PerBlog October 19, 2013
After spending the majority of this year out of work and the most recent 2-3 months couch-surfing after I lost my apartment, I am finally starting to get settled in at my new home. It is 2 ½ hours from where I have been for the past decade, but St. Lucie County had just completely run out of opportunities for me. After my old boss passed away and the company closed behind him in January, I simply could not find work that was enough to take care of my basic needs. I’d found temp work here and there, but nothing permanent came through. With my apartment several months behind, that was it. I started another temp job and put my stuff into storage, staying between my car and a neighbor’s house (which quickly became very abusive situation). I approached people that I trusted and no one was willing to let me stay with them until I got back on my feet so without an ounce of help from my friends and no family in the area, I had a choice to make: continue being homeless and unable to care for myself much less my daughter, or make a change in my life.
It’s been a very difficult change to make. 150 miles away, a previous boyfriend was willing to take me in and provide food and shelter while I sought work and recovered my losses. His family (3 kids of his own plus two extended family) has been welcoming and friendly as I try to find work here in a much bigger city and try to adjust, settle in and find my way around. I am still looking for work, but do have some calls coming back for interviews and I am hopeful something will come through soon. I have so much I need to catch up on – vital bills that can NOT be ignored but right now there isn’t a damn thing I can do about them. I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that I am 2 ½ hours away from my daughter until I find work and get a couple paychecks in to be able to get back for visitation, the fact that my belongings are being auctioned off at storage because I couldn’t pay for it, and the fact that I lost two pets in the process, Topper and Moppit, my cat and my dog. I have very little clothing with me, and only one of my journals – the most recent one – even though I had kept every one of my journals since I started writing them at age 9. I had to leave when I had to leave, and that meant coming up with only what would fit in my car. This is the third time in my life I’ve lost it all. Isn’t it about damn time something other than being shit on becomes permanent in my life?
Well, with nothing to my name, here I am starting over yet again. Praying to God something permanent comes in so I can once again have gas and food (it’s still scarce here in a household of seven), proper clothing, personal bills paid, and a little to live on. After those basics are taken care of, I look forward to being able to fix the A/C in this house, as it’s got a bad circuit board and was 92F inside today and my asthma is suffering BADLY for being stuck in this hot, humid air and I’ve no means to get my medication. Internet would be great too! Right now my only reliable connection is at the library. It’s sad, the things we take for granted when we have them constantly. When not having certain things begins to affect one’s health however, I think there is justification for bitching a bit when trying to change the situation that wasn’t working isn’t itself immediately working. My life has turned upside-down this year and fallen out from under me. It is HARD. Bear with me if I’m angry or depressed or bitter. All that pretty hope and happiness idealism isn’t always possible.
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.
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.