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They Call Me A Hero…

Sunday night…  I don’t know what it was that made me feel the urge to go outside but something unseen directed me to get up, go outside, look left.  I can’t describe the sheer horror when I did go and saw the smoke pouring out the front door, window and wall of my next door neighbor’s apartment.  Within seconds, the fire was also visible through the wall.

Cue panic.

Within seconds, I was dialing 911 and running to wake my neighbors C. & B. on the other side of the fire.  Those 2 minutes trying to wake them felt like forever. Once they were safely outside and substantially in shock, I ran back to my place and – still on the phone with 911 – and turned my hose on the fire (which was now clearly visible through the front wall and clear that the hot spot was a faulty electrical outlet) then onto my roof and outside wood walls and back onto the endangered apartment.  B. then turned his hose on the area my water couldn’t reach and we held the fire back until the fire department arrived a full six minutes later.

I went to talk with B. and C. while the firemen took an axe to the burning front wall of I.’s apartment to expose the fire.  The source was indeed a faulty outlet that blew with a power surge.  B. & C. had reported these power surges to FPL and to the landlord repeatedly and neither had done anything about it.  Now it became a real threat to life and property.

That night after the power was cut to that duplex and all was quiet, I was still too much of a nervous wreck to sleep.  Monday morning, A. and his mom picked me up early and took me down to West Palm for the day to try to get my mind off everything.  I almost had myself convinced that it was an isolated incident and that we were safe.  That idea didn’t last long though as I spoke with C. that afternoon and she told me the landlord and the maintenance guy came out and did a “quick fix” by simply splicing a new outlet to the burned wire, replacing the front wall wood panels (only on the outside) and turning the breaker back on.  This is a violation of fire code, it remains a fire risk and no inspection was done to ensure its safety, not to mention the maintenance guy is NOT a licensed electrician – Code Enforcement will have a field day on this  C. promised to call CE this morning and I provided her the number last night.  I called this afternoon (Tuesday) to follow up after learning that she had not called because she did not have her phone.

Monday night saw no sleep either.  This event has really gotten to me mentally and emotionally and my nerves are frayed, so much so that Monday night I tried calling around for a 24-hour free counseling line to try to find a way to quell the fear and anxiety.  The only place I could get was a Consult-A-Nurse line and all they did was tell me to go to the E.R.  Well, I did.  My blood pressure was spiking, my head was pounding, my stomach twisted in knots.  I had been in a full-blown panic attack for a full 24 hours.  The Triage nurse tried twice to get my BP but could not get a reading.  He told me it was “too high for the machine to read.”  He told me to relax (yeah, right) and they’d try again in a few minutes.

The next nurse who saw me briefly told me the chart said my BP was 117/20.  Um – what?  It’s never been that low – I have uncontrolled high blood pressure and no meds for it.  I told her the guy who just tried to take it said it was so high he couldn’t get a reading.  She said, “Oh, well it says here you’re normal,” and would not check it again to get a real reading.  They falsified my chart!  They refused to treat me for the anxiety or the BP and merely sent me home with a script for Vistaril which I wouldn’t be able to get until the next day anyway.  I went in there because my pressure was so high it was making me sick and because I was in a panic attack too scared to sleep for 2 nights straight – and they refused to treat me.  This is what hospitals do to people with no insurance – they leave them for dead.  I almost wished I’d have had a stroke in the parking lot on the way out.  Let them be accountable.

Now it is Tuesday night and I still have not been able to sleep.  The landlord and his secretary and maintenance guy are trying to say someone threw a Maletov cocktail at the building.  What a load of crap.  Even fire and police reports state the cause of the fire was faulty wiring.  Maintenance also tried to assure me the building is safe now and that my building is safe, stating mine was inspected “when it was all done,” whatever or whenever that means.  I don’t feel safe.

Even today, my neighbors are calling me a hero.  Yes I stopped a fire from spreading.  Yes I got my neighbors out safely.  But to be such a wreck afterward… Idunno… doesn’t feel very “heroic.”  All I need is Valium.

Oregon City and Newtown

This past Tuesday, someone very close to me sent me the following text:

“No idea what’s going on but Clackamas Town Center is literally surrounded by police w/medical and fire on hand en masse.”  4:02 PM PST Dec 11

He was right there, trying to get through the chaos, texting me as it happened:

“Units still arriving, all agencies, well over 100.” 4:03 PM PST Dec 11

I’m pacing at this point, wondering what the hell is happening.  He’s in Oregon City, I’m 3500 miles away in Florida and helpless to do anything to follow my first instinct to get him out of there (not that he’d have needed my help, that’s just the way I am).  Dreading what I’d see, I turned on the news…

http://www.oregonlive.com/milwaukie/index.ssf/2012/12/masked_gunman_unleasheas_fusil.html

http://www.oregonlive.com/clackamascounty/index.ssf/2012/12/live_updates_on_clackamas_town.html

http://www.koinlocal6.com/content/breaking/story/Suspected-gunman-among-3-killed-in-Clackamas-Town/b56vE1pNmEWgkRmcWwejkw.cspx

This was hitting way too close to home as someone I love was THERE.

Then Friday… Newtown, CT… I could not believe what I was hearing as I was listening to the reports coming in on NPR.  As the count rose of all the children senselessly taken from this quiet community at a place where they are supposed to be safe, all I could think of was my daughter.  She was at school here and at that moment all I wanted to do was hold her, protect her, from anything and everything.  But that’s impossible.

We are coming into a time where people are becoming so desperate that they are more and more often resorting to more violent means of crying out for help, for getting their points across.  Only two emotions can remain after such attacks in our own communities: Anger and Fear.  The anger will only progress into rage and more calculated killings.  The fear can only drive innocent people away from public places, into their homes afraid to go out in public anymore.  No place is immune from someone snapping and opening fire.  Temples, churches, schools, malls… I think if we really come together as communities and pay attention to what is happening around us, pay attention to the signs that others are giving, we may be able to prevent some future attacks from occurring.  If we can catch warning signs earlier that someone is hurting, perhaps we can direct them to help, or get help to them.  I don’t know – I don’t think anyone does.  There is no one solution to the growing problem and definitely no easy one.  I do think however we can all start by caring a little more, reaching out, pulling together.  We are our brothers’ keepers.