Cheated

Friday, January 25, 2013

This was supposed to be a wonderful weekend.

I was going to be attending First Event for the first time.

It would have been my first experience living as myself for more than a few hours squeezed in at the end of a long workday or during weekends spent trying to balance living as both him and myself.

It would have been my first experience spending time as myself outside of my home.

I'd been looking forward to it since I first registered last summer.

But I'm not there.


I was planning to drive to the hotel on Thursday morning. I was up much too late the previous night texting back and forth with a friend and fellow light sleeper, partly because I knew I would be too excited to sleep and partly because we were both laughing so much, as is usually the case when we talk.

After finally signing off close to 2:00 AM, I woke up before 5:30. After 20 fruitless minutes, I gave up on the fiction that I would be able to fall asleep again.

I decided to pick up breakfast at a local bagel shop, then spend a leisurely few hours getting ready before I drove to the hotel as myself - which would have been another first.

The shop didn't open for another 20 minutes, as it turned out. It was much too cold to wait outside (it was 2º F), so I decided to walk a few blocks to Starbucks to warm up and get a cup of coffee before returning.

I reached a large four-way intersection and waited for the pedestrian light. Even at this early hour I waited, as I always do; a pedestrian was killed two weeks ago just a few blocks from this location.

There was a white van idling two or three car lengths behind the stop line at the light where I was waiting to cross. I thought it was a bit odd, but didn't give it much thought.

A moment later the Walk signal lit up and I began to cross.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the lights of the van race toward me. Instinctively I tried to jump out of the way.

I fractured my right ankle when I was 15 years old while playing baseball, and it never healed properly. I have since been plagued with countless twisted and sprained ankles, as well as numerous occasions when it simply gives out.

And that is what happened as I tried to pivot away from the on-rushing van. I felt the ankle roll under me from the stress of putting too much pressure on it all at once.

I managed to get far enough away that the van just clipped the back of my left hip. But even at a reduced speed the impact sent my glasses flying and spun me around as I fell. Luckily I didn't hit my head; I landed in a seated position, apparently with my right arm out to try to cushion the fall, and half-bounced/half-skidded several times.

As I tried to clear my head, the van stopped. My memory is a bit hazy about the details, and I'm hopelessly near-sighted without my glasses, but I thought I saw the driver's side window roll down for a moment. Then the van roared off through the red light.

Within seconds, an older couple (who later introduced themselves as M & K) were at my side. They had been facing me and as a result saw the entire sequence.

I remember trying to get up; apparently I kept telling them over and over that I had to get home right away, that I had to be someplace important.

But I couldn't stand up; when I did they had to catch me before I fell again. I couldn't put any weight on my right ankle. It didn't really hurt; it simply couldn't bear any weight, and felt "loose."

They told me I needed to see a doctor right away, and that it was much too cold to wait for the police and emergency personnel to arrive. I didn't want to go, but they were so insistent I gave in and let them help me hobble back to their car and drive me to the hospital.

On the short drive over, K insisted that she saw the van's passenger gesture at me as I stood on the sidewalk, followed by the driver laughing. She was absolutely certain of what she had seen.

She was even more certain they had done it deliberately, most likely thinking I would be able to get out of the way and they would have simply given me a scare. I couldn't begin to fathom that such a thing was possible.

As soon as we arrived, the ER doctor ordered x-rays of my right wrist and ankle, my left hip and my ribs. M and J insisted on staying, and offered to call my family for me.

When I refused and they persisted in saying I should call (quite rightly, from their point of view), I finally had to tell them truth: that the only person in my family who knows about Cass is my sister, who was working a 16-hour shift in the ER. And because I wasn't expecting any visitors, all of my clothes and makeup were out in the open. There was simply no way I could let anyone from my family come over.

They were absolutely wonderful and understanding, as were the ER doctor and nurses. After returning to the ER from having the x-rays done, I asked the doctor when we would be finished, explaining that I needed to leave for First Event in a few hours.

She was gentle but firm: I clearly didn't realize the magnitude of what had just happened.

"Cass, you were literally hit by a truck," she said. "The only reason you can move right now is because of adrenaline. Your entire body is going to be sore as soon as that wears off. Believe me, you are in no condition to do anything, let alone drive for an extended period and then walk around all day. And you aren't going to be, at least not for a few days. I'm very, very sorry."

I just completely lost it at that point, and began crying uncontrollably.

I had been looking forward to this weekend for months. 

There were more than a few occasions when the only thing that got me out of bed to face another day in this job was the knowledge that I would be at First Event this weekend.

And while I haven't had the opportunity to write about them yet, I took major steps the past two weekends towards being able to be comfortable as myself in public.

And now I felt as if all of that hard work and patience were for nothing.

The nurse, P, was just wonderful; she came over and held me while I sobbed, telling me gently that it was all going to be OK. That helped immeasurably; finally, I regained some semblance of composure.

As it turned out, I was very fortunate. I had no broken bones, nor were my ribs further damaged. Further, I had only strained my right wrist.

As for my ankle, the doctor explained that I had stretched the ligaments when I tried to pivot. This was a result of the initial fracture not healing properly, which explained why I've had so many sprains over the years. Each one weakened the ankle's ligaments further, like a rubber band stretched beyond its limit. It explained why it gave out when I put all of my weight on it, and then felt loose afterwards.

They wanted me to use crutches to avoid putting any strain on the ankle. However, because of the repeated damage over the years to my wrist that has affected the nerves in that arm, they also wanted me to wear a removable cast and sling as a precautionary measure.

Since I couldn't simultaneously use crutches and have my arm in a sling, they had to compromise. So instead of crutches, they put my ankle in a walking boot to stabilize it for the week or so it will take to heal, and told me to stay off it as much as possible the first few days.

Before I left, the doctor made me give her my word that I would not try to drive until the beginning of next week. A new law in my home state authorizes doctors and police to confiscate the driver's license of anyone they feel poses a threat to themselves or the public. I promised I wouldn't, which nearly made me start to cry all over again.

M and J insisted on driving me home and helping me get settled for the day. They even went to the pharmacy and picked up painkillers the doctor had prescribed. J gave me her cell phone number and told me to call if I needed anything, and promised to check in during the day to see how I was feeling. (She has done so for the past two days.)

I fell asleep almost instantly after taking the painkillers, only to wake with a start mid-afternoon when I realized I hadn't called the hotel to cancel the reservation. 

I apologized for calling so late in the day and explained that I knew I was responsible for that day's charge. The operator was very polite as he took my information, thanking me for understanding their policy. Then he stopped for a moment.

"I see you reserved this room at the special First Event rate," he said. "It seems a shame that you won't be able to attend. Do you mind if I ask if you're OK? You sound very tired."

After I explained the circumstances, he was silent for a moment, then asked if he could briefly put me on hold. He returned several minutes later.

"I just spoke to my manager and explained why you had to cancel," he said, "And she authorized me to remove the charges from your credit card."

I began to protest, but he wouldn't hear of it.

"We look forward to having you folks as our guests every year," he said. "The entire staff considers it one of our favorite groups to work with. We're just sorry you can't be here this year. This is the least we can do. I hope you can make it next year."

Yet again I found myself on the verge of tears. Along with the kindness shown to me by M, J, and P, it helped reduce some of the sting of an awful day.

***

I've spent much of the past 24 hours wondering what would possess someone to do what the people in that van did. Even if J was mistaken, they still knew full well that they had hit me, even if it was much less serious than it could have been. Otherwise they would not have stopped for a moment before racing off. 

After all this time, I am still unable to come up with a reason. I feel as if they stole this weekend from me. And there is nothing I can do to get it back.

I will admit that a part of me hopes that they are someday treated with precisely the same degree of callousness, contempt, and indifference that they showed me. 

But a larger part of me recognizes that, quite simply, they aren't worth the effort.

Rather than dwell on their appalling behavior, I'm trying, instead, to focus on the amazing, unstinting kindness shown to me by total strangers.
  
I had a long, intense conversation with a close friend late last night.

She told me that it often seemed as if the universe had decided that simply being transgendered wasn't enough, that those of us who transitioned still needed to be presented with yet more obstacles on the path to becoming ourselves.

"I don't know why that is, Cass," she mused. "I guess we have to prove over and over we really, really want this.

"But you know what? That just makes it even sweeter when we get there."

I told my therapist at a session last spring that I would never want to go back to being him. She immediately replied: "You can't go back. You've simply come too far."

Both she and my friend are correct. 

This setback, like others I have experienced, has only made me more determined.

And I can see that determination beginning to bear fruit.

I've made so much progress in the past month that I can scarcely believe it.

But I have.

And even I'm beginning to see that the sweet, secret peace I longed for but never dared believe could come true is getting closer to becoming reality every day.

***

While this is ostensibly a Christmas song, it's message has had particular resonance with me the past two days, particularly the final verse:

Real and right and true, the sky is blue
Everlasting arms upholding you
Sweet secret peace
Sweet secret peace

Beautiful are you, your hands on you
All you feel is real and right and true
Sweet secret peace, secret
Sweet secret peace

Real and right and true will turn into
Secret peace inside the heart of you
Sweet secret peace
Sweet secret peace
Sweet secret peace
Sweet secret peace


Sorry the clip is a bit lame; it was all I could find. :c( The song is beautiful, no matter what.

27 comments:

Carolyn Ann Grant on January 26, 2013 at 12:34 AM said...

My goodness! All the best for a speedy recovery.

Have you called the cops? They're not keen on hit-and-run drivers.

Cassidy on January 26, 2013 at 12:45 AM said...

Thank you, Carolyn. :c)

I left it out, but yes, we called from the hospital. They interviewed M & J on Thursday and spoke to me yesterday.

The detective was honest: the interviews are basically a formality, since no one saw the license number. He also said it's unlikely there would be any noticeable damage to the van, since it was only a glancing blow. (Well, not "only," but I knew what he meant.)

Thank you again, Caroline!

== Cass

Cassidy on January 26, 2013 at 12:46 AM said...

Sorry - Carolyn, not Caroline! I blame the painkillers. :c)

April on January 26, 2013 at 1:18 AM said...

I know it was a great disappointment but the strength you have shown will get you through transition more than any convention. Glad you are still in one piece and not seriously injured.

Hugs,

April

Cassidy on January 26, 2013 at 1:21 AM said...

Thank you, sweetie. Now go to bed!!! :c)

Hugs,
Cass

Jenna on January 26, 2013 at 3:27 AM said...

Glad that you weren't injured any worse than you were and that there was someone around to help you. I dread to think what state you'd have been in if you'd had to wait for the emergency services to come in those temperatures.

Idiots like the ones driving the van shouldn't be allowed near anything larger than a toy car, and even then under supervision in case they hit someone with it.

Faline on January 26, 2013 at 6:25 AM said...

Sorry to hear this.

What is this new law which allows doctors to confiscate drivers' licenses? That doesn't sound right. I Googled around for that and couldn't find anything. It's also kind of weird that the doctor would threaten you with that supposed law right after you've been intentionally hit my a driver. Something doesn't seem right there.

jeanie2484 on January 26, 2013 at 8:24 AM said...

Hi Cass,
So sorry about all that has happened. I believe that for everything lost, there is something found. What you lost in not being able to attend something that you set your heart on, has been replaced by something you found...that some people do care and care deeply and love you for who you are. And perhaps that experience and lesson in the end is more valuable on your quest in the long run. Another hurdle in life, another big step forward. Heal well and fast for the body takes care of itself. But often it is others that heals our minds.
Jeanie
P.S. Take good care of that boot, too. Love 'em (I'm a doc)

Kristina Nicole on January 26, 2013 at 9:48 AM said...

OMG, I can't believe that someone could do such a thing. I am happy to hear that your injuries were relatively minor as things could have been so much worse. Take care of yourself and I hope that you have a speedy recovery.

Cassidy on January 26, 2013 at 2:08 PM said...

@ Faline: Thank you. That *is* a real law, believe it or not. When I collapsed last fall, both my sister (an ER nurse) and my father (a retired police detective) told me about it afterwards. I texted my sister about it earlier today. She was working, but said I didn't *quite* have it right. If I think of it, I'll post her reply.

Also, the doctor was VERY nice; she was about as unthreatening as possible! lol Obviously I misrepresented the conversation. Sorry.

@Jeanie: Hey!, no fair making me want to cry! :c) Kidding. Thank you very much; you are totally right. I'll remember that.

Also, the boot is pretty cool! I'm used to them, given my track record. My ankle sort of has a mind of its own when I set it free, which leads to some interesting-but-kinda-gross photo opportunities ("And this, boys & girls, is a 90 degree angle..."). But with the boot on I can actually walk around without much trouble. My usual three hour walk is on hold though. Sigh.

@Kristina: Thank you. I *was* very lucky. My sister told me the same thing. And she would know; she was hit by a car when she was 10 years old and very nearly died as a result. She still suffers aftereffects to this day. I got off relatively lightly.

Thank you all SO MUCH for the kind thoughts. They are helping immensely! Love you all!

Mega hugs,
Cass

Calie on January 27, 2013 at 12:49 PM said...

Cass, you poor girl!

This was a hate crime and I do hope whoever did this to you suffers the consequences.

I hope you heal quickly. You must feel so alone right now. I wish I could just come there and hug you.

We must all look at the bright side, and here it was how that beautiful couple treated you, how the hospital personnel treated you, and how the hotel treated you.

Get better soon, Cass, and go out there and be the woman you were meant to be.

Calie xxx

Cassidy on January 27, 2013 at 6:09 PM said...

Hi Calie,

Thank you for the kind words. It's very sweet of you.

This area is infested with this type of white trash, my hometown in particular. I've been picked on and bullied by them my entire life.

If I had a dollar for every time some carload of brave young local lads - sorry, "bro's" - yelled out "f****t", or worse, as they drive by in Mommy and Daddy's new SUV and then speed off... well, I could fund my transition, and then some. People like that are precisely why I plan to move as far away from here as I possibly can once I'm full-time.

I apologize if I sound bitter. But a lifetime of harassment wears on you, and sometimes it's simply too much. I've never once done anything to knowingly bother these idiots, but they seem to delight in tormenting anyone who doesn't conform to their narrow, hate-filled world view.

On the other hand, I take solace in the knowledge that *I* will leave them, and this place, far behind. *They,* however, will be spending the rest of their miserable lives right here, with each other. Somewhere, Sartre is chuckling to himself. :c)

Thank you again, Calie! I promise I'll respond to your email soon!

Hugs,
Cass

Renee on January 27, 2013 at 6:53 PM said...

Conflicted here!
On one hand, if things happened exactly as you recount them, then my heart goes out to you, NO-ONE! "Deserves" that and I’m glad that you're (mostly) alright.

On the other hand, I believe there is a reason for EVERYTHING the universe does, there are no "random" occurrences, and I've learned that if we are to understand those things and understand the universes "will" for us, we need to fully examine as many angles for these occurrences as are available to us.

To simply see this as the universe "taunting" you and react by becoming more determined (I've found) is almost NEVER the right reaction. Better (I think) to try and understand what it's trying to tell you, even if that may not be what you want to hear (IE that perhaps transition might not be the right thing for you).

My experience is this, things DON'T get easier, they get harder as "progress" is made, if this was difficult for you, then what awaits you further down the track may be life threatening, unbearable and in the end, FATAL!

I'm not trying to be negative, just encouraging caution.

Best to you for a speedy recovery

Cassidy on January 27, 2013 at 9:48 PM said...

Hi Renee,

Thank you for the comment. Feeling a bit better each day, I am happy to say. Although it would appear the X-Games are out for this winter. :c)

== Cass

Sarah Wilson on January 27, 2013 at 11:45 PM said...

Cass,

I have experienced that as I have been going down the road of transition, there are two classes of people who _really_ know us. Allies and a$$holes. There isn't much grey area between the two. Everyone else sees pretty much what they see. Sometimes they make a snap decision based on what they think they see and sometimes act on it. It's a dirty shame that nobody caught the tag of the van that assaulted you. But I'm really glad that you were able to come around and heal from your ordeal. I sincerely hope that in time you come to know more allies than...
Keep up the faith. The dividends are wonderful!

Ciao!
Sarah

Cassidy on January 28, 2013 at 12:23 AM said...

Hi Sarah!

You are *so* right in your descriptions - particularly of the latter group! lol Unfortunately there is a healthy contingent of them near where I currently live. It is a lovely town, in spite of these jackasses; The lovely folks who helped me are far more representative. That said, I will be more than happy to put this entire area in my rearview mirror at some point in the hopefully not-too-distant future.

Thank you for your comment, Sarah! Oh, and I absolutely *love* your hat in your profile photo! :c)

Hugs,
Cass

Anonymous said...

Hi Cass,

So sorry to hear about your accident! Could you please email me? When I try to email you through the blog, it opens Outlook, which I don't use.

Thanks - Andrea - andreaziff@aol.com

Debra on January 28, 2013 at 8:12 AM said...

Great post. Wow...experiencing the best of people right after experiencing the worst. I'm sorry your occasion was interrupted but I'm glad you're ok.

Karin July1992 on January 28, 2013 at 10:22 AM said...

Cass,

I hope this finds you feeling better, even on a dreary Monday morn in the NE. When I was twelve, I remember very little of being hit&runned by a group of Latino guys in a car and knocked unconcious. I was watching my friends roller-skate on a street in front of the local school on a nice Summer afternoon. Mostly a group of girls... it was realy nice. I couldn't afford roller skates (admittedly, we were Salvation Army kids), but I was enjoying watching my friends as I stood on the sidewalk/curb. The last thing I remember was hearing a car coming from my left - and a yellow/green garbage truck coming from my right and its driver yelling "look out!" I woke up a few minutes later I was told and rushed back to my house by my friends. My Mom was home and tookd me to the hospital. To this day I don't remember what happened or why such jerks would come up on a curb with their car and hit a 12 y.o. I really only remember enjoying my friends and their kindness afterward. Sadly, it was one of the last "girlish" times I had with them as they all moved away in the coming year or so.

I'm really sorry this happened to you. I know how hard you worked on preparing for FE and what it all meant to you. Maybe you will be able to mae the Keystone Conference in March?

Best,

Karin

Cassidy on January 28, 2013 at 4:49 PM said...

Hi Andrea!

Done! :c) And I hope the Blogger gremlins allow my missive to reach you unscathed.

Hugs,
Cass

Cassidy on January 28, 2013 at 5:04 PM said...


Hi Karin,

What an awful experience! I'm so happy you were able to find the positive from such a trauma.

My sister C was struck by a car when she was ten years old and very nearly died. I still have a mental image of my mother sprinting past me as I returned from an afternoon at the park with friends, unaware of what had just happened.

My sister was very fortunate, awful as her injuries were. A neighbor saved her life by rushing her to the hospital in his arms, running barefoot through glass-strewn woods and a parking lot to do so. Doctors said later that she would have bled to death if he hadn't acted as he did. She still suffers the aftereffects to this day.

Like you, one wonderful thing that resulted was that the entire neighborhood rallied around her - and us. When she was released from the hospital six weeks after the accident, they held a massive block party in her honor. Their kindness helped sustain her through the months of difficult, painful healing that followed. I'm glad you experienced something similar.

As for Keystone... hmm. Hadn't thought of that!

This *does* present a conundrum, however. It *is* during spring training, and I *am* a complete, total, utterly hopeless baseball geek of the first order.

How hopeless, you ask? I've been watching games all winter from last year via MLB.TV to lessen the withdrawal pains. *And* the Seattle Mariners are my favorite team. Imagine voluntarily choosing to watch their feeble, inept attempts to swing the bat - in January, no less. I can see you recoiling from the keyboard in horror as I write this... lol

Anyway, Keystone IS a possibility. Thank you for the brainstorm!

And thank you for sharing your experiences, Karin, and for reminding me of the *true* lesson of this incident. Take care!

Hugs,
Cass

Cassidy on January 28, 2013 at 5:35 PM said...

Hi Debra!

Thank you so much. And yes, I feel quite fortunate, both for how folks responded immediately after my incident and for the overwhelming support I have experienced online the past few days. It makes a gal feel very, very grateful. ;c)

I'd like to add how much your blog has helped me on my journey. I only found a handful that really resonated with me when I was starting out, and yours was one of them. I was incredibly moved by your journey, and am thrilled to follow along as you experience living life as the woman you were meant to be. Thank you for sharing it, Debra.

I was particularly moved by your recent post about your thoughts on religion. I went through a somewhat similar upbringing, albeit not as extreme as yours. As usual, you were eloquent, gracious, and thought-provoking. You are a wonderful writer.

I wrote one of my patented rambling, semi-coherent replies ;c), then realized it was much too long to post as a response. I thought of perhaps sending it via email, but couldn't find an email address. I miss Seattle a great deal (I lived there for 10 years), and was hoping to soak up that Northwest vibe remotely. :c)

Anyway, I would welcome the chance to say thanks, and to enjoy a large Tully's light roast vicariously. No worries if you are too busy, of course; just enjoying your blog is plenty.

Thank you again, Debra! Take care, and enjoy those gorgeous Northwest sunsets! Oh wait... they don't return 'til July 5th. lol Well... enjoy the drizzle, I guess!

Hugs,
Cass

Bryce Humphries on January 29, 2013 at 8:36 AM said...

Cass,
I wish you a speedy recovery. Karma will pay those guys in the van a visit.

- Bryce

Cassidy on January 29, 2013 at 1:08 PM said...

Hi Bryce!

Thank you very much. Those two idiots have been sentenced to live here for the rest of their lives; I'd say karma is already taking care of matters. ;c)

Also: congratulations again on starting HRT!!! I am so, so happy for you. But listen, girl: Updates! We want updates! lol Just teasing. I hope all is well, and congratulations again, hon!

Hugs,
Cass

Anonymous said...

Cassidy, I was beyond saddened by what happened to you. I'd like to be Ms Optimistic and say it isn't "the norm", but I'm seeing this type of thing more and more. Please be very careful!!! This is a very hard life that's been forced on us. Even after completing your transition, and if you're lucky enough to completely pass and blend into society, it still haunts you all the time. I even have non-T friends that are being bullied by people who think they might be T, for whatever reason. T has become so public now, in many ways I think it's working against us, as far as allowing us to just live among the animals. Anyway, be careful, and I'm so happy you are overall ok. The kindness of strangers can indeed go very far, can't it?

God Bless,
Rebecca

Cassidy on February 1, 2013 at 8:21 PM said...

Hi Rebecca!

I've had to deal with this sort of thing my entire life, unfortunately. I was harrassed and bullied from first grade through... well, now. I know their type is everywhere, but this area is positively infested with them. I am *so* looking forward to putting this place in my rear view mirror.

I am trying to focus on the overwhelming generosity with which I've been bestowed the past week. It is very humbling, but it gives me hope.

Take care, Rebecca, and thank you!

Hugs,
Cass

theladyboymirror on March 30, 2013 at 11:40 PM said...

Very interesting blog post dear.. transition is our challenge and for all the succeeding generations after us.

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