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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Remembering AllieAnna
















"A junctional escape rhythm is a relatively slow narrow-complex rhythm. The rhythm originates in the AV node, which has the intrinsic ability to initiate depolarization of the myocardium (automaticity)." As you may imagine, studying for continuing medical education can be a little dry. Of course, it is imperative that I force myself to pay attention to the material, but my mind does, well, have a tendency to wander. This time, it wandered back to my friend AllieAnna. AllieAnna was a young married mother who needed lots of encouragement. She was the kind of person who "nice people" avoided. AllieAnna lived with her husband in a one room shack with no electricity or running water. She had been in an abusive home growing up and didn't have much self-esteem. Since she hadn't experienced a lot of nurturing, she didn't know how to nurture herself.
A car seat wasn't even an option for her kids. They were just lucky to get to ride in the cab of their grandparents truck, where they hid on the floor. The rest of the family rode in the back all year long. AllieAnna's kids came to church half the time without jackets and her babies always had bare feet. It didn't matter how many times I or anybody else gave her socks or jackets for them, she just couldn't seem to keep them dressed right. Sometimes, I'd invite her over, dress her kids in my kids outgrown clothes. We'd wash their grubby little faces, help her give them baths and try to show by example how to be a better mom. It seemed like she was doing better, though she was always judged by the people around town and even some in church. Usually they made nasty comments to her which really didn't help the situation at all.
When AllieAnna's kids got sick with vomiting and diarrhea, she relayed the story to me later on that the nurse told her to just give them pedialyte and nothing else. AllieAnna didn't have the sense to feed them anything else again until she brought them back to the hospital very weak almost a week later.
After we'd moved from the area, we had them come and visit for a few days. I had just bought a week or two's worth of groceries. Every day I would make 3 meals and treats. Every night, AllieAnna would raid the refrigerator. I'd plan a meal for the next day and in the morning, the ingredients would be consumed. After a couple of days, AllieAnna was sick from gorging and was miserable with vomiting and diarrhea. She also had consumed numerous cans of soda. At meal times, she put huge piles of food at her children's places, more than they could possibly eat. Then she'd yell and slap them for not eating much. Then she'd eat their left overs. She did bizarre things like that, and it was hard to know how to intervene. Another time she gave one of her kids a cold shower when she was mad. Even when I told her to take her shoes off inside, I would have to tell her each time she came in and went out. I was pretty exhausted by the time they left and I had to go get groceries again. That next week, AllieAnna brought me two twelve packs of soda. She used her food stamps to buy them. She'd felt convicted and wanted to make things better.
Though AllieAnna did do bizarre and even somewhat abusive things to her kids, I always felt like there was hope. I never quit trying. The church in that city was undergoing a lot of transition during that time. Unfortunately, there were some strange words being spoken about people. After a while, it wasn't healthy to keep taking our kids there. Despite that change, we kept contact with AllieAnna. We were the ones she called when she started having thoughts about hurting her kids. We spent a lot of time counseling her and praying for her. Social Services also investigated.
Despite what you may be thinking, AllieAnna really does love her children. She asked for prayer many many times. She listened when I gave her advice. She tried to change, though it seemed painfully slow. Despite my frustrations, AllieAnna did make positive changes many times when I and others encouraged her.
Over a period of time, we lost contact with AllieAnna. Things didn't get better for her. They got worse. Her husband eventually succumbed in his fight against drugs and alcohol. There was perversion in thier marriage and they divorced. She moved out of state. I heard a lot more sad reports, but I don't want to publish them. I think I've said enough.
I'm not even sure if I'll keep this post up. I don't like saying anything negative about anybody. For sure, I don't like gossip. I do, however, believe in the power of people to change things. We are Jesus hands and feet here on earth. That song "Hands and Feet" by Audio Adrenaline continues to convict me. I wish I'd done more for AllieAnna while I had the chance. To be honest, it was hard. Her behavior was often times inappropriate. Her children were busy. Odors and messes were involved. Things people don't want to deal with.
Most people would like to point to social services. They're an easy finger to point at. What about you and me? What about our ability to change the world? Can a remedial "parenting class" really compare to what we can do? AllieAnna's temporary outcome didn't turn out like I'd hoped, but there are so many others out there. I just feel like there is somebody reading this who can make a difference in some one elses life. There are neglected kids all over. Maybe they're not in one room cabins playing in chicken dung, but they are there none the less. Kids whose parents are gone at work day in and day out, kids who are falling through the cracks of society. These are the children who will be adults when we are old. These are the children who may later help you cross the street, or mug you in a dark alley. These kids need intervention, and the state isn't the answer. It's you. Tonight, say a prayer for AllieAnna and her children. Then ask God how you can make a difference.
Luke 18:15 Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
Above photos include : On the way home from shopping in the big city. Biggest and Littlest brothers playing "memory matching game" while Sock Fashion Expert studiously does her Algebra. Moonbeam under the tree. Our Family Checkers Championship.

7 comments:

cmoursler said...

I knew a woman named dawnetta who was the same way....she kept having babies and the state kept coming ot take them. Her husband would beat her, we would take her to the hospital and then she would take him back. The only time she was 'safe' was when she was pregnant...she was also an alchoholic. She said after she had her last baby that she would dream that the baby was suffocating her and would bring the baby over to my apartment in the morning and she would leave all day. I was glad to keep the baby because I thought it would have a little time of quiet. I kept that baby until the cps showed up and took it from her.
Sometimes there is nothing you can do. some people are so damaged that all you can do is mitigate the damage, help as much as you can...you did that.
Only God can change a heart, you might have planted something there, you never know.

Foodie Girl said...

Oh... how very sad. Keep the post up. It reminds us all of what more we can do to help others.

Thanks for sharing.

toytrkman said...

I remember her well. Sometimes it is hard and very frustrating but the Lord says to be a witness. I'm know that Jesus has had many opportunities to get frustrated with me too, but He keeps going with me as we must all the AllieAnnas in the world. And in spite of all the things we do to help, it is ultimately the person them self that has to make the final decision.

Kimberly said...

Oh, leave this story up, it is so moving and a picture of what the world is like for many. As we celebrate the birth of the King - this story is a good reminder to all that many children/families are suffering everyday and that even Christmas is no more special or different for them than any other day. Merry Christmas, Outdoor.mom!!!

"Indescribable" said...

Prayers for the AllieAnnas of the world, and that we can help in some way! Asking God to open our eyes is hard - b/c He hears our prayers. Thankfully, He also stands by us when we need Him. I know that for sure, first hand!
Thanks for your serious post encouraging us all do to something!
Maria

Snowcatcher said...

I've enjoyed getting to know you through your blog, but this story really touched me. I've had a few AllieAnna characters in my life, too. All you can do is the best you can do. And then just keep praying. Prayers are heard.

Happy new year!

Friend of the Bear said...

Hi. I know this comment is late, but I just wanted to thank you for telling the story of AllieAnna. And so sensitively too.

Bearfriend xx