody that I could see.....
I've thought about it a lot since then, wondering what in the hell made that gang of thugs back off from me? I mean, they TOTALLY looked they were about to rob me....or worse---and they suddenly saw something which frightened them---but I couldn't see it.
Thus, to this day I suspect it was a Guardian Angel who stopped the punks from accosting me.
Anyway, I kept on seeing patients in the inner city. For some reason I was fearless. But poor Janet got "burnt out" with being a Road Nurse and resigned. I heard later that she was working as a veterinary assistant.
Where was I?
Oh yeah.....I was going to tell you about a certain kitten....
One day I was seeing two elderly patients, Mr. and Mrs. Townsend --- and they lived right smack in the heart of gang territory. They lived in a ramshackle house that had seen better days. But I loved these two patients. They were the kind of patients who'd always offer me gingersnaps and a cup of coffee. I frequently did chores for them when I visited---like take the trash outside to the curb for pickup on trash day.
Anyway, on this day I finished the visit, after having changed a wound dressing on Mr. Townsend's foot and I had also checked Mrs. Townsend's blood pressure. She was on a new medicine for hypertension and I was assessing her toleration of it.
When the visit was over, the Townsends did as they always do and walked out the front door with me. They would always stand on their front porch and wave goodbye when I drove away. But today Mrs. Townsend stopped me and pointed at a bush at the far end of their porch.
"A stray cat had a bunch of kittens in there,"
she told me, mournfully. "But I feel so sorry for them because they'll grow up strays... they'll become alley cats like their mother. It's sad because they're so cute and yet I don't think they'll last long in this neighborhood..."
I knew I shouldn't do it......I knew for dang sure I shouldn't do it....
But I did it.
I looked inside the bush...
And sure enough, there were 5 white kittens, some of them with black spots. It was very obvious that they were very young---probably no more than 3 weeks old. And they seemed so weak that they couldn't even mew.
And I didn't hesitate.
I snatched up the cutest one.
The Townsends looked jubilant. "Oh good!"
Mrs. Townsend cried happily. "We were hoping that we could find people willing to take care of them. If they stay out in the wild, especially in this neighborhood, they'll never get fed well enough, or they might get run over by a car-- and some will probably die."
"Don't worry, "
I assured them. "I'll take good care of this one."
"They sure are young, though,"
Mr. Townsend said. "I don't know how you're going to feed her. And she's probably covered with fleas."
Just then, the mailman came by. He was wearing a big smile as he came up the front walkway to hand some mail to the Townsends. He looked at the kitten in my arms and smiled. "Got yourself a kitty, did you?" he asked.
"I sure do!"
I replied. And then I said to the Townsends: "Thank you for the kitty! Anyway, I've got to now. I'll see you next week. Bye everybody!"
and I began walking down the pathway to the street.
And then I heard Mrs. Townsend's voice: "And if you know anybody else who'd like a kitten, let us know!"
I turned around and said: "Okay--I'll try!"
And then it happened.
Suddenly, gunfire shots rang out from a passing vehicle which, after making the shots, sped away.
The poor mailman hit the ground to avoid being in the pathway of the bullets, his mailbag opening and scattering enveloped mail all over the place. And the Townsends had fled into their house.
But I was frozen in fear. I couldn't move. And as I stood there, mortified, I saw two rings of smoke----the smoke rings which typically emerge from the barrels of a shotgun which has just been fired. And the rings of smoke floated by my head, wafting no more than 5 inches away from my head
When I came to my senses I realized that I had come very close to being a victim in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting. My head would have been blown to smithereens....
And I knew what the shooters were aiming at--- a house next door to the Townsends, a house which was a notorious drug house.
God they're crappy shots, I thought. "Hell, I could shoot better than any of those punks..."
But suddenly I just wanted to get back to my own neighborhood. I was trembling with fear at the thought that the gunshots had been so close to my head. So I stuffed the little kitten into my jacket pocket and ran for my vehicle.
And I sure as hell didn't want to be around when the drug dealers from the drug house next door emerged and start shooting in revenge for the drive-by shooting.
And so I jumped into my vehicle and sped the 12 miles to my own neighborhood.
(When I got home I almost kissed the ground.)
When I got home I held up the sweet kitten and thought I had better get her treated at a vererinarian. She was indeed full of fleas and she hadn't known what to do when I set her in front of a bowl of cream..
So I called a local vet and asked him if I could bring her in. He said yes and so I drove to his clinic. After he examined the kitten he shook his head slowly and told me that I'd have to de-flea her. And also that I would need to feed her with a syringe using specially made "mother's milk" for kittens, which he sold.
"You do realize that she was too young to be taken from her mother, don't you?"
the vet warned. "And she's extremely weak. So don't get your hopes up that she will live, because there's a risk that she may die."
I replied stubbornly. "I'm going to save her."
And so I bought both the mother's milk and some de-fleaing medicing.
Dejectedly, I drove home. I had a syringe in my supply bags in the back of my vehicle and I hurriedly retrieved one to try feeding the little bitty thing. She was no bigger than our DVD player's clicker, which was only 5 inches long. But with the syringe I was able to get some food into her.
When Blaine came home and saw the kitten he wasn't too thrilled. "Dammit, Bo, she's covered in fleas. And you didn't even ask me what my opinion was about adopting a stray cat's kitten."
"But she was living in a BUSH in gang territory!"
I retorted. "I couldn't just leave her! She's so weak from hunger that she probably would have died in a few days---or fell victim to a predator, like a night owl or something."
After Blain sighed heavily, he asked simply: "Okay, Bo. What's her name?"
After thinking for a minute or two I had it.
"I'm going to call her Little Baby,"