A Synopsis Of My Life

A Synopsis of The Greatest Love Story Ever

I was 16 when my mom told me the breadbox slammed down three times to warn her that my dad was going to kill her. She said he controlled people and we were his puppets. She threw me up against the kitchen cupboards wanting to know who I controlled and knocked me backwards onto the counter top clutching a butcher knife above my head. I looked away when I knew the blow would come and saw my three siblings watching.

“Run, get out,” I screamed.

Startled, my mother put the butcher knife down.

It’s taken me forty years to be able to say that without every part of me vibrating. My head shaking so bad my teeth chatter, the words stuck in my throat, suffocating, choking until I spit them out.

I thought the past was behind me, forgotten. But it was my past that kept me alive when at age 56 my body started breaking down loosing energy, strength, muscle and feeling like it would collapse with each step I took. I lost hair on my head, but was growing it on my face, gained 50 pounds, but only from the waist up, so I looked nine months pregnant.

Every test the doctor did came back negative, so he said there was nothing wrong with me and I had to realize this was just the way my body was and I had to learn to live with it.

There was no living with it. I had no life. And he took away any hope I had of getting it back.

“Try using a smaller plate,” he said.

The doctor and my husband of 38 years thought I was fat and lazy and wouldn’t help myself through diet and exercise. I was too weak, but they wouldn’t believe me. Living my life in a recliner, I watched as my husband went golfing without me, curling without me, living our life without me.

I booked an appointment with a naturopathic doctor, but when I arrived at her place on the lake there was no one home. It was eight at night and from where I stood, I could see her large dock at the water’s edge planted in a bed of tall weeds. I was drawn to it. In the pitch dark, guided by light from the windows of the other cottages, I walked; my feet stubbed against tree roots feeling the worn path to find my way down to the lake, bouncing along dock boards to the end where I sat on a wooden bench.

I had a strange feeling about this: like it didn’t matter if she was there or not but that this was the place I was meant to be. I don’t know how it started, but I was thinking about that day when I was 16 and rocking. I did that to soothe myself, left my imprint on the back of a chair when I was a kid; even rocked so hard once I flipped the chair over. My eyes were closed listening to the splashes, smelling the algae and wet earth.



     My mother was there vivid as that day. But I knew that was just my imagination, it wasn’t that she was really there. She had been dead for twenty-five years. But she was there standing over me. Almost towering, but that was foolish since she was only five foot four and I was five foot two. It was her arm that towered above me, threatening.

     I had been haunted by this scene hundreds of times except this time; I was reliving it through my mother’s point of view. I had become her tortured soul trying to make me see how she felt.  I could hear her lamenting self; was touched by her despair; her fear as she clutched the butcher knife ready to bring it down with considerable force. Splayed out on the laminate countertop, I felt the strength she used to keep me there.


I knew where I was. I was on the dock. Mosquitoes swarmed my body. I snorted when they tried to crawl up my nose. I shook my head trying to get their incessant buzzing out of my ears. My face and arms were coated in them, my skin seeming to crawl. I didn’t swat them away.  It was torture, the bites so many, but I had to feel the pain to know her pain.


Even with the knife above my head, there was no hatred, only mom’s love for me and then a calm came over her and a wonderment to be in such a strange predicament. She put the knife down.   

      We were at peace.


Mom knew I was ill. She was the only one who believed me. She told me I would be all right and I believed her. She said she would protect me.

She saved me once, she would do it again. I was an ectopic pregnancy. The doctor told mom he had to terminate the pregnancy, kill me, if he didn’t, she would die. She went to the hospital but couldn’t go through with it and left. Days later, she felt me move and shift into place. Mom risked her life for me. I don’t think I could be that brave.



My illness effected my marriage which deteriorated as well. I was certain my husband was having an affair. For 45 minutes, I ranted and raved trying to get him to confess then something in me -just snapped-. I felt it. I was broken. His denials broke me. I was taken by ambulance to a hospital.

Whatever happened mentally to me passed and I was back to normal when I woke up the next morning. I was happy to be in a hospital so they could figure out what was physically wrong with me and finally I would get the help I needed.

So thirsty, but beside my bed was an empty water bottle. Built into this room was an office with a window partition where a nurse stood at a cluttered desk. Walking up to the glass, without saying anything, I slid my empty bottle through the hole in the centre of the window and she without saying anything passed a full bottle back to me. I knew immediately where I was. I was in lockdown. She was nurse Ratchet and I was in my own sequel to “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.”

A nurse came and brought me to a doctor’s office, directing me to a chair.

The psychiatrist’s accent was thick. “Do you have no any concerns?” he said.

I am sure I must have looked at him shocked. Were we still speaking English? It was like calling a phone company and hearing broken English with a heavy accent, which I couldn’t understand. Only he was sitting beside me and we were in Canada. How does this happen? And he looked at me like I was slow because he said again, almost irritated, “Do you have no any concerns?”

A few more now! They were growing by the minute but I managed to stay calm and say, “I think I am paranoid schizophrenic like my mother.”  I had reasoned it all out. It was the only explanation for accusing my husband and acting the way I did.

“No any paranoid person would walk into my office and articulate that. They try for hide it and that was the one thing you say first. So you no any paranoid.”

Oh My God, I think I understand him. I didn’t know if it made things better or worse. And I thought of the eye doctor when he’s examining your eyes and asks better or worse and when it gets to that point where you just aren’t sure; I was there.

I tried to tell the psychiatrist I was physically ill but he wrote up a report that said, “I had no any trouble or being aggressive and there was no any accident. She also has some sort of ideation relating to the idea of reference as well as being sick with serious illness as part of hypochondriac ideation, but not to the point to be delusions at this moment.” It took three weeks for him to come up with these and other just as disturbing conclusions so I could get released.

So now I was lazy, fat, and crazy.


Seven months later, I left my husband after he admitted his affair of almost a year, and I moved to a new city, got proper medical treatment and learned I had Cushing’s Disease with a pituitary tumor and uterine cancer.

My symptoms worsened and I got a thing in my eye that looked like a miniature silicone breast implant. The doctor gave it a name and told me there was nothing he could do about it, but warned it could grow as big as my eye and because it was filled with liquid, it would get heavy and could fall out of my eye dangling.

I laughed, “Do you get to be any uglier than this?” I said. “Quick, take my picture. Sign me up for Match.com, I’m ready, send me in.”

The pituitary tumor was secreting large amounts of cortisol making me obese from the waist up. The doctor said, if I didn’t eat anything for six months, I would still continue to gain weight. The disease destroys muscle making one’s legs and arms weak and creates extreme fatigue. And a psychotic episode is one of the symptoms of Cushing’s which was triggered by the stress of no one believing me and my husband’s affair.

It had been two years since I first complained of being ill and finally, I had no any concerns because I had proof I wasn’t lazy, fat, crazy, or a hypochondriac. I was a “Cushie.” If untreated, Cushing’s Disease is fatal.


That night on the dock, my mom gave me her strength and courage to suffer this illness and the peace of mind to endure without losing my self and spirit. She told me I would be all right. Those words, a bandage, for my fears. I had two major surgeries in eight months and today, I’m Not So Cushy.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Maureen Travis
    May 30, 2015 @ 02:47:04

    Wonderful story. I couldn’t read fast enough. Enjoyable and informative. Best of luck!



    • janbarrett7
      Jul 03, 2015 @ 22:34:33

      Hi Maureen: I finished my memoir and an agent read my first chapter and loved it. She told me to get two people to critique it and then send her the full manuscript. I would love you to read it and give me your honest opinion. I am very open to criticism because then it gives me a chance to make it better. If you are interested contact me at janbarrett7@hotmail.com. if you aren’t interested or are too busy not a problem . Take care.



  2. Debbie Flynn
    May 30, 2015 @ 20:31:20

    You’re a wonderful writer! I could picture it as if I were watching a movie. Can’t wait to read more.



    • janbarrett7
      May 30, 2015 @ 23:10:12

      Hi Debbie: I am writing in full speed ahead mode. On page 263 and figure it should conclude around 325 pages. It is very therapeutic to look back and remember the things which I experienced lining them up in page form gives me clarity to decipher and reflect. I am enjoying this new phase of my life, knowing myself even better having survived this illness. Life is great.



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