My View On Life From What I Have Lived So Far

My View On Life From What I Have Lived So Far

I think 19 years looks pretty good on me.

As another year comes and goes, it doesn't seem possible how time flies by so fast. It honestly feels like just a few years ago I was dancing or playing Polly Pockets with my sister and her friends, when in reality it was at least ten. You will never really believe anyone when they tell you that you won't know where the time went until you look back and can see it for yourself. Each birthday I never quite feel any older, but as I look over the time that has passed I can see myself aging. The question everyone always asks, "Do you feel any older?" Well after looking back and seeing all that has happened in 19 years I can say I do. Wow, 19 years I have been on this Earth and it actually seems really long when you think of it. I can only imagine how people feel when they hit 30 and above! As I look back over the years, I can find some important things that I have learned and figured they are important enough to share with y'all.

1. Always say please and thank you.

Something so easy but yet often lost in people's growing up and growing old. Manners should always be a concern and just makes encounters all around better. When being polite, you will not only be seen as a person with manners, but will be taken more seriously and considered at a higher level than others who don't. So when you think of it, be kind and use manners.

2. Don't forget to say I love you to your parents on a daily basis.

Your parents are who brought you to this Earth and have raised you to who you have become -- you certainly didn't do it all by yourself. They have put themselves flat out for you and have always tried to love and give unconditionally. A reminder each day just how much you love them is something simple that will mean the world.

3. Admit you're wrong when necessary.

I mean who actually ever wants to say that they are wrong? No one. But at times it is exactly what you need to do. As much as I hate it sometimes and most everyone else probably does too, it can be just what is needed. You are not educated and excellent on every subject/event/et cetera that has or is happening. In some situations and places you may be the one who is in the wrong and all that can solve that is by apologizing and admitting so.

4. Stand your ground.

Going off of number 3, sometimes you may be completely right! If someone is trying to talk down to you or tell you that you have done something wrong and you truly know that is not the case, don't take it! Stand up for yourself in all situations and don't ever let anyone put you down. When doing so however, don't be rude or unkind. You can stand up for yourself and set things straight without being a complete meathead.

5. Do not lie.

We've all done it before, even me. Everyone always say little white lies never hurt anyone, which may be true from time to time. But that may lead to even bigger ones and have yourself wound up in your own web of lies. Honesty is the best policy. Even though it may suck at times to own up to something you tried lying about, or having to be honest to a person even though it will hurt or offend them, in the end it is the best to just speak the truth and get it over with.

6. Save your money.

If you haven't realized that money is valuable at this point in time, open your eyes and ears! Even before I started working and making money for myself, I knew it was something to be valued. Sad to say, but everything in this world costs something. From groceries, to gas, to school and more. Try to look at things with a want vs. need perspective and that can get you headed in the right direction. Always try to set some money aside and keep building that fund instead of spending it as soon as you get it.

7. Family over anything.

Personally, I am very close to my family and always have been. They are what I value most, even more than money. Family doesn't have to mean immediate either-- it can include anyone you hold close to your heart. Sometimes life can get busy or you'll have to make choices that aren't the easiest. I know that I value my family as number one and realize that in an instant things can change quickly. This is why I always choose them over anything else, whatever that may be.

8. Looks don't mean everything.

In today's world, it seems that looks mean a lot in all aspects of life. The look of a person, your belongings, you name it. Don't judge a book by its cover honestly will always be relevant and an important piece of advice for life. Don't choose who/what you like or dislike because of how they/it looks. Also don't be embarrassed by looks whether that be your possessions, yourself, or who you associate with. Looks aren't everything and if you haven't realized that yet then you may want to start reconsidering your view on things.

9. Forever really doesn't mean till the end of time.

Best friends forever. I'll love you forever. We'll always be together. On and on and on. Whoever came up with the childhood saying B.F.F.s just set everyone up for failure. It is an anomaly if you things do last forever. Most of my friends who at one point in time said "forever" are barely existent in my life now. And to the ones who are, I hope you continue to be. Yet don't be let down when forever doesn't pan out. Try to be happy in the moment and appreciate what you have. Each birthday is a tell tail sign of who you really should stay concerned and care about, and sadly each year that dwindles down. Don't let that get you down though, take it in stride and be happy with where and how you are.

10. All things are meant to be.

Again tailing off of the previous point, I truly believe all things are meant to be. Yeah this saying sucks when it comes to something sad or frustrating. But all things are truly meant to be, the reason behind it just may be hard to see at first. Sometimes the reason may not become evident at all. However from good times to bad, all things happen for a reason and are meant to be in your life. Believe it or not, some things are meant to occur and will only add to you as a person.

11. Keep organized.

Life is hard enough, don't make it any harder by having clutter in your life! This may just be me being a neat freak from time to time, but it honestly makes every angle of life better. From your home, to your job, friends, family, paperwork, anything you can think of. Try to stay on top of things and know where/what everything is.

12. Take time for yourself.

Sometimes you just need you time. It makes perfect sense that you need some time for yourself, don't feel bad for needing it or taking it. Some people may not always understand, but that is because they don't do it for themselves when they need it or feel it is unimportant. In all honesty, I would go crazy if I didn't take some time for myself here and there, it probably is why some people do! Do so before you become overwhelmed. Think about you, where you are in life, what you want, and just breathe and relax! You don't always need to think about life, as long as you can sit and watch a movie, read a book, take a nap, just something once a week you will thank yourself.

13. School and grades are not everything.

Whether it be school and grades, work, or something else you value, it is not everything in life. There are other things that are important and you should take time for them. If all you do is concentrate on school or work 24/7, you'll miss the joys of life. Taking a step back or time off from time to time will not kill you. Everything will work out in the end, remind yourself that.

14. Try to worry as little as possible.

A worry-wart I am. Through all my 19 years I think I can say that I constantly worry about things, whether they are in my control or not. Worrying may feel necessary at some points but all it is doing is breaking you down inside. Most things you worry about are out of your control. Try to not think about it and just let things work out as they do. "That's how the cookie crumbles." Sometimes you just have to wait and see and life will work itself out as it should.

15. It's okay to treat yourself more than just from time to time.

Everyone always says treat yourself from time to time, why wait so long in between?! It is perfectly okay to treat yourself a lot. I don't mean eat ice cream sundaes the size of your face every day. But if you feel like having a small dessert every night, do it. Or want to go shopping and buy yourself something nice here and there? Do it. Honestly all in all, you do only live once. Do what you want and as long as you are happy and healthy, all is good.

16. Don't live with regrets.

Wouldn't it be nice if humans had nine lives too? Well sorry to burst your bubble but it isn't so. I can tell you full heartedly that I hate the saying YOLO. But in all reality you do only live once. Don't live your life with regrets of I wish I did that, or I should've said or done this. Life can end at any moment as sad and terrifying as that is. Don't be the person who doesn't do things out of fear or any other reason. I know that when it is my time to go I won't want people remembering me as someone who didn't take risks. Whether it be interactions with people or anything, from now on I will make sure to not regret anything.

17. Smile and laugh often.

Yeah life sucks at times. But don't let that overshadow all the greatness of it! Someone once told me it takes more effort and energy to frown than smile. Whether this be true or not, it is something that I have always thought about. Nothing can seem that bad when you have a smile on your face or can laugh about it right?

18. Find the positive's in everything.

Not all is good, but there is always good in something. I constantly tell myself to live by this rule and find myself failing to do it after a while. If I can find one good out of something bad, then it really can't be that bad after all. Find something good, don't feel bad for yourself and look on the bright side of things. Life is all about perspectives, make sure you have the right one.

19. Do what makes you happy.

Dance freely, sing loudly, laugh often, smile constantly, love full heartedly. Who cares what people have to say? You are you and be completely proud of that. Always do what makes you happy and don't feel bad for doing so. Don't live life to please others all the time, you can say no when you need to. There is a reason that yes and no are both words. Be you and be happy at all times.

19 years isn't a lot in relation to 50, 80, 90 and so on. But I will say that in my 19 years of living I feel I have experienced a lot of aspects of life and have begun to grow into the person I want to be. I know right from wrong, what I want in life, what makes me happy, and what is important. 19 years and I have my head on straight and can now smile and feel no regrets on anything I have done as I look back. It may have taken a bit to get to this point of happiness but I am here now and there is no turning back. Cheers to 19 years on this Earth. Cheers to being happy and having people in my life who make me that way. Here's to a life filled with joy and happiness and for appreciating all that is to come. To the future and much more.

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An Open Letter To The Meadville Medical Center And Its ER Staff

When did kindness become a deserved thing in the healthcare field; and only if you're not on drugs?

Yes, that cover picture is me, coming off a Magee Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh, a two-hour drive from my house, not at Meadville Medical Center.

This is very difficult to write. We live in a small town, and you are the only hospital for over twenty miles. In fact, I live so close to you, that I can see your rooftop from my back garden. I can walk to you in about ten minutes if it’s not overly humid out. The Life Flights pass over my house as they arrive at and leave your facility, and my young daughter and I pray for every one of them.

My daughter had to call an ambulance on May 30th, as I had a sharp and horrible pain overtake me so suddenly, that I thought my neighbor (who I threatened to report for dealing drugs) had shot me through the dining room window at first. There was no blood to be seen, but the pain was so severe, that combined with the cold sweats and dizziness, I was genuinely afraid I was about to die.

I can’t express in words how proud I was of my girl as she explained to the 911 operator what was the matter and where we lived. She was brave and helpful as they took a blood sample, handled what I later learned was a seizure, and kindly got me into the ambulance from my difficult entryway. She called her Auntie and calmly told her to meet me at the ER. And while memories of the horrible experience I had in your ER twenty years ago still haunted me, the care and attention the ambulance drivers showed me encouraged me that I would be okay.

If only.

There were so many people, and I was half delirious with pain and inexplicable symptoms. Thank God my sister in law, Sheri, was there to help me fight for my life. For the sake of our small town and six degrees of separation, I will call them Nurse A, B, C, and D, and Doctor H. Your staff literally, unapologetically bullied me within an inch of my life.

When I arrived, it was apparently Nurse A who triumphantly announced to everyone involved in my care that I was on drugs, case closed. Despite Sheri and I repeatedly telling them that I hadn’t taken any narcotics, and I won’t take anything stronger than Motrin 800, they persisted in asking what I took. At one point I heard Sheri saying, “She does everything naturally, you're wasting time.” No one cared.

When Nurse A informed me that they needed a urine test, I told her to straight cath me, as I couldn’t stand up. It was Nurse A who told Doctor H that I faked two seizures on the way from my house (I am still amazed by her mystical powers that she could surmise this), and insisted again that I was faking everything. With utter disgust Doctor H said, “She can stand, get her up.” At Sheri’s protest, Nurse A reiterated, “If she can move her legs she can stand.” My legs, which were almost involuntarily moving to find relief from the pain in my abdomen, gave out on me when she insisted I put myself on the bedside commode. I passed out again and urinated on her.

When I woke up to Sheri frantically calling my name, I was greeted by an absolutely disgusted Nurse A, who complained that she needed to go change her clothes, and rolled her eyes at my faking another seizure. She informed everyone who came in next that I was faking these symptoms, and four attempts to straight cath me failed. In that moment, I was sure I was going to die.

Everything after that came in blurry and fragmented vignettes, like an awful out of body experience. There were Nurses B through D or more, all repeatedly asking me what drugs I took. Everyone scowled and frowned, passing on the information that I was faking everything. There were four of these nurses when I woke up on the way to a scan, and all but one asking me what drugs I took, and telling me to stop faking as I hysterically screamed that I could not breathe when I lay flat. I was terrified, confused, out of my mind, and unable to breathe when I lay flat, and they reported that “she hyperventilated herself” in the scan lab.

All the while, Sheri valiantly insisted they would find no drugs in the blood work, and that I probably hadn’t been to a family doctor in years. I lay in your ER cubicle and reconciled myself to God, convinced that I was going to die and be labeled a drug addict.

At some point, something shifted, and suddenly I received the blanket I had asked for hours before. Apparently, my temperature had dropped so low, their fancy thermometers couldn’t read anything. I remember a young man trying to find a vein and saying, “Oh my God, I’ve never seen anything like this. I’m not trying again.” My head was elevated, and the panic of not being able to breathe alleviated somewhat.

Suddenly Doctor H was almost kind, and I heard him telling Sheri something about “a mass” and “blood in her abdomen” and how some other hospital was better equipped to help me. She told me she okay-ed it, and I recall telling her, “I trust you. Just get me out of here.”

In fact, knowing someone else would care for me gave me such peace, that I literally lay completely still as an older man inserted an IV line into my neck with no anesthesia.

We assume the blood work came back and the scan verified what we desperately tried to tell everyone from the beginning; I wasn’t on or seeking drugs. But there was no apology from Nurse A, her fellow nurses, or Doctor H. I may be corrected, but I spent five or six hours in your ER defending myself to the same people who should have been fighting for my life.

As I lay there, talking to Yeshuale, three people in what looked like tactical suits came alongside my bed. The first was a woman who looked like she was speaking into a walkie talkie. Behind her two men. I thought to myself “Oh, state cops. I guess I’m just going to die in prison.” I was so out of it, confused and weary of being asked what drugs I took, I believed your ER staff had called the police and they had come to take me away. All I could think of was what would become of my young daughter.

Thank God, I was mistaken. The blonde woman wasn’t a police officer, but part of the helicopter team, on the phone with Magee in Pittsburgh so she could begin administering blood to me. Blood. Something your staff considered less important than accusing me of using and seeking some weird drugs. Behind her, a tall, blonde man smiled at me and explained that he was taking me in a helicopter and I would be fine. It was like hearing from an angel, and I remember saying, “Todah, Yeshuale!” repeatedly in my head and in a whisper. “Thank You, Jesus!”

Four blocks away, my daughter and the friend she was staying with waved as we flew over my house.

To my surprise, I woke up two days later, attached to a ventilator, one of my sister friends sitting beside my bed. I learned that I’d had two masses in my uterus, which tore itself open and bled into my abdomen. I’d lost four liters of blood and had a transfusion in the Life Flight. When they took the vent out, (my friend took the picture above) I made a joke about being a tough Jersey girl as I signed to the ICU nurse, but inside I was an emotional wreck. Still, as the days went on, I determined to treat everyone with kindness, and was treated the same way at every turn.

Kindness. The one thing I never received from your staff.

What was so special about me that your staff felt interrogating me about my apparent drug use was more important than helping me? My address? Because for some reason all the drug dealers in town seem to want to take over my block? So, we’re all on drugs, then? Do you realize that half my neighbors brag about going to your ER to get pain pills, and how easy it is? I never asked for anything but a Tylenol, and that was on the Life Flight. So, again I ask, what made me so unique?

And, I must say, it’s not even that your staff didn’t believe me. They were mean, hateful even. Rolling their eyes, talking about me like I wasn’t there, saying everything I did was a ruse to get drugs. When did it become okay to treat anyone like that? How was it alright for your nurse to walk in and determine that I was on drugs? How was it alright for her to set the tone of disbelief, unkindness, and abuse? How was it alright for the doctor to allow this and roll with it?

Yes, I said abuse. When someone is screaming that they can’t breathe and you tell them to stop faking, that is abuse. When you berate someone, and accuse them of something to the point where they believe they’re being taken to jail to die, that’s abuse. When you refuse to give someone a blanket, hold them down to the point where they’re bruised, that’s abuse. When you waste time to the point where an ambulance won’t get to the next hospital fast enough… that’s abuse. Your staff verbally, emotionally, and physically abused me.

Not only were they abusive, but they were comfortable with it. Your staff was comfortable with it, and didn’t care what it would cost me or my family. All but one nurse, who Sheri now tells me insisted that there was something wrong with me and took me for the scan. That nurse saved my life. People are comfortable with abuse because they get away with it. Abusers get smug, arrogant and even careless, because those they abuse say nothing. Your staff was smug, rude and uncaring to the point that they displayed a sick sort of disgust for me that was completely obvious. My sister in law later confirmed to me that it wasn’t all in my head.

At what point did this behavior become acceptable? Is it because you’re the only hospital for a 30-minute drive?

And, so what if I had been seeking drugs or high on some unknown concoction? Would that have made it okay for your staff to treat me thusly? Would Nurse A have been justified in declaring my altered state and treating me like garbage? Would Doctor H have been justified in how he treated me? When did nursing and healing give anyone that sort of power? When did people cease to be worthy of kindness, quality health care and gentleness based upon their drug use, or the address they live at?

When did you decide who deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and who does not? When did your medical staff earn that right to decide also?

If we’re completely honest, most of the people I know who abuse pills go to your ER at least once bimonthly to get refills. Your ER physicians pass out opioid scripts like candy and then mistreat the people they’re supplying? Thanks to you, I must hide the pain medication I loathe to take now, because someone will surely break in to my home and steal them if they know I have them. You, and other hospitals like you, are feeding addicts and creating innocent bystander victims like me, but that’s another conversation.

This is difficult to write, because you have your hooks in all over this town. This is difficult to write, because the trauma of that night is still fresh in my mind, and I often cry when I think about it. This is difficult to write, because the reality that I have had to now teach my child to ask any ambulance we ever need to call again to take us to Erie shouldn’t be necessary. This is difficult to write, but it needs to be said, especially since I’ve been finding out that I’m not the only person this has happened to.

You need to address these issues. You need to stop handing out scripts like promotional coupons, and perhaps you won’t have nurses and doctors assuming everyone’s on drugs or seeking them. You need to discourage the abusive and toxic behavior of your staff, and hold them accountable when patients complain. Let me put this into perspective for you: I’m pretty sure Nurse A is the same age as my oldest daughter, and my child would eat mud before she treated anyone like that. Why? Because my kids were never allowed to behave that way in the first place, but to stay on topic, she grew up with consequences, and as an adult still recognizes their severity.

As the events of that night become clearer to me, and I continue my peaceful, miraculous recovery at home, I am determined not to hold on to bitterness about what happened to me at your ER. I am determined to make the most of the second chance at life I’ve been given, and leave your abusive staff in the past. I’ll probably pass some of them in the super market, or sit behind them in church, our town is so small. And while you and your toxic staff will cease to haunt my future, I will surely haunt yours. Nurse A, Doctor H, and Nurses B through whatever… will never forget the night the woman with the blue hair nearly died because they were too busy wrongly judging to actually care.

I am determined to walk out the rest of my life in kindness, the very discussion I had in a blackout with God while your nurse accused me of faking a seizure. I will pray, hoping with all hope that kindness will once again be requisite for employment in your ER and every area of your corporation. Believe me, it’s possible and good for profits. The entire time I spent in Pittsburgh at Magee I never encountered a single unkind staff member from the surgeons to the housekeepers.

I know you can do it.

Cover Image Credit: Heidi Owens

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Batter Up

Because someone needed to teach her rotten boyfriend a lesson about how to treat a woman.


I have this memory from when I was younger,

I must have been six, maybe seven? An age

When you can remember, but not quite

Understand. I remember the landline

Ringing sometime in the middle

Of the night in my grandmother's small,

But adequate house. I had been sleeping,

Tucked under a shield of satin covers,

My grandmother next to me, blanketless,

And stiff, on the very edge of the queen mattress

Like she was anticipating some sort of disaster.

It wasn't the phone that pulled me from my sleep,

It was my grandmother's instant jerk, her eyes

Flipping open quicker than a light switch,

The mattress springing back up, adjusting

To the new lightness as she fled the room. My waking

Was soft like a song. Slow and humane.

My eyes adjusting to the dark, my ears absorbing the ringing,

My mind reminding itself that I was at my grandmother's house.

Then, the ringing stopped;

Abrupt, like a disarmed fire alarm.

It was just a drill, I thought.

But, then I heard the mumbling

From behind the door, panicked mumbling.

Rapid, like gunfire. My grandmother's Rs

Rolling down the hallway and under the door crack.

She only spoke Spanish when she was angry.

The call ended, my grandmother returned to the room,

Wrapped me in a blanket, and carried me into the night.

She buckled me into the backseat of her Toyota and said,

We were going to Auntie Mandy's house because someone

Needed to teach her rotten boyfriend a lesson about how to treat

A woman.

When we arrived at the house, we found the front door

Wide open, the house lights spilling out onto the porch.

A truck, I had seen once before, was parked a foot away

From the front door, aggressive. The truck had trampled

Over the dandelions and daisies, which lay wounded

In the front yard. A scene that begged for investigation.

My grandmother told me to stay put in my seat.

I watched as she walked to the back of the car, her normally pretty

Face turned straight, looked masculine. I watched as she pulled

Something wooden out of her trunk, then in her feline walk,

Approached the house. She turned to me, and I saw the

Baseball bat, immense in her female hands.

I slouched in my seat, the window above my head.

I never saw her go into the house.

I don't remember how long I sat,

Until the red and blue lights came.

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