In Celebration of my acceptance at the University of Kansas…I repost my first college paper done in 2013

Happy Mother’s Day – Your loving adopted son.

My very first college essay.

Let me know what you think.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY – Your loving adopted son.

Sunday, three A.M., a full moon illuminates a forest alive with night creatures. Their eyes aglow as if in wonderment as our emergency beacons pierced their world. Only the sounds of our engine broke the silence as we raced through the night. No need for the siren. We were ten miles from nearest major road, fifteen from any community, and hadn’t seen another vehicle since leaving the hospital garage.

My partner, a trainee, scanned the road ahead for sign of our contact, while I wondered what we were rushing into.  Our only information was a call received by the dispatcher requesting an ambulance to an isolated rural area. The caller did not reveal the nature of the emergency and his location directions were vague. He said someone would meet us on the main highway. That made me nervous! I decided to radio the dispatcher for police assistance. Unfortunately for us, that meant a town constable at home in bed twenty miles away. On the plus side, the dispatcher at the time was my wife.  As she still liked me back then, she decided to request assistance from the Sheriff’s office and two other police departments from adjacent jurisdictions.

Suddenly, headlights flashed in front of us. A large, dark car pulled out from the shoulder of the road, its driver waving frantically as he turned onto a narrow, gravel township road forming a dust cloud between us.

Maintaining a safe distance back, we followed the dust cloud at a slower speed allowing my partner time to note any landmarks he could radio to the dispatcher.

Abruptly, the dust dissipated, revealing the dark car with its mysterious driver stopped next to an open grassy area.  A dirt drive wound its way up to what appeared to be an old basement dwelling set a good eighty yards from the main road.  We stopped a few feet behind him.  As I exited our rig in an attempt to approach and question the driver, he silently pointed toward the dwelling then sped off down the gravel road.

My attention turned to the dwelling. It was built into a low knoll, had large front windows, and, thankfully, was well lit both inside and out.

“Something is missing!” I whispered. “No vehicles, people, dogs, or movement.”

Slowly we inched our way up the drive. When almost parallel to the dwelling, it made a sharp right to an exterior wood frame, enclosed stairway atop the knoll. There, in the glare of our floodlights, lay the body of a woman. Dressed in a blood-stained, pale green nightgown, her head turned away from us, she appeared to be sleeping, but it was an illusion. A visible gunshot entry wound to the back of her head told a different story.

Immediately, my instincts and training took control.

“Shut off all our lights, give me the radio and get your ass out of this rig now!” I yelled to my partner. “Hide in the woods beyond the tree line!” Next thing I knew, he was running fast and low towards a large pine tree.

I radioed the dispatcher, “We have a D.O.A with G.S.W.!  We need help fast!”  *

Now, what do I do?  Sitting in a darkened ambulance, on a small rise next to an illuminated earth home I was a sitting duck. If the shooter was still there, one well-aimed bullet could have hit me or the large oxygen tank, and I’m history.

What if there are more victims inside? What if they’re still alive? Call it brave or insane, I had to know. It was my job to save lives.

Flashlight in hand, I made my way through the shadows to the stairwell. Standing to one side, I held it high above my head to disguise my position and actual size as I peered through the door. Looking down inside, I saw a single, bare bulb ceiling light, a child’s bicycle in a corner, and a second body at the foot of the stairs. Like the woman’s, it was face down in a pool of dark, clotted blood. It was a man with a gunshot exit wound in the back of his head.

The bicycle – is there a child here?

Against all policy, I descended the stairs, stepped over the man’s body, and entered the living room to a scene of rage and anger. Furniture overturned appliances broken, dishes shattered, and personal items everywhere but no child.

Cautiously I searched the remaining rooms. I saw a lifestyle of modest income and means but no child or other bodies. I was relieved.

Retracing my path, I exited the house to call in what I’d seen. As I reached the radio to give the dispatcher update, the dark car returned. As if in slow motion, it appeared on the gravel road and turned onto the grassy area in front of the dwelling.

Cutting my report short, I waited and watched. The car stopped, and the headlights went dark. The only light was from the dwelling and beautiful, setting full moon.

I could hear the radio in the ambulance. The dispatcher telling me the closest police unit it still fifteen minutes from our location.

Estimating the distance from my position to the car at forty yards, I realized I did not have a lot of options.

I saw one person, the driver si ing behind the wheel staring at the house, seemingly ignoring me.

Was this a neighbor, friend, relative, curiosity seeker or…?

I had to know! I couldn’t be out here in the middle of the wilderness trapped by my own fears.

Heart in throat, I walked to the car while keeping my flashlight trained directly at his face.  I got within ten feet when he suddenly turned on the interior dome light and looked at me. He was young, late teens, early twenties, long black hair, average size, and scruffy appearing. He had a strange, peaceful look on his face, a calmness as though his burdens were gone.

As I a attempted to talk to him, I visually searched the interior of the car with my flashlight. He had no less than eight guns and what appeared to be hundreds of rounds of ammunition strewn over the seats. He asked me, “Are they dead?” I believe so.” I replied.

“Good!” he yelled as he slammed his foot onto the gas pedal and sped through the grass to disappear down the gravel road.

There was a return to silence as a soft glow in the east announced the rising of the sun.

It was going to be a beautiful Mother’s Day – for most.

12/23/2013 by Papanyk at Nykolai.Com  

My Dream.

“Dedicated to DC, one of the most intelligent and beautiful young people I have ever had the fortune to meet.” Nyk

What wondrous form, my dreams invade?

A flame thought dying, did only fade?

Its glow, no ember, its form too pure

Illumes the night, of that, be sure!

What wraith be not, did appear to me,

With mystic orbs of azure sea?

Twas not fear I felt, nor tear did shed,

Judgment at peace within my head.

With no call to account, nor lie dispel,

Risen anew, did waif emerge from hell.

Past sleeping eyes, sweet smile did grace.

As slowly it neared, to touch my face.

Upon my lips, velvet touch did come,

Tender voice declare, “I am now someone.

Thank you.”

No Price on Humanity

Recently, I met a young person who is going through a very traumatic period of life that is quite similar to what I endured for a number of years. I do not want to embarrassed or cause any further issues so I will simply call refer to this person as DC.

While growing up, DC was subjected to a pretty rigid life in a controlled religious environs that stifled creativity and individual thinking. When my friend was able to escape the situation, DC was preyed upon by sexual predators and cast off like a used paper towel to end up living in a vehicle, rather than a home with love and caring.

One day, DC met someone who offered a place to stay in return for physical activities, none of which are important to this paper. I only mention them to set the proper tone. Desperately in need, DC agreed to the terms, a mistake soon regretted. However, not to be defeated, DC endured while establishing a community presence and finding work. All the while with the specter of home life demands weighing heavily. Predictably, those demands erupted into a very bad situation placing DC at risk for injury or worse, and once again homeless.

In the short time I have known DC, I’ve discovered a very sensitive and remarkably intelligent human being who has made some bad mistakes, none of which cannot be overcome. The problem now being an overabundance of advice confusing issues!

Yes, I said advice; DC is getting a lot of conflicting advice which is having a dramatically negative effect. It would be horrible for someone not in such a critical situation but is even worse for DC.

Who to trust?

Who to believe?

Who to turn to for help?

To the best of my knowledge, no one in DC’s group of friends has offered more than temporary assistance. It’s tragic, but true of human nature. Can I blame them? No, of course not, they think they are acting in DC’s best interests when in actuality, they are acting in their own by thinking theirs are the only answers to the problems.

This is the current state of many “humanitarian efforts” these days.

I think it great that people sympathize and are willing to help but unless they’ve walked the path, they can never empathize. To push someone such as DC to make life changing decisions at this time is almost an assault on emotions however necessary it may be. That may only be accomplished by one who has walked in DC’s shoes.

As I have done before with others I have promised DC housing, sustenance, help getting into college and whatever other things I can do to make life easier and more successful without unwelcome stipulations. DC alone must make the decision to accept or not. Whatever that decision is, I will not abandon DC as I was once abandoned by my family.

The problems being:

Who can DC trust?

Who can DC believe?

Who can DC turn to?

People who know me say Nyk, you’ve been crapped on before by people you’ve helped, why continue?

My answer is because I’m me.

I believe that if we do not try to help those in desperate need, we not only work against them, we may even be defeating ourselves. Imagine, perhaps DC might go on to create a cure for hunger or cancer; may become a great world leader or even possess the knowledge to end wars. We do not know, nor will we until we step up and believe in people like DC and keep our promises to help.

Hugs to all who need one today.

Papa Nyk

Repost! Columbine Essay

06-21-15

Second Repost:  This was done for my first Psychology Class

PLEASE NOTE: At the present time this program will not let me insert the actual autopsy reports mentioned in my essay. If you feel them important, please contact me and I will provide the link to them.

Nov. 17, 2014

“Columbine”

An Amateur Psychological Autopsy of Co-dependent murderers.

At 11:19 a.m. (UTC-6), April 20, 1999 Eric Harris and his friend Dylan Klebold brought hell to the small, suburban town of Littleton, Colorado when they walked through the doors of Columbine High School. By 12:08 p.m. they, along with twelve students and one teacher were dead and twenty-four others were injured (twenty-one by gunshot).

When assigned to read “Columbine”, David Cullen, 2009, Twelve, Hatchette Book Group for our final essay, we were directed to choose either Dylan Klebold or Eric Harris to complete what I refer to as an Amateur Psychological Autopsy of our choice. When I read this in our instructions the very first thing that occurred to me was, sorry professor no can do.

Between 1966 and 2014 there have been eleven major mass murders committed in the United States, each involving guns and having ten or more innocent deaths. The significant variable in those cases is only one event involved more than one proactive killer and that was Columbine, where two, perhaps even three disturbed young men went on a rampage.

I believe Columbine had three killers – Dylan, Eric and Kle-arris, the psychological malevolency created by their co-dependent relationship.

In comments from Susan Klebold’s (Dylan’s mother) essay published in the November 2009 issue of “O”, The Oprah Magazine, she references a theft committed by Dylan and Eric:

“Their theft had shown that under each other’s influence they could be impulsive and unscrupulous. Could they also—no matter how unbelievable it seemed—be violent?”

            This one statement raised a lot of questions for me.

Then Mrs. Klebold went on to say:

“No matter what he (Dylan) did, he was driven to win—and was very hard on himself when he lost.”

“His adolescence was less joyful than his childhood. As he grew, he became extremely shy and uncomfortable when he was the center of attention, and would hide or act silly if we tried to take his picture. By junior high, it was evident that he no longer liked school; worse, his passion for learning was gone.”

“He was quiet. He grew irritated when we critiqued his driving, asked him to help around the house, or suggested that he get a haircut. In the last few months of senior year, he was pensive, as if he were thinking about the challenges of growing older. One day in April I said, “”You seem so quiet lately—are you okay?” He said he was “just tired.” Another time I asked if he wanted to talk about going away to college. I told him that if he didn’t feel ready, he could stay home and go to a community college. He said, “”I definitely want to go away.”” If that was a reference to anything more than leaving home for college, it never occurred to me.”

What Ms. Klebold did not appear to realize, or perhaps failed to recognize was that over time, most probably beginning in early puberty, Dylan was displaying classic symptoms of an early onset dysthemic disorder in the form of chronic depression with suicidal tendencies. (Here too, a question arises, were Dylan’s symptoms exacerbated when he and Eric Harris became friends?)

“”At Columbine High School, Dylan Klebold envied the social successes of the school’s athletes. In his journal, he wrote, “I see jocks having fun, friends, and women.” In another entry he wrote, “I hated the happiness that they [jocks] have.” In contrast, he wrote about himself as being so different from everyone else that he seemed to believe he was not truly human or capable of functioning like a human being.”  Murderous Envy, What is the role of envy in school shootings?” Published on May 27, 2009 by Peter Langman, Ph.D. in Keeping Kids Safe.

Eric Harris, on the other hand was the direct opposite of Dylan. An extrovert on the surface, Eric was charismatic, clever, exceptionally intelligent, and very adept at hiding his true self. He appears to have learned at a young age how to manipulative people to attain his goals. He had talents and skills that might have made him a success in life but his was a tragic path – why?

Unlike Dylan’s parents, Wayne and Kathy Harris, the parents of Eric have not been as forthcoming in their comments about their son. Mr. Harris was a career Air Force pilot who retired when Eric was twelve and the family moved to Littleton, CO. Up until this time, Eric was thought to be a normal kid, doing normal kid stuff like playing soccer and wearing in-style preppy clothes, but that began to change when he met Dylan.

Was it love or evil at first sight?

Excerpt from Dave Cullen’s Blog, FEBRUARY 25, 2010 7:06PM

“Meeting the Mauser’s:  Why did Harris’s take Eric to psychologist?

Were there no psychologists at the “juvenile diversion program”? “Wayne was mystified by his son.[1] Wayne and Kathy accepted that Eric was a psychopath. Where that came from, they didn’t know. But he fooled them, utterly.”

““He’d also fooled a slew of professionals. Wayne and Kathy clearly felt misled by the psychologist they sent him to. The doctor had brushed off Eric’s trademark duster as “only a coat.” He saw Eric’s problems as rather routine. At least that’s the impression he gave Wayne and Kathy.”  They shared that perception with the Mausers. “Other than the van break-in, Eric had never been in serious trouble”, they said. He and Dylan were arrested in January 1998 and charged with three felonies. They eventually entered a juvenile diversion program, which involved close monitoring and various forms of restitution.””

“”Eric rarely seemed angry”, his parents said. “There was one odd incident where he slammed his fist into a brick wall and scraped his knuckles. That was startling, but kids do weird things. It seemed like an aberration, not a pattern to be worried about.””

“Wayne and Kathy knew Eric had a Web site, but that didn’t seem odd. They never went online to look at it. “I found them kind of incurious,” Linda said.””

One might come to wonder if they were wearing blinders or were simply oblivious to what Eric was really like and really doing.

It is said that opposites attract; that may be true on the surface however I believe that commonalities are the adhesives that bond people. In the case of Eric and Dylan the commonality was Kle-arris, the malevolent, unseen cancer created by their disturbed minds. I believe there may have been clues.

Dylan Kle-Arris Eric
Depressive Disorder, DSM-V -296.34 Severe With Psychotic Features Extremely volatile combination. Antisocial Personality Disorder, DSM-V Antisocial/Psychopathic
Avoidant Confrontational
Introvert Apathetic Extrovert
Quiet Vocal
Rage Dangerous Volatile
Pensive Apathetic Unreflective
Uncomfortable with attention Apathetic Wanted the attention
Lost interest in school Strong student
Anger issues – No DSM Major Anger Issues Anger issues – No DSM
Inferior Confusion Superior
Paranoid Apathetic Ruthless
Anxiety prone Cold blooded
Major depression issues Suicidal Depression
Feelings of rejection Amplified emotions Feelings of rejection
Feelings of entitlement
Autopsy Toxicology screen negative for drugs. Fluvoxamine has been known to induce violent behavior in some patients Autopsy Toxicology screen positive for fluvoxamine (Rx) Luvox[2]
Submissive/Beta Threatening Dominant/Sadistic
Self-effacing Self-centered Narcissistic
MIDC Scale 7: Reticent Pattern MIDC Scale 1A: Dominant Pattern
MIDC Scale 5B: Contentious Pattern MIDC Scale 2: Ambitious Pattern
MIDC Scale 1B: The Dauntless Pattern
MIDC Scale 9: The Distrusting Pattern MIDC Scale 9: The Distrusting Pattern MIDC Scale 9: The Distrusting Pattern
Dependent upon Eric  Co-Dependent Killer Dependent upon Dylan

I believe that both Klebold and Harris suffered from congenital neurobiological disorders which, had they never met may have taken them on much different paths in life. Admittedly, Eric’s path may not have been radically different than Columbine but that is something we will never know because they did meet either in the seventh or eighth grade and, hypothetically the seed of Kle-arris was planted.

During the years prior to the Columbine attack is can easily be argued that Eric was the dominant leader however Dylan, via his more reticent nature was also a force to be reckoned with. Dylan had unpredictable fits of rage that may have fed Eric’s dominant/sadistic nature adding to his own rage at the inferior world. I believe this may be seen in the types of wounds inflicted on their victims with the high percentage of head and neck wounds as though they’re saying you are not beautiful like us.

Much has been said about the victims and how they died but little has really been said about the deaths of Dylan, Eric and Kle-arris. They died, kneeling together on the floor of the Columbine High School library of self-inflicted gunshot wounds the nature of which suggests to me, one final act of defiance.

“Final Anatomic Diagnosis” of post mortem examinations.

On reading Dr. Galloway’s report, it struck me that Eric knew long before he committed suicide how he had to do it to prove to the world that he was “The Man!” He was in control right up to the end when he placed the muzzle of the shotgun into his mouth, positioned it to do the most damage and pulled the trigger. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47Wf_RfRJTI ) Warning, graphic.

NOTE: These are footnotes:

I do not believe Eric wanted anyone to get into his mind while he was alive or dead. Dylan, on the other hand used a large caliber handgun which he placed against his left temple and fired. It is quite possible he chose this manner to preserve his face so that in death at least he might be handsome.

Dr. Galloway’s report on Dylan mentions aspiration of blood. This is only possible if the respiratory system is functioning, ergo Dylan did not die immediately as Eric did. Did he know what he’d done, did he feel any remorse, and did he finally find peace from his torment? I sincerely hope they both did.

[1] I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Harris was afraid of his son as well as mystified.

Closing:

I chose to write my essay on Eric Harris, the psychopathic murderer who led his best friend, Dylan Klebold into a web of deceit, terror and mass murder. In writing this essay I discovered Eric Harris, a troubled young man with an intense anti-social personality disorder that appears to have doomed him almost from birth. Despite what anyone, even Eric might think he was not in control of his actions because he saw no need to be. He was not in control of his feelings because he didn’t have any. He was not in control of his future because he saw none.

Had Eric not met Dylan when he did, would things have turned out differently? Maybe, but then our world is filled with chronically depressed Dylans, Eric may have found another or simply acted alone. In any event, I feel that Eric was born without a conscience and he died without one.

Were Dylan and Eric also victims? There is only one logical answer – Yes.

As sure as some children are born with congenital malformations of their organs, Dylan and Eric were born with congenital malformations of their minds.

Mother’s Day

I was asked to repost this and another paper I wrote during my first year in college.

Sunday, three A.M. a full moon illuminates a forest alive with night creatures. Their eyes aglow as if in wonderment as our emergency beacons pierced their world. Only the sounds of our engine broke the silence as we raced through the night. No need for the siren. We were ten miles from the nearest major road, fifteen from any community and hadn’t seen another vehicle since leaving the hospital garage.

My partner, a trainee, scanned the road ahead for a sign of our contact while I wondered what we were rushing into.  Our only information was a call received by the dispatcher requesting an ambulance to an isolated rural area. The caller did not reveal the nature of the emergency and his location directions were vague. He said someone would meet us on the main highway. That made me nervous! I decided to radio the dispatcher for police assist. Unfortunately for us, that meant a town constable at home in bed twenty miles away. On the plus side, the dispatcher at the time was my wife.  As she still liked me back then, she decided to request assistance from the Sheriff’s office and two other police departments from adjacent jurisdictions.

Suddenly, headlights flashed in front of us. A large, dark car pulled out from the shoulder of the road, its driver waving frantically as he turned onto a narrow, gravel township road forming a dust cloud between us.

Maintaining a safe distance back, we followed the dust cloud at a slower speed allowing my partner time to note any landmarks he could radio to the dispatcher.

Abruptly, the dust dissipated revealing the dark car with its mysterious driver stopped next to an open grassy area.  A dirt drive wound its way up to what appeared to be an old basement dwelling set good eighty yards from the main road.  We stopped a few feet behind him.  As I exited our rig in an attempt to approach and question the driver he silently pointed toward the dwelling then sped off down the gravel road.

My attention turned to the house. It was built on a low knoll, had large front windows and, thankfully, was well lit both inside and out.

“Something is missing!” I whispered. “No vehicles, people, dogs or movement.”

Slowly we inched our way up the drive. When almost parallel to the dwelling, it made a sharp right to an exterior wood frame, enclosed stairway atop the knoll. There, in the glare of our floodlights lay the body of a woman. Dressed in a blood-stained, pale green nightgown, her head turned away from us; she appeared to be sleeping,  but it was an illusion. An obvious gunshot entry wound to the back of her head told a different story.

Immediately, my instincts and training took control.

“Shut off all our lights, give me the radio and get your ass out of this rig now!” I yelled to my partner. “Hide in the woods beyond the tree line!” Next thing I knew he was running fast and low towards a large pine tree.

I radioed the dispatcher, “We have a D.O.A with G.S.W.!  We need help fast!”  *

Now, what do I do?  Sitting in a darkened ambulance, on a small rise next to an illuminated earth home, I was a sitting duck. If the shooter was still there, one well-aimed bullet could have hit me or the large oxygen tank and I am history.

What if there are more victims inside? What if they are still alive? Call it brave or insane; I had to know. It was my job to save lives.

Flashlight in hand, I made my way through the shadows to the stairwell. Standing to one side, I held it high above my head to disguise my position and exact size as I peered through the door. Looking down inside, I saw a single, bare bulb ceiling light, a child’s bicycle in a corner and a second body at the foot of the stairs. As the woman’s, it was face down in a pool of dark, clotted blood. It was a man with a gunshot exit wound in the back of his head.

The bicycle – is there a child here?

Against all policy, I descended the stairs, stepped over the man’s body and entered the living room to a scene of rage and anger. Furniture overturned, appliances were broken, dishes shattered and personal items everywhere but no child.

Cautiously I searched the remaining rooms. I saw a lifestyle of modest income and means but no child or other bodies. I was relieved.

Retracing my path, I exited the house to call in what I’d seen. As I reached the radio to give the dispatcher update, the dark car returned. As if in slow motion, it appeared on the gravel road and turned onto the grassy area in front of the dwelling.

Cutting my report short, I waited and watched. The car stopped, and the headlights went dark. The only light was from the house and beautiful, setting full moon.

I could hear the radio in the ambulance as the dispatcher is telling me the closest police unit it still fifteen minutes from our location.

Estimating the distance from my position to the car at forty yards, I realized I did not have many options.

I saw one person, the driver sitting behind the wheel staring at the house seemingly ignoring me.

Was this a neighbor, friend, relative, curiosity seeker or…?

I had to know! I could not be out here in the middle of the wilderness trapped by my fears.

Heart in throat, I walked to the car while keeping my flashlight trained directly on his face.  I got within ten feet when he suddenly turned on the interior dome light and looked at me. He was young, late teens, early twenties, long black hair, average size and scruffy appearing. He had a strange, peaceful look on his face, a calm as though his burdens were gone.

As I attempted to talk to him, I visually searched the interior of the car with my flashlight. He had no less than eight guns and what appeared to be hundreds of rounds of ammunition scattered over the seats.

He asked me, “Are they dead?”

I believe so.” I replied.

“Good!” he yelled as he slammed his foot onto the gas pedal and sped through the grass to disappear down the gravel road.

There was a return to silence as a soft glow in the east announce\d the rising of the sun.

It was going to be a beautiful Mother’s Day – for most.

G.S.W. = Gunshot Wound

D.O.A. = Dead on arrival

Essay on Pain

    All my life I’ve had a silly little dream about running. I would see myself running through fields of wheat in Kansas, along Minnesota deer trails, on the beaches of an exotic island and once up the side of a mountain. Crazy hey? Even now, as I enter my seventy first year, I have this same dream and you know what, it still hurts.

    When I was growing up, most of my friends were athletic, playing baseball, football, swimming, running foot races, and more but not me. I couldn’t run and didn’t know why. I tried, believe me I tried so hard and wished even harder but I could only dash maybe twenty yards when I would get a terrible pain in my left side. More than once, this pain doubled me over and I dropped to the ground crying. It hurt, and I didn’t know why.

    I told my mother about this and her answer was, your brothers can do it, so can you. That was her mantra until, in my early teens while playing outside with my dog Misty, the pain hit me worse than ever. I fell to the ground gasping for breath. Misty must have thought I was suffering from overheating so she licked my face like a madman.

    A neighbor noticed me laying on the ground and came over. When she saw how hard it was for me to breath, she yelled for my mother to call an ambulance. My mother came out of the house and said I was “faking it for attention” but that she would call the doctor. So they helped me into the house, sat me on the couch and she called.     

    The doctor told my mother he didn’t think it serious but to bring me into his office in the morning for a chest x-ray anyway. I don’t know which hurt the most, my side or my mother saying I was faking for attention.

    I spent a miserable night. Couldn’t get comfortable and when I did, either the pain became more intense or my breathing more troubled. My mother seemed to have slept well, I could hear her snoring in her bedroom. (In all fairness, I should note that I have sleep apnea and, in retrospect suspect my mother did too so the quality of her sleeping must remain in question.)

    In the morning, I was up with the sun, showered and ready to go to the doctor before mother got out of bed. While waiting, I found I was the most comfortable standing and when I tried to sit, the pain grew intense, so when it was time to go, I was wondering how I was going to sit in the car for the thirty minute drive to the doctor’s office. Mother, attentive but also had to remind me that if I was doing this for attention, I was going to pay the bill plus ten percent interest. Back in the 1950s ten percent was close to usury.

    When we get to the doctor’s office the nurse took one look at me and put my skinny little butt (yep, back then it was small) into a wheelchair and took me directly to the X-Ray Department at the clinic. Once there, she does the routine vital signs work then waits outside while I get zapped. That done, the nurse is at my side checking me and standing guard as if I’m about to explode while the radiology people develop the film. When we get the ok to go, I’m hurting so it’s back into the wheelchair and to the doctor’s office examining room where my mother was waiting.

    After a few minutes the doctor comes in and says, “Richard you have a right lung pneumothorax of unknown etiology.” (I wrote that down.) He explained that pneumothorax means a collapsed lung and etiology means unknown origin.

    “Could he have done it to himself? He’s always doing things to get attention.” My mother asked (Thanks for the vote of confidence mom!)

    Don’t recall everything the doctor replied but it was something to the effect of, he would have to have struck his back or chest very hard to accomplish it and “I see no external signs of trauma.” He treated me by applying a tight binding to my chest until the lung expanded again. But in retrospect, he never mentioned why I was having pain on the left side. A mystery finally solved when I was in my sixties.

    I had a number of these episodes throughout my teens, enough to make “You’re faking it for attention.” a mantra for my mother.

    When I was old enough, I joined the Naval Reserves like my brothers had done, but when I went to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center and tried to swim, I couldn’t. This was probably because no one ever taught me, but was more likely because I couldn’t breathe and when I swallowed water, I choked. They had to drag my ass out of the water every time. That hurt.

    When I returned from the Great Lakes, I decided to get out of the Naval Reserves and join the Air Force. I knew I would be successful there, I had to be just to show them I could. Well, two weeks into my basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX I collapse while running in formation. Woke up in the infirmary with the most sarcastic male nurse I’ve ever seen looming over me. I couldn’t wait to hear the mantra, but he didn’t know it so he carted me off to x-ray, where they discovered my right lung was partially collapsed. I was given a medical discharge.

    I left Lackland in pain – physical and emotional. In retrospect, it was good because they had tagged me to become an Air Policeman and ship me to Thule, Greenland. Greenland would be no problem but I could have gotten someone killed if I couldn’t perform my duties as a cop.

    Back home, which really was no more than a room in someone’s house, I started looking for work. I began working at the VA hospital in Minneapolis, MN as a dishwasher. No running, no swimming, no climbing and I could breathe – Yay. I worked hard and earned the coveted role of line prep in the seventh floor patient dining room. It was so cool, alone doing my thing in the secured dining room of the psychiatric ward. That lasted until the day a patient came running in and said “the president’s been shot!” Yeah, sure bud what else is new. Lunch is over and I need to pick up the dirty trays from the patient rooms and you can’t be in here alone, so out you go.

    As I ushered the patient out of the dining room, I noticed something rather odd. A nurse was on her knees in the hallway crying her eyes out. Now this is getting weird. That was about 1:00 PM, November 22, 1963, the day I quit working at the VA hospital.

    My next job was as an orderly in the Emergency Room of the Minneapolis General Hospital, definitely not a good place for white uniforms. Dark red would have worked better.

    The year I turned twenty one, the hospital was taken over by Hennepin County and I was asked to join the newly formed Hennepin County General Hospital Ambulance Service. I was HOT in my uniform but I was keeping a secret – I was having respiratory problems especially on humid days. That was to become a problem when carrying patients down flights of stairs. Never dropped one but came close more than once and by the time we got to the bottom I was gasping for air. No one said anything about it but I think they suspected. Then one day my secret was out. While unloading a patient from the back of the ambulance I got a severe pain in my left side. We set the gurney down and I immediately collapsed. That really hurt!

    I ended up in the staff physician’s office telling him my complete medical history. He got an x-ray and sure enough, my right lung had collapsed by about sixty percent. He informed me I needed immediate surgery and recommended a cardio-vascular surgeon at another hospital. I agreed thinking I would finally be healed so he ordered an ambulance to take me (no charge!).

    The next morning they operate. I wake up cut from mid-sternum to my right underarm, two tubes stuck into my side, IVs in both arms, oxygen nasal cannula on my face, tube in my bladder and my doctor sitting on the edge of my bed.

    The doctor said the procedure, called a thoracotomy was a success and that all they had done was “scape the pleura of the (right) lung” then “sprinkled talcum powder” over it and closed it up. Tubes in my sides were to drain any fluids from the chest cavity so my lung could expand. “You’ll be as good as new in a couple weeks.”

    The next step was to get me out of bed (this helps prevent postsurgical pneumonia) – it hurt. A nurse and an orderly helped me stand then with wheeled IV standard, tubes hanging out of my side, a pump attached to a long extension cord and a Foley catheter hanging below my belt we went for a “walk”. It hurt but I made it.

    That evening they removed the IVs, tubes from my side and Foley catheter from my bladder. Guess which one HURT! The following morning I was discharged, told to stay home for a couple days and report any issues immediately.

    My mother came to visit and actually said nothing about my doing it to get attention. I was amazed, but then again, she never apologized for not believing me – that hurt.

    I was twenty four when they did the surgery and told me I’d be fine. Once my surgery healed, I tried to get some exercise by running. I wanted to get into shape to apply for a job as a police officer so I ran, not very far because it hurt. My left side hurt. I gave up on everything athletic, even to the extent of playing ball with my kids and that hurt.

    I had a couple more severe attacks over the years but didn’t do much about them. I learned how to bind my chest by myself and let it go at that. Then one winter day when I was sixty six years old, I slipped on some ice and did a major back slap on the ground. I could barely breathe let alone get up so I lay there for a few minutes wondering if this was the end. It wasn’t, but I sure thought so. I managed to get up, get to my car and drive home to bind my chest but this time it felt different so I called my doctor. He told me to go to the radiologist for a chest x-way which I did. A few hours later, the nurse called me and said the doctor had referred me to a pulmonologist and that I had to get a scan of my chest. So it’s back to the radiologist for the scan then home again. Almost to the minute I arrive home, I get a call from the pulmonologist’s nurse saying I should come right in but she couldn’t tell me why.

    By this point in time, I’m hurting like there’s no tomorrow and wondering if this is just a bad dream. At the pulmonologists office, the nurse takes me right in to see the doctor who makes me wait an hour then comes in to tell me he knows why my lungs collapsed so much. I was born with a congenital defect of my left lung – it never fully inflated. Seems it never adhered to the posterior wall of the rib cage forming a void which could not be seen on x-ray nor heard in my breathing. He said he was surprised I hadn’t died when my right lung completely collapsed. I told him it hurt too much to die.

    So, finally after sixty six years of complaining and being thought a liar, someone listened and proved I wasn’t. Someone found the problem on my LEFT side and told me it caused all the problems on my right. Someone who said I wasn’t doing it for attention.

    What hurts the most now is I never got to look my mother in the eye and say, you were wrong and you hurt me by not believing! You caused the pain and ridicule I felt from others. You should apologize.

    I cannot run and it hurts.

 

Happen to notice I didn’t mention my father in this? He was only a shadow, there but never in my life. He died when I was fifteen

    

Happy Mother’s Day – Your loving adopted son.

This is the very first essay I have ever written. It was an event I was involved in many years ago.

Let me know what you think.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

Your loving adopted son.

Sunday, three A.M. a full moon illuminates a forest alive with night creatures. Their eyes aglow as if in wonderment as our emergency beacons pierced their world. Only the sounds of our engine broke the silence as we raced through the night. No need for the siren. We were ten miles from nearest major road, fifteen from any community and hadn’t seen another vehicle since leaving the hospital garage.

My partner, a trainee scanned the road ahead for sign of our contact, while I wondered what we were rushing into.  Our only information was a call received by the dispatcher requesting an ambulance to an isolated rural area. The caller did not reveal the nature of the emergency and his location directions were vague. He said someone would meet us on the main highway. That made me nervous! I decided to radio the dispatcher for police assist. Unfortunately for us, that meant a town constable at home in bed twenty miles away. On the plus side, the dispatcher at the time was my wife.  As she still liked me back then, she decided to request assistance from the Sheriff’s office and two other police departments from adjacent jurisdictions.

Suddenly, headlights flashed in front of us. A large, dark car pulled out from the shoulder of the road, its driver waving frantically as he turned onto a narrow, gravel township road forming a dust cloud between us.

Maintaining a safe distance back, we followed the dust cloud at a slower speed allowing my partner time to note any landmarks he could radio to the dispatcher.

Abruptly, the dust dissipated revealing the dark car with its mysterious driver stopped next to a grassy open area.  A dirt drive wound its way up to what appeared to be an old basement dwelling set a good eighty yards from the main road.  We stopped a few feet behind him.  As I exited our rig in an attempt to approach and question the driver he silently pointed toward the dwelling then sped off down the gravel road.

My attention turned to the dwelling. It was built into a low knoll, had large front windows and, thankfully, was well lit both inside and out.

“Something is missing!” I whispered. “No vehicles, people, dogs or movement.”

Slowly we inched our way up the drive. When almost parallel to the dwelling, it made a sharp right to an exterior wood frame, enclosed stairway atop the knoll. There, in the glare of our floodlights lay the body of a woman. Dressed in a blood stained, pale green nightgown, her head turned away from us, she appeared to be sleeping,  but it was an illusion. An obvious gunshot entry wound to the back of her head told a different story.

Immediately, my instincts and training took control.

“Shut off all our lights, give me the radio and get your ass out of this rig now!” I yelled to my partner. “Hide in the woods beyond the tree line!” Next thing I knew he was running fast and low towards a large pine tree.

I radioed the dispatcher, “We have a D.O.A with G.S.W.!  We need help fast!”  *

Now what do I do?  Sitting in a darkened ambulance, on a small rise next to an illuminated earth  home I was a sitting duck. If the shooter was still there, one well aimed bullet could have hit me or the large oxygen tank and I’m history.

What if there are more victims inside? What if they’re still alive? Call it brave or insane, I had to know. It was my job to save lives.

Flashlight in hand, I made my way through the shadows to the stairwell. Standing to one side, I held it high above my head to disguise my position and true size as I peered through the door. Looking down inside, I saw a single, bare bulb ceiling light, a child’s bicycle in a corner and a second body at the foot of the stairs. Like the woman’s, it was face down in a pool of dark, clotted blood. It was a man with a gunshot exit wound in the back of his head.

The bicycle – is there a child here?

Against all policy, I descended the stairs, stepped over the man’s body and entered the living room to a scene of rage and anger. Furniture overturned, appliances broken, dishes shattered and personal items everywhere but no child.

Cautiously I searched the remaining rooms. I saw a life style of modest income and means but no child or other bodies. I was relieved.

Retracing my path, I exited the house to call in what I’d seen. As I reached the radio to give the dispatcher update, the dark car returned. As if in slow motion, it appeared on the gravel road and turned onto the grassy area in front of the dwelling.

Cutting my report short, I waited and watched. The car stopped and the headlights went dark. The only light was from the dwelling and beautiful, setting full moon.

I could hear the radio in the ambulance. The dispatcher telling me the closest police unit it still fifteen minutes from our location.

Estimating the distance from my position to the car at forty yards, I realized I didn’t have a lot of options.

I saw one person, the driver sitting behind the wheel staring at the house seemingly ignoring me.

Was this a neighbor, friend, relative, curiosity seeker or…?

I had to know! I couldn’t be out here in the middle of the wilderness trapped by my own fears.

Heart in throat, I walked to the car while keeping my flashlight trained directly at his face.  I got within ten feet, when he suddenly turned on the interior dome light and looked at me. He was young, late teens, early twenties, long black hair, average size and scruffy appearing. He had a strange, peaceful look on his face, a calmness as though his burdens were gone.

As I attempted to talk to him, I visually searched the interior of the car with my flashlight. He had no less than eight guns and what appeared to be hundreds of rounds of ammunition strewn over the seats.

He asked me, “Are they dead?”

I believe so.” I replied.

“Good!” he yelled as he slammed his foot onto the gas pedal and sped through the grass to disappear down the gravel road.

There was a return to silence as a soft glow in the east announce\d the rising of the sun.

It was going to be a beautiful Mother’s Day – for most.

G.S.W. = Gunshot Wound

D.O.A. = Dead on arrival