Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Troubled Piece of Fruit

Where the rock they threw hit me
Swollen jaw — happy album release!

July 28th, 2012
Some guys beat me up yesterday.

Apparently cycling shorts are not considered clothing by some people. I was sitting by the river across from this little island; three guys and a girl came around the side of it and waded back to the riverbank, where they confronted me about how I needed to "put on some fucking clothes"... One of them seemed to think I had scandalized his "little sister" (who I'm sure was at least 18 — and, again, CYCLING SHORTS). She protested against this point, but her brother was having none of it. He said if I gave him my money he wouldn't call the cops; I told him he could call the cops.

After some unproductive back-and-forth, I managed to access my backpack (which they had taken from me) enough to blow the buckle-whistle (a brilliant feature). They all freaked out, pushed me into a blackberry bush, punched me a few times, and threw a rock at me, as I blew the whistle and screamed for help (screamed bloody murder, seriously) again and again and again. No one came, of course. But it scared the guys away eventually.

The only missing items were my cell phone and inhaler; I'm pretty sure they just hurled them into the river or some bushes. I am mostly just very scratched up, but my wrist and ribs also hurt, and my jaw is somewhat swollen (as you can probably tell)... I definitely cannot eat solid foods right now.

July 29th, 2012

Slept poorly last night. All of my scratches are itchy and bothersome. My ribs hurt worse than they did yesterday — in the place where I had a cracked rib at the end of last year, so I'm figuring it was re-injured in the assault. My wrist is hurting worse as well for some reason... maybe I slept on it or something...

My jaw is still swollen, sore, and feeling out of place, so I remain unable to eat food that needs to be chewed.

Today I've also found that I'm extremely knotted up all over, especially through my upper back and the shoulder I landed on when they pushed me down. Presumably from all the tension in my back, shoulder(s), neck, and jaw, my head has been aching dully but consistently.

Mentally, I've been getting caught in a loop: Rewind. Replay. Rewind. Replay. Rewind. Replay. I've been edgy and anxious at times, lethargic and depressed at others. My dad will say something and I'll about jump out of my socks. This isn't new to me (I was diagnosed with PTSD a couple years ago), but it is worse than it has been in a while.

I do not have insurance; I have not seen a doctor since the assault.

The bright side in all of this has been the support shown to me by such an astonishing number of people online. I'm so touched by this flood of kindness and concern. I'm afraid my thanks will begin sounding insincere, as I'm compelled to write phrases like "I'm so grateful for your support" over and over. I wish I could say it in a new way to every person. I want to say to everyone what I commented on one supporter's (thank you again, Yana) Facebook post about this incident: Your compassion reassures me that the good in this world has much greater weight than the bad. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

August 5, 2012

I figured I'd finally buckle down and write an update on how I've been since that big post on the assault. The support so many of you have shown me is completely astonishing to me, and I'm sure that some of you are wondering how the recovery is going.

For several days my left shoulder — the one I fell on when they pushed me down — was painful and there was a great deal of tension in my upper back, shoulders and neck, resulting in frequent headaches.This has been improving since I started forcing myself to sleep on my back.

My jaw has undoubtedly also contributed to the headaches; it still feels strangely out of place, and I can't open my mouth very wide before it becomes too painful. My diet has been limited to mostly foods that require very little chewing. By Wednesday (5 days after the assault), I had lost 6 pounds… Since then I at least seem to be sustaining that weight without losing more. In part I just haven't had much of an appetite… so it's work to get enough calories.

My wrist has been annoyingly sore. Anything demanding pulling or twisting motion is problematic. (Yet I've been playing piano… I know, I need to rest it more. I will, I promise.)

It goes without saying that my waking thoughts have also been troubled. Though I've been doing my best to stay active and productive, I find myself becoming extremely depressed and lethargic at times, perseverating on various details of the assault. Sometimes I've felt that it must somehow be my fault that it happened. Other times I've analyzed my attackers' behavior through the lens of queer theory: the sister was not bothered by me or my showing a bit of thigh, yet the guys perceived something inherently offensive at the mere sight of me; my position was passive and my physique not hypermasculine, making me appear feminine to them, and therefore necessarily sexualized or lewd, evoking a response of disgust and the desire to annihilate the Other. I've thought about their evident fixation on territory, and their frequent argument that I shouldn't be there because this was a public park — suggesting that I was different, lesser, undeserving, did not qualify as a member of the public. I've wondered whether anyone heard me as I blew my whistle and screamed for help dozens of times, and whether they simply shrugged and felt glad it wasn't them, or whether they imagined someone was just crying wolf, or whether they were all wearing headphones and completely oblivious to everything in the world around them.

But it is what it is, I guess…

A couple people brought to my attention a state program that assists victims of violent crime with the cost of medical care, etc. I'm not yet sure how much they will cover, but I am hoping between this and the help offered by a handful of generous, caring people, I'll be able to manage. With this in mind, I've replaced my inhaler (which my attackers either stole or tossed into the river or bushes), and today I finally went in to get my injuries examined.

My ribs on my right side (where the main guy landed on me after pushing me down) are the worst — in fact, they feel worse now than they did in the first few days. It hurts to breathe deep, it hurts to lie down… Sleeping hasn't been easy. I wake up with sharp pain in my side, and drenched in sweat from nightmares.

Now I know that I have a minor rib fracture (and bruising and swelling), my jaw is just still bruised and swollen, and my wrist is sprained.
So, that's that.
Again, I can't thank everyone enough for all the wonderful messages… Often they have lifted my spirits just when they began to sink. A number of thoughtful messages have brought tears to my eyes. Thank you, everyone.

August 17, 2012

It has been three weeks since the assault, but the most prominent items in a word cloud of this blog entry would be "still" and "hurts".

The police officer had said, "When I get hit in the jaw, it usually hurts and feels kind of out of place for a few days." He said that if it went on longer, I probably needed to get it checked out.

In the ER, they said, "Oh, it's just bruised and swollen still."

Now, almost two weeks after that, it still hurts, I still can't open my mouth fully, and I still can't chew excessively.

My wrist is starting to feel better. It still hurts when I play piano and do twisty pully actions, but today I found myself thinking, "Hey, this finally seems to be improving!"

My ribs, on the other hand (or actually closer to the aforementioned hand), also still hurt, but I'm able to sleep without painkillers, and I can breathe at least a smidgen deeper than I could a week ago.

Possibly the least progress made has been in the area of mental health. Nightmares are nothing new for me, so that isn't any bigger a deal than usual.

My thoughts in the daytime are the more troublesome factor. I mentioned my PTSD in a previous post. I've been experiencing its symptoms more strongly than I had in a while. This has entailed, among other things, depression, anxiety, difficulty distinguishing between threatening and nonthreatening situations, and perseveration on this and (to a greater extent, actually) past traumatic experiences.

Over the past few days I've become especially depressed where my music is concerned.

I think I need to end this update on that note.


Robyn said...

Stephan, I don't know you personally, but I was at North while you were there. Please report this to the police - your assaulters should be held accountable. And please go to the doctor to make sure it's nothing serious - once you file a police report you are eligible to apply for crime victims' compensation, which is a secondary insurance for medical expenses related to a crime. It does take a while to process the application, which can be found here:

sarcastro said...


I found myself re-reading this this morning, since I've been sharing your post about the bike tour and its importance to you, and some of your images related to this incident come up in that.

You and I have talked about this, albeit on a very limited scale, so you know of the sorts of emotions this topic evokes in me. The images bring tears to my eyes. You said to me that you were tempted to write more about this topic to quote something I said to you, but regardless of whether or not you quoted me, I think maybe you should write further on this; talk about how you're coping now that a few months have passed.

I think it would prove cathartic to you, but it would also serve a greater purpose -- adding to and keeping alive a discussion that is incredibly important in an age where bullying and violent crime all too often lead to suicide. Writing about how you've pressed on through what you've been through could very well help someone else as much as it could help you. It might be uncomfortable sometimes, but you said you've chosen to be uncomfortable. And I've said before, and will reiterate now, that I'm available for you to lean on in any sort of way I can be. While you don't know me very well, I'd like to think that will change as time goes by. Because I'm impossibly kind; I'll never, ever forget your birthday, and I'll always care what's on your mind. :)

Hugs & Love