Rustling Leaves And Everything Else: A True Love Story

As I search for the true meaning of life and relationships in this millennial world; I have done the whole novel themed life. I have worked for pennies, I have had many heartbreaks, and I also met a prince..

Once Upon a Real Life Spanish Novela

 January 2015

I was living with my sister and I was just recovering from a severe blood loss due to a hormonal imbalance (see “When There is no one but Each Other” for background story). Being responsible for a teenager was not easy. Alicia has always been just like all the women in the family; stubborn, free-willed, and very brave. She was in 12 grade now and I had just graduated from high school. Okay…. I know you are confused by now but I am going to explain….

I had finished high school in Cuba but when I came to Canada I had to start from grade 10 up until grade 13, why? Because that is how the system works around these parts.

Back to the story…

I was trying applying to OSAP (a government loan for students that are residents of Ontario) but I was told I had to wait two years to be able to apply for it, since I was legally under my parents economical responsibility.

Okay, let me pause for a second…

I must admit I wish I had been under my parents care, though I wasn’t the government assumes that every family is the same and puts every student under the same stereotypical microscope.

As I was waiting for two long years I started to work at a grocery store with my sister. Working at Metro gave us some kind of independence. We were sort of able to pay for living expenses but the pay was minimum wage and I found myself working full time for $400 a month. We worked there up until the summer which was when my two years wait had come to an end. Alicia and I decided to move apart since our coexistence was no the healthiest. I moved to North Etobicoke; the neighbourhood my College was located and to which I had applied the past June for the ECE program and I was accepted. The plan was to find a room close to school in time for my freshman year starting in September. OSAP sent me a letter just before school started, saying my application had been refused due to my bad credit. K comes along.

The Heartbreak

September 2016

K was tall and very handsome. He had short curls that covered his face sometimes. He was smart and was always the leader of every social event. He had moved from British Columbia where he was born and raised. At first we became friends because neither of us had any friends in the area. We then discovered that we both enjoyed videogames and enjoyed talking about geeky stuff. I was one night on the phone with a guy I was dating and out of nowhere he said he no longer wanted to be with me. K was right across from my room and he could hear me from his room. I hang up and took a sleeping pill; I knew I was not going to be able to sleep that night on my own. That’s when K knocked on the door and asked me if I was fine. I had been crying and he was someone I trusted. We talked and it was getting late. K suggested we kept talking in his room because our roommates were sleeping. I did not think anything of it, I naively thought he was being a good friend. As we kept on talking the sleeping pill kicked in and I was rocking myself side to side when K told me that it was okay to just lay with him. I did, and we both fell asleep. After this we began a romantic relationship which ended in him telling me that he was not interested in girls that did not own a car nor had a high income. At that point I knew he was a social climber, but I had fallen in love and he knew it, I told him. He meets a girl almost a year after we meet. He starts to date her and leves me behind. After K I was so heartbroken I started to believe I was not good enough and that I had to find a better paying job and eventually buy a car to be worthy of love. F that!

September 2017

I start a new job at a restaurant as a food runner. My life had made a one hundred and eighty degree upgrade. I meet cool people and had men to choose from left and right. I was still not ready for love but opened a dating app profile in November to see if I got lucky with a good man. As I become a server at a family owned restaurant I see Gram while sweeping on my dating app. His blue eyes catch my attention and I said hi. He replied almost right away, something magical had started.

December 2017

Gram and I had been talking every day for about a week when we decided to schedule a date at an Italian infused Greek restaurant. Since this is not your typical story Gram is the one who made an entrance. He was not dressed fancy, in fact, he was wearing a hoodie with a button up shirt underneath. His hair was short pulled to the side exposing his fine features. His bright piercing blue eyes called my attention right away and he was the most respectful man I’ve ever had contact with. I had ordered wine and he ordered wine and so did him. I must reveal that Gram is a beer drinker, he had wine out of his marvelous spontaneity skills. Maybe his nerves and his pleasing personality made him decide I was going to order for the both of us… for the rest of our lives. We walked through St Clair West Village after a delicious Italian dark chocolate dessert which we shared, we walked for about an hour and then he dropped me off at work. We did not kiss. Our next date was right after Christmas, I had bought a ticket to Ottawa to see my cousins and spend the holidays with them. Once I was back we decided to go on a second date. Gram as the great bass player he is invited me to a gig and I invited my former best friend, her brother and my sister. We had a great night and on the first of January Gram and I went to another of his gigs and that’s when the first kiss took place. From that moment on we’ve been together. We’ve travelled, laughed and gone through many adventures together. We went to St John NB and he met my father and months after we went to Cuba. My mom adored him and can’t stop talking about how beautiful her grandchildren will be. Right after we came back from Cuba we got out beautiful puppy, Otis. The arrival of Otis to our lives made us realize we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, that we are a great team and most importantly of all, that we have a family that supports our love and considers us a member of each family. Meeting Gram made me realize I did not need to be rich to find love, that all I needed was someone that loves me just the way I am. Someone that takes care of me and I take care of. Someone that shares his dreams, his worries and his goals with me. That fantasizes about houses and children and includes me in that fantasy. This is my happy ending story. A story that carries heartbreaks and disappointments but it’s also a story about true love. I feel lucky and very blessed to have found someone that doesn’t call me his but a part of him.

#METOO

WARNING: The content of this blog may be triggering and some viewers might find it offensive. This blog contains a descriptive true story of sexual assault. Viewer discretion is advised.

Why I’m sharing this part of my life.

In Cuba one in every one  and a half women are sexually abused at some point in their lives, one of them was me.  What I want to create through this shared horrible experience is not hate, but comprehension and to create a safe space for my readers to feel safe and understood.

Throughout time sexuality in women has had a taboo that allows abusers to rape, murder and kill women all over the world. Cat calling, slapping buttocks, hitting, stabbing, and killing is normalized in most third world countries because men are considered to be better, period. In first world countries 80% of women have been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed. In small groups this topic is still marginalized and seen as something we should not talk about to protect our integrity as women, F that! Today I’m giving the middle finger to this mentality and the marginalization against this topic. I no longer fear society and its dismissive behavior towards truth only when it comes to women. This story is not for me, it’s for you. 

THIS IS MY BOLD STATEMENT. 

Once Upon A Nightmare…

 

Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. 2009

I was 16 when it happened the first time. To be honest it might have happened more often. I sometimes think about it but I don’t cry, or resent anyone. Somehow I did get myself in these situations.

I got a call from one of my best friends; I had 4 at the time. The youngest one, (I’ll call her L to protect he identity) called me on a Saturday to tell me that she needed a third wheel.  She was at the time dating a guy much older than her and her parents did not agree with the relationship until later on. I was a wild child, I must admit, I gave my mom headaches just because I was born as the living reincarnation of resilience. What I did do is tell my mom everything I was up to except for that day.

L wanted to go down to a river called San Juan that was about an hour walk from home. We really didn’t have transportation to go to remote places and it was very common for us to walk miles to get to our destination. L and I go down to her boyfriend’s neighborhood which was not far from ours, maybe 15 minutes walk. When we get there we realize that her boyfriend has brought with him a friend. I did not think anything of it because being a third wheel sucked and we all know it. I thought it might not be so bad since there was someone else I could talk to.

On the way to the San Juan River this man who’s name I do not remember insinuated that he wanted something romantic with me and I refused. At the time I was dating my first official boyfriend and was very much in love. Adding to the fact that I found this 20 something year old man repulsive, I repeatedly told him that I was not interested. Once we got to the river L and her boyfriend decided to go to a private place, leaving me with this man alone. I took my t-shirt off and kept my shorts and my bikini top. I told L I was not comfortable with the idea of staying alone, they left anyways.

 The River

It was a magical river; I can tell you many stories that happened before and after this event and they where glorious and fun. San Juan was not like one of those rivers and lakes that are showcased all over the media. It was big, yes it was. One of the biggest rivers in Cuba. The part of the river that we frequently visited was very rocky and it had huge rocks surrounding it, making the current through it very strong when it was high tide.  That day the water was very high and this man and I tried to stay at the shore. As time passed by and L and her boyfriend were not coming back he sexually harassed me. He started to insinuate that I wanted him to beg him to have sex with him, that I was just “playing hard to get”. I told him that I was not interested and that I already had a boyfriend. He ignored what I had told him and grabbed me by my arms. At this point he was very close, right in front of me breathing the same air I was breathing. As I tried to let go he grabbed me by my waist, my 16 year old waist. He tried to force my shorts down and I kept on telling him that I wanted to go home and was going to scream.

The river was surrounded by thick vegetation and it was far from civilization. L and her boyfriend had gone so far they couldn’t hear me scream. He forced me against a huge rock right in the middle of the river. At this point I was standing towards the current and this man was standing against it. He forced my shorts down to my knees and started to kiss me aggressively. I kicked him and punched him and yell loud, so loud I couldn’t hear what he was yelling back at me, all I could see was him looking at me with vicious and furious eyes. He reminded me of a fierce wolf that was hungry and wanted to eat me alive. To the day I cannot remember his name, or his face but I can remember his eyes.

He then tried to pull down my bikini bottom and I kick him very hard so hard he lost balance. I then manage to let go and as I try to run away he grabs my hair. The pain of having my hair literally pulled out of my scalp leaves me paralyzed. I could feel and hear my hair getting plucked and at this point he was behind me with one hand pulling my hair and the other pulling my bikini bottom down. He pushed forward towards the rock to gain more power over my body. His body was behind mine and I was trying to force my bikini up. At this point I give up and I think that he is going to rape me. That there is nothing I can do to stop it. I let go.

He pulled my bikini down to where my shorts were and started to unbutton his shorts. I realized I had a final opportunity to get away and I kicked backwards. With the force of the current he lost balance and the current pushed him about 4 feet away from me. I started to climb up the heel and to the path I saw L and her boyfriend go. I started to run and scream their names.  At one point this man catch up to me and grabbed me by my hair. I told him to let me go, that I just wanted to go home. He called me names I can’t repeat and said I liked it rough. I told him that I had a boyfriend and needed to go home and that he was hurting me. He began to loosen up my hair and I sprint away and found L who was naked, having sex with her boyfriend.

I was hysterical and I didn’t mind at that point seeing them. I was actually very glad to be among them, even in that circumstance. I was trying to tell them what happened while they were trying to cloth themselves and then this man arrived and grabbed my hair again. L’s boyfriend asks him to let go of me and this man said he was playing with me. L told him that I was crying for a reason and asked him what had happened. He laughed and let go of me without saying a word.

Back to Normal

L hugged me and I told her I wanted to go home. The hour walk back was hell to me; my head was pounding from the pain and ache through my entire body from the physical trauma was taking all my strength. Yet this was not all. This man kept on pulling my hair on the way back and at one point L and her boyfriend stopped asking him to leave me alone. We walked through the highway towards the city and once we got to the beginning of my neighborhood L and I took our separate paths and I went home to bathe. I never spoke of this again until a few years ago to my sister.

Weeks after my boyfriend and I go dancing to this huge plaza that hosted different djs and dancers to perform on Saturdays. As I was hugging my boyfriend I see this man. He was looking straight at me with the same wolf eyes. I stayed quiet and pretend that nothing happened. This man then does something that has stayed in my head ever since. He ran his thumb across his neck while looking straight at me without blinking. I then tell my boyfriend that I was feeling ill and wanted to go home. He takes me home and that is the end of this story.

This story

When There is no One But Each Other….

The story I am about to write is not tragic, no one died, well….

…I almost did.

The Wealthy

In a society where medical physicians make enough to buy big houses and live a comfortable life, take their kids on vacation and buy cars out of pocket, they should also be able to treat every patient to the best of their ability (as they promised under oath). For many of us, who spend hours in the emergency room it is not easy to take hours off our schedule to fix a health issue over the counter pills can’t solve. Some of us have small children, jobs to attend, life.

As a person who grew up with a doctor as a parent, I understand the stress and responsibility that being a doctor requires. I’m not a doctor myself, I have chosen to teach children instead but that also means I know being responsible for a life takes a lot of patience, dedication and passion.

The Fight

In 2014 I had a hormonal imbalance due to an contraceptive (a patch my then physician provided when I was under 100 Lb). I started my period normal and I noticed it was lasting longer than usual. I though nothing of it because I knew that the contraceptive could change the amount of days I’d see my period. After a few weeks with a regular flow I started to worry but I had to work because as a new immigrant responsible of her younger sister, I had to make money. Long story short at a tryout interview as a secretary in a law firm (ironic enough) I had been at that point been bleeding heavily for a week, so much I was using 6 to 10 large pads per day with leakages and in some cases blood running down my pants. I was weak and pale and the woman that kindly was trying to hire me noticed I was falling asleep in the job. I told her I wasn’t feeling well and after a few hours I called a friend to pick me up and take me to the nearest hospital (Humber River Hospital). At the hospital I talked to the lady in admissions and told her I was bleeding heavily and had been bleeding for a month. A Month! The lady asked me to sit and wait. While waiting my friend had to go and I was left alone waiting for about 2 or 3 hours in and out of consciousness. A nurse saw me standing because all seats were taken (also I didn’t want to create a big bloody mess). She took me aside and made me lay in a stretcher.

They take me in and a nurse takes my blood samples and they tell me my hemoglobin is at 5 which is terrifying. They gave me 2 bags of blood in a period of 2 or 3 hours ( everything was a blur). I remember the pain when blood clots the size of an apple came down. A nurse would put them in a bed pan and I remember she said “is going to be painful, it’s like giving birth”. I remember pushing with my legs open, sweating and in excruciating pain. After receiving blood a doctor came and said they needed the room and I could go home. I am no doctor but I was certain the doctor was making a mistake since my problem was hormonal and they had completely ignored that point. I told the doctor to admit me that I didn’t want to go home while still bleeding. She said “we need the room”. I took my things and left. Two days after I’m at a new job cleaning washrooms in a popular high end beach club. The good thing about the job was I could use the washroom to change my pad every 5 to 10 minutes. At this point I was bleeding so much by the time I got home I couldn’t even walk. I remember bleeding through my pants as if someone had gutted me with a knife, and the pain unexplainable. I took a shower and went to bed. I remember waking up burning and sweating at the same time, barely able to breathe, speak or lift my arms. To give you an idea of how weak I was I had to lift my phone and call my sister who was in the room beside me. I just said “come to my room” and hang up. I thought I was dying, and I was. I told her in a very low tone to call 911, that I needed to be taken to the hospital immediately. She repeated after me as the operator asked questions. I passed out. First responders came through and because my apartment building was so narrow they had to carry me. They took my blood pressure and looked at each other the way your friends look at each other when they have something tragic to tell you. They said they didn’t know how I was still conscious. I passed out. I remember a little bit of the emergency room and I remember the hospital bed. Everything else before the second day is gone from my memory. I wake up in the morning and the doctor says they will take tests to see if I had a miscarriage. I remember thinking I must have had bigger blood clots when she is asking me that question. They took me for an ultrasound which revealed the lining of my uterus was as they explained not retaining the blood due to the patch I used. I was in the hospital for 2 days on medication to balance my hormones and stop the bleeding. I do not have good veins I have only one visible in each arm and so they poke those ones until they had to use my wrist veins. More pain. All the medication was intravenous and I remember telling myself this is not the worst part you’ve survived the worst.

The Reoccurence

2019.
I get a fever at work and start feeling unwell. I go home and believe is just a flu (I took my flu shot and work with children with flu and colds all the time and I haven’t caught the flu yet). Two days pass and I’m still having high fevers, sore throat, loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, muscle pain, strong headaches. I Google my symptoms and I check my throat, I see white spots and I realize I have strep throat. At this point I live with my boyfriend who is a very busy musician. I tell him I need to see a doctor because if I had a strep throat it could get worse for me. We take an uber to St. Joseph’s Health Centre. The usual hour or two wait to be seen by a nurse followed by another couple of hours to finally being seen by a doctor. The doctor asks me the usual questions and I tell him I have asthma. I notice he focuses more in the asthma than the infection and wait for him to do the physical exam, he even checked my throat. No test are taken even though I clearly have an infection and my glands are swollen. He tells me he will give me a salbutamol puffer (the blue puffer) and I tell him that’s fine. I also ask him about any antibiotics for the infection and he says that an antibiotic will just give me more stomach ache and nausea. I followed his recommendations. I end up having to take four puffs every twenty minutes three times before going home. I go home and spend the night with high fever and vomiting. Is the morning and I have a migraine and my glands are so swollen I can clearly see them without saying ahhhh. That is not mentioning the big white spots I saw in the back of my throat. I asked my boyfriend to look and he said “oh you have mucus in your throat”, I tell him no that’s an infection. I get so mad I get into this rant about suing the doctor or the hospital for a misdiagnosis. My boyfriend then says that legal fees are too expensive and that lawyers take most of the settlement. I tell him that I’m tired of bad doctors who don’t care about patients, that almost everyone I know has had a malpractice or misdiagnosis in Canada, that enough is enough.

The Thruth

I then start writing this letter on my phone because I can’t afford a laptop. In fact I am an ECE student at Humber College and have done all my school work on this phone. No big deal, I been through much worse.

Maybe that’s the problem, that the majority of us can’t afford a lawyer, can’t afford to stand up for our right to be treated by doctors with respect and obligation to give us the best health care. Maybe it is time all medical boards in Canada reassess their practice and put not the doctors but the public first. How is it possible that with such high quality of life we live not wanting to go to the doctor because of the wait and because of the ignored symptoms.

I do not care if many became a doctor just for the money you swore under oath to do everything in your power to give me the best medical treatment and you’ve failed. In a country where people die in emergency rooms after waiting for 11 hours like the case in New Brunswick. How many people have to die for the medical board to take action 10, 100? I might not be able to afford a lawyer but I can write a letter that raises awareness to those affected by the medical system. It doesn’t work, enough is enough!