From the book "Bristol Stomp" It is all about me...
I was still involved in such an unhealthy relationship. After I counted all the horrible things I had done in my life and all the awful things that happened to me, I would try to plan my escape. How could I do it with the least amount of confrontation and angst? Yeah it was pretty obvious I was a nut case. Now I had this traumatic stress thing too. I wasn’t the only one suffering with this illness or disorder. Most of my family had the thing too. If someone slammed a door I jumped out of my skin. If a car followed me too closely I had to pull over. It was such a release to talk about these episodes in my homicide survivors group. I was also educating myself on the disorder and working on getting it under control. I did not want to be on medication for one minute longer than I had to be. Towards the end of the summer my symptoms started to lesson. Unfortunately as my mental symptoms became more infrequent my physical ones seemed to be getting worse. I decided I needed to take better care of myself. I bought vitamins that were supposed to help with energy. I took vitamin C and E. I bought calcium supplements. They were like chocolate, caramel candy so I enjoyed taking them. I became obsessive about washing my hands. Germs were the enemy. I was so tired of the sinus infections. Two weeks after starting my new health regime I got sick to my stomach. I had pains in my sides. I took some Advil and went to bed. When I got up in the morning I had a rash all over my body. My throat and chest felt like it was on fire. My face was swollen and I had a fever. I was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital. After six days on IV liquids and antibiotics I finally got a diagnosis. The rash was caused by a turtle virus. I had recently bought my grand daughter Allyson a turtle and had helped her clean the cage. The virus had a very long name but apparently there is no cure for it other than antibiotics and cream for the rash. I would have it for life. It could remain dormant for years or become chronic. Great I thought, now I am scared to death of turtles. The burning pain in my throat and stomach was caused by an allergic reaction to those calcium supplements I loved so much. They were made with shellfish, which I am very allergic too. My intestines had been burned so badly I was unable to eat for two weeks. Those Burger King commercials were killing me. I was starving. They also told me my appendix was slightly swollen and I had diverticulitis. I remained in the hospital for another week. The whole experience was scary but honestly I was relieved that there was a physical cause and not a mental one. By early September I was feeling so much better, mentally and physically. I tried to enjoy my job again and spent as much time as possible with the kids. My counseling was going really well and I actually felt like I was helping the newer members of the group. I continued my classes because there was no doubt in my mind I wanted to help victims and survivors. I wanted to become a counselor. Then it all came crashing down again…9/11 happened. I went in to the paper really early that morning with plans of catching up on some work. A friend called and asked if I had heard a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. She knew I had a friend that worked in the building. My partner had arrived, so together we walked down to the newsroom and there it was on all the televisions. When the second plane hit, we thought it was a re-play of the first. Having a father that worked in the airline business I knew immediately it was not an accident. No pilot would crash into a building. There was too much water close by. I went back to my little cubby office and then heard the pentagon had been hit. Now I was terrified. My partner and I went out back to smoke a cigarette and watched five military jets wiz by. Our building was located right on the Delaware River and they were headed north, to New York we imagined. I had to get out of that building. I decided I would try to salvage the day and visit some clients. Glenn Beck was on the radio in my car. Sometimes I listened to talk radio other times music. Today was a news day. The more I listened the sadder I felt. Every client I visited was glued to their televisions, just stunned. I called all of my kids, I just had a need to know they were safe. I went home and lied on the sofa and watched the news all night. It was just one horror story after another. Of course it was all about me. I had lost a brother to murder. I had an awful childhood, just a horrible life all together and now this. Now our whole country was being threatened by terrorists. All of my hard work in therapy was going down with those buildings. I wanted to crawl back into my dark hole. I felt sick again. As I continued to watch through the night all of a sudden it wasn’t about me anymore. I watched the faces of strangers not knowing whether their loved ones had survived. The thought of all those mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and friends that lost their loved ones that day was overwhelming. Would they end up like me, afraid of their own shadows and physically sick? I prayed for them and I cried for them.

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  • Doreen McGettigan

    Thank you Nancy! Keeping a journal during those times was such good therapy and also great honest stuff for the book!

  • Nancy Duci Denofio

    So real - a part of life seldom seen because people hide it away, you are stuffed inside yourself - as if part of an invisable closet. How horrid for you and others when the world cannot see suffering without bandages. I understand where you were at, I have been faced with others in this very situation, and to comfort and confront are two equal ways of learning. But I know how hard you must have had it. Let your words carry the anger, and let the people learn. Sincerely, Nancy