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Victim of Violent Crime - Major Sleep Problems

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by JohnnyCNote, Apr 19, 2007.

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  1. JohnnyCNote

    JohnnyCNote New Member

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    I was assaulted by 4 youths one evening in San Francisco as I was walking down Dolores St. in 1981. When I saw them, I briefly wondered what they might want, but as it's not unusual for people to be hanging out along the street in San Francisco, and I'd never had any problems before. Also, as it was 6:30, it wasn't at all late, although it was dark and had been raining.

    As I passed them, one was on the sidewalk and the other three were opposite on some steps, the first one hit me in the head with a club that was evidently hidden in his sleeve. Almost immediately, the other 3 started hitting me in the face. The first thought that went through my mind was that it was very important to stay on my feet. It took all of the strenth I've ever had to exert to do this, and to this day I'm amazed as it left me with a major scar on my scalp. The next thought I had was to make a lot of noise, so I let out a big howl and they were gone. They never said a word and didn't give any indication of what their motives may have been.

    I stumbled to the corner, aware that I wasn't able to see out of my left eye. I assumed that my lid was swollen shut. I was also bleeding profusely from my nose. I came across a Hispanic man who was shocked at what he saw, and he stayed with me. Soon after that, another man exited the apartment building on the corner and said he'd heard me yell. I asked him to call 911, which he did. He also brought a towel to help with the bleeding. The Hispanic man was very upset and angry about the incident, I might add.

    After a short while, the ambulance arrived and helped me inside. As I was sitting there, the cops drove up and poked their heads into the ambulance. They smirked and started to ask me the standard questions. I asked them to take my name and address from the state insurance card I had given the EMT's, but they curtly replied that they had to get it from me.

    They asked me to describe the attackers, but I wasn't able to as I was trying to ignore them and mind my own business. They smirked again, apparently forgetting that I wasn't trained to size up everyone I saw as a potential suspect. Then they asked for the address of where they were standing. I simply said I didn't know, not bothering to add that I didn't think of stopping to look while I was trying to stay alive. They acted as if I was wasting their time, and I got angry and told them that they weren't going to find them anyway, and that they only went after the "easy stuff". At that point they left.

    I should add that the substation for that part of town was later subjected to a major shake-up in commaders, partially due to problems such I as experienced. Part of the problem was that most male victims of assault were assumed to be gay, regardless of whether they were or not, and there were lingering resentments after the riots in 1979 following the Dan White fiasco.

    I was taken to the hospital, passing a small but notorious housing project, Valencia Gardens, a block or so away. One EMT said that my attackers were probably from there. When I arrived at the hospital, I was wheeled into an examing room and quickly attended to by a number of nurses and doctors. One nurse said she was going to wash the glass away from my left eye, and it was then I realized that it had in fact been injured by fragments of glass from the glasses I'd been wearing. They'd fallen off as I was stumbling down the street, and I just left them, realizing that they were not worth retrieving.

    Soon after than a doctor said I would have to undergo emergency surgery to repair the corneal laceration I'd sustained. I soon became hysterical, and remained in that state for at least a couple of hours. The worst part was waiting in xray. There was a Chinese man who'd been hit by a car and who was groaning and yelling in pain the entire time. I contined to cry hysterically, but also felt a strange detachment. There was a rational voice telling me that it was appropriate to be in such a state in this situation.

    Gradually I started to calm down, and was taken to the ophthalmology clinic, where a 4th year resident examined my eye and informed me of what he needed to do. He said that he'd need to remove the lens, as it was damaged and would develop a cataract, and I told him to do whatever he needed to do. He also finally gave me a shot of Demerol for pain and I calmed down quite a bit.

    Eventually I was taken into the OR, and later awakened in the recovery room. From there I was taken to what I later found out was a neuro ward, since they rarely had ophthalmological inpatients, and thus didn't have a separate ward. I later awakend to find myself feeling extremely peaceful. I was actually reviewing my life to determine if I'd been through anything as bad as the previous night, and ultimately concluded that this was indeed the worst thing I'd ever experienced, and could have in fact died had things gone worse.

    I spent 6 days in the hospital, mostly because they wanted to be sure that I didn't contract any infections. The resident was extremely arrogant and treated me more like an object than a real patient who might actually be able to understand what was going on. I even had to show another resident how to use the slit lamp to examine the surface of my eye! He never did treat me in a respectful manner, and the last time I saw him, he coldly stated that I could try to get more treatment for my eye, but that I'd probably never be able to use it again. It was as if he'd lost all interest. While he did a great job repairing the laceration, he couldn't have been a worse doctor, and I'd never see him as a private patient. I can only hope he's outgrown his childishness and learned to better respect his patients. While he may be an accomplished eye surgeon, he needs to acknowlede that his patients may be equally as talented in things he could never acheive.

    continued . . .
     
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  3. becvan

    becvan Queen of the Blunt! Premium Member

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    Hi Johnny and welcome to the forum.

    That is one greatly detailed, well written introduction post!

    Some basic questions, how and/or were you diagnosed. (this is a curiosity thing for me.. so don't take it personal.. it just fascinates me how some of us and aren't.. etc.)

    Your having sleep problems? Flashbacks? Umm.. what symptoms are giving you the most grief?

    And what is the Dan White Fiasco? I'm not from the states, and many others aren't so I haven't got a clue what you are referring to there.

    Anyways, sorry for all the questions and welcome!

    bec
     
  4. JohnnyCNote

    JohnnyCNote New Member

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    Continued . . .

    The next several months were occupied with doctors visits. I'd also sustained a broken nose (although the resident said "it doesn't look broken to me" - that's why he's not an ENT doctor). The ENT doctor I saw said as soon as he saw me "boy do you have a broken nose!". I later had a rhinoplasty performed by a plastic surgeon, who was nice enough to accept me as a patient. He was willing to perform the surgery under general anesthesia, which was much preferable to sitting in a dentist chair and having the ENT guy chisel my nose under local anesthesia. I was not at all prepared for the pain, however. It was one of the most painful procedures I've ever experienced, and I often wonder how Michael Jackson could have undergone as many nose jobs as he is alleged to have had!

    I also saw another ophthalmologist who said that it would help if he removed the sutures in my eye. It took 3 visits, and each time I was left with a very raw eye. Fortunately, the cornea tends to heal rapidly, so it was much better after the next day. I was also seeing a GP, who took pity on me and gave me Percocets to the tune of 60 a week. Needless to say, I became quite addicted, and remained so for the next 15 months. I also smoked lots of marijuana and took other drugs, mostly to escape the memory and try to put it all behind me.

    The whole reason I was in San Francisco was to pursue playing music. I play guitar and had intended to form a band since I was about 10. For the next 3 or so years I spent the time playing music, reading (it became almost an addiction, as I read on average 200 pages/day for about 3 years) and otherwise staying as stoned as I could. I got off of the Percocets by eating marijuana brownies, and from that point on never really cared for them again. I knew a lot of heroin addicts, and I know many would have moved onto heroin had they been in my position, but I couldn't bring myself to use needles or spend $60/day. This was a very fortunate decision as I'd probably not be alive today with the AIDS that was epidemic in San Francisco in the 80's.

    I need to back up a bit and tell about my trip back to Florida around Christmas, barely 5 weeks after the assault. The day before I left, my left eye became extremely irritated, and I was also quite photophobic in my right eye. This later turned out to be a buried suture knot that had resurfaced. It was like having a hair in your eye that you can't remove. It was a source of immense irritation.

    When I got to Jacksonville, where my mother and brother still lived, I quickly noticed that my mother was acting strangely. She seemed to be quite angry, which I found very puzzling. We then drove down to Sarasota to visit my grandmother, to whom I was quite close. She was a very critical woman, and I found myself being constantly criticized, while my every action was subject to questioning. For example, I wanted to go to the store and get some Cokes. "You don't need Cokes," I was told. I was quite used to making these decisions on my own and didn't feel the need to be confronted over such trivialities.

    This went on for several days. It was as if I was at fault for allowing this to happen and putting them through such a terrible time. Yet they acted as if I'd done little more than scape my knee and all they could talk about was when I was going to get a job. It was no secret that they were displeased with my choice of rock musician as a career, and my brother confirmed what I suspected, "if he hadn't gone to San Francisco to play that guitar this would never have happened!". I had hoped to get at least a slight amount of understanding and sympathy, but this never happened. It came to a climax one night after dinner when the ganged up on me over a matter too trivial to mention, and I finally snapped.

    I started yelling that I couldn't deal with it any longer and if it continued I'd go back to San Francisco. It was simply more stress than I could handle, especially with the continuous irritation in my left eye. The only reason I stayed was because of my brother, to whom I've always been very close. It was a relief to get back to San Francisco. The next day I had an appointment with my favorite resident, who got very defensive, childishly yelling "so???" when I told him about the suture knot (I'd seen an ophthalmologist in Jacksonville, who gave me some oinment and put a pad on the eye to relief the irritation). He also got extremely impatient when he was trying to remove the exposed suture, yelling at me as if I would not cooperate with him. To this day I've never met such unprofessional behavior in a doctor.

    There were parts of the night I couldn't dwell upon for many months without getting upset, and I was also very regretful about the bad episode at my grandmother's, but all I could do was put it behind me. A psychiatrist said I should do my best to get my family to help me with my musical endeavors, but music was never accepted as a legitimate career option in my family, especially rock music! They had a very traditional view of what it meant to be "musical": you belonged to a choir (my brother sang in a boys choir), played the piano with a bust of Beethoven and listened to classical music.

    I'm going to break at this point as I need to try to get some sleep. As the title suggests, I have been experiencing major sleep issues. I'll also explain why this has become a problem over 20 years after the original event.

    Thanks....
     
  5. reallydown

    reallydown I'm a VIP

    Welcome to teh forum Johnny.
     
  6. JohnnyCNote

    JohnnyCNote New Member

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    Thanks for the quick reply! I'll get to the diagnosis in a subsequent post. This is the first time I've really put it all down, and I might find it useful in the future.

    Stay tuned....
     
  7. JohnnyCNote

    JohnnyCNote New Member

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    You can read about Dan White here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_White

     
  8. willing

    willing Active Member

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    JohnnyC,
    Welcome and thanks for sharing. You are one resilient cookie. It is amazing how we continue to fight despite the things that happen to us. My problem is I always ask why. Well, you're an inspiration in fighting. I am finding this recovery is our job. I feel like I am not getting support and that everyone wants me to be better. That pisses me off. But like I said we just keep going, I mean what else are we going to do. I feel you will be a great asset to this forum. I'm glad you found Us.
    Patty
     
  9. JohnnyCNote

    JohnnyCNote New Member

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    I'm glad I can be of help - I hadn't considered that my story might be useful to others, so it's an added bonus. In a lot of ways, I'm a lot more fortunate than many others who have PTSD, e.g. veterans or people who've suffered injuries much worse than mine, or who've been in situations where people have died, like at Virginia Tech this week...
     
  10. JohnnyCNote

    JohnnyCNote New Member

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    Continued . . .

    Picking up from where I left off, in the following years in San Francisco I gradually put more distance between the present and when I was assaulted. I began to think of life in terms of before and after the event. I started wearing an eye patch because the iris had been prolapsed (torn) and was allowing a lot more light to enter my eye, which was painful. The vision was quite distorted and not at all usable. I'd visit an ophthalmologist from time to time and he'd say that there was little that could be done, but I also knew that there was a good chance that something could be done in the future.

    I pursued playing music, got back into the routine of working full time, and became a "productive citizen". As the end of the 80's approached, my chief partner in the band, who'd been with me nearly 5 years, gradually became addicted to heroin. I was very angry about this as I'd dealt with other band members who'd had the same problem and I found them to be completely unreliable. It was quite a blow when this happened, and it led to the ultimate break up of our endeavor. We were not just playing music, but also renting our his PA system. This had opened up some great opportunities for us, but it got to where every other day he was "unable" to practice.

    I decided that I had to get into a more lucrative line of work, so I took a video production course and found a job with a small TV station. There was a time when broadcasting was a great field, but those days are past. I also did various free lance jobs that provided me with money to buy various electronic toys that have always been my weakness. Also, whereas when renting out a sound system required the rental of a large truck and lots of hauling of big speakers, etc., with video production I was able to make just as much, if not more, and could put everything we needed in the back seat of a Suzuki Samurai.

    Meanwhile, my grandmother in Sarasota was getting older, and finally was placed in a nursing home after she'd had a fall at home after suffering a TIA (like a small stroke). She wasn't hurt very seriously, and the result was she was in a place where people could look after her since she really couldn't be by herself any longer. Fortunately, the place was very nice, so we were quite lucky compared to some of the horror stories one hears about nursing homes.

    This also meant her house was vacant. I was in an "apartment", really just a room, bathroom and closet, paying $485/month. While I liked San Francisco, it was ridiculously expensive. I'd experienced both the best and worst times of my life there, and the idea of living rent free in a two bedroom house was very tempting. So in September '91 I moved back to Florida and into my grandmother's house. In the following months, I returned to the University of South Florida and resumed work on a degree in Russian as I'd been a Russian lingust in the USAF in the 70's (which is how I got to California).

    I finished the degree in '94, and was eventually offered a job at CNN in their new division, CNN Interactive. I was quite excited about this, but there was a slight glitch in the form of a hiring freeze while CNN merged with Time-Warner. The next year my mother in Jacksonville suggested I move in with her for a while until I received word from CNN to start work. So after many years of saying I'd never return to Jacksonville, I returned to Jacksonville. As they say, "never say never". It really wasn't the same place that I'd left 20 years before. Whole areas of town had sprung up where there'd been nothing but planted pines before.

    To make a long story short, the job at CNN never materialized. I was quite disappointed about it, but it later turned out that my mother needed someone to be with her as she had a slight brush with breast cancer, from which she completely recovered after surgery. However, she wasn't the only person who'd be going under the knife.

    continued . . .
     
  11. JohnnyCNote

    JohnnyCNote New Member

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    Continued . . .

    I eventually found work at a large computer retailer, Computer City, and became one of their top sales reps. One evening a coworker managed to drop a computer on my head, aggravating a whiplash injury (my first painful San Francisco experience, two blocks from where I'd be assaulted a year and a half later). I was out on worker's compensation for a few months, but eventually returned.

    In '98 I was diagnosed with a hernia and needed surgery. As I'd had two inguinal hernias in the past, I was advised to have a piece of mesh placed across the inside of my abdomen. I was expecting something similar to the other hernia operations, which were not as bad as having a rhinoplasty, but I was in for a very rude awakening. It was really awful, and my expected overnight stay in the hospital turned into three nights. However, as with the other hernia surgeries, I did find that I felt a little better each day, even though there were a few days that were worse than others. After 3-4 months, I was over the worst of it and that was that.

    The store was bought out by CompUSA and I eventually left. The worker's comp situation, however, eventually led to a $10,000 settlement, so I was not all that disappointed. I should also add that I did manage to receive over $10,000 in victims assistance benefits from the state of California. I'd used this to purchase a really nice limited edition guitar and some more guitar amps that I still have (they're at my brother's place for now). In 2000 I was hired by AT&T Broadband as an Internet tech support specialist. It wasn't a bad job, despite the fact that they had major problems taking care of their customers.

    One evening in '01 a friend had taken me to dinner on my birthday. The place was rather "intimate" in the sense that I was sitting right next to the next party. The woman finally asked about my eye and said her daughter was seeing a local specialist for a rare corneal amoebic infection she'd contracted while swimming in a lake. This doctor was one of the top in his field, so I made an appointment that March. He said he wanted to try a corneal transplant, and after asking a number of questions, such as would there be any advantage in waiting longer in the case that new procedures would increase the likelihood of an improved result.

    I did this for my family as much as for myself. My mother in particular always hoped something could be done. Personally, I'd grown quite accustomed to the loss of depth perception. It did present a number of inconveniences, as did the loss of peripheral vision on the left, but I'd long since learned to compensate. I was also the subject of great interest to kids, who'd often tell their parents "look, a pirate!", much to their horror. I found it amusing, and would often reply in my best pirate's voice "ay, I left me pegleg on the ship". I'm sure I'd have said something when I was that age.

    The surgery was initally quite successful. There was a noticeable improvement in my vision. It went from "hand motion", the next step beyond 20/400, to 20/200, and the distortion was largely gone. However, as another doctor put it, when you "stir the pot", it can lead to complications. In the meantime, my job was outsourced to Canada, so we were laid off, but the severance packages were quite generous. The insurance benefits were continued for a few months, and I was going to need them.

    That July I started developing symptoms of both corneal detachment and secondary glaucoma (glaucoma induced by an external event). This required retinal surgery, which was yet another very unpleasant procedure. I found myself sitting in my room with the blinds closed and the lights out, my back to the TV as I became extremely photophobic in both eyes. This went on for over a month, compounded by the glaucoma. One of the primary symptoms is "severe eye pain", as I could have told them. They tried various medications, while I had to use Percocet for the pain. They eventually gave me a strange drug called Diamox. It had a bizarre side effect of causing changes in my sense of taste: Cokes tasted like 5 year old diet Coke from the can. It also caused malaise and one other unpleasant condition - a kidney stone. This occurred the weekend before I was scheduled to undergo surgery for the glaucoma, and I was worried I'd have to reschedule. Fortunately, this was not the case and I had the third eye surgery that summer.

    Maybe now you can see where this is going. I began to feel like I did when I was first assaulted and spent my whole time dealing with doctors and recovering from surgery. Added to which I'd already had the injury at work and the "mother of all hernia operations". And there was more to come.

    continued . . .
     
  12. becvan

    becvan Queen of the Blunt! Premium Member

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    Good lord, reading this my eyes just twitch. I can't even put Visine in my eyes! You have way more courage and fortitude than I ever could! Whether you realize it or not, your a very strong individual.

    bec
     
  13. Rachael

    Rachael New Member

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    Johnny,
    I read your earlier entry about your experience with doctors and how they dont take people seriously. I understand completely. When I first came back form Africa I was very sick. I went to the hospital and the doctor ran no tests and had the medical student examine me. They determined that I just had the flu. I progressively became worse over the course of 2 months. I went as an out pateint to see an infectious diesease specialist who ran some tests and noticed that my liver funtion test was elevated a clear indication of malaria. The tests resulsts hadnt become known yet when I was rushed to the hospital having almost fainting in pain and had lost about 15 pounds. I spent a week in hospital where my infectious diesease specialist practiced and finaly had the tests that needed to be done. It turned out that I did in fact have a parasitic infection from my travels and I also had an acute form of malaria that does not present itself commonly. I spent eight days in the hospital. An infection from the parasite had spread to my bladder, stomach and liver and I needed IV antibiotics. The doctors said I could have died had I not gone to see the specialist. I know doctors dont have all the answers, but gees, cant they listen to us once and a while. I hope everything is going well for you.
    Hang in there.
    ~Rach
     
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