How Blessed Can You Be? )Life-Savers, final)

The next person who saved my life was my Physiatrist. I call her my Polio Doctor because she has taken an interest in caring for Polio survivors. When it was time for me to take a disability separation I chose instead to take a demotion and keep working. She told me it was an ethical problem for her to continue helping me to hurt myself. I agreed the next time I was unable to work, I was done.

I agreed and promptly forgot all about it. So a month later when I once again needed a Doctor’ note for time off, she faxed a note to the prison that said, “This employee is totally and permanently disabled from all work.” And that was that.

Almost too late. I was completely exhausted. It was months before I even began to recover. I had pushed myself too far, and would have continued that way until I dropped. She made a decision my ego wouldn’t let me make. My ego wanted to continue to be a leader in the agency. I had the first slot at the academy, then the whole second week. I had worked on my ego sufficiently that my classes were a joy to teach and I was the favorite instructor of the whole training academy that lasted a month. It was like I was finally making progress in my mission to transform corrections. Mentally I was just getting into a comfortable stride. My body just couldn’t keep up.

When I had to stop working it crushed my mission. I tried many times to give those trainings away, but nobody could figure out what I was doing. Something in my presence with attendees.

“There’s some way you’re being with them and none of us can do it,” Kevin said. Even Sue. My partner and a superior trainer. She watched over and over but whenever i asked her are you ready to present them she just shook her head and said, “No.” Seven years later they are still calling me with questions, trying to figure it out.

It wasn’t magic. Fact is I was in the Introduction Leader’s Program at Landmark Education. Yes the thing that used to be EST. It should be accredited as a Philosophy elective.

I loved digging into the corrections research and hooked up with a global group of professionals, academics and researchers all working on my mission which was also their mission: to transform corrections from the current Waste Management Model to a more humane and integrated approach based on what we know works. I was not alone. I had found my people. I had management’s ear. I was at Headquarters … occasionally. I was part of the Classification Unit, the place I wanted to work from the first time I was over there.

For years I heard the. Classification Unit referred to as the Think Tank. And it seemed like all the strangest people worked there, geniuses and misfits. My kind of place. And I got there! On my first day Jim put his arm around my shoulder and said, “You’re safe now. I’ve got your back.”

I was right where I had always wanted to be, and I loved it. But my body was taking a beating. Who knew Polio still had some punches left.

And I got sick. At first I thought it was just being out of shape, so I put a 40 lb. backpack on and hiked up Mt. Adams with Richard and Kate. I made it to about 9,000 ft. But at Killen Creek meadow I sat down and stayed down for the rest of the day and night.

The hike went like this: Richard and Kate were always way ahead of me. I was trudging and grinding my way up the trail. Every so often I’d catch up with the two of them taking a break. But as soon as they saw me, they got up and started up the trail. I got no breaks.

Not only that, but I had also unwittingly initiated a big burnout of my beleaguered nervous system. I missed several weeks of work and the search for the diagnosis began. 1993. That diagnosis would take five years to get.

I thought I might make it to 62, but I was done at 57. But I’m alive and as well as I can be and Dr. Moise saved me from doing more damage. Thank you, Doc.

My next life-saver was the HR person who spoke this “Oh. By the way as I was leaving the building for the last time. “No matter what they say, if you work you’ll lose your insurance.” Big lifesaver!!! Thank you HR person. You were a life-saver.

I got sober in 1989 in Tri-Cities. Shorty Hofstedt was my sponsor. He told everybody I was so scared, I came to my first meeting drunk. Which is true. I needed a drink to get my courage up. Then I sat by an old guy, thinking that would be safe. That old guy was Shorty. Shorty knew Dr. Bob and Bill W.

I was only the second woman he had ever sponsored. We were both named Rose. I loved him. May he rest in peace. He was a pillar and an elder of AA. He never cut me any slack. Thanks, Shorty. You were my Life-Saver.

Finally, my husband is a life-saver. He has signed on for every minute of every day, there beside me, there to protect and care for me, and when possible have fun together. Thanks, Richard. You are my Life-Saver and my best friend.

How blessed can you be!?!

Life-Savers continued

Life-Savers continued …

The Gastro-Enterologist who sent me for that first counseling also saved my life. I don’t recall his name either. He said he would treat me and end my physical agony only on condition that I go to counseling. Why? Because for someone your age to have this diagnosis tells me you have issues. You resolve those and you will stay well. True words. Thanks Doc.

Whereupon I returned to college with renewed energy and graduated Summa Cum Laude, because I had found my own voice. I was 26.

It would be a while before I would have my life saved again. Happy years as a young mother. Happy early years of my first marriage, way back in rural eastern Oregon. In love with my baby, growing food, canning food, baking bread and writing for the newspaper in town: The Angling Report for example. How cute is that? “Big city girl makes good out west.” Finding my haphazard way to the beginning of my career in Corrections.

The next person I think of who saved my life was Richard, my second and current husband. Safest man on the planet. Not that he isn’t horny. He’s horny. Safe and natural, horny and happy Richard has never had sex more important than my feelings and my happiness. With Richard I took on my healing in earnest. Why? Because I was safe. Thanks Richard. I love you.

to be continued …

Life-Savers Part 2

My younger brother Vinny didn’t buy it. “Bullshit,” he asserted with his usual diplomatic aplomb, “you’re as crazy as the rest of us.” I find it difficult to argue with that. However, the counselor’s words helped me to detach from what truly had been a “crazy house.”

No one got a pass. All were harmed. Some have been more oriented toward healing than others. We all walk our own paths at our own speed. In the end, we will all get there.

My Personal Life-Savers

I’ve been thinking about people who have “saved my life.” Those LIFE-SAVERS! The first one is my Gramma. She watched over me my whole life. No kidding! Even after she passed, which brought me to my knees before God, Goddess, Universe, Creator … You know the other intelligence that seems to answer ours? How helpless do you gotta be to pray like this? “I hope you exist and in case you do, and on the off chance you’re listening, you’re my only hope.”

I don’t know about you but that makes me laugh. It’s worse than blind-folded “pin the tail on the donkey” down here in the atmosphere of planet Earth. I have a vague intuition that if we can laugh at our situation things will work out better than they have any right to. Or, if not then at the very least we will have a better time.

Psychics throughout my life have seen her, in spirit, standing behind my shoulder. Thank you, Gramma. For some time I have wondered if you are still with me.

The next Life-saver was my Mom. She held the possibility that I would walk again, and worked as hard as I did to make it happen. Thanks, Mom. I’m glad you’re still here. Boy am I gonna miss you someday.

Next my Greek professor from Brooklyn College. I dropped his class but his advice was a life-saver. He saw desperate in my eyes and I laid it out for him in two hallways. As we stepped out into the sunlight he stopped and saved my life. He told me emphatically it wasn’t my job to deal with my sister’s MPD. It was my parents job. I was glad to hear it. My sister was living with me at the time and her angry alter ego had scared the stuffing out of me. The threat of violence was palpable when she was in the room.

I high-tailed it home for Thanksgiving and laid it out during dinner. Pop was brilliant that time. He took it on without hesitation and told Barbara she was allowed to be angry. No need for the alter-bitch. Talk about magic. My sister recovered after that. I don’t even remember that professor’s name but he saved my life.

A few years later a counselor saved my life. Leaving my parents house by itself accomplished only the initial stage of my healing: it ended the abuse. The emotional baggage stayed and weighed me down awful. At 23 I had ulcerative colitis. I needed help to get well. My first counselor saw me only for a few months, but at the end he gave me this precious gift: “There’s one thing I want to tell you,” he said. “You are not crazy. You’ve never been crazy and you never will be crazy. But to fit in your family, you have to be crazy.” Thank you, first counselor. You saved my life.

To be continued …