Leaving it behind in 2015

I wrote this for my Non-Fiction Short Assignment for class. I sat down to write other things for the assignment but this kept bubbling to the surface. I had intended on posting it to the blog after it was graded but it has set on my desk for a week or so. Looking at the date on the calendar I have decided to post this to my blog today and leave this very painful memory in the past, leave it in 2015.  This is a true story of an event that occurred in my life in September of 1998.

The Other Side of Fear

By: Arleen Cornelius-McCann

I met John in the fall of 1997. This was a time I was very alone. I was trying to reclaim my life after the divorce. I had made some giant strides in re-establishing a career.  I had everything but a friend and companion. When I met John, we just clicked. We shared similar interests, we laughed a lot. We talked a couple of times a day on the phone. He was my best-friend.

For years, John struggled with addiction. He was clean and sober for over a year when I met him. He was creative and had an immense talent for woodworking. He fashioned the most beautiful pieces out of scraps of wood. He would call every day especially if he knew I had a hard day at work. . I didn’t think I could do rely on anyone after my divorce but with time I trusted him. This is why what happened on September 19, 1998 all the more a surprise.

It was a Saturday. I went about my chores. I kept waiting for his phone call. I called him. No answer. I made a quick trip to the grocery store. When I returned to start dinner, still no message on my machine. I knew something had to be wrong. Years before we met he had a car wreck that left him blind in one eye. He had to take Neurontin every day for seizures. I was worried about him so I called a couple of our friends and no one had seen him. I turned off the stove and got in my car.

When I arrived at his apartment, I could hear this stereo blaring from the street. I climbed the stairs that went uphill to his apartment. The door was cracked open about an inch. It was pitch dark with the exception of the blue light that illuminated the dial of the stereo system. I pushed the door open calling for John. He didn’t answer. I saw him lying on the sofa, motionless. My heart sank as I ran to put down my purse on the floor, and turn down the radio. As I turned on the lamp I saw beside him an almost empty half-gallon bottle of Jack Daniels.  I knew he was drunk.

Hindsight tells me I should have picked up my purse and left. I should have walked away. What I did instead was rage at the situation with shocked disbelief and anger. I grabbed the bottle off the floor and smashed it onto the side of the coffee table. My anger got the best of me. The remaining alcohol spewed everywhere. Shards of glass when flying into the air. Before I knew what was happening he was awake and had his hands around my throat. I had never seen him drunk before, I did not know the depths of his anger. His grip raised me off the ground, my body dangling in the air like a little girl’s ragdoll.  I still had the remains of the bottle in my hand and I knew if I just dropped it he could pick it up and cut me. I didn’t want to hurt him either, as strange that sounds. I threw the neck of the bottle behind the sofa. I fought him trying to free myself from his grip. I continued to dangle as he slowly walked us across the small living room toward the fireplace.

The whole time he cursed me, “I am going to kill you bitch. How dare you? How dare you break my bottle? How dare you come in my house, you bitch?” His eyes glowed with a crazed anger.

I began to feel the effects and started to choke. I mouthed the word, “Mandy”. He knew how much I loved my child. He slowly released his hold around my neck. I closed my eyes for a moment but when I opened them I saw his fist coming at me. His full force blow threw me into the mantle edge of the brick fireplace. I struck it just at the base of my skull and fell toward my left side. When I hit the floor I felt the glass shattering from an oversized Oriental porcelain pot that sat in the corner. For a moment I was still but I could see the outline of the peeling plaster on the wall, then my body tingled with an electric energy. I felt as if I was drifting away.

This time I prayed “God take care of Mandy, take care of my child.” I began to feel pain intensely. I hurt allover. I could feel blood streaming down my neck. The room whirled with confusion. Then I began to seize uncontrollably. My entire body twisted and contorted with painful jolts down my spine.

I could hear John screaming, “Let me find my gun and I will end this shit!” He saw I was seizing because he yelled, “That’s it bitch, lay there on the floor and die.”

When my body stopped seizing, I could hear him throwing things in the back of the apartment. I knew I had to get out of there. I managed to pull myself up to my knees. I grabbed my purse that was sitting across from me in the floor.  I got to my feet and tried to run. It was hard because I was so dizzy.  He grabbed me by my hair and yelled, “No bitch, you ain’t going nowhere.” He threw me on the sofa and walked back toward the kitchen.

I reached in my purse and pulled out a twenty that was stuck in an inside compartment.  “Here John, I’m so sorry,” I cried. “Here go buy another bottle.”

I knew I had a head injury; I had to get to the hospital. I pleaded “I’m going to the hospital now, John.”

He said, “Oh, no you’re not.” He kept looking for the gun. As he entered the kitchen I sprinted for the door. He followed. As I got to the staircase I began to holler for anyone that was around to help me. No one was there, no one answered. I got to the top step and he lunged for me, and fell to the ground. I made it to my car, got inside and locked the doors. My trembling hands could hardly get the key in the ignition.  I was so sick. I managed to crank the car and as I pulled away I could hear him hollering at me.

I drove as fast as I could. I felt the side of my head with my hand, as I merged into a small line of fast moving traffic on I-59. My hand was covered in blood and waives of nausea came over me.  Tears flowed down my face. I was afraid I was going to die. I just wanted to feel safe again.  I pulled into the parking deck of Bessemer Carraway. No one was around. It was a Saturday night in September, still warm for this time of the year.  I parked my car and when I got out, I could see blood on the door handle. How surreal; it was mine. I made my way, staggering to the elevator. I pushed the button, leaving droplets of blood behind. When the doors opened, I saw an elderly woman screaming at the ghastly sight of me covered in blood. I hit the floor in front of her.

The next thing I remember is being transported very quickly down the halls toward the emergency room. The room was filled with movement as they started an IV, and the doctor examined me. My clothes reeked of Jack Daniels, the collar and sleeve saturated in blood. The Doctor asked, “How much have you had to drink?” “Nothing!” I cried, “I smashed a bottle and it got on me.” I explained what had happened to the best of my ability. They looked at me with questioning eyes like they didn’t know whether to believe me or not.  I was crying hysterically. I was still in shock and emotionally numb from the experience. They sent me to have a CAT scan. When I returned a Birmingham Police officer was in the room waiting to speak to me. I told him what had happened. He said given the facts that, I had entered John’s apartment without an invitation I could be counter-charged with breaking and entering if I pressed charges against John. I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked. I had a concussion, cracked ribs, a broken jaw, a head full of stitches and I could be charged with a crime. He took photos for the file and gave me a card with a case number. The card also had the number of someone I could speak with about the matter, “just in case you need to talk to someone.” I still have that card to this day. I keep it as a reminder of a time in my life when I thought this could never happen to me and how quickly life can change.

Before this happened, I was beginning to trust again. Afterwards, I was filled with anger and self-doubt. I didn’t trust my own instincts. I doubted myself. After all, I had thought John was one of the good guys. I began to doubt my decisions. I moved to the other side of Birmingham, to an apartment that had security at the door. I was living my life in fear. . It has taken me a very long time to resolve the events of that day.

In 2000, I made the move back to my childhood home. My Mother needed help with my ailing Father and I needed to feel a sense of safety and peace again. This is the one place I have always felt safe. This ordeal, left me with fibromyalgia, nerve damage in my neck and jaw. I have physical, emotional, and mental scars but my spirit is beginning to heal. I found out John died in 2011. I don’t know the circumstances. I just know I no longer have to look behind me, I no longer fear.

Now, with this event some 17 years in the rear-view mirror of my life, I can speak about it.  Time has given me clarity- peace.  It has also given me strength. Strength to speak out- to share my story in the hopes someone else will listen and leave a similar situation.  If you or anyone you know is going through a situation in which they are not safe and secure, now is the time for action.  Seek help, it’s out there. Go to your local counseling center for Domestic abuse. Reach out to groups online who can and will give you haven and shelter. Do not let yourself become a victim. Speak up-speak out.  It is in our duty to speak out for those who can no longer speak for themselves. Those who have died from domestic violence.  Life for me, since I returned home, has been filled with countless beautiful memories that would never had happened if I had died on September 19, 1998.


My First Fiction Short Story-Catharsis


My first assignment in Creative writing was to write a Fiction Short story with a cover sheet. I had never heard of a cover sheet. She told us what she expected on the cover sheet and I must have created it correctly because there were no errors marked on that portion.  The rest- not so much. I had several grammar errors. All I have corrected for this blog post. I mulled the idea of submitting for publication. I guess I am not that brave, yet. I know I will get there. Baby steps. The first step for me is posting to my blog, so here is the cover sheet first then my fiction short story- Catharsis.

Ms. Arleen

Cover Sheet:

I began my fiction short story by sitting quietly. I tried to block out all the noise around me, hard to do sometimes. For this very reason, I tend to write either at night or very early in the morning, when the house is quiet and my spirit is calm.  This story deals with something I struggle with; writers block. As you recall, I used the same subject matter in last week’s post. For me, it’s a recurrent issue.  It’s also something I feel I need to get a handle on, it only leads to procrastination if not dealt with promptly.

I wrote my story in the span of about an hour and a half. Then I let it rest and I did as well. When I got up the next morning I edit with a fresh, rested mind. My thought process is more focused when I am having that first cup of coffee. I had one draft and then I edited that draft. I print out my story and re-read. This particular story when I re-read it caused me to be emotional. This story came from my heart, roughly based on life events; hence the title, Catharsis.  In the story the protagonist loses her mother to cancer. I still have my mother with me but I know that day will come.

The two biggest struggles I have in writing, especially with this piece, was beginning and my worries over grammar.  Writing for me is like running; hard to make that first step but once you get going, momentum takes over. Once you silence the inner critics you can hear your true voice speaking to you. You have to listen to what the characters have to say, listen to them speaking to you. A writer is a person who can translate feelings and thoughts into words. This is my translation; Catharsis.


By: Arleen McCann


Suzanne knew her deadline was looming. She had worked so hard to get the attention of the editor of Open Seas Magazine. It had been a chance meeting that brought her and the editor together.

It took several conversations for the editor to say, “Suzanne, we are going to give you a shot. Turn in a travel piece. Something about this little Island off Martinique.”

So Suzanne packed her bags and headed to the island. The warm winds and white sands were just what she needed to help her begin again–a new career, a new life. She settled into the hotel. She went out to sample some of the local cuisine. She listened to a local band play just off the street at a café. This would give her piece interest. She thought, “I’ll write about all aspects of life in Les Anses d’Arlet.”  After a leisurely walk on the beach to watch the sunset, she sat down in her room to begin writing.

Nothing came. No thoughts, no words, nothing. Her mind was a blank page. Writer’s block is such a horrible thing. You stare at the blank screen trying to force the words to materialize. Minutes become hours, hours become a day. She continued to stare at the blinking screen. She made coffee, had tea, and walked the beach again. Still nothing, so she turned on the TV and watched endless hours of shows selling gadgets and gizmos all guaranteed to make her life easier, faster, smarter. She thought, “If they could only make something that could cure writer’s block.”

What is writer’s block anyway? Is it the deepest part of your soul hanging on to the catharsis that the sweet release of words would convey?  Is there an enchanted key that unlocks the secrets of your heart?  She was drained, exhausted. So tired from the desire to create, yet, her psyche was void of passion. She did the only logical thing, she laid down. Maybe in her dreams she could write. She fell asleep and suddenly found herself sitting at her laptop. She looked down to see a USB cable attached to her chest, right below her heart. She plugged the cable into the slot on the laptop.  Suddenly the screen pulsated with rainbow hues then returned back to a glistening pink. She looked down and noticed the cable was filling with this pink glow. Her soul came alive with this flickering, beautiful pink light. She could hear a voice say, “Write what you feel, don’t think, don’t judge, don’t criticize or doubt, just write.”

She closed her eyes and she could see with her heart.  Her quiet mind released thoughts and feelings, hopes and yes, imaginings.  She turned to see an angel sitting at the end of her bed. The angel was leaned back, arms crossed behind her head.

“Hello, who are you?” Suzanne asked.

“Well, it’s pretty obvious by the wings I must be an angel but, to be specific, my name is Jonae. I am your writing angel. Also a kind of angel of confidence. I only appear when you lack the assurance or well, in some cases, courage to write.”

“It’s nice to meet you. I feel like we have meet before,” Suzanne inquired.

“We have,” the angel replied, “many times. You see, some people are given a destiny to write. You were given a destiny to write and paint. You seem to have forgotten what it is you have to do. That is what writers block is; you have forgotten consciously what your subconscious never doubts. You are a writer, you are an artist. You see the world painted in light; you appreciate the pink hues of love, the blue notes of music, the passion of red, the majesty of purple and the sunsets of yellow and orange. You perceive emotions and feel color. Music stirs your soul like a warm pot of soup on a cold winter day. You feel pain more intensely than everyone else. You cry with those who suffer and laugh with the joy of a child. You have felt the darkness of death and the deepness of depression. You have been given every experience you need to write. Your experience is your life! Your life is your canvas; your words your palette.”

Silent tears streamed down her face as she remembered what it was she had been given; joy, pain, love—an empathic ability to connect with the world around her. She realized she had been given a gift to heal with a simple word from a pen and stroke from her brush.  This overwhelmed her for a moment. It’s as if she caught her collective breath and suddenly she could breathe again. The fear slowly subsided.

“I remember” Suzanne said. “I remember when I was a little girl and I would pull the papers my mother wrote out of a weathered shoe box. They were brown with age. A lone staple- that had been placed there some 50 years ago- held them together. I read her words and something inside me wanted to be just like my mother. I wanted my words to be as spellbinding, to mesmerize. The admiration was overwhelming.  I used to say, I am going to be a writer one day, just like my mother. I knew that as long as I had her words, I had her with me all the time. I needed her then and still do. I need her here with me.”  Jonae leaned forward and placed her hand on Suzanne’s.

“As long as you have her words, her inner strength, you have her time immortal. She is with you always, in your heart, in your thoughts, and in your words. Just look and you will find her there. By the way, you will find yourself as well.”

Suzanne smiled. She now knew the source of her hesitance. She was missing that maternal connection she had felt so long ago. Her mother was her best friend. When she became ill, she tried to do the best she could to ease her pain. She felt ineffective and useless as the cancer spread. In the end, she was helpless to ease her suffering.  The woman who once held her hand and soothed her tears, she now had to reassure that it would be okay. The roles had reversed. Suzanne remembered the last days of her Mother’s life. She couldn’t wrap her head around the fact she was physically here, but the smile, the love, the warm laugh was gone. The essence that filled the room with all her memories was so far away—somewhere, but where? She felt her here and then she wasn’t anymore.

She knew she had not been able to write since her mother had passed away. She had been unable to put into words the immense loss her whole being felt. The guilt she felt over wanting to live again when the sweetest part of her soul was no longer alive. She began to cry.

Jonae said, “Its ok, have a good cry and get back to spreading your soul on that canvas, Share your gift. Write the words that inspire. Give hope to others. It’s time to create again.”  Tears flowed like they had not for several years, all the pain, all the hurt came pouring out. Suzanne looked up to find Jonae was gone.

     The next morning she woke to the sound of birds outside and the sun shone through her window castings tropical rays of warmth. The smell of coffee filled the air as she got out of bed. This morning was different. She didn’t feel that awful sense of dread. She knew her deadline for the story was drawing close but she wasn’t empty. She felt optimistic, alive. Her mind whirled with words, so fast she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to capture them all. She felt passion for her craft. She felt like a writer again.  She quickly poured a cup of coffee and made her way to the desk. She smiled. Beside the desk she found a note. It simply said, Believe. Next to the note was a singular white feather.

Look What The Cat Dragged In

It appears it has been quite some time since I made a post.  A lot has happened.   Well I graduated. Finally got the prized piece of parchment that makes it official.  So now I know how to code. ICD-9, CPT, HCPCS. I even understand ICD-10. Still no employment. I have yet to pass the CPC. I took the test in April. All 5 hours and 50 minutes of it. The hardest test I have ever taken in my life!  I, like many others, did not pass my first go around. I suppose that is why you get a “retake” when you pay the fee.  So, to say the least, this really bummed me out. I walk into interviews and many, much younger than I, are sitting waiting. I hear the same thing. “Thank you for your interest”.  I will keep going. I always do.  So I turned it over to the universe, hoisted my sail and waited for the wind to take me in whatever direction it desired.

Next, Mother.  Speaking of the day I took the CPC. That was the day I came home to find Momma in the floor. One shoe over by the stove, the other one in the family room. She took a terribly tumble. I didn’t know how long she had been there. She didn’t have her phone near her. Thankfully, she didn’t break anything.  I try to not leave her much. I am filled with worry about her while I am gone. I can tell she is aging quickly. I can’t slow it down, as much as I want to. All I can do is be here for her. She gets confused sometimes. I have heard her say, “I know I am supposed to know who you are, but??” I take a deep breath and quietly tell her, “I’m your daughter, Arleen”. She nods. I say “take a deep breath” because it literally took my breath away to hear my Mother say she didn’t know me. My heart silently cried. I am glad to be home with her.  I suppose my not finding work is “the creator’s” agreement with me on the matter.  I have kept busy though. I pulled out my art “toys” and started creating again.  I have tried to give life to all the characters I created in Vegas. All the little doodles, drawings and sketches I have taken from black/white to lively color.  A lot of the credit goes to this wonderful computer we bought. It is especially for artist. We got an HP Sprout. I adore it. If you have never seen one, by all means google or YouTube it! You will be amazed. It is a pretty pricey piece of equipment but I feel worth every penny. I suppose it’s a testament to the faith of my family in me. I am humbled when they tell me I will make more financially with my artwork than I ever will working outside of the home.  I am humbled and thankful to have them in my corner.

I begin my classes online the 7th of September. Originally I was going to attend Arizona State online. Majoring in Creative writing. Well. We haggled about the amount of transfer credit they were going to accept so that fell through. I would have run out of financial aid before I could complete the degree. I went on the search and found American Public University. The tuition is very reasonable. I can always, if I decide to work on a Masters go to ASU. APU has course in screenwriting, so I am pretty jazzed about that tidbit.  One of the major things I want to get out of this degree is the ability to find my “voice”.  I am not sure if anyone else understands that statement.  For so long I have keep my thoughts to myself. I put a random post here and there on Facebook but I am not sure I have really told anyone in the last 15 years what I am thinking. Maybe that is why I started the blog.  It’s an avenue of expression.  Part of this stems from the first English class I took in College way back in 1981.  I wrote what I thought was a beautiful paper only to get it back basically dripping with red ink. I thought then writing might not be for me. My future was in medicine, I thought.  How silly was I? So now at 52, I am going to write. Right now, the first work is a children’s book. I do have ideas though. Some are “serious “works.  I read something the other day that fits right in to this conversation. “If you had wanted to be remembered kindly, you should have treated me better”. I just love that! Not sure who to create it too. Although not original to me, I do share that sentiment. Well, going for now. Take care and bless you and yours.


Just goes to show you, you never know….

Been quite sometime since I posted anything so thought I woud update. I graduated from Virginia College,Birmingham with my AS in Healthcare Reimbursement/Medical Billing Coding. Finally! Now onto finding a job. I have placed resumes with alot of companies and nothing yet. I did find out that Not many Corporations around my locale want to accept a VC BS degree. I am in online classes now but I will be withdrawing at the end of this quarter. I do not plan to pay $32,000 for something noone will recongnize. There is another college that is accredited; Western Governors University online.The degree is a BS in Health Informatics.  Much lower cost as well. Where I was paying $4500 a quarter, this is $2890 for six months! Much better deal!
I am scheduled to take my CPC in December. Hopefully, that will increase my odds of gaining employment.
All the developments of late have left me in a little bit of a depressed mood. So much on my mind. Mother is beginning to change even more. Her memory is getting worse, but the biggest change is the mood swings. She can be laughing one minute and incredible angry the next. I hate to leave her but I have to find work. In the meantime, I think I will begin painting again. Been quite some time since I lost myself in a project. Would be nice to just sit for hours, alone, to paint. If I had any sense I would pursue my BA in art studio with a minor in creative writing. If nothing else for me.  I love to Code and I will make a living coding but my passion is creating. I love to see bright colors on a white canvas. Nothing as exciting as the potential in a clean white canvas. Yep, time to paint. Speaking of which I have change the name of the artwork to Art By Ms. Arleen. I just felt it was a little less formal and more “me”.

Till next time.


 Trying to update things I haven’t had much time to spend on lately. One of them is my blog, the other is my Fine Art America gallery page. Hoping when my break from school begins on March 27th to have more time for painting and getting some things done.

 Update on things around here. Well, the mine’s is getting closer to mine and Mother’s home.  The dust is beginning to pile up on the porch. I can really tell if I don’t sweep it off for a day. The car is always covered as well. Just things you have to take care of when you live next to a coal mine. At night you can see lights behind the house that look like they are from a belt-line platform. Not sure if they are putting one in yet, but sure appears that way.  Neighbors couple of parcels away leased their land to the mines so they can come within at least an acre off the back side. I had always hoped to grow old in this house but I think that is a far-fetched plan now. The blasting is daily! Just so sad to watch. I know I need to prepare myself for  backup plan in case the house becomes so damaged we can’t stay here.  Planning in my mind what I do want to do as the years tick on. I know if I can’t be here, I want to be near water. I always wanted a place near the beach when I was young, time to look into making that one a reality. For now though I am here, this is home. I learn to deal.

I look forward to working in the garden this year. This is the first planting season with my new little tractor. It’s a small John Deere  I call “Kermie”. It sure is a work horse for things I have to do by myself. I plan to put it to work as soon as I can. I have to use the tiller first and get the garden ready. I try to remember all the things Daddy told me do. All the advice he gave me before he passed away. He told me how to plant a garden so I think this year is he year I do it right. I will plant field peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions. I want some greens out there for sure. Momma has requested potatoes. I am going to try my hand at growing eggplant. Not sure it will grow but have to learn somehow.  I will also put a small patch for herbs. Things like rosemary, basil and cilantro. Oh an we can’t forget the flowers! I saw the most beautiful dahlias on QVC. They were huge! I would love that.  This part of living in the south I love. I can be outdoors on my own spot and do as I please.  I  can sit outside and hear the crickets chirp. All those days I lived in Vegas I would have never dreamed I would one day be planting a garden back home. Life is full of changes baby. Just hang on and enjoy the ride cause you never know what lies ahead!


Bringing it up-to-date

Well this update of my blog (my apologies by the way, been awhile) finds me back in classes at Virginia College, Birmingham. I loved surgery but found I couldn’t stand the stresses of the OR on a daily basis. In the end my health got in the way. I am in Healthcare Reimbursement/Medical Billing & Coding. I graduate in August 2014.  I really enjoy this. It is what I call, mindful work. It brings together all of the things I use to love about Law and Insurance into one net little package. Yep, I am what you call a “thinker”.
On that note, I got to thinking about all the things I have done so far in my life. All the “adventures and “misadventures”. In the end it I have been given a chance to utilize the knowledge I’ve acquired along the way. I can even use the last year’s studies in Surgery Technology to code for Ambulatory surgery centers. So it has not all been for “naught”.
On the homefront, Momma seems to be happy with the newest additon to the family. She was given a little “teacup” chihuahua named Maxie. She’s about 9 months old now. She is full of energy and life, sometimes I think too much energy for my 80 year young Momma.  I try to help what I can but my cat Taz is not real thrilled with the idea of a “varmit” in the house. I say “varmit” because Taz looks at her as if she is a large rat. He gives me the “can I kill it” and “why are you dressing the rat?” look.  They do bring me comfort too though, so I understand Momma’s happiness with her dog. She has grieved so hard since Daddy passed. It is good to see her smile and laugh again. I treasure those moments when she is cooking in the kitchen and telling me the same story I have heard a gazillon time. I know one day I will be standing in a kitchen somewhere wishing I could hear her voice and those stories again.  I know for the past 14 years there has been no time for a relationship of my own with someone. Hell, I haven’t been on a date in such a very long time. I have traded all the things people normally do in life such as trips to the beach, dates and weekends in the mountains for my responsibilites here. Crazy thing is I would do it all again. One day there will be trips and hopefully the forces that be will see fit for a very handsome, funny, creative man to be by my side. Right now though I need to sign off and go to the kitchen. I smell Momma’s biscuits in the oven browning. Yum!

Life Changes

Well, to say the past month has been filled with life changes would be an understatement.
So the month of April started off with my anticipation of actually getting into the OR, at long last. The first couple of weeks were great. I scrubbed in on several GYN cases, a couple of breast reconstructions, a mastectomy. I even saw a penile debridement ( that was interesting to say the least). The smells didn’t bother me, the sights didn’t either. The doctors were great, even taking time to teach me. The problem came after only 4 days in; I began to really feel the physical strain of it all. Standing in one confined spot for hours was so hard on my knees. They swelled to the point I had to stay off my legs to be able to go back in the next Monday.
The 3rd week I had what the clinic Dr thought was stomach flu combined with a nasty sinus infection. I literally got nauseous in the OR. So by this time I am beginning to think maybe this was not my best idea. This entire year I have gone to class faithfully, great grades (President’s list) but when the rubber hit the road so to speak my body wasn’t having it. So this brings me up to the 5th Week. It’s Sunday. I ask “If I’m not meant for this please give me a sign or strength to endure it” I got a sign alright- heart palpatations with PVC’s, a BP of 158/98 and a trip to the ER where the Dr. tells me I need a heart cath, problem is : no insurance. So the answer was:rest. I withdrew from classes the next day. I will be honest, I am incredibly hurt to not graduate. But I have to be sensible. My momma depends on me too, so I have to account for her well-being in my decision. I had to rest.
Rest has made a world of difference. To try and process all this, I began to pull all my art materials back out. I am painting again and feeling better.
So for me I have to figure out making a living. Central sterile is not as stressful or physically demanding so that is an option. Right now though I’m listening to my creative voice and resting for a few weeks.

Please watch this link- Sal’s World

Several days ago while surfing I ran across this link for an incredibly funny man named Vic Dibitetto. He has a video on bread & milk that reminded so much of the apocalyptic atmosphere in Alabama when the dreaded “S” word (whispering.. “snow”) is uttered. I swear, celiac-ridden, lactose intolerant people will flock to the Pig for bread and milk. But I digress..when I watched his video I laughed so hard I was crying. I wondered what other gems would be in the Vic Dibitetto vault at YouTube. Low and behold it leads me, as gleeful as munchkins down the yellow-brick-road, to a singer that knocked my socks off! This incredibly talented man named Sal Manzo sings in the style of Frank Sinatra. What’s not to like? Let me say, I lived in Vegas for six years, he could sing with the best of them. His cover of Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind is awesome. His charismatic personality is infectious (and ladies, as we say down here in the south, he’s not hard to look at) He has a reality show project in the works entitled “Sal’s World”. I would watch and you should too, but first let’s make this happen! Let’s generate interest in the show and get it on the air!  Please, dear friends, view the video and tweet the link.
Sal’s World link http://youtu.be/Pqvvpm30720
Vic Dibitetto Bread & Milk link: http://youtu.be/i6zaVYWLTkU
Thanks so much,

Saturday night thoughts

Well actually its just past midnight so it’s officially Sunday morning thoughts. I’ve been up studying, listening to some music. Time to blog a little bit.
This past week has taught me some lessons. One being you are never too old to learn lessons. The other lesson is that even though you think you have figured something/or someone out, it can suddenly hit you that you just thought you had figured it out! Sometimes we live in some pretty veil thin illusions. Maybe some of that is my fault for not wanting to see the truth. I was so enamored by the “wizard behind the curtain”. But tonight I see so clearly and I can honestly say without a shadow of a doubt I know longer believe in the “great and powerful wizard”. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me..
This does not mean I do not believe in the magic. Oh it’s real alright. It’s out there and somewhere I will meet a true “wizard”. One who loves Arleen for Arleen. This would be one of those things they use to tell me you can do nothing about Arleen. One of the God grant me courage, moments of life.
I know to all but a couple of people, this makes little sense tonight. But I thank you for letting me air my thoughts. I needed to purge and walk away from a situation in my life. I have done that now. My soul can breathe and move on. I have my career ahead of me. Extern starts in a few weeks. but first I have several tests, a final check off and of course finals to take. Spring is right around the corner and all things begin anew. Time for Arleen to “bloom” again.

Finally Cardio!!!

Finally we are studying my favorite specialty in surgery, Cardio-Thoracic Surgery! They tell you when you study medicine that there will be one particular specialty that will just click; mine is Cardio. I remember when I was a little girl I would sit in the hall with the encyclopedia reading about the heart. I couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9 but the heart was so fascinating to me even at that young age. For as long as I can remember I have had two great interests;medicine and art. I am incredibly humbled to be able to pursue both in my life.
I suppose I understand Cardiology because I have had so much exposure to it through Daddy’s illnesses.
He had five by passes at one time in 1994, then the first stroke in 2005. The pacemaker followed soon afterwards. Three months after that, it failed so he had to have the battery replaced(that is not as easy as it sounds). 2008 was a horrible year for Daddy. He was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in the spring. This coupled with Black Lung from 46 years in the coal mines made it incredibly hard for him to breath or function. In November he had a renal stent for a blockage then in January 2009 he had the last major stroke. Three weeks later ( 2/5/09) the world lost a good man. This week marks four years since he past. I think he would be proud that I am studying medicine at 50 years of age. I also think he’ll be with me when I receive my degree this summer. I know every surgery I enter, even in the capacity of first assistant I will think of Mom & Dad. You tend to foster a heart of unending compassion and passion for your work when you treat patients as you would want your family and love ones treated.