5 hours in the ER…or Trauma Unearthed (Part 1)

A visit to the local emergency room on a Wednesday night was not expected or wanted.

An earlier evening dental appointment where vitals were taken exposed a blood pressure and pulse reading that concerned the dentist and his assistant. Needless to say, it didn’t concern me as I started new anti-depression meds and was not exactly adherent to the ‘do not drink alcohol” label on the bottle.

But…

I did not drink prior to the dental.  After the appointment, I went home, swallowed the pizza I bought on the way and fed the furs. That lil’ voice in the head, often ignored, nudged me to check my blood pressure.

165/110 pulse 119!!!

Ok…

Got in a neighbourhood cab and $9 later sat in the emergency room at Methodist waiting for a doctor.

After two hours of sitting on a plastic grey chair that once may have been blue; playing Candy Crush while observing the homeless woman across from me sleeping, snoring, hunger rumble from her belly, I was called in. 

EKG/Blood Pressure monitoring and pulses oximeter.

My vitals were taken by a Haitian nurse who bragged about her scholarly accomplishments and frowned at my taking anti-depression meds. I was brought into the er amidst the beeping of vital machines, moaning, cursing, frazzled nurses, complacent doctors, and human congestion of the rush hour automobile kind.

Waiting and observing brought back the memory of numerous hours spent with mom, my mom in this same space. She was in hospice care at home but would frequent the er when her draining tube dislodged.

Anxiety, severe depression with the strongest need to scream.

My mom gave up her mental fight during the last visit to this er. Defeated over additional testing, she started to cry. There was no end to the treatments which brought no healing. A return to normalcy was not in her future. I sit with myself in bright fluorescent lights trying to block the memories. I felt so helpless then as I do now alone in sterile coldness, which only exacerbates the fragility of mí alma (my soul).

Nothing compares…

With high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate I was an outsider in the emergency room. 

I was an outsider inside a large room where homelessness mixed in and cememented with mental health issues. Mind you, I do have the mental health stuff but I’m also “medically managed” * for it.

Others are not. 

In the er, some were going through psychosis, strapped to their beds with heartless security guards sitting nearby. The er that night was a mental health facility over run by those seeking shelter from a cold/foodless night on the outside. 

This city, NYC, treats homelessness as the black elephant in the room whom city officials would love to sweep in the sewer. 

I applaud all the healthcare workers there that night who did their rounds and interacted to the best of their abilities with the fragile mental humans in front of them. 

*my primary care physician’s words

My mood in clouds…or from both sides now

Brain in spasms 
Thoughts bouNcinG on the membrane, 
bOunCing off the membrane
BoUnCiNg… 

* EMC

Walked outside looked up
Clouds
Bouncing stopped
Restored, reset
I begin my morning

Confusing and self-doubt
Exploring possibilities
relocation, restoration, resurrection
Water, liquid water

* EMC

Across the Hudson
Clouds
Confusion now clarity
Self-doubt now security
I begin my afternoon

Shit waits for no one
It passes you by
It rolls on forever
Like the clouds in the sky*

*EMC

Shit happens
Clouds
Sometimes it’s good
Most times it’s bad
I begin my evening

Spasms 
Thoughts bouNcinG on the brain  
bOunCing off the membrane
BoUnCiNg… 

* EMC

Walked outside looked up
Clouds
Evening turns to night
Depleted mi alma drained
To bed hibernate

*Helen Forrest

Memory Box or…How Many Times Does The Word Memory Appear

My memories are stored in a Memory box located somewhere in mi alma (soul) and accessed through the head. It is not made of rose gold or lined with fancy crystals, no lock or combination to enter or exit. The Memory box is invisible as are the memories stored inside. Like all other boxes, there is a limit as to how much can be stored. In the case of the Memory box in which memories are thrown in haphazardly it can be trying when it comes to cleaning out the rubbish-what to keep, what is of no consequence and of course, there are the ones we would like to burn.

We all know what happens when we refuse to clean…

Memories are a tricky lot. Some are laments, regrets, pain, joy, happiness, and anger with a bit of mad tossed in. Memories have the ability to teach us lessons, that is, if we pay attention. Some try hard to forget them while others spend too much time in them, in the box, going through the clutter, ruminating over opportunities lost and not seeing opportunities gained. 

And…
We all know what happens when the clutter wins…

I have 58 years of memories stacked in my box and the ones before 7 years of age are not accessible. Good memories are as fresh, vibrant as the day they happened, bad ones are fuzzy fading colours and trauma comes in stark black and white. Those are the ones you can’t throw out. They are there for keeps, reminding you of the space they take up when least expected. The trick is to confront them, waddle in them, bring them close, hug them tight, then let them go. They will still be in the box but the space they take up will not be so overwhelming.

And…
We all know trauma is not good but if we acknowledge it, healing can occur…

***photos from the world wide web

From me…or Hang on

August 3, 2019 -5:23AM 

“I think we all struggle with that unreasonable guilt, E***a, and it is unreasonable, isn’t it? Certainly, my Dad who loved me so well my entire life would want me to live whole and free, right? Of course, he would. It’s just all part of this gut-wrenching process we all have to suffer through. Be thankful for those sparks. Fan them into flame. Live that life to honor your loved one but more so for yourself and the world who needs your particular gifts.”

-Response to a post I wrote on a grief board

Grief amidst a worldwide pandemic mixed in with addiction is not pretty in any colour. 

But the body and mind can longer accept alcoholic as self-medication to make the world seem right. Grief chased down with bourbon needs to rise up and be dealt with. 

So, I …

Hang on for a day
The past is acknowledged, the future not ruminated on. The present? Front, Center and Back.  Because that is all that matters.

Hang on for another day
“An alcoholic in his cups is an unlovely creature”-Big Book
Finished the twelfth steps, now what? 

Hang on
The desire to run, do a gym work out, bang on the piano or even write has faded for Anger and Hangovers no longer fuel, mi alma (soul). 

Hang on for yet another day
Sobriety dulled my creativity or rather my creativity refuses to emerge through a clear thinking alma (soul).

Photo by EMC

Hang on for a day
I have yet to print out those medical records, afraid of what may be revealed, afraid I’ll gain more truths into my inadequacies fueled by alcohol into how I was not there for you-figuratively.

Still hanging on
Have not attempted to finish my piece on “One year without you” for one year has now turned into three years without you.

August 30, 2019 -12:10PM 

Hang tight-you will fly once your wings unfold. You will find a place either in this realm or another where you are loved & appreciated for being just you with all your quirky talents, flowing forth like glitter. Be Strong!”

                                                                         -Note from me to me

Intertwined…or No Drink

Isolated and the deaths of my felines, a brother and sister, two days apart was the ‘woke’ to my consumption of alcohol. What went from drinking after 5pm morphed into drinking at 10am. Half bottle of vino to full bottle. Full bottle thrown in as a chaser for bourbon. 

Bourbon and wine intertwined.

Sobriety literally began as one day at a time. One day drinking, one day not drinking, repeat for two weeks. Get the wine from around the corner, then go four blocks over for the bourbon. Next day wine from two blocks up to bourbon two down and four over. Then repeat every day, seven days a week.  “Silly rabbit…!” Buying one day reserves instead of a grate and handle make me a control drinker.

Bourbon and wine intertwined.

July 1st, 2020 arrived and no drink that day. Or the next, or the next. Reached out for help on week three of no drink. Completed a ninety day program of no drink. Met others who no drink and others who gave up and drank falling off the continuum of no drink.

Bourbon and wine no longer intertwined.

Three months, six months and now 9 months free. A mind not terribly wasted in a hangover pool brings hope to the present.  On occasion I’ll jaunt down memory lane in my mind to remember all the gains with no drink. The future is not for me to see. Hoping no drink will follow me.

Bourbon and wine no longer intertwined.

The glasses made to hold wine sit on the top, top, shelf of the kitchen cabinet. Shapes, colours, pieces of artwork not to be tossed. The bourbon glasses now hold plants swimming in water, toothbrushes and pastes of the human and greyhound kind.

Remnants of what once and is no longer. 

Faith…or Fate

Faith moves mountains
You often said when despair embraced me

Fate moves mountains
I often said as control is in another’s hand

Faith moves mountains
Through troubling times optimism was your shield

Fate moves mountains
Through troubling times alcohol was mine

Faith moves mountains
You believed in a God that would nurture and care

Fate moves mountains
I believed in a God that was cruel and malicious

Faith moves mountains
You rarely shed tears and if you did
they fell with a purpose

Fate moves mountains
I cried everyday 
angry tears driven by self-pity 

Faith moves mountains
Cancer came back for you
this time it latched on 
You cried once in the hospital
and I knew you knew
hope fought

Fate moves mountains
Cancer came back for you
I couldn’t pry it loose 
I cried as much as I drank
and you knew I knew
hope lost

*** It’s been three years since you drew breath. You were in my life for 54 years. I guess I’ll be mourning till the day I join you. I cry mostly mornings, when another day begins, without wine or bourbon. During the days I’ll smile as memories, come in and out, out and in. Looking forward to more smiles and fuzzy feelings when memories hit instead of pain and tears.

I love you mom, my mom.

Las Estaciones De Mi Alma…(The seasons of my soul)

Invierno (Winter)
Mi Alma duerme 

My soul sleeps
For winter
Happy in the cold 
Warm in the body
Embraced at night with furs that live
Wrapped in a sheet with feathers dead
Bring comfort to a comatose mind

La Primavera (Spring)
Mi alma baila

My soul dances
For the air is tinged
With energy and rebirth
Resetting my soul to sync
Within nature at its most
Obvious time

Artwork: Marvin Piqué

El Verano (Summer)
Mi alma se sienta con el sol

My soul sits with the sun
Moving in slow mo’
Jiggly with passion
Humid, Heat, Hotness
Because she can

El Otoño (Fall)
Mi alma duele con recuerdos de Perdida

My soul hurts with memories of loss
Diá de Muertos
The altar once filled with marigolds and 
Bits of food, pictures of the elders 
Sits in a cardboard box in the closet
Because I cannot, love cannot
Add you to them

Wood and paper come from trees
Heart and lungs rule the body
Loss and love nailed in the alma
Scars deeply 

Daydreams or…Mini Vacations of the mind

Daydreams are mini vacations of the mind
I carried this flower throughout the first hour of my shift at work
It was cumbersome as only one hand could stock

Messages Image(1163073376).jpegBut…
This once vital and youthful inflorescence
Deserved a final romp through the Co op grounds

Daydreams are mini vacations of the mind
My determination of being present in the moment
Was disrupted by the fragile flower in my hand
And I thought, ‘Oh my, you are dying’
And then I thought, ‘I am too’
But…
Your life lived was way shorter than my life living

Daydreams are mini vacations of the mind
You started as a seedling, plucked when mature                   IMG_1951
Roots guillotined leaving sap to seep
Thrusted into cold, cold and so cold water
Transported from one state to another in a cardboard box
Bunched up tightly in a bucket with others from your tribe
No room to droop, only to stand tall and upright
But…
You survived the journey

Daydreams are mini vacations of the mind
Unloaded from a cool truck in the daylight hours
Of a hot, hot and so hot NYC morning
You and the others made your way into the Co op
Where unpacked by produce workers
You were put on display on top of a wooden pallet
Above your head the sticker price of $1.25 per stem
But…
Still standing strong, almost defiant, your blossoms raised high

Daydreams are mini vacations of the mind
So your journey towards dying continues
For the next day when I returned to work
The bucket was half empty and not half full
And to be honest I couldn’t tell from the wilted flowers who.
Stayed behind for another day of sale
If you were gone or not
Because you all do look alike anyway
But…
My mind stayed in that moment of the day before
Of knowing that all
Must die in some way IMG_1949

AF…or Can’t Stand Losing You

I LOVE Chardonnay
Lox and cream cheese
Chinese take out
Sashimi
Salt and vinegar potato chips

I LOVE Cabernet
Noodles and meatballs
BBQ take out
Pizza
Pringles sour cream and chives

I LOVE Bourbon
French Fries
Chicken wings
French Fries
Chicken Wings

A cantankerous relationship we had
Through laughter, boredom and tears
Funerals, celebrations, observations and fears
I was there for you
You, here for me

My heart, loved both of you hard
But the spirit of grapes and fermented grain
Had me in regret and perpetual shame
As they never did love
LOVE, me for me

We carried on for many years
Met in the evenings and late afternoons
Then early morn before flowers bloomed IMG_1904.jpg
Love turned to hate
HATE, turned to dust

Said goodbye to you on the 1st of the month
Weeks amounted as days dissolved
And yet I held unto my resolve
No longer together we
WE, are not together

I am alone now as I’ve always been
As I was when I was with you
Though I believed it untrue
IMG_1909 copy.jpgFor how, could I be
Be, lonely, when we were

Alphabet Soup…Sans the Noodles

A is for…
Africa
The Gold Coast, Bright of Benin and the Bight of Biafra
where my ancestors were abducted
brought to the Caribbean
as property to work
on sugar cane, coffee and banana plantations

B is for
Brooklyn
the place I came forth
from the comfort of mom’s womb
during a major snow-stormimages-1

C is for
Catholic School
my father insisted
we go to instead of
the public school across the street
where kids all the shades of brown
attended

D is for
Divorce,
did not happen
when Dad moved back to Jamaica
and mom stayed in the States

E is for
Elena
the first part of my name which translates to
Helen in English

F is for
Fairy tales
Snow white, sleeping beauty, cinderella
wow, a man would rescue me
from all the evil in the world
if I were white

G is for
Gynecologist
years to find
one who was like me
and did not treat
my body
as an oddity

images

H is for
Honduras
where my mother’s Jamaican grandparents
migrated for work
long after slavery

I is for
Identity
Honduras, Jamaica, Scotland, Ireland, India and lastly
America
not the north or the south
but where it’s supposed to be united
but is not

J is for
Jamaica
the country of my father’s and siblings’ birth

K is for
Knowing
coming of age
as an Afro-Caribbean

L is for
Lies
black hair, black skin
big lips, big butts
excludes us from
straight hair
anorexia
Botox
butt lifts
Girdles, lipo
hell no
And…
Black don’t crack

M is for
McCalla (McCullough)
the name of the two Scottish brothers who migrated to Jamaica
and purchased the
ancestors who were stolen from Africa
to work as property
on their sugar cane, coffee and banana plantations
while producing picaninnies to be sold
as property

N is for
Nigger
the name I was called at the all-white
Catholic School
my father insisted I and my siblings
attend

O is for
Ovaries
that decided at the age of
27 to call it quitsimages-2

P is for
Parents
Margarita Walsh (McCalla) May 24th, 1927-October 7th, 2018 (Honduras, Scotland, India)
Noel Emmanuel Walsh May 10th, 1921- May 9th, 2010 (Jamaica, Ireland)

Q is for
Questioning
the world
not settling for
what the Catholic School taught
and yes
Catherine the Great
had a thing
for animals

R is for
Real Estate
mom and dad
bought a house
and became landlords
so, no one could ever
refuse to rent to us

S is for
Sisters
who resented the
burden I was
to their freedom

T is for
Tolerance
for other stories
other celebrations
other holidays
fireworks
that represent nothing
to the house
that slaves
built

U is for
Understanding
what my parents
went through
to provide
for me

W is for
Walsh
he last name of the Irish man who
impregnated my father’s motherand left
my father
with just the
last name. Unknown

X is for
Xenophobia
born and raised in this county I didn’t ask to be born in
I am still a foreigner, an abnormality
because xenophobia allows
those with privilege and power to
hate us because we look different

Y is for
Yearning
for my parents
who accepted
me
as I was

Z is for
Zero
tolerance for
treatment as a sub-human
woman of colour
4th class citizen
bottom of the barrel
Not my circus
Not my monkeys
Not your nanny
Not your cleaning woman