Sep 18, 2008
DONATIONS TO THE RED CROSS OR BEAR CREEK UMC GREATLY APPRECIATED! (bearcreekumc . org )
It finally happened. I suffered a most embarrassing nervous breakdown in public Wednesday afternoon. What led to my maudlin display was the last disaster in a daily downward-spiraling series since storm preparations began a week ago.
Hurricane Ike made an early appearance in my Bear Creek neighborhood Friday evening. The festivities began with a domestic dispute two doors down between a divorced couple with four children. Despite a long-standing restraining order, the ex-husband appeared for the second time that day making threats and beating on his ex-wife. In the presence of all of his children and one nephew, the wife’s boyfriend shot the ex-husband.
For several hours, our quiet cul-de-sac was filled with over a dozen police cars, a fire engine, ambulance, and crime scene vehicles. The ex-husband was taken to a hospital and is expected to fully recover soon. The shooter was placed in a police vehicle and released on our street at approximately 11:15 p.m. when Ike really started getting his act in gear. The officers apparently determined he acted in self defense. He waited on the sidewalk for two hours before someone picked him up and drove him away.
During this fiasco, not one person watching the entertainment unfold paid one bit of attention to the three little boys ages 7 to 9. Not the mother, not the grandmother, nor the older sisters. As luck had it, our good friend and owner of Lakeview Montessori in Sugar Land, Clarissa Guidry, was staying with us during the storm. This woman worked a magic that was a wonder to behold. Asking no leading questions at all, she let the boys vent a few minutes and then got them playing games with water bottles. For over two hours Clarissa took those children in hand and did everything she could to make life as normal as possible for them. Not many people have that gift. I certainly don’t. Seeing someone who is truly gifted with children in action is nothing short of watching a miracle.
Our area received a glancing blow from Ike’s western eye wall, and in spite of horrific tree and fence damage, most homes survived intact. We lost power at 2:45 a.m. and considered ourselves very lucky indeed. As the rain and wind subsided, people emerged from their homes to assess damage and begin cleanup activities. Phone calls to loved ones were made and experiences compared as we all took a collective breath and thanked God for our lives.
The real tragedy occurred early Sunday morning with the passage of the cool front that has made living without power bearable. That front brought training rains to west and northwest Houston resulting in serious flooding. We came within an inch of joining many homes that had an inch to over a foot of water in them. Our phone service was out. Our cell service was out. Our water and sewer systems died. We couldn’t remain here in those conditions, but neither could we leave. No mention of Bear Creek was made on any media outlets. We were completely cut off from the rest of the world.
I couldn’t reach my elderly disabled mother across Highway 6 in Glencairn. She vehemently refused to evacuate her home in spite of having little ice, food or water. We were flooded in the rest of the day, and couldn’t get word to anyone to check on my mother. She was in the exact same predicament and extremely panicked. I later learned that my cousin, Eric Van Alstine, who is a superintendent at Harris County Precinct 3, waded to her house with a huge pack of frozen bottled water. He knew she would be in trouble and went out in that mess to check on her and anyone else in trouble. Another of God’s mercies during this disaster.
Sunday afternoon saw our ice supply nearly gone and no supplies could be found in this area. We threw out every scrap of food in two refrigerators. That’s a frightening smell I hope I never have to endure again. Clarissa came to the rescue and drove all the way from Sugar Land where she had power, and brought us ice scavenged from her neighbors with electric service. I can’t imagine how horrific that trip must have been with so many tangled traffic signals and stunned Houstonians on the road. She saved us from utter disaster.
By Monday, we were able to find a few stores opening on generator power that had a few bags of ice. We actually jumped up and down in celebration in the parking lot when ice was located. Forget winning the lottery. We had ice! A woman in the neighborhood drove to Brookshire, loaded her truck with as much ice and water as it would hold and freely distributed it through the neighborhood refusing all offers of payment. Such acts of kindness are common these days, and I hope it continues.
That night my sister, Karen, drove from Cypress to check on Mom and bring her a hot meal. Conditions at Mom’s house had deteriorated to unlivable in spite of the return of water and sewer service. Again, Mom refused to budge. She was down to two candle stubs and only one battery operated lamp. She refused to open one window in her home and it was a sweat box. Her food situation was atrocious consisting primarily of warm yogurt and a pint of lukewarm milk. After hearing the story, I had enough. My husband and I could barely keep ourselves going and my sister was running out of gas driving all the way from Cypress every day trying to keep Mom alive.
Tuesday morning I girded my loins, took a deep breath and confronted Mom with the reality of her very tenuous situation. I displayed a duffle bag and informed her it was Moving Day. Yes, it was an extremely emotional situation on top of one disaster after another. Yes, it was unpleasant for both of us, but in two hours both Mom and her cat were relocated to my sister’s family in Cypress. She has a private room, power, television, internet availability, three meals a day, contact with other people and the outside world, and she’s angrier than a killer bee with every passing day. She is also safe. Praise God!
Yesterday evening we experienced another miracle with the return of electric power. Roughly 25% of our subdivision is back online with no new additions today. The celebratory shouts and screams were shortly followed by kids shooting off fire crackers. How did they get their hands on them so quickly? Wonderful as it is to have some return to normalcy, we discovered our air conditioner compressor drowned in Sunday’s flood. Not good, but certainly bearable in comparison to the all too real devastation to our south and east. The unseasonably and blessedly cool weather makes having no AC any kind of hardship.
Come today, Wednesday, I was forced to turn my attention to my own chronic medical condition. Abdominal scar tissue has taken ten years to tie my intestines into painful and nauseating knots. The most important medication that allows me to lead somewhat of a normal life is the fentanyl patch. It is an extremely strong narcotic that is slowly dispensed over three days. It is also a schedule II narcotic which means that each refill must be written in triplicate on paper and reported to the DEA. No phone-in refills are allowed. If I stop taking it immediately, I will go into withdrawal that can be deadly. Because this medicine is so tightly controlled by the DEA, it cannot be refilled early. Ever. My typical luck, I was due for a refill yesterday.
Two days ago I started calling my pain doctor’s office. No phone service. No answering service. Yesterday evening after listening to twenty rings, the answering service picked up. I never got a chance to leave a message. Once the woman heard my doctor’s name, she said, “They don’t have power. Call back tomorrow.” Click. I got the same treatment this morning.
Withdrawal symptoms had already begun. Everyone is a bit different, but with me it starts with a noticeable increase in pain levels, shortly followed by chills, diarrhea and nausea. Within a few hours the real fun begins with vomiting and unimaginable restless leg syndrome all over my body. I found that out the hard way when I forgot to replace my patch one time.
I went to the pain doc's office. No lights, no note, no nothing. I went to the hospital wher my pain doc, gastro doc and surgeon work. The ER people were great. I brought all my bottles of meds with the labels and they were very understanding. However, I would have to wait easily 8 hours because of all the heart attacks, strokes, gunshot wounds and life-threatening emergencies. The triage nurse suggested I walk over to the professional building to see if my surgeon was in - he being the only one of my docs in that particular facility.
The surgeon's office was staffed, and the nurse treated me like some scumbag addict off the streets. She never bothered to look up my voluminous history with Dr. Kim Keller, but (get ready) called security on me while she pretended to look up my records!!! I told her the ER sent me over here to try to expedite my situation, but no, this complete and total nazi went left field on me. While I waited for her to supposedly look up my file, I started crying. I am not an emotional person, but I was just done in. She came back, thrust her finger forcefully toward my face and yelled, "YOU have to go BACK to the ER NOW!" I never raised my voice. I never cursed her. I never treated her rudely. I only cried and walked back out. As I reached the door, the security guard got off the elevator and walked directly toward me. He followed me back into the elevator, down to the first floor, through the lobby and out the door. I have no idea who that woman was, but believe me I will find out. If she is a nurse, I will get her name and license number and she's getting a major report to the Board of Nursing.
Back I go to the ER. The triage nurse who sent me to the professional building was appalled and tried to expedite me, but honestly - what could she do against a stroke victim? I called my husband and asked him to call my gastro doc while I waited. Dr. Toland's staff was fabulous and put out the fire in 15 minutes. His nurse called Dr. Toland, who called my pain doc's private number. Next thing you know, she's calling me on my cell phone. Dr. Wiggins personally drove to the nearest open pharmacy and wrote the triplicate prescription right there and then. Done.
Had the answering service actually listened, this mess never would have happened. If the government wasn't so concerned with persecuting legal, legitimate pain patients this mess never would have happened. Thank God it's done for now.
Today, Thursday, b;rought a huge issue with my mother. I can't begin to describe it now I'm so upset. Suffice to say that we spend the entire day finding and assembling a generator so she could go home to her ghetto home with no power. I have had it. My sister has had it. All of us have had it with her BS. But more on that tomorrow. For now, I'm done.