Update: Court went well today and even seemed a bit amicable. I am ready to move on with my life. I appreciate everyone’s prayers and support during the past several years. God bless all of you for following my work. I hope it helps people. It certainly has been cathartic for me.
For people with PTSD, we must avoid “triggers.”
Triggers are people, places or things that can take us back to the traumatic events, or series of events, that led to our post-traumatic stress to begin with.
It’s why combat soldiers with PTSD don’t much care for fireworks, for example. For people who have been sexually assaulted, it may be the home of their assailant, or a hotel where they were assaulted that serve as a trigger. Simply driving past can immediately “trigger” symptoms of anxiety, fear, and rage.
For me, the Rock Island County Courthouse, pictured here, is the “mother of all triggers.” And I have avoided it entirely for the past 20 months or so, but today I am there, defending my right to what my father has left me in his estate.
I always say that I have “Caregiver PTSD,” and indeed that may be the title of the book I hope to write this year. My PTSD came as the result of several things related to caring for and advocating for my father, including:
A horrifying assault in the basement of my home the last time I ever took a drink, three years ago, this coming Memorial Day weekend. The assault was brought on after I began to post on Facebook that certain people were “murderers” for taking my dad off insulin when he still was eating five meals per day. That not only is inhumane, but it’s an offense a doctor could in theory lose their license over.
I was alerted to dad being taken off his insulin – in fact, I was told that all his meds were DC’d — by the former wellness director of the memory care facility where he lived. This did not jive with what my brother had told me earlier in the day, that the doctor had “doped dad up some more” (prescribed more medications) at the office visit that day.
So, when the memory care facility called to report dad collapsed during lunch and could not immediately be revived, I was suspicious, asked questions, and got answers. Then I downed some booze, massive amounts of booze, and the “murderer” posts began. Not to mention a phone call made to the doctor’s office. Dad was back on insulin the next day.
Someone who I had every reason to trust showed up at my door when I began making the “murderer” posts on Facebook. He then took me to the basement, where the assault took place. This all has been reported to police, is on the books, and there’s a paper trail (or at least there should be) of this entire story.
Next, on the one-year anniversary of the above-described assault, when, while visiting my dad at the memory care facility (which had changed ownership since the insulin incident, and now was managed by what I can only describe as a vile and heartless woman), I thought I saw a “bad guy.” I had gone to police just a couple of days prior regarding some “bad guys” when a friend of mine’s body was pulled from the Mississippi River. I was on edge to begin with and thought people were following me on my walk to the facility that day. I even dialed 911 and also called the facility for help on my way there.
It’s not uncommon for people to exhibit paranoia, anxiety and fear around the time of PTSD anniversary dates. Did I “imagine” this guy was a bad guy, when in fact he simply might have been a maintenance man (as he was dressed as such)? I still don’t know the answer to that, and I may never know.
What I do know is that when I reported this “intruder,” the staff laughed at me, discredited me, and I started giving them a very loud piece of my mind. The next thing I knew, I was being stripped naked and thrown into a cell at the Rock Island County jail, a straightjacket thrown in behind me. The jail, staffed by thugs (including employees fired by a local bar for being lazy and/or drunk), mentally tortured me for two whole days while I was held there on no charges at all. That included one of the former bartenders from the tavern I frequented. The other one pretty much kept her mouth shut and answered questions honestly when asked by someone else who, in my opinion, had no business being inside that jail. I don’t care who she is. And I know what I heard.
And all of this is very, very, very suspicious and not at all “conspiracy” to those who know the whole story, and by now, that includes many people. Will it all someday just go away? Just blow out to sea?
Returning to the courthouse with a sense of serenity
When I finally was “sprung” from jail by an officer associated with the agency I had relayed the initial “bad guy” information to, I was taken to the hospital (again, a place that forever will be a trigger, and I never will do business with again, even though they “forgave” the portion of my bill which insurance didn’t pay, and even apologized for how I was treated there, which is curious); and two days later, I had to go to the Rock Island County Courthouse and defend myself, pro se, against an order of protection filed by the wellness director of the memory care facility.
Mind you, my dad had nearly bled to death in his room from an unexplained injury two weeks prior to all of this (he told the hospice social worker, the ER doc and myself that he was struck by someone…’He got me!’ he said, and then started crying. Dad had gender dysphasia about three years prior to death (and total dysphasia the final months of his life) so a “he” often meant a “she,” but he frequently told me two workers in particular, one a man and one a woman, were rough with him).
The memory care facility nurse who called me at 5 a.m. was the one who said it appeared he had lie all night on the floor, given the size of the pool of blood, and reported that she herself had just come on duty. Rest assured I know who was on duty before her. Employees past and present have chirped like birdies.
I was hypervigilant every time I set foot in there, like any astute caregiver should be. But especially after that most recent incident, probably the third trip to the ER since he had gone in there 18 months prior. If you don’t police most elder care facilities, your resident gets substandard care. And that’s the truth. Period. Particularly in Rock Island County, where the incredibly incompetent Alternatives for the Older Adult is failing miserably in their assignment to protect our elderly.
So today I find myself at the Rock Island County Courthouse again, this time for a status hearing as it pertains to my father’s estate. By chance, it’s the exact same judge that I stood before for the order of protection, which was dismissed.
I have not seen my brother since a few weeks after my dad died. But my lawyer says it is imperative I attend the hearing or the estate could just drag on for months. It already has been 16 months as it is. And for the record, my brother and I did not end up in court (at least not initially) over a dispute between ourselves, but over a dispute with a third heir. My understanding is that my brother tried to resolve this at the last hearing, but apparently was given some poor advice that foiled this resolution, which I assume would have been amicable to all parties.
So, it will be good to see for my own eyes today what’s really going on, and to tell my side of the story, if asked.
I’m going to walk into that courthouse as if I own it, and with my head held high. As if were on assignment for the Quad-City Times, like the old days. I am going to remain calm and answer any questions the judge may have. And by the grace of God, my father’s estate will be closed, and this horrifying chapter of my life closed with it. (Although life has been bountiful with blessings during this hardship, too – my sobriety, career success, and more self-respect then I ever had had in my life. Nothing worthwhile in life comes easy!)
I have changed banks, grocery stores, restaurants – I rarely do business in Rock Island, where I live, because the odds of running into someone who is a “trigger” is just far too high. This entire county is stocked with extremely dishonest people, many of whom are community leaders and who I have known my entire life, but who I now know to be — well, frauds — to use Mitt Romney’s famed word to describe Donald Trump.
How dad and I reclaimed the family home
I already have reclaimed my family home.
When I bought out my brother’s half of the home when we inherited it when dad died, he asked, “Why would you even want ‘The House of Hell?’”
He called it that with good reason. As kids, the police frequently were at our house. Mom and dad used to beat the crap out of each other. Mom once pinned dad to the floor in the living room and held a steak knife to his carotid artery. I went downstairs screaming and a friend of my brother’s ran upstairs and pulled mom off dad. I often wonder what happened to that guy. I liked him.
My dad did abuse my mother. Mentally, especially. We didn’t know then that he was a very sick man with a rare brain disease that caused him to behave the way he did. What a horrid death he experienced. Pick’s, which you can read more about by clicking here, is a terrible disease.
Dad lost the house to mom in their second divorce in 1984, when mom was given six months to live. She died in 1995. My brother and I inherited the house and sold it; dad bought it again almost 20 years later, five years ago this June.
Shortly after mom had dad evicted from the home via an order of protection, shortly before the divorce, she moved in a man she met at Sweetwater Tap. I didn’t like it. I caused lots of problems.
And then she threw me out.
I was working at least 25 hours per week at the Quad-City Times then, as a junior in high school, and being paid a freelance rate on top of my hourly rate to cover the cities of Milan and Silvis for them. So, for a teenager, I was making good money. I paid my cousin room and board and lived with her my senior year.
Despite everything that happened in this house, it’s mine now. Mine and my dad’s, even though he no longer is with us. I even feel healed about all that happened with mom, even sleeping in the same room where she perished.
So today I reclaim my trauma, I own it, and hopefully, we all move on. Tragic as parts of my life story has been, I lead a very blessed, very privileged life. I cannot forget that. Not today, not ever.