Monday Night in the Emergency Room

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I remember being in the local Hospital Emergency Room with my elderly mother almost a decade ago. A couple of those visits were on a Saturday night and that was when the patients provided the biggest show in town. Drunks shouted for attention and those high on drugs often had to wait in the halls. Patients with severe mental illnesses hallucinated and argued loudly with long-dead parents.

There were always two or three beefy cops guarding someone who had run afoul of the law. I watched the police swagger back and forth while I stared at their guns and felt less safe than secure.

 

Almost a week after my knee replacement surgery, I was ordered by my surgeon to go to the Emergency Room. The physical therapist who came to my home to begin rehabilitation noticed I was short of breath; I needed a quick gasp after speaking only three or four words. The surgeon thought a pulmonary embolism was a possibility. So I stayed in the Hospital Emergency waiting room, this time as a patient.

Maury and I sat there for three-and-a-half hours before there was space in the actual Emergency Room. One medical technician stated that that while Saturday night might have the most drama, it was Monday night that was the most crowded.

During that time, I was able to observe antics, suffering and goings-on in the space where people waited, hoping to be seen by a doctor. A heavy-set older man was trapped in a wheelchair. I could see that a rash covered his swollen, lower legs, as he wore shorts. A cotton blanket partially wrapped around him for warmth in the frigid air-conditioning had become tangled in the foot supports, so he couldn’t stand up or move out of the wheelchair. He grew angrier and angrier at the long wait, calling out to the medical personnel behind the counter in front of the waiting room. No one helped him and he had no friend with him to assist. A few women, sitting behind the counter listlessly answered that they couldn’t help him and eventually one woman, tired of his plaintive calls, said she’d call for help from someone in the Emergency Room itself, so he could move the twenty feet or so to the bathroom. But no one came.

I also called out to those behind the counter stating that the man needed help. No one responded. No explanation was given why they couldn’t help him. Perhaps some regulation prohibited them from leaving the desk, but if that was the case, why didn’t they say so? The insult and inhumanity towards him seemed heartless and unforgiveable. With my recent surgery, limited mobility and walker, I was unable to help.

All charged up, the man seemed even more incensed and frustrated. With assistance from Maury, he removed the tangled blanket, stood up and stomped to the bathroom, his face red with fury.

Just as this drama quieted down, a child entered the ER waiting room. A boy, who appeared to be about eleven or twelve, with shoulder-length light-brown hair, pushed a wheelchair in front of him. All his attention was focused on licking a treat – perhaps a Popsicle.

The woman in the wheelchair, who looked to be in her sixties, was curled up in a fetal position. Thin and pale, she whimpered fearful sounds. The boy stood there by the hospital sign, not paying her any particular attention. He acted as if being in charge of a woman in a wheelchair was nothing out of the ordinary.

The sign where they stood announced that they should wait at that spot until the authorities invited them to step up to the counter, to check in. The boy made no signal to indicate he wanted help and no one spoke to him. He focused solely on his snack.

I stared at the two of them, riveted by what was going on, amazed that no one in authority saw a child and what appeared to be a noticeably disturbed woman.

Again, unable to keep quiet, I called out to the women behind the counter. “There are people waiting here who need your help.”

A woman looked up and with her hand, motioned them to move to the counter. I couldn’t hear what words were exchanged, but nobody seemed to be distressed that a minor was taking care of an adult woman. Perhaps they had seen her before. Maybe they knew she was seriously mentally ill. I could only guess.

Someone finally put a hospital bracelet on the woman’s painfully thin wrist. I was shocked to hear her give her birthday as 1971.They found a chair for the boy to sit. Next to him, the woman in the wheelchair, coiled up even tighter in a ball, hiding from life, from everyone there.

I never found out if the boy was her son or anything about her. The authorities seemed to treat them as business-as-usual. Perhaps they were frequent visitors to the Emergency Room. But who took care of the boy? She was in no condition to do so. I worried about them then, and still do.

I think of them often, hoping that other family members or social services were able to really help.

 

 

(It turned out that surgery had caused my shortness of breath, and my reaction – sticky lungs, or Atelectasis – was common. I didn’t have a pulmonary embolism.)

Posted in child caring for adult, drug or alcohol abuse, hospital emergency room, hospital personnel, knee replacement surgery, mental illness, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Poppies vs. Crocus – Afghanistan

crocus blooms 8.11.16

While sitting on a local Afghani bus, Susan and I bounced along and listened to goats, held securely by their owners, as they bleated from the rear of the bus. They would get off at the next town to be sold at market.

As the bus came out of a curve near a tribal village, I looked out the window and was stunned by the beauty of fields of vivid, red poppies.

“Look, Susan!” I said, “I’ve never seen such a gorgeous field of flowers. I wonder what they are.” We stared, in awe, at their beauty.

It was 1975, and my five-year-old daughter Susan and I were on a round-the-world trip. Then, I didn’t realize the poppies would be used for opium and shipped to the west as heroin. Only later, did I learn about their dangerous end-product.

We were entranced with the bright clothing worn by the tribal women standing outside one of the walled villages, protected by adobe fortifications. The bright red of the poppies matched their scarlet dresses. The women’s dark hair and eyes looked stunning next to their light skin and brilliant clothing. For one second, my eyes deeply met the eyes of one of the women. There was no time for communication, but I sensed her interest in me, as I felt for her, in spite of our completely different lives.

More than forty years later, while reading the April 11th business section of the New York Times, I was amazed to see a photograph of stunning, lavender crocus flowers spread across the landscape, with the familiar bare mountains in the distance. Unlike the poppies, the end result of the lavender beauty of these flowers carpeting the landscape is a prized spice to flavor delicious menus across the world, and not fuel the drug trade.

Ah, progress – Saffron instead of Heroin.

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An Angry Neighbor

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Last weekend, at the house on Candlewood Lake, the next door neighbor went into a rage when he thought that Maury was watching his college-age daughters with binoculars. Maury had been watching successful and unsuccessful boat docking for hints for us, beginners, struggling to safely land our boat. Perhaps the neighbor’s daughters had suffered through bad experiences and he, as the father, was trying to protect them from what he saw as potential danger.

When I walked out on the deck and attempted to diffuse the angry words coming from the neighbor, he threatened to call the police and to get a restraining order against Maury.  His last words, to me, were that he knew all about my husband… I was stunned that he mistook Maury for my ex-husband. I felt beaten up. Would the nightmare of my past never leave?

Then, I realized I had been lucky never to have this happen before. No one in my town ever treated me this way. It took the insecurities and misjudgments of a stranger, who obviously had Googled me, to shatter happiness on my birthday weekend. But I recovered, and went on, as I gazed at the beautiful lake and the great blue heron that flew by.

 

Posted in angry neighbor, binoculars, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Person of Interest: What Did She Know?

 

Orlando no longer means Disney World and vacations. Recent events have destroyed such memories and replaced them with images burned into our minds of innocent young people in the prime of their lives, mowed down by a shooter.

It’s frightening to see that radicalized Muslims, as well as young alienated Americans are susceptible to the lure of terrorist groups. Unpredictable violence causes everyone to feel vulnerable and fearful during such turmoil. We wonder where the next terror attack will be.

The police and the Federal Agencies created to protect us must be involved. Those in law enforcement are people, just like you and me, who have been trained to solve crime, prevent terrorist attacks and protect the innocent. They’ve been taught to investigate, using whatever techniques the experts have determined are successful, to find the criminal. That is, of course, what they should do.

During a police investigation, officers talk with family and friends connected with a suspect. They ask questions of people who work with the person. Others are interrogated to see if there are more individuals involved with the crime being investigated. All this is logical and reasonable, if you are following along public events as they happen and are not personally involved in a law enforcement inquiry.

Many years ago, during the Vietnam War, my brother-in-law didn’t show up for his induction into the Army. Our phone was tapped and our mail was opened and read upon directions of the FBI. I was questioned by the FBI agent investigating the whereabouts of this nineteen year old draft dodger. At twenty-two, I was easily intimidated by such a stern authority figure. We had no idea where my husband’s brother was and they eventually gave up.

Twelve years ago, I was a Person of Interest with the Federal Authorities. The agents working with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) thought I must know what my then husband had been up to. They were sure I must have known about his secret life. I must have known about all the CDs he’d created from internet pornography sites that he’d stashed in the basement, his closet, and other hiding places.

Looking back now, with less emotion than I felt at the time, it was a logical step for them to be suspicious of me, the wife. Offended, enraged, and terrified was what I felt when I was told by my lawyers that Federal Agents were thinking of arresting me, thinking of charging me with…something, thinking of dragging me before a grand jury and on and on. It was as if they had brainstorming sessions to imagine what legal action they could take next to try and find out from me, what I knew. It mattered not one bit that I was the wife who had no idea what he had been doing.

This old event, usually dormant in the bad-memories-file stashed away in my brain, surged out when I read about the massacre in Orlando and how the authorities would be interviewing the shooter’s ex-wife. As Omar Mateen beat her before their divorce, it seemed unlikely that she would assist him in his murderous attack. Then later, I read that agents would speak with his current wife.

Perhaps she had some involvement. Maybe she was involved and they should interrogate her. Perhaps she was completely innocent, like me, and had to suffer the frightening experience of law enforcement surrounding her, treating her like a criminal.

I imagine the authorities would treat her much worse than what I experienced. For all the negative feelings I had about my lawyer, he did his job and kept the authorities away from me. All I heard about was their threats, their intent, and their strategy, none of which actually happened.

They just raised my personal terror to an ‘orange’. Remember those days, when color determined how much risk there was of another terror attack?  Orange meant there was high risk. That’s what life seemed like for me. I wonder what Omar Mateen’s wife felt initially. If she was guilty of assisting him, my sympathies would evaporate. If she was innocent, I can only imagine the pressure she is still experiencing.

In 2013, the investigators scrutinized the Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnev’s wife to see if she knew what he’d been planning. After it was determined that she most likely had no knowledge of his intent, speculation faded. I had an immediate sympathy for her and strongly related to her position of being the wife, who must have known what her husband was planning. I wrote her a letter that she may or may not have received. Perhaps Homeland Security seized it. I’ll never know.

Posted in Army, Boston Marathon bombing, FBI, ICE, innocent wife, Orlando, Orlando nightclub bombing, Person of Interest, Police Investigation, Terror attack, Vietnam War | 2 Comments

Misprision of a Felony

Bpt courthouse

After my husband, Paul, was dragged off by the Feds and arrested for possession of child pornography, his lawyer, Bill Westcott, told me that the government was looking for a way to arrest me too. I listened to this young lawyer tell me that the Feds thought I was possibly/probably/certainly guilty of misprision of a felony. Never having heard this legal term, Bill patiently tried to explain it, but instead, I mentally and emotionally left the space for somewhere else. Bill’s voice seemed far away and the only thing I heard was an unpleasant whine.

This took place in the early days and months of, what I refer to as, The Invasion. Even later, when I researched the legal meaning of misprision of a felony, the explanation didn’t make sense. It was as if the Feds had dragged out an obscure legal term to arrest me. I imagined a group of men sitting around, trying to dream up some way of incriminating me. They had to be clever enough to create some charge that would stick, so their jobs could be justified.

Bill tried to reassure me that even if they arrested me on misprision of a felony, it was unlikely they could get a guilty verdict, because Paul and I were married. I stopped short when this scenario was discussed. I was sure I wouldn’t be able to bear being arrested and need to prove myself innocent.

There were many steps along the way in this multi-year brutality that I thought I couldn’t endure, but of course, I did. I’m still here. I didn’t die. People didn’t shun me. My name never appeared in print in the local papers.

It was psychological pressure put upon me by those who had power to do whatever they wanted. After all, they represented the Federal government. I was the innocent bystander, the wife who should have known what was going on, but didn’t.

The Federal prosecutor and his cronies couldn’t believe I didn’t know about Paul’s illegal activities. They even imagined that I was involved with collecting and selling child pornography along with him. They didn’t know me. They only recognized my name, age, address and where I worked. The only thing they focused on was trying to discover how I was involved with him and his crime and how they could arrest me. It would be a bonus for them; two people arrested for one crime.

To the prosecutor, being married meant sharing thoughts, experiences, observing one’s partner and being aware of what the other was doing. Paul and I resided in the same house, but communication had dried up. We existed together, silently passing by one another, sharing nothing.

Before his arrest, when I attempted to question Paul about a photo I glimpsed, for just a second, on his computer, he would quickly minimize the image and deny that there was anything suspicious. The photos were never of a nude, and were gone so fast I could never really see what they were. I was more concerned that he didn’t want me to see the pictures, than wondering what they were. He would turn his denial into an attack on me, accusing me of being nosy about what he was studying. Studying? I couldn’t figure out what he was talking about. It turned out that he was studying child pornography, but for what end, I never found out.

In the April 30th issue of The New York Times, there’s a story about a man charged with misprision of a felony. It’s the first time I can remember this accusation being in the news. Omitting information or lying about things you know can put you in big trouble with the legal authorities. Where does responsibility for not stopping a crime begin and end?

I never considered that Paul was receiving child pornography. He never sold it, but did trade with a few other men who were later arrested on different, but similar crimes. It wasn’t until the Feds charged into my house and announced that they were looking for child pornography that I realized what Paul had been doing.

It was a tough time, but it’s over. I’ve survived well and have a good life. But whenever there’s a story that pops up in the news about child pornography, federal authorities or a term like misprision of a felony, it brings back the fear that held a vise grip over my life for two long years.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/30/us/joseph-meek-charleston-shooting-dylann-roof.html?_r=0

 

Posted in federal legal system, Legal Threats, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Another Burberry Ad

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In 1998 I was one of many women who read Anna Quindlen’s novel Black and Blue. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve re-read the story of a woman who is beaten and eventually leaves her husband. After all these years, I still can’t figure out why I became totally absorbed in this story. I was never physically harmed. So why the connection?

In every marriage, there are surprises as the years progress. The person I married turned out to have personality traits and interests I had no idea were present, in the early days. Most of the time changes in behavior and interests are all right, or at least neutral. After all, it’s positive when one’s partner is interested in new things.

Perhaps that’s the connection. We were both blindsided by unanticipated behavior. Quindlen’s protagonist didn’t expect to be beaten; I didn’t expect my husband to have a liking for little girls. The values we both held were betrayed.

While I find it abhorrent for men to be attracted to little girls, I also rail against advertisers who show photos of girls that tempt those who have a real problem. It isn’t good for society to lure out more potential pedophiles.

In today’s New York Times, there is yet another partially nude photo of a girl. It’s a full-page photo showing one the same girls as in earlier advertisements. She has shaggy brown hair and a nose ring. A small purse with a clunky brass chain is slung over her shoulder. Her partially exposed breast is next to the purse. No nipple, so it’s legal.

I wonder if my ex-husband has seen the photo. I know the dark haired girl with the nose ring isn’t his type ,but who knows? She certainly is somebody’s type or she wouldn’t have been selected by Burberry to pose in the picture.

Just a month ago, I wrote a letter to the New York Times objecting to the January 14th Burberry advertisement. No one replied. I’ll write another letter today, but don’t expect a response. There’s too much money involved and after all, no one has broken the law.

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Burberry’s Kiddy Porn Ad

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My first reaction was shock, when I saw the back page of the January 14th New York Times Style section. After staring at the two girls in Burberry floppy coats over skimpy underpants, I realized the same-ole dictum exists for selling stuff. Sex.

I have no problem with real women dressed in sexy outfits or who are partially nude. But I have a big problem with models that appear to be under age and provide temptation for men who are excited by kiddy porn.

Every advertiser in the country, must be aware of stories that appear almost daily about men trapped in child pornography stings, arrested and shamed for life. The two girls in the Burberry advertisement were dressed to appeal to men who are attracted to the very young. I don’t doubt that they are legally old enough to model such outfits. Burberry would be careful about that, but they look years younger than their probable real ages.

I’m again up in arms with the respected New York Times for allowing a full page, full color ad of two girls in Burberry coats casually draped over their bodies, dressed only in panties. Why would we tempt the pedophile who thinks he’s going to be reading America’s foremost newspaper and there is an advertisement coaxing him to action that can only cause him problems, including arrest and incarceration?

A photograph, such as this one, reminds me of an alcoholic going into a diner, and upon glancing at the menu, doesn’t see sandwiches and chops but wine, mixed drinks and beer screaming up at him. He can leave the restaurant and go elsewhere, but he may find he is unable to resist the allure of his drug of choice – booze. The drug of choice for a pedophile is a scantily clad girl.

Shame on Burberry. Shame on the prestigious New York Times.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments