Tag Archives: Rehabilitation

Chapter 1 – Part 3-Destination Unknown-18 yrs old, and she feels suicide is her only option…

It was all a blur. In the ambulance, I was terrified. They hooked her up to the heart rate monitor, and there was barely a pulse. They were pushing and prodding, probing, and tubing. It was one of the most intense situations I have ever been in. I may see someone die in my presence. Do I pray? I haven’t prayed in years.

We enter the ER drive-up for the ambulance, and I jump out. The EMT’s are racing against time to get her to a surgeon. They are almost positive there is internal bleeding, and she is not doing good at all. I am scared for the girl. We have no way of knowing who she is. Not yet anyway. They cut off her clothes and asked me to check her pockets in the ambulance. There was a gas receipt, $3.53 in money, a post-it with a phone number, and a bar tab receipt. She did wreak of alcohol, but I failed to notice among the chaos.

Nurses are asking me all kinds of questions I don’t know the answers to. I don’t even know why I’m here. I don’t know her, I did my civil duty, yet I can’t leave until I hear an update. I feel like her destiny is either going to reward my good deed, or make me feel like I didn’t do enough. Either way, I need to know.

The Dr. came out and said “She isn’t out of the woods yet. She had no internal bleeding, so she should be ok. She is stabilized and her leg was dislocated at the hip and the knee.” I wasn’t sure how to feel. I felt awful that this girl went through something so tragic, and we don’t even know her name. At least if someone knows your name, you have a better chance of being remembered. Devastating. My stomach is churning. I told the Dr. “thank you”, and he walked away.

I just sat there. In the waiting room. Waiting.She is in ICU and since I am not family I can’t go see my Jane Doe.

I fell asleep in the waiting room. Later I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was a nurse waking me up to tell me “she is asking for the person who saved her life. You are the only one here”. I jumped up and asked for a restroom. I needed to wash my face real quick, as to not make her any more uncomfortable than she already is. The nurse leads me down the hallway, passing all of the rooms of existing patients. I hate that part of being in a hospital. I really shouldn’t be privy to the most private thing about people; their health. Or lack there of.

I’m ready to face her. I feel nervous, but I’m not sure why. The nurse leads me to her room and opens the door. She is hooked up on every available piece of skin, with every available piece of machinery. I’m not sure if her blood is really pumping by itself, or what. She’s injured, and bruised, but beautiful. In the most devastating way. She looks hopeless. Her eyes lack expression, and her face cannot show true emotion due to the morphine. I walk in and say “Well, hello there. You sure clean up nice.” She barely smiles, and reaches for my hand. I grab her hand and she grips it with all her strength. She doesn’t say a word, she just lets the tears run down her face silently without any other emotions. Broke my heart. I cried too.

Her leg is in a sling hanging above her bed. They realigned it but it just needs to heal. Almost every tendon is ripped and rebuilding is in the process. Her scapula was broken, and her dreams shattered. She hasn’t spoken a word, she is still holding my hand, so I ask her “what is your name?” She mutters something but I can barely understand her, much less hear her. She is drugged up so much trying to fight off the anesthesia and the morphine at once.

Her hair is red, not naturally, but pretty. She has green eyes. Part of her face is bandaged so I can’t really figure out the rest of her features. She is still gripping my hand. Almost as if she knew me. She falls asleep. Peacefully this time.

A nurse came in to check on her so I asked her if they were able to get her name yet. She said yes, and looked at her chart. Her name is Abby. She had no I.D. on her at the time, so they didn’t know until she told them. Funny, to me, she doesn’t look like an “Abby” from what I can see.

I sit in the chair they have placed next to her bed for me. I am exhausted. I just wanted to sit for a minute, then go home, but I fell asleep as soon as my muscles relaxed. I woke the next morning when the nurse brought in Abby’s breakfast. She is sitting slightly upright, her leg is out of the sling, while she is awake, and she seems to be awake, aware, and hungry. This is a good sign.

She speaks immediately saying “Good morning.” I replied with the same, and then there was a pause like we were waiting for each other to go first. She stated “Thank you for saving my life. It seems to be a trend with you.” I was puzzled by this. I asked “What do you mean?” She replied “You saved my life before. I know I look different, because I dyed my hair, and I am a little thinner than before. I told the hospital my name is Abby because I was scared. I didn’t want anyone to know who I was. I told the Dr. this morning my real name. It’s me, Rachel.” I squinted my eyes and dropped my head like I was trying to focus on something a mile away. I was so shocked. I couldn’t believe she was in my life….again. Someone or something beyond us definitely has a hand in this.

A little thinner was putting it mildly. She was half the size of when I saw her that night. Her face was sunk in, and her skin, almost translucent. As I was struggling with my disbelief of who she was, she continued to tell me “I have had two children. One boy and one girl. I’m a meth addict now, though, and I asked my family for help, but I didn’t get any. I am going to school, but I’m not getting anywhere. I am failing now, because every night I go, I always stop a friends and get drunk on the way home  before going home to my kids. By the time I get to my grandmas, she watches them for me while I’m in school, they are in bed. I haven’t even gone to the last few classes. I just told my grandma I was going so  I could go drink. I get drunk every other night while getting hyped up on meth when I get my hands on it. My life is in a downward spiral. This was no accident. It was my failed attempt at suicide. I don’t know what to do. I mean, look at my life right now. I almost died in a car wreck, and you, of all people, are the only one here. Where is my family? They have been called. They know I’m here.”

Poor, poor girl. From the moment she came into my life, to now, has been nothing but a battle for her. She doesn’t even have the will to live. How can someone pull out of that with no support. I’m at a loss. I don’t know what to say. Thankfully, or not, her grandmother finally arrives. She walks into the room, and looks at me, then at Rachel. She walks over to Rachel and said “Well I hope you learned your lesson.” I wanted to slap her. No hug. No words of love, or concern. “The Dr.’s say she will be fine. Glad you are here for her”, I said. The woman was ruthless. “If I had any questions about her health, I would ask her. Thank you for the update” she scowled. I wanted to hit her. I was thinking she should have asked her about her health years ago. Mental and physical. She asked for a few minutes alone with Rachel. I hesitated, but I had no right to say no.

When I saw her leave I went back in the room. Rachel was crying. Her grandmother really laid into her making her feel bad. I asked Rachel if she knew about her suicide attempt. Rachel said no. She was afraid to tell her.

A Dr. entered her room and picked up her chart and asked “How are you feeling?” She replied tired, and in some pain. He ordered more pain meds and put her leg back up in the sling for the rest of the day. Right before he left, he said she should be able to go home in a couple days. “Do I have to go home that soon? Can I stay a little longer? I don’t want to hurt my leg any worse than it already is” she begged. I knew it wasn’t because of her leg. She just didn’t want to go home. The Dr. replied “We’ll see how it goes.” He left.

The nurse has already given Rachel more pain meds and she is starting to doze off. I told her I was leaving and would come back tomorrow to visit. She said ok and went to sleep. I waited until I knew she was asleep and left my number by the phone with a note to call me if she needed to before I came back.

Well, I missed my appointment, again.  I better call them, but not now. I would usually take the bus home, but I’m tired and just not in the mood to deal with other people right now. I call a cab. It takes about 15 minutes for the cab to get there. My head is pounding and I’m feeling pain in my legs. Must be from all the excitement and trying to get Rachel out of the car. My stomach is feeling queasy and all I want to do is lay down. I get in the cab, tell him my address, and we pull off. He asked “Rough night?” I replied with “To say the least.” My apartment is not that far from the hospital. I don’t know if the cab driver thought I was the sick one, or what, but for some reason he didn’t charge me for the ride. I tried to give him money, but he refused and said “This one’s on me. Pay it forward.” He smiled, and pulled away as I waved and thanked him.

As I walk up to my apartment, I hear a whimper in the bushes right out front. I look in the bushes and see a kitten. Her eyes are swollen, and she is covered in fleas. I used to have a cat, but she got hit by a car. I hesitate to do anything other than call animal control. I am just so fatigued at this point. I try to walk away and think I will call them from inside. Just as I opened the door, I hear the whimper again, and can’t resist trying to help. After all, I am supposed to pay it forward, right?

I pick her up. Her fur is matted, and she is frail. She purrs as I pick her up, but she is definitely injured. She is no more than 2 or 3 months old. She can’t walk, and she is shaking. I use my sweater to wrap her up in, and take her inside. I still have all my toys, food, and meds for my cat that died. I giver her a flea bath, feed her some food, and give her some water. I will take her to the pound tomorrow. After she eats, her and I fall asleep soundly on the couch.

I don’t wake until later that evening. I have completely messed up my sleeping schedule now, but I feel much better than earlier. I check my cell phone, and there are no missed calls. I hope this means Rachel was able to rest too. I wish I could help her. This girl has haunted my heart ever since I met her. I didn’t even get to tell her I met her mother. I wanted to find out how all of that panned out. I will ask her next time I see her.

Suddenly, I hear screaming coming from the upstairs apartment. I hear a man and his wife or girlfriend fighting. He is yelling at her telling her she is a stupid whore, and that she is worthless. She just cries. Next thing I know, I hear shattered glass, slamming doors, running, her screaming, and then BANG! A gunshot. I hear more running, and then nothing. I call the police.

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The Beginning-An Appointment in the City

 It’s 5am and my appointment is at 8am. Bus 9 is right before bus 22, which is the one I need. It is always running late. It’s been raining all night, and the streets are now nothing but reflections of the day’s chaos. The wind is atrocious at times. I have a stall to wait in, but it only blocks so much. My heavy rain coat with the wool lining is performing wonderfully under pressure as the temperature has only come up to 40 degrees so far. My coffee is keeping my hands from turning into icicles, and my boots are insulating my walkers.  I am not comfortable but I am not unfortunate either. I would usually read right about now, but it is too damp and the pages would soak. I look around as the rain lightens up a bit to a mild drizzle. Across the way under a sheltering tree is a young girl. I can’t see her face, but if she were to look up I would never know she was crying. She has blonde hair that doesn’t seem to be brushed. Her blouse is thin and wet, barely covering her shivering torso. She has pulled her knees up and is holding them close to her body, letting me in on her shame. Not a day older than 16, she has just  fought the battle even an older woman couldn’t walk away from unscathed. I grab my umbrella out of my satchel and decided to find out her name. I walk over to her and lightly rest my hand on her shoulder. She flinches abruptly and shouts out for help. I wasn’t sure how to react, but she quickly settled that issue when she stood up and said “please help me…I’ve been raped”. “My name is Natalie” I reply, and I took her over to the bus stop shelter…..

Chapter1 – Part 1-Waiting in the Rain – a story of a young girl whose world was ripped apart one button at a time….

I reach for my cell phone in my pocket to call the police. I give her my coat.  I ask for her name, and she replied  “Rachel, but please don’t call the police” while trying to talk in between her pleading cries. I gasped from surprise, and told her they would be able to help her and take her to the hospital. She pleaded for me to rescue her however I could, but restricted me to no outside sources. I wanted to phone her parents but for some reason, she didn’t want anyone to know. Rachel. Rachel who? Who was this girl and who did this to her? Why can’t Rachel call her father to come whisk her away in his arms making her feel like it will all be ok? Why is it her mother wouldn’t be the first person she would reach to when she has been pillaged of her soul by a demon in the alley? Why would Rachel feel more secure getting help from a stranger and not from the people who are supposed to protect her? I am troubled and filled with angst. I call the Dr. and cancel my appointment. It is just an annual physical anyway.

Bus 22 pulls up, but I had to make a decision. Do I take her on the bus and take her to the police station downtown? Do I betray her trust that she barely has for me when she can’t trust anyone else? My apartment is only a few blocks away. The street is filled with honking horns and the sun is starting to come up. Everyone will see her like this. I grab her hand, pick up the umbrella and briskly walk her to my apartment. The rain has picked up again. Perfect timing.

My apartment is humble. I don’t like too much clutter, and I can’t really afford it in the first place. Lately I have just been too tired to do much with decor. Rachel is hesitant to step in as she is covered in mud and dirt. Her shirt, barely there, is trashed. She managed to get her pants back from where the perpetrator threw them aside in a puddle, tossing the only shred left of her self esteem with them. With one shoe missing, Rachel’s foot is bleeding from running across the pavement. The other shoe barely on as she had to use the shoelace to hold her jeans up. He ripped off the button when he tore into the denim.  I explain it is ok to come in, and guide her to the bathroom. I start the bath and removed the rugs so she can undress and not have to worry about how I would feel if she soiled them. We need to bag up the clothes she has left for the police when she finally decides to report the rape. I explain that she needs to also try to wipe her vagina to get any DNA that may be left behind. Rachel looked at me like I just asked her to jump off a bridge, but I explained it would be the only way to punish whoever did this to her if she went through with contacting the authorities. My paper bag collection on the side of the refrigerator now has a purpose and my sandwich size baggies should preserve the DNA sample good enough for now. I give her the bags, a towel, and show her all the toiletries she can use while she is trying to scrub the filth from her body. Remembering her missing wardrobe, I grab a pair of old, but comfy, pair of grey sweats, a v-neck plain white t-shirt, a dark blue hoodie that is missing the draw string for the hood and has a corner ripping on the pocket. I gave her things I didn’t mind losing. Shutting the door behind me was a switch turning on her flow of tears. I hear her fall to the floor and just cry. And cry. She did this for an hour before finally embracing the steaming hot water in the shower.

Hearing her in there tore me apart. Poor child of God. Precious innocence stolen from her. I’m pissed . My heart beat is extreme, and my adrenaline is starting to make me tremble. I have been thinking about her resistance to help from everyone in her life. The troubles start building in my mind as I try to figure Rachel out. I need to think. What am I going to do with her? What is she going to do when she gets out of the shower? Is she going to want to stay? I want to help her but she is some one’s daughter. I need to call the police. I am hoping we can do it together. Maybe she will be ready after the hours of trying to erase the images from her brain with soap and a washcloth. Yeah, that sounds plausible. This is almost too much for me. I run into different people all the time, all with their own individuality, and cultural disparities. I have encountered mental disabilities, physical disabilities, or just broken down homeless people who aimlessly wander the nights with no fears or even recollection. None of them have ever brought me to a place where I start to question my purpose, my reason for being here. Rachel. Rachel who?

The bathroom door slowly opens as the steam rolls out releasing the turmoil that was just spilled out inside for two and half hours. Rachel grabs the bag off the toilet after hanging her towel on the shower curtain bar to dry. Her hair wet, but combed, hangs just to her shoulders. Her eyes are red from crying, cheeks swollen, and one eye blackened from the weak attempt to knock her unconscious.  Now what? She stands waiting for direction as she lifts the bag to me. I made sure all her belongings were in there. The now button-less blouse with one sleeve ripped off completely, her jeans with a shoelace belt, her one tennis shoe, and the baggie with the only weapon she has to defend against this monster in court. No bra. No panties. I took the bag over by the front door. “Are you hungry or thirsty?” I ask. Without a voice, she says no. “Then we need to talk about this. Are you ok with that?” I said, walking slowly over to her for guidance to the couch.

It was approximately 5:15am when I first saw Rachel. It is now 8:42am. Rachel decided she can walk me through the nightmare that happened about 11 hours earlier. Yes, just after 930pm the previous night was when it happened. She was alone, scared, withered, beaten, bruised, raped, and just plain destroyed for all that time, in the bitter cold and rain, and didn’t feel a thing.

Rachel had  a curfew of 9pm that she hardly ever followed. The knight I pictured as her father was a “functioning” alcoholic and drug abuser. The guardian angel I saw as her mother was the exact opposite, following the general stereotype of a wicked step mother. Rachel’s step mom had a heavy hand and a weak heart. She took that out on Rachel often, I’ve learned.  I was enlightened now a little more than before, but I still didn’t understand why it would be so hard to call on them for help if Rachel was truly in trouble. I can’t imagine not being able to count on your parents for something like this.  Rachel then started to paint a picture I wish I had never seen. “If I don’t make it home by curfew, my dad says to not come home at all. I thought he was joking the first time he said it. So one night I was late by 5 minutes and he wouldn’t let me in the door. I called a friend and stayed with her for the night” she explained. “Last night I was already late by half an hour when I realized what time it was. I was already halfway home, but knew I’d never make it through the door. There is an alley not too far from our apartment and I knew I could sleep in a doorway for the night. I don’t own a cell phone. I am only 16 and now I just want to die” as she started to jump from subject to subject, bawling silently due to the gut wrenching facts of the night. Tears are now flowing slowly down her face. Rachel has experienced so much pain, but this is different. This is hopelessness bound by neglect. This is abandonment, at the least. “You don’t have to go through the details with me Rachel, but you need to talk to someone who can help you whether your parents will or not. Please let me call the police. I will ask for a female officer to come here instead of us going to a station. Can we do that? At least tell them what happened. That man is still out there and he could be preying on another girl right now. We’ll hear what the officer has to say and then we’ll decide what to do. Is that fair?” I asked, hoping she would agree to the compromise. Like she hasn’t compromised enough. Thankfully she agreed.

Two officers showed up at my door in lest than 15 minutes. One female, and one male. The woman was older, maybe 45 or 50 and was from the Child Rape and Abuse unit. Her partner, a young spry kid, no older than 25 was a little too energetic but ready to solve the case. The female officer introduced herself as Maggie. “Officer Mureau, but please call me Maggie” she said to Rachel as she holds out her hand to make her introduction with a handshake. Rachel doesn’t move other than to look up and say “hi”. “This is Officer McIntyre, my partner, but you can call him Jim” Maggie explained. Jim just held up his hand as to wave and said hello to Rachel. I offered a seat to the officers and went to put on water for tea. I live in a one bedroom apartment and there is a breakfast bar to my kitchen which allows me to see through to the living room from the kitchen sink. I still felt like I was doing something wrong by leaving Rachel in there by herself, but it was only for a second. By the time I returned to the couch, Rachel was in mid memory. The pain on her face, fear in her voice, and the crawling of her skin shattered me. I listened to the foul details of the penetrating disgust this man laid on her. Rachel described him as a tall male, smelled of liquor and wore a knitted ski mask to hide behind. Maggie asked if she could see whether he was black or white, or another ethnicity. Rachel shook her head no and looked ashamed. Maggie reassured her that it would be ok and told Rachel to take her time.  “Do you remember any specific smells, or tattoos maybe?” Maggie asked, hoping Rachel could give a little more detail. After thinking for a few minutes, Rachel responded with “I remember his breath smelled like a spice my grandma uses to cook with ham”. We all looked puzzled by this, trying to figure out what that could be. After asking Rachel a few more questions regarding the smell, Maggie rattled off brown sugar, and butter for a glaze, but that wasn’t it. We all looked around still trying to come up with the impossible. I made everyone jump when I busted out with “Cloves!” That was it. We concluded the man smoked Clove cigarettes, or maybe a cigar. It was a start.

An hour and half has passed now. We all have had some tea, and a very rocky conversation. This was the most uncomfortable situation for me, but I was glad I could help. The officers grabbed the bag for evidence, and looked inside making sure they had what they needed. Rachel allowed them to call her parents, but there was no answer. “We need to take you with us, Rachel. I know you don’t want to go, but you should go to the hospital. I want to be sure you aren’t hurt or that he didn’t have a disease of some sort”. Rachel refused the visit to the emergency room. The officers would have to take her anyway. Rachel’s parents would have the ultimate say-so but they aren’t here, and can’t be reached.  They take Rachel only to be probed and prodded all over again by more strangers in the ER. Before she walks through the door, she pauses, turns around, and throws her arms around me. She quivered a whisper and said “thank you.”

A week has passed. I think of Rachel often. With everything that happened I never thought to see if I could check in on her. I called Maggie but it was an ongoing investigation and I couldn’t have much to do with it. I think of the bus stop. The place where I saw a young girl with no where to go after an event that made death sound pleasant. I hope she’s ok.

Two weeks have gone by now, and I still can’t erase Rachel from my mind. There is still a blood stain on my carpet from her lacerated foot. The phone rings. It’s Maggie. “I have someone here who would like to talk to you” she says with excitement and puts Rachel on the phone. “Hi Natalie” Rachel said, with much more cheer in her voice than before. She sounded good, and almost happy. “Rachel! I am so glad you called. How are you?” I asked, not really sure if I wanted to know the answer. “I just want you to know that when you found me I was contemplating jumping out in front of the next fast vehicle that drove by. I wanted to die. My life has not been textbook by any means, but I am smart and now can see my future because of you. Maggie had social services take me out of my house. I am now in a foster home. There are 6 of us there, but the house is nice, the foster parents are fun, and I just had my first full night of sleep last night. I don’t know where this road is leading me but I finally feel like I am moving forward instead of one step at a time into a grave. Thank you Natalie. You changed my life” she revealed. Rachel was not the battered child under a tree that I knew. She was a grown up 16 year old with hope in her heart, strength in her voice, and passion in her future. I can’t have Rachel’s phone number, but she knows if she ever needed to just talk, she could call me. I hope she does.

I need to go to the store. I have hardly any groceries. I find my bus route guide and head back out to the stop. Bus 22 is here and I’m on my way to the city again. I need to make a transfer at Wilcox Blvd. I will have to wait an extra half hour for bus 19. I don’t really like that stop. I never see a smile there. It’s a dirty neighborhood that has been torn down by each generation and their digression in society. The hood, they call it. I’m not afraid to be there, just a little disgusted. There is only one other person on the bus and he is sitting in the back. I stayed up front close to the bus driver. It is warm out, enough to wear shorts. My flip flops are thinned from wearing them so much, and my shirt is a little faded from all the washing. I don’t dress up much. I need to blend in.

We arrive at the Wilcox stop. I get off the bus, and go over to the bench where a woman sits with a picture in her hand. She looks over at me and says “this is my little girl”. I told her she was pretty and she said “I’m sure she is. I haven’t seen her since she was 11. She is now 17. She just had a baby and I get to meet my grandson for the first time. It has been 11 years. Do you think she will still know me?” she begged, looking for support. Who is this lady and why does she think I will have any insight on her life? I told her I didn’t know but to stay positive. I kept it short for a reason. I really didn’t feel like talking. I had a migraine,which I had been getting a lot of lately. “My name is Glinda. What’s yours?” she asked. “Natalie. Nice to meet you” I replied, but I don’t reach for a proper handshake. I pretend my hands are too full with my sweater and bag. I turn my head to look as if I’m looking for the bus. “Are you waiting for the 19?” she asked. I said yes. “Oh, don’t you know? That bus is cancelled today. The next one going that way is the 6. It won’t be here for another hour, though” she explained. Well this is just fantastic. Glinda proceeded to confess her story of how she abandoned her daughter to find God as a cocaine addict and alcoholic. Intriguing. Who ever does that? Who admits their unforgivable faults, much less to a stranger at a bus stop? An hour huh? Guess I will be entertained during the wait…