Rape in Suburbia

victimblaming

For the last fifteen years I have been in awe of a man I will call Tom.  Tom and I met as teens and I was always there to support him emotionally during the pinnacle moments of his life: coming out as gay, coming out as a victim of child molestation, coming out as a heroin addict…and, as of last week, coming out as a rape survivor.

Tom will forever be one of the loves of my life not only because of what he has endured, but because of what he has continued to endure, document, and share with the world.

Last week, my dear gay boyfriend was violently sexually assaulted by two men after consuming a single glass of wine at a party–a glass laced with a date rape drug.  After he was unable to defend himself, the men choked him to the point where his trachea was affected and his collarbone was broken.  When they finished torturing Tom, they left him completely alone to pick up the pieces–his identity was shattered and he is desperately attempting to recognize himself in the mirror.

Tom has proven to have strength beyond comprehension when he reported the incident.  Hospital staff and police expressed disbelief upon learning the neighborhood in which this event occurred as well as the fact that the victim was/is male.  Thank you Boston PD for your incredulous revictimization.

Although the events mentioned have taken a toll on my artistic, loving, beautiful friend, he is fighting to find his “normal” again.  His apologies for crying or coughing on the phone only incite my frustration with his victimizers with threats to smack him upside the head next time I see him–he has no reason to apologize.  He has no reason to succumb to society’s tendency to blame the victim regarding rape in the homosexual community.

Tom (whose name is not Tom)…you always have been and remain my hero.  I love you.

Tom has shared his story on Facebook and is struggling but gave me permission to write this.  He has a gentle soul and I feel the need to fight for him and spread the word that no neighborhood, community, or gender is safe.  Be aware of drinks you have not mixed yourself and “new friends.”

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This Was Not Supposed to Be My Life

IMG_2920At one point I was extremely open on this blog–too open–and I hurt people I loved and still love out of hurt and what I considered “artistic expression” (aka deleted blogs).  I wrote things that belonged in a personal diary and which should never have been published publicly in a state of passion.  But my health is my own…I am dealing with issues and emotions too many people are dealing with and experiencing, themselves.  So tonight, in a fit of passion, I am angry and blabbing about it as I tend to do.

On March 19, 2014 I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis after my second knee surgery (I know the date because it is my best girlfriend’s birthday).  Soon after, I saw a rheumatologist (joint doctor) and began a chemotherapy drug called methotrexatea medication originally used to treat pediatric leukemia.  I would ingest it Friday evening, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning.  This doctor-prescribed medication left me in agony for almost half of every week.  I slept in the bathroom, curled around a toilet; I lost hair on my arms and patches of my scalp.  Rotted teeth and seared organs, I went without sleep and the ability to pick myself up off the floor due to a medication which was being used to manage my RA.  As I’ve said before, the doctors were clueless as to how my symptoms were threads woven to create my actual illness.

I was told I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome two months ago and upon hearing this change in diagnosis, I am shocked that doctors prescribed me chemotherapy without being 100% sure I had Rheumatoid Arthritis.  So, do I have arthritis?…yes, but is it a type which would have benefited from chemo?…not sure.  Could doctors have put the pieces of my health history together and figured out a certain diagnosis to replace or add to what was assumed?…absolutely.

Drugs like methotrexate have serious side effects.  As with any chemotherapy medication, one experiences nausea and digestive pain to a degree which makes it hard to breathe…so severe one’s boyfriend has to pry him/her from the bathroom tile.  In my case, I had a fifteen-year history of severe acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), and methotrexate destroyed my already-compromised GI system.  On Tuesday, I had another Upper Endoscopy (aka gastroscopy).  It is the most recent of over a half-dozen I’ve had since I was fifteen and it was mind-blowing, yet expected: my esophagus looks like hamburger.

My doctor has been scoping me for eleven years and he did not sugarcoat my situation.  My esophagus (the pipe which attaches one’s throat to his/her stomach) has been so traumatized since I began and ended methotrexate that I have to completely alter my diet and lifestyle, have another gastroscopy performed in three months, and possibly endure surgery in order to prevent a condition called  Barrett’s Esophagus and/or esophageal cancer.

So, I was continually diagnosed with a crippling autoimmune disease which could not be proven, I pumped my system full of chemicals designed to kill one’s immune system for said disease, and now the side effects haunting me from methotrexate and other issues could potentially lead to cancer.  I don’t know who to blame other than myself for trusting a surgeon and doctors who refuse to answer the phone or forward my medical files to a new team of doctors or myself.  I  have certainly never lived on water and bread, but it is clear past prescriptions only exacerbated my issue.

And so my epic continues.  I wrote a blog about being misdiagnosed and I thought that would be the extent of the story, but I now feel completely trapped in a body I do not recognize–a body that is slowly trying to kill me.  Where does this end?  One never expects his/her health to begin failing quarter-life, or that one’s quarter-life could become midlife.  At thirty-one, I assumed I would be married and have a stable career…or any career, really.  No matter how smart you are or where you end up going to school, life will always surprise you.  No one knows whether or not they will live the life they expected… I can only hope this life becomes the life I want to live.  I am banking on it.