One woman's journey and dawning realization of the slow destruction of her spirit while trapped in the jaws of disability.

Disability is at first an affliction of the body, then a state of mind and finally a shackle upon the spirit.

Lydia M N Crabtree, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Surgery Coming, Praise Be!

I am sure my childhood memory just makes
it seem this is the dog that bit my nose.
 Being an adult survivor of incest, physical and mental abuse, I am constantly surprised by the endless ways this abuse manifests in my body. Being in constant emotional and physical upheaval, I sucked my thumb well into my tween years, a habit my biological father abhorred. Although, many of my memories are vague or suppressed, I can clearly recall the first time he broke my nose.

It was over my thumb sucking. Being the middle child I was sitting in the back seat of our family station wagon going somewhere. My biological father was irritated already for some unknown reason (my biological father was not a drunk and never drank). Between my siblings, I was feeling tired and isolated. Suddenly, my head snapped back and my nose began to bleed.
 Coming back to my immediate surroundings, I hear my biological father yelling at my biological mother.
 “She keeps sucking that damn thing and I will rip it off. Maybe that will teach her!”

 I can remember further irritation on my biological father’s part that I had to go inside and change and then place me in the way back of the station wagon, laying down with cold compresses to stop the bleeding before my family had to make an appearance at wherever it was we were going.

 It wasn’t the only time a backhand found my nose. In my early years, this type of sudden and violent “correction” of behavior happened often. The first time I heard deviated septum, oddly enough, was when an injury occurred that had nothing to do with my biological father’s temper.
 I was in Dallas, TX visiting my biological father’s relations. They had a little, old yippy dog and neglected to tell me that it had a degenerative disk disease which caused it to bite people if they pet the dog on the back. I was in the back alone trying to stay off the radar of everyone sitting next to the dog for company. Suddenly, it jumped upon my chest and latched itself upon my nose ripping it up significantly.

 I was taken to the ER and remember that the police showed up after a loud argument about whether or not to call a plastic surgeon happened in the hall between my biological father and the attending physician. I can remember him saying, “Can’t you just stitch her up? I mean really even you said it would only be a few stitches.”

 The police came and sequestered me away from my biological father. They had to hand cuff him because he put up such a fuss about being separated from me. Then the plastic surgeon came in. He was very handsome and extremely kind. He brought me some food and Spirit, my favorite.

 After sometime had passed this young doctor screwed up his courage and in a room that held a case worker, a nurse and himself asked me the one thing I had hoped someone would ask me all my life.

 “Did your dad hit you?”

 I sat there in Dallas, TX and thought about what I knew about kids who ended up in the system. My life wasn’t so bad right? Better the devil you know, than the one you don’t, right? I hated Texas it was flat and barren and there weren’t any farms, only cattle. It was hotter and more humid than Georgia and I could watch the steam rise at all hours of the day off the asphalt that seemed endless.

Besides, I was raised to tell the truth.
 “Not this time. A dog jumped on my chest and bit my nose.”
 I can remember the adults standing in awe that I had suggested I was abused but insisted that this was not one of those times.

 “It is ok,” the handsome doctor said, “You can tell us if he hit you. We won’t let him do it again.”

 I nod sagely and say, “OK, he didn’t hit me….this time.”

 I can remember sitting there and praying that they would ask other questions. If he touched me in bad places or if he had hit me other times, but these adults were completely focused on my nose and couldn’t seem to get off that one issue.

 Later I would come to understand that not only did my nose show the signs of significant and frequent abuse but my front tooth had died after one of these violent episodes and it’s tell-tell color told the doctor’s that I had been hit in the face before.
 Several adults tried to get me to admit that he had hit me that day. I stood by my guns and kept dropping the only hints I had the nerve to drop.

Finally, my biological father’s family showed up with animal control and the dog in question. My biological father demanded that I be released after being treated. I can still remember sitting inside the room and listening to the officer and doctors arguing with my father in the hall. The authorities had decided they wanted to do a full physical exam and my biological father wouldn’t allow it. He also kept saying he wouldn’t pay for the nosey plastic surgeon that had been called into consult.

 Silence bore down on me and I can remember being really afraid that I would get hit later for all this commotion.

Then that handsome doctor got a menace to his voice.

 “If this child shows up in this ER again, you better believe I will be calling in a child counselor and another type of doctor to investigate my suspicion that she is being abused. And keep your God-damn money, I’ll give her my care free of charge. No one should have to live with outward reminders of stupid dogs or any other stupid thing.”

 I can remember him working over me and talking to me and the nurses the whole time he worked. He told me that he would tell my dad to get a cream to try to minimize the scarring but that he was doing all the stitches on the inside. He said without the cream I would have a small scare that might turn pink in the cold but that was ok because no one would wonder about because I would grow up and wear makeup anyway. He gave me very careful and explicit instructions on wound care making me repeat them back to him several times. Looking back I understand he worried I wouldn’t get any further care. As if this conversation spurred him on, he left me for the nurse to clean up as best she could (I had bleed profusely and simply covered in it.).

 He went out and asked about how long we would be in the state. My biological father suggested that we would leave the next day, even though I knew we had only just arrived. The doctor told him he had to see me again because the stitches I had been given needed professional removal and reminded my biological father again that he wasn’t charging him for anything he did.

 So we stayed the planned two weeks and I saw that doctor again in his office right before I left. My biological parents refused to leave my side during the visit even though the doctor suggested they do so. He removed his neat handy work, praised me for taking good care of the wound and promised me I would heal beautifully.

 Oddly enough, for a long time after this, I felt like someone somewhere out there knew the dirty secrets my biological family had worked so hard to hide and worried about me, maybe prayed for my safety and I was greatly comforted, even though I eventually returned to Georgia and the hell of incest and abuse.

 Survivors of incest and severe abuse live in bodies that have been worked over. I have back issues and my major joints (hips and shoulders) show signs of degenerative wear caused by the violence I endured. For me, my teeth have always been this reminder of my abuse whenever I looked in the mirror. This past year was spent getting that tooth fixed and it was just finished up after months of internal bleaching this past week.
 It turns out, although I can’t see anything but a small scar a little dog gave me in Texas, my nose was in worse shape than my tooth. Looking today at my CAT scan of my sinuses, the reason for the over dozen sinus infections this fiscal year was evident even to me and I am not an ENT. I knew I had a deviated septum because other allergists and doctors had noted it. What I didn’t realize was the damage affects the entire sinus cavity.

 My deviated septum curves sharply to the left. Since my biological father was fond of the right handed back hand, it makes sense. This curve causes the sinus on my right side to be all squished together. So when I have an allergy to something it completely blocks that nasal passage. On the left side or inside the curve of the deviated septum, my soft nasal tissues have ballooned. I do mean ballooned. They are enlarged and have created some relatively large pockets where bacteria can get in and infect my sinuses.

 At this point, even if I got the IgG treatment to bolster my immune system, it wouldn’t solve my sinus problems. Corrective surgery is the only viable solution coupled with IgG treatments which we are still fighting with the health insurance company to provide. As I currently have a sinus infection, the focus is to get it cleared up and find a window when I am not infected to perform corrective surgery. The small pain I felt as they dug around my sinus cavities to type the infection I have gave me a good taste of what I am going to feel like when I wake up from this surgery. It wasn’t pleasant.

 Despite this and the thorough warning the ENT gave about the extensive corrections that would occur to both nasal passages and the septum, I was cheerful as I drew a picture for Tony of my messed up sinus cavity as I remembered it from the CAT scan.

 “You seem awfully excited at the prospect of a bunch of pain and bed rest for three to five days,” he teased me with a wink and a knowing smile.

 I am. Just like that plastic surgeon said in Dallas, no one should have to live with the scars caused by dogs or anything else. This surgery will erase damage caused by a violent and indifferent man. No one but me will know the difference from the exterior; however, everyone in my family will benefit from having me well more than I am battling infections.

 Still, this surgery seems as important as the year long work on my teeth. It is like being permitted to erase some damage that represents years of abuse. It is like going to sleep and waking up being a little more whole than I have been since that day I was sitting in that station wagon.

 Now if we could just get the insurance company to approve the IgG treatments after the surgery, I think we might begin to see a significant improvement in my health. In the mean time, Alice and I are riding around in our own vehicle, finally, thanks to Judge Dole. I am careful to only drive when I know I am well enough and it is really exciting to be able to see my doctors most of which are within a two mile radius of my home. I was even able to take my boy to a well child care visit, the dentist and the dermatologist this week. All of which are less than two miles from my home. I don’t have to ask for rides or hope the Paratransit. Alice gets a roomy back end and is fascinated by the rear windshield wiper.

 I even spent an hour at the dealership today getting a careful and thorough walking through of all the features, got help programming all my doctor’s offices into the navigation system and learned all about putting my music on an SD card.
 Recently, I find myself priestessing others who suffer from PTSD and chronic illness. As I watch them struggle with the surprises and revelations that PTSD can bring, I feel an overwhelming gratefulness that I have my sisters, my husband and son, my God and Goddess and Judge Dole.

Despite all that has happened and all the damage that has been done to my body, I can honestly say I am blessed. As I age, continue counseling and continue to relentlessly seek healing for my body I am finding I can undo some damage. I can restore myself to more of wholeness than I was left in when I cut ties with my biological family. I had little choices in the damage I endured and all kinds of choices in how I mend and heal myself going forward.

 I changed my name and no longer bear that tie to the biological family that harmed me. I chose a middle name that better reflected who I am.

 I spent a year getting my teeth fixed and now I have a beautiful smile that doesn’t tell silent stories of abuse suffered.

 I am going to get my nose fixed. Just like I have spent years mending my inner soul from the difficulties of my childhood, my nose is going to get mended on the inside too.

 I have been validated and upheld by a Judge, my chosen sisters, my husband and my son. I have drawn to myself others who can share the journey of healing PTSD requires.
 There is so much I have been given that makes me glad I am a survivor and chose to live long enough to enjoy a place of blessing, love and hope.

Praise be the Morrigian and Mannan!
Praise for delivering my husband priest and blessed child!
Praise for guidance even when I thought the darkness had consumed me and I had been forgotten!
Praise for the love, security and stability I thought I would never find, keep or feel.
Praise for the other survivors who insure I no longer walk this path alone
Praise for two sisters who chose me as I chose them and love me in the manner of any family – the best they can.
Praise for the mother I loved and lost, choosing me and making “Daughter” have meaning,
Praise be the elements who represent those extended friends and adopted family who circle around me in ways I had never perceived or conceived.
Praise be that my sight is unblocked and now I can see them.
Praise be for a harvest I thought I would never see.
Praise be the lesson of the platypus and seven ravens.
Praise be.
Praise be.
Praise be. LMNC - 11/08/2012

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