This is the third and final part of the story of the night my attacker attempted to murder me, the surgeries to save my life, and the recovery process. Part one can be read by clicking here and part two can be read by clicking here.
The hole in my lung had closed, my stab wounds were healing, and my head wound was also beginning to heal. I was in the hospital for several weeks, progressing from trauma and critical care in the ICU to a regular hospital room. Friends visited daily.
My friends came in to check on me, and to help me keep my life together while I recovered. I had a good support system. I learned who was a true friend, who truly cared, and who did not. My mother was one who did not. Shortly after waking up from the medically-induced coma and initial life-saving surgeries, the nurses needed to know who to call in case of an emergency.
Friends had been notified, but not any family. A family member needed to be notified, so I gave the nurse my mother’s name and phone number. My mother’s response was “I don’t care. I don’t have a daughter.” When it came time to assign Power of Attorney before the surgery to repair my lung, the surgery which, thankfully, never happened, I didn’t ask my mother.
It was my friends who helped me through my recovery, and helped me keep a handle on my responsibilities while I healed. I needed to take care of my kids, pay rent and bills, and altogether manage my life so when I could return I had something to return to. At the time, I owned three cars. I had one of my friends sell two of them for the best price he could get for them. My friends took care of depositing the money into my bank account, and they wrote and mailed the checks to maintain my apartment and other financial responsibilities.
Once I moved into a standard hospital room my children were able to come visit. The first time they visited was for Anthony’s birthday. We had a Ninja Turtle party for him in my hospital room. I still looked like the victim of a murder attempt, and it was traumatic for the kids and for me. Anthony had witnessed the attack, and now was seeing me bandaged and bruised.
When I was alone, I watched a lot of TV, and started watching Oprah every day. I had never watched her before I hospitalized. It was during an episode on domestic violence that I decided I was going to get on her show. There were so many stereotypes and inaccuracies and I wanted to correct that. I knew what it was like to be a victim of domestic violence. I was lying in a hospital recovering from stab wounds inflicted by a man who said he loved me, who stabbed me because I wouldn’t tell him I loved him. I told my friends, “mark my words; I will get on that show.”
A few days after Anthony’s birthday party, almost a month after being attacked, I had another visitor. I was lying in bed watching TV. It was around dinner time, and the door to my room opened. My attacker walked in. I thought I was hallucinating. He had cut his hair and was wearing a baseball hat, but I knew who it was. I laid there thinking, this can’t be happening…he isn’t really here.
He walked across the room and sat down on the edge of the bed. I was terrified, frozen. I thought he must be there to kill me, to finish the job. He started talking. He told me he was sorry, and that he couldn’t believe he had done this to me. He started crying. I still wasn’t sure it was real. He told me it was nice to see me. He said he loved me. He hoped everything would be fine. He said to call his sister if I needed anything and he would get it to me. Then he left.
He walked back out of the room as carefree as he had walked in. I hit the nurse call button and screamed “emergency, emergency, get in here now.” The nurse came running in. I told her my attacker had just been in my room. I asked her if a man with dark hair and a baseball hat had just walked down the hall. She said yes. I told her, “that’s the man who stabbed me.”
She called security and he was arrested before he could leave the hospital. The police came in and took my statement. They asked about what he said, how he acted, and if he had threatened me. I wanted to know why no one had told me he hadn’t been caught yet, and why the hospital hadn’t been notified that he was still at-large. Everyone assumed he had left the country, or at least lest the Portland area. He was taken to jail, and put into a high-risk area after trying to run from the police at the station. Even handcuffed, he managed to run five blocks before he was apprehended again.
A few weeks after my attacker visited and was arrested, I was released from the hospital. I decided to go back to my apartment. I thought I could return and pick up the pieces of my life. I only stayed there a few days. Even though friends had cleaned up the bloody mess, it was obvious where my blood had spilled. I knew where, and I could see the faintest outlines of stains. Not only did I leave that apartment, I left that area of Portland. I still had some money left from selling my cars, so I packed everything, and my kids and I moved into a new apartment.
I had been told to apply for disability and other financial assistance, including welfare and food stamps. I was advised that I stood a good chance of being awarded the disability claim, and that the government assistance would help keep me in a home and food on the table. I knew that I wasn’t going to do that. I felt like I wanted to return to work. I had been attending classes at the community college, and I wanted to go back.
I found a job managing an apartment complex and I started painting apartments. Working helped me stave off depression, and gave me the money and the motivation I needed to keep living life. I took classes and went to therapy, both emotional and physical.
My attacker was charged with attempted murder and assault. He plead guilty with a plea deal. I never had to testify against him. I didn’t have to face him in court and relive that nightmare. He served six and a half years in prison. I was awarded a million dollars in damages, but I never saw a dime of that money. After he was released from prison, and before he reported to his parole officer, he fled the country.
Eventually I regained 100% use of my right arm and hand. In the Fall of 1994, three years after the attack, I was a guest on The Oprah Show. I married the man of my dreams and we raised two boys together. I worked a long and successful career in the Event Industry, producing events for notable public figures such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and entrepreneur and philanthropist Phil Knight, as well as for world-renowned companies like Nike and Microsoft. I left the hospital determined to survive, and I have.