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American History
A Family Injured


       The joyful times I had when I was a student,  were fast becoming lost now that I was working as an employee. Still there was a determination to stick to what I had chosen to do;  work for a living. As if a higher power was walking into my life to take control,  things were happening that made me begin to stop and think.

      On this particular morning I woke with such a toothache I couldn't believe it. Once before a toothache had brought me to my knees while I was working and this was proving to be every bit as difficult. I worked along as much as I could until finally I had to let the nurse know I was suffering with the pain of a toothache. She poured out a drink in a small measuring cup marked with grams. It was of a syrupy tasting liquid.  In a short time I absolutely could not keep my eyes open while I was sitting at the typewriter. I remember walking over the bridge but honestly do not recall how I got up to my bedroom. The next morning when I awoke I was fully dressed. I had been sleeping for the whole night in
my clothing.

       When I arrived at work the next day I spoke with my friend. “What was that she gave me to drink?”

       “It was phenobarbital and don't you ever let her give you anything again.”

       It was good advise but not needed. I had certainly learned my lesson. The dentist's secretary came in about the time we were talking. They had their own rooms and never crossed over into our space but she leaned over my desk and quietly whispered. “Come over, the dentist said he would look at your tooth.”

       We, as employees, did not use the dentist who was there to treat the students. However, the man was kind enough to temporarily fix my tooth until I could get into an appointment in town.

      “Sometimes when a person is stressed the nerves can become extra sensitive and cause trouble.  You have seen the dermatitis the technician suffers on her arms. She had been told it is from stress.” The dentist was talking to me.

      “I knew she wore those long sleeved uniforms to cover her arms. I didn't know what was causing the problem. I thought it was just allergies or something.”  Finally I was beginning to think. The trust I had always enjoyed with the staff while I was in school was being shaken. It was after this happened I began to seriously look back toward my parents for their counsel. After I talked with my mother about what had happened it was but a short time later she told me my aunt could use some office help where she was working.

      I did continue to work for a time at the Chilocco health clinic. The days spent there allowed me to  enjoy my work for a while longer. When I had to leave I was sorry to have to go from the campus I so loved  but the circumstances surrounding that job wasn't worth continuing. Maybe I didn't have the same commitment the other employees had. Something in my heart made me want to be free to go on with my own life. I wanted to return to college. By this time I had met my soon-to-be, husband, and after school we both wanted to live on the family ranch home. He wanted a refuge from the memories of the Korean war and I wanted to feel safe and secure on the familiar grounds where I belonged before I knew Chilocco. It was a good thing for me to leave. Some of the nurses told me the head nurse's activities became very dark before she retired. Evidently the doctors were the target  of her anger, I was told. Her behavior went from mildly erratic to,  quite bizarre. More than one nurse told me about the things she did after I left and I was so glad I wasn't there to see it.

      What she did to destroy all my hard work and good-name on my own records will never be known. Was she responsible for the less than careful treatment I was given in a government hospital. Did  her influence possibly  cause that? The health world is a small one.  A lifetime worker with the status of head nurse could easily make a strong statement on a person's paperwork. The neglect and carelessness in the Indian hospital were what caused the birth injury resulting in my daughter's cerebral palsy. It is possible to forgive when a person individually feels wronged. However, it is more difficult when an innocent person  was injured. My daughter has had to suffer a  lifetime with cerebral palsy and that is hard to forgive. The suffering touched three generations; my mother, myself, and my daughter. The damage to the whole family will never be known or told. It is just too far reaching and encompasses a great extended family.


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