Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Anita Hill Effect

Anita Hill may not have stopped Clarence Thomas from becoming a Supreme Court Justice but the effect of those trials on business in America has been lasting. Twice I have had to report men who were out of line with me and the second time was actually while the hearings were going on. If those hearings would not have happened then probably the situation would have turned out much differently.

I went to work at the Daytona Beach Kennel Club (dog track). From the first day I was there the head security guard at the compound was making suggestive comments and actually touching me inappropriately. It became so bad that I felt like a secretary from a 50's movie being chased around the desk by her boss (literally not figuratively). I began to dodge him and make excuses to my boss for not doing things that I was supposed to be doing because I didn't want to interact with this man. There were some aspects of my job which made it absolutely essential to see him so I couldn't keep away completely. I actually tried twice to speak with him about the situation and both times I left his office at a dead run!

After 2 weeks of this and listening to other women in the compound it became obvious that this was a problem which was not going to subside on its own. I went to track security. I told them that there was a crazy old man working in the guard shack who did not realize that there were boundaries in a working environment. I just wanted them to talk to him, that's all, not write him up or fire him or anything like that. They knew immediately about which guard that I was refering and they told me that unless I filed a written complaint that they couldn't do anything. So I did, making it clear at the same time that I just wanted them to talk to him and that was all. The next day they called me into the office and told me that there was nothing they could do without corroborating testimony.

I told them that was fine but that the other women in the compound were afraid to come forward because of repercussions. (Dog Tracks are notorious for blackballing people who complain). They assured me that if what I had told them was true that there would be no repercussions. I also told them that I wasn't going to pursue the problem any further because I was leaving the track for a better job anyway but I also told them this. "Someday somebody is going to hire a little 18 year old girl. This man is going to pull this stuff with her. She is going to go home and tell her mother and they will file a lawsuit against the track. When that happens I will be in court to testify that you knew about the situation and did nothing." I could tell that they paid attention to this statement.

That night I had a talk with one of the women who had worked at the track for years. I told her what I had done and that I was leaving for another job. I told her also that if she wanted anything done about "Woody" now was the time to do it and the head of security had assured me that there would be no repercussions for coming forward. I also went by the guard shack and told the old man what I had done. When I walked in he got up to come at me and I had to quite forcefully tell him in no uncertain terms to sit down that I had something to tell him. I told him I had tried to talk with him on 2 other occasions and he had made it impossible. I told him that I had filed a complaint and he of course told me that I was mistaken about everything and he didn't understand how I could do such a thing.

A week later my ex-boss from Daytona called me and told me what had happened. The day after I had left,at weigh - in time, ALL the women from the compound went together to the main security office. They told them that everything I had told them was true and they gave them many more examples of Woody's behavior, some which were worse than what I had told them. Woody was fired within the hour. It turns out that he wasn't just a crazy old man. He had been the police chief of Daytona at one time and was fired for writing tickets for traffic violations and tearing them up after the women would perform sexual favors.

My husband went to work there 5 years later. When the people in the compound found out that we were married they told him that they owed me a steak dinner whenever I was ready to collect.

Donations for Fort Hood Soldiers

USO Ft Hood

50th Street, Bldg 1871

Ft Hood, TX 76544


Chaplain's Fund Office

761st Tank Battalion Ave, Bldg 44

Ft Hood, TX 76544

Write "Ft Hood Tragedy" on memo line of check.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Yesterday was the 5 year anniversary of my dad's death

That is probably why I have been in such a funk lately. Anyway here is what happens when you put your parents in a nursing home.

Blog Entry The Day My Dad Died Oct 26, '08 4:56 PM
for everyone

At 6:30 in the morning I received a phone call from the nursing home that my dad was in. The voice on the line asked if "Mrs. Brennan was home." I said "yes". Then she says that we think your father is having a heart attack and we don't know if he is a code or not. (meaning do we try to save him or not) I said, "of course he's a full code, it's written right at the top of his chart!"(I had watched the admitting officer write it there myself)

I asked her what hospital they were sending him to because I intended to meet them at the emergency room. She asked someone else and all she said was, "I don't know," then she hung up on me. I raced out of the house and jumped in my van and flew to the nursing home watching for an ambulance the whole way there. (I lived 5 minutes away) I was praying that I hadn't missed it and when I pulled up to the nursing home there was a paramedic truck sitting there.

I let myself in the front doors and I could hear my dad gasping for air and begging for help with every breath - even though he was at the other end of the nursing home (about 50 yards away). I ran down the hall and he was sitting in his wheelchair and the nurses were gathered around him. They did have oxygen on him but the weren't doing anything else. I asked how he was. They just said he was bad and they were waiting on the ambulance. I said, "But the ambulance is sitting outside." Then a man with a walkie talkie stepped up and said, "That's me mam, I am not the ambulance."

I asked where the ambulance was and that is when they told me that the ambulance was on it's way but there had been a wreck and it couldn't get around it. I asked how long it would be and they told me they didn't know, but that the ambulance was trying to get to us. Then I turned my full attention to Daddy. I told him that I was there and I kept talking to him trying to calm him by telling him that help was on the way. At first he didn't realize that it was me, but as I kept talking I could see him responding to me - trying to hang on with every breath. I had saved his life more than once when I was taking care of him and he knew that I would do everything in my power to do it again.

The nurses wanted to put him in bed. He had told me once that when he was in that kind of shape, not to lay him down because he wouldn't be able to fight anymore. He said that, "no matter how bad things got, I have always wanted to live!" I asked him if he wanted to lie down and he shook his head "no" while gasping "help",breath,"me" ,breath - over and over. He was responding to me.

I asked the nurses why they weren't doing anything. They said they couldn't do anything but wait on the ambulance. They couldn't give medicines or anything else. I asked the man with the walkie talkie why he wasn't doing anything with that huge bag of medical equipment that he had carried in. He said, and I quote, "Mam, I'm just a first responder. I can't do anything!" So I in my panic asked what the hell he was doing there then. Because he certainly wasn't lifting a finger to help my dad and neither were the nurses. They were just waiting. The nurses were even standing there commenting," Oh God, he's going to die". Which certainly isn't something that somebody in that kind of shape needs to hear.

Daddy had a power wheelchair. I started moving the chair to the front door because I knew that every second counted. By the time we got to the front door probably 15 or 20 minutes had elapsed not counting the time before they called me. I knew he was running out of time. I asked them to let me put him in our van and take him on to the hospital. They refused. I told them that they could drive that they didn't have to let me drive if they were worried about me driving. I told them I didn't even have to go with them if they would just take him to the hospital. Still they refused.

We were at the front door for about 10 minutes when I tried to take matters into my own hands. I started moving his wheelchair to the van. One of the nurses grabbed the chair and held it back. I pushed her off. Then another nurse joined in and I pushed her back too. I knew the only way to save my dad was to get him into the van and get him to the hospital. Something I had done in the exact same situation 2 other times before! Then there were 3 nurses trying to hold him back and I held them all off while he wedged his arm against the button and tried to make it to the van. He knew I was fighting to save him and it was the only chance he had. We were making progress when the 4th. nurse jumped in. Then there were too many of them. I couldn't fight off 4 nurses. I knew I was going to hurt him if I kept it up. So I stepped back. The 4 nurses were holding on to his wheelchair while he held down the button trying to get to the van. I knew it was over then. I stepped over and turned off the wheelchair. The nurses just looked at me because that is when they realized they were fighting him - not just me.

As my dad sat there in his wheelchair at the frontdoor of the nursing home, he died.

The ambulance came, forty-five minutes had elapsed since that phone call. They got out of the ambulance and they didn't go to help him. Instead they started argueing about who was a certified driver and who was going to drive. An old woman nurse became so irritated that she started trying to put my dad on the gurney by herself. I watched his arm flop limply to the ground. They loaded him into the ambulance. Still not doing CPR or anything. Then I told them I was riding with them. I got in the ambulance and asked them why they weren't trying to shock his heart or anything. They told me it wasn't necessary. After what seemed like forever they did start CPR and manually pumping air into him.

We got to the ER and about 20 nurses met us at the door. My dad's face was black. They escorted me to a small room and told me to wait. There I stood watching a doctor do paperwork and I asked him for directions to the restroom and I washed my face and went back to the little room. There the doctor had given me directions told me how hard he had worked to save my dad but that it was no use. It was over.

My dad died because a group of people refused to think for themselves and get him to the hospital. They were too worried about following rules and not getting sued. Now I have to live with the thought that possibly my actions contributed to his death. I do know that he died knowing that I tried to save him. I told him many times when I was caring for him that I might make mistakes but I would never intentionally do anything to hurt him - and I didn't.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Hey Pam, You Wanna Come Wipe My Butt?"

What a humiliating question. Now let me put it in context. It is funny to me now and at the time I was actually happy to accomodate.

I started taking care of my dad in February 2002. When I took him home they had given him around 10 days to live and he was pretty much out of his mind from a combination of drugs and sepsis. He had his leg amputated the month before (a procedure which saved his life), but due to the severity of the infection and the massive amounts of pain killers and mood altering drugs he had been on, the doctors did not know if he would ever regain his mental capacity.

The first time I saw him naked was highly traumatizing for me. He was my dad afterall. Unfortunately I had to get used to it because he would sit in his hospital bed with nothing more than his pajama top on and a smile. When the nurses would point out that I was his daughter he would be mortified that he was in such a state in front of me but within minutes he would be uncovered again as he became unaware of his surroundings. It was sad but it was also comical to watch his mind teeter back and forth.

Anyway he reached a point where I could take him home. It was like taking care of a 155 pound baby. I had to do everything for him. He gradually became strong enough to go to the toilet with the assistance of several pieces of medical equipment. He was still unable to wipe his bottom, which of course meant I had to do it.

I would leave him for privacy's sake and he would holler for me when he was ready for help. I would hear, "Hey Pam, you wanna come wipe my butt?" I would cringe but I would go do it. After about a month of hearing those words, I could stand it no more.

I went into the bathroom and I said, "Daddy, I want to ask you a favor."

"What?" My sweet little daddy looked up at me and asked.

"You know I will always do this as long as this is necessary," I said as I went about administering to his needs. "But I need you to rephrase the question, do you wanna come wipe my butt. I absolutely do NOT want to wipe your butt, but I will because it needs done and you can't do it."

He started to laugh and said, "I see your point."

From that day forward he would yell, "Hey Pam, would you come in here for a minute?" Of course it meant the same thing, but it made me feel so much better about the situation.