Thursday, January 25, 2018

Anxiety and the road trip aka saying goodbye to a friend

Once upon a time I thought I was tough and strong and considered myself a survivor.  Things happened. I saw and did things working in the death field, my died, my dad shot himself and I found him, and several of my dogs had to be put down for different health reasons over the same decade.  Somewhere in there I think I broke. Or maybe I was already broken and it was my shell that dissolved.  I still try so hard to be strong for people. I remember I had volunteered for some cases that no one would ever want but something inside me made me feel protective and that I should shield someone else from that tragedy.  I am appalled at myself at the amount of anxiety and fear that I feel on a regular basis.  I am always wanting to know where my loved ones are. Not to be controlling but to “know” they are ok.  I am the same with my dogs. I can play the “what if” game as well if not better than anyone else.  I can be about to explode – or implode – inside and yet seem just fine on the outside.  I have to be able to do that because many of my circle do not believe or understand my anxiety and fear.  Most of my “inner” circle do, but even then, not fully… unless sadly they too feel it too

Recently one of my childhood friends died. I had known her since I was 5.  When her mother called me, she asked if I would speak at her memorial service.  I knew that 2 other friends had been asked and neither could bring themselves to do it. I understand that. I really do. I do not hold that against them. I can’t say that I “wanted” to speak either. I do not like attention. I like to blend into the back and tend to OVER use humor as a defense when I really want to scream or cry.  My response to my friend’s mother??? It was “of course I will, I would be honored to do so” and I meant it and it was a true statement but I thought to myself, how am I going to do this? I wrote out what I would say. I told myself I have to do this because they can’t and if I can, then I can protect them from the pain it causes to do it. It was the farthest I had driven in a long time, especially by myself.  It was physically painful but I am use to that.  I got up there, and I spoke.  I told my stories of my time with my friend.  People came up to me and thanked me and said it was good.  I was glad because I did not want to dishonor my friend’s mother or memory. I talked with people at the reception and was strong.  Then I got back in my car, put on the radio to sing myself home just like the ride there and it seemed like no matter the play list, every other song wanted to make me cry. I had to skip over many songs so I would not bawl all the way home. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Who does these things? lol!

Today I am sitting outside while an electrician is working in the house. We have begun the messy and inconveniencing journey of having upgrades done on the house. Today we are having the electrical outlets in the master bathroom relocated before we have the new custom cabinets installed. I do not mind working outside, in fact I rather like it! It is a bit windier than I would prefer but it sure makes for wonderful sounds as the wind blows through the different types of trees around me. The leafy trees sound much alike, but the ones that are the needle variety or similar sound different.  There is a specific sound of the wind through pine trees. It is a sound I have always found comfort in.  

When I was young, my godparents had a cabin in the mountains. My godfather built a small tree-house for his grand-kids and I to play in. Sometimes if I was the only kid up there - as I was an only child - I would climb up into the tree-house with a pack of sunflower seeds and a book to read. I would be surrounded by the sound of the breeze through the pine trees, as well as the chatter of squirrels, birds and other little critters.  Those sounds were the only ones that compared to how I felt (still feel) about the sounds of the waves rolling in and out at the beach. 

I grew up in the city - sort of - it was a city but a suburban city and not what would be considered a metropolis. I wasn't far from the crazy of the big city, but it certainly wasn't quiet where we lived. I was wishing walking distance to all three of the schools I attended, elementary, middle and high school as well as a park that opened into my small neighborhood. Yet, in the middle of all those was a major intersection. When we moved there in the early 1970's, the intersection was simple and had not become a 4-way signal.  As the neighborhoods grew and the traffic to and from the high-school that touched one corner of the intersection increased, so did the motor vehicle accidents. Screeching breaks and crunching metal was a sound I became familiar with. Several times we, the other kids on my street and I, would run around the corner to see what happened. There were actually quite a few times that we assisted with people who were confused or only slightly injured as we knew the owner of the business on the opposite corner of the high-school. We would walk them up and ask Bill, the owner, for a chair and if we could use his phone (long before cell phones) to call someone for the person we were helping. 

I now wonder how much of an impact and influence these experiences had in my investigations of traffic accidents, and several of my neighborhood friends going into first-responder jobs. Surely it either was part of the desire or we always had the instinct and running to the accidents were just in our nature. Obviously our childhood experiences can have a massive impact on us. They can drive us to do wonderful things or they can make us angry and bitter, often sending us into a darker more negative direction. It is such a tragedy how sometimes these negative experiences can be passed along generation to generation.     

Adding posts

Just a quick blurb to say I have been making notes to myself in my notebooks but not here so if they seem a bit random or out of order.... forgive me as renovations on our house have made me a bit insane!!!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Wow my mind wanders and I digress. I started out with the intention of making the point how music can really effect my mood as well. I am listening to playlist on my iPod while I work and I cannot sit still for nothing! As a kid, I used music as an escape.  I would put on my earphones and a record and zone out when I was trying to take a mental vacation from things going on in my life.  Don't get me wrong, I did not have a bad childhood, but I was an only child - to which I often refer to as a LONELY child.  My parents were unable to have more kids, and as a result of miscarriages and difficulty getting pregnant, my parents were in their 30's when I was finally born.  As a result, most of their friends and my cousins were all older than me. 

When I was young, I had this Panasonic radio (see pic above - just like mine and same color).  It was AM radio because this was before FM was available for normal radio. This radio was shaped like an elongated donut! The color was "banana yellow".  It twisted open to exposed the tuning dial.  The speaker was on the side so it could be heard when twisted closed.  The purpose of the shape was so it could be positioned on a table, worn on your wrist or as I usually had it - hung on the handle bars of a bicycle! I almost always had that radio with me - until the day my favorite radio station 10-Q went to FM. Then I had to get a different radio that was FM friendly. 

To this day, even though it has been 30-40 years, there are quite a few songs from that time frame, that when I hear them I think of the beach. We always had a radio (or 2) when we went to the beach. I could swear some songs even come with the smell of the beach!! Yes, I do realize it is a memory of the smell... but with the smell comes the good memories.  Spent a lot of weekend days at the beach, with family and friends and I am thankful for every time I hear a song that brings back those memories. During my childhood, I learned to play 4 different instruments and even did some student teaching for the studio I studied at, so music will always be a big part of my heart.  Plus, and probably the biggest gift of music is I met the love of my life in none other than the high school marching band!! MANY years ago!

Selections from the song American Pie     performed by Don McLean

A long long time ago
I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile
And I knew that if I had one chance
I could make those people dance
And maybe they'd be happy for awhile
But I knew that I was out of luck
The day the music died
I started singing
Bye bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levy
But the levy was dry
And good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye
This will be the day that I die
This will be the day that I die

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
Well I went down to the sachet store
Where I heard the music years before
I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
Well I went down to the sachet store
Where I heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn't play

Well now in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all broken
And the three men I admire the most, The father, son, and the holy ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died
Songwriters: DON MCLEAN© Universal Music Publishing Group, Song trust Ave For non-commercial use only.
Data from: LyricFind

Friday, October 7, 2016

Movies and nightmares, past and present

It is October, time for the scary movies to be all over tv. I love scary movies, always have.  When I was a kid of 8 or so, I would watch The Night Gallery. The faces in the beginning frightened me and I would hide my eyes. The stories, however, intrigued me.  My mother and my aunt loved scary movies so I watched many with them. 

I remember my younger cousins and I were supposed to be sleeping in the back of my aunt’s truck when she and my mother went to see The Omen – the original one back in the 1970’s.  I was awake though, and watched the whole thing lying on my stomach, chin propped on my elbows and looking through the slider window of the cab.  Now this is a statement of what I dog lover I am. Even though the dogs in the movie were supposed to be evil, scary Rottweilers, it did not deter me one bit from getting a Rottweiler when I grew up. My mother of course would refer to it as the devil dog because of the movie, but she loved my Kimba as much as we did. Named after Kimba the white lion, one of my favorite cartoons as a kid!

Where am I going with this you ask?? Well…. tonight, I decided to watch a movie that actually DID scare me in jr. high. I saw it with a boy, and there were some scary parts that got me. The boy in return got nail marks where I gripped his arm. LOL.  I wonder now how a 13 yr old girl and 14 yr old boy got into that R rated movie because that was unusual back then.  The movie was Phantasm and the tall man was creepy as could be. He just kept showing up when the door was opened, behind the door when someone shut it, and the little scary things in the robes.  What got me about the little robed creatures was the scene when the young teenager was lying on his bed and he had a crocheted afghan that looked very much like the one that was on my bed at the time.  My best friend and I would talk on the phone at night, tell each other about our days as we went to different schools and lived about 10 miles apart. To amuse herself she would tell me not to look under the bed because those robed creatures were under there! Of course it was not hard for my active imagination to view myself lying there with the nearly same afghan afraid to look under the bed or even down.  To make it worse, I was an only child and home alone a lot. When she got the chance, she would tell me not to turn around because the “Tall Man” would be there if I did. She certainly got her mileage out of creeping me out!
When we grew up and were married and living in houses (now in different states) we still talked on the phone at least once a month. The ball was then in MY court because she moved into a house that not only had a basement, but had a boiler and that was where her washer and dryer were – in the basement!!!! So all those years later, to my advantage, I would always tell her Freddie Krueger would be waiting for her when she went to do the laundry!! HAHA  Karma is a bitch sometimes!  We are still good friends but do not talk nearly enough! Now we talk about our adult kids and their families. She would find it amusing, I am sure, to know I am re-watching that movie that once scared me so bad. 

Sadly I have seen such evil in the world when I worked for the coroner that I have now found this movie cheesy, and actually boring. Ironically, I am a little disappointed that once again, I am so battle scarred from the true evil and wrong in the world that it is hard for scary movies to do their job for me.  Now if I were to watch the news, I would be in tears and most likely have nightmares from that.  I miss the innocence of my childhood when I found the news boring and scary movies – scary!  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Lately I have been thinking a lot about how the job affected me in addition to life experiences in general.  I have never handled loss well, but then again I have been losing people I care about since a young age.  I watched my grandfather die from metastatic cancer in my childhood home. I lost a good friend to a savage serial killer in my early teens. It just seems that my husband, our kids and myself have all lost so many people over the years.  Even my kids are no stranger to such loss. Losing many of their friends in car accidents. Losing my mother unexpectedly and my father to suicide by gunshot. It was me who found him. In a sad twist of fate, I worked over 15 suicides in the year before and year after my dad’s suicide and most of them were of course by gunshot. The cases after my dad’s death often caused me flashbacks and made it very difficult for me to get/keep the image of my dad out of my head. It benefited the family members of the suicides to hear my story and that I had been through what they were now experiencing but it did not help me to keep retelling my story. So why did I?  Because in my heart I had to do what was right and if my story and my pain could help these people, then I felt I needed to do it. 

What I am going to say next will not make sense to some people, but losing my dogs over the years has been extremely traumatic to me as well.  I have been there for each death, but one. I held them until they were gone so they did not have to go alone.  The one I did not attend, my husband and oldest daughter did. I just couldn’t handle it at the time. Since that time, it has not gotten any easier.  I came to depend on my dogs for emotional support. I have issues trusting people, because people let you down, they tell your secrets, they ridicule you when they do not understand you and dogs do not do any of those things.  They just love you and appreciate every minute of attention you give back.  When my Bailey began having seizures, and the medications stopped working, we knew we did not have a choice.  Nothing could stop the seizures that day and when it was time to put her to sleep, I lay nose to nose with her. I sobbed uncontrollably for some time after that and wondered if I could love another dog. As I written about her before, next came my boy Bishop and now my baby girl Tessa. I admit I get extremely anxious when I am away from my dogs. As I type this now, Tessa is snuggled up to my side and snoring loudly.  A sound I find comforting, just as I find my husband’s snoring comforting too. Earlier, I saw a dog video on Facebook about a dog and it made me cry and my boy Bishop heard me, came and put his paw on me and licked my tears. Dogs know. And they just want to make it better.

I have never dealt with loss well and I realize now the job did a number on me because I feel like all the kids and loved ones I had worked on and investigated became a part of me and at the same time took a piece of me. I now live in fear. Every minute of every day I fear someone I love will be taken from me. It creates an incredible anxiety, one I can’t put into words right now but it makes me panic, sometimes it makes it hard to breathe, I need to know my loved ones are ok. Sometimes in my anxiety I start physically/emotionally reliving the trauma of my past losses. I can’t remember where I put my car keys or what I went to the market for but I can remember clearly the moments of losing my loved ones. Sometimes in my nightmares I relive the moments. There have been times when I watch a really scary movie or read a book before bed hoping to dream about anything else, but it has always been this way. Nightmares every night. Some are as simple as just having a bad day but almost always there are the ones where I lose people. Watching the news before bed just makes it worse. I have tried journaling my nightmares but it is so hard to put them into words.  It is not for lack of a large vocabulary, it is just that the words do not do justice to the feelings and even when I write the feelings they do not seem to go with the actions, but in my head they did.  Some have suggested I have some traumatic head noise from the job. Yeah, I would think so. I can’t put into words what it does to the soul to do an autopsy on a child, or worse a baby.  As a mother it was just awful to have to literally cut up someone’s baby.  Then also to see what people do to each other. There is a sickness sweeping this nation, this world, where people are hurting each other, hurting children, elderly, animals and even themselves for no purpose and I do not understand. I know that if I had to fight someone for my life or theirs, I could do it. I could do it for someone I love too, but it is not something I would chose to do, the other person would have to leave me no choice but to fight to survive. Now I have to rebuild my trust in people but I don’t know how long or what that will take considering what I have seen and experienced. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016



Update on my baby girl Tessa.  After a couple weeks of antibiotics and liver supplements, her liver enzyme count is down in the normal range.  Unfortunately, we have been unable to determine what caused the event or find a way to have her tested to find out. We hope it was something out of the ordinary and random, and not one of the many types of critters she chases on a regular basis. She has shown no fear of bees and tried to get one moving slow on the ground just days after the event, but I caught her and got rid of the bee before she could snack on it.

I was trying to get a nice shot of her cute face but she turned into a one eyed selfie!! 

She has regained her strength and most of her energy.  She just wants to be outside watching for lizards and birds to come into the area she has access to.  We are allowing her more and more outside time unsupervised but none at night as that is when the spiders are out and more of the odd bugs. She is so happy all the time and I am doing my best to protect her without stifling her natural instincts or play drive. 

Here she is resting on the blanket she took over from me... she was wearing a thunder shirt when I took it because there were big scary trucks paving our street that day!! FYI Thunder shirts do help!! The shirt belonged to our Maggie who was afraid of loud noises and especially thunder, and now we know it helps Tessa when needed!!!