S01 Episode 5 – Paradoxical Breathing

S01 Episode 5 – Paradoxical Breathing

This is Dr. Sarah Penn
It’s been two weeks since my last audio recording. Sorry for the delay.
As you know if you have listened to my previous recordings, things have been a little weird and maybe that’s in part because I haven’t been sleeping well, and I’ve been under a lot of stress. Usually, when I’m stressed out I call my sister, Jenn, and she brings me back to reality with her no-nonsense realism. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to reach her. Typically we talk every other day. It’s been about a month since I have last heard any response outside of her answering machine. I find this to be… disconcerting. It makes me worry about whats going on back home… is everyone okay? Or maybe my phone just isn’t receiving phone calls anymore. If that was the case though, you’d think she’d have emailed me or something to let me know they’re all alive. “they” being mom, dad… her… you know… the entire family that I’ve been separated from so that I could come out here and train in cardiology.
It’s been two months since I’ve been at work.
I sent an email in at the end of the first month and informed them that I wouldn’t be coming back for a little while… that I’m not ready for it. There was a fair amount of push back because the Canadian hospital system tends to rely pretty heavily on resident physicians as the work horses that make sure all the cogs run as smoothly as possible. There’s not that many of us, not really… and I’m sure the absence of one is being felt in a reverberance along the program. But there’s no point for me to go back if my mind isn’t where it should be. And right now…. With everything that has happened and with everything that is still …. Happening… whatever those things may be… sigh Its just for the betterment of everyone that I not be held accountable for the well-being of dozens of sick patients right now.
And that sucks… because my entire life has been spent training to do only that. I have literally zero other abilities. So it’s not like I can just run away and start a-new…. Not really.
And I like the job, I guess. I just… need more time before I Can go back and properly do my job. Save lives, and all that.
For what it’s worth, I think I’m almost ready to talk about what happened that ultimately triggered me to take some time off… but really, it’s been an amalgamation of things.
First of all, when I first moved to this city… this province… I had found a place online through one of those renters websites. The house seemed nice enough. Old, sure… but it was a full house and it had a backyard which was what I really wanted because for as long as I’ve lived on my own I’ve been gardening and growing my own vegetables.
The landlord lived next door, which I thought would be convenient access should anything break. When I met him in person, he was a very friendly, VERY chatty middle aged guy.
Seemed a bit eccentric, but that’s fine – the world is made up of all sorts of personalities. That’s what makes the world go ’round, and so forth.
And so I moved my things in, planted my garden… and on days that weren’t too exhausting at the hospital I would go out into the backyard and listen to the pair of Robins sing up in their nest along my fence.
I lived at that location for approximately 8 months.
It turns out that living next door to your landlord is only helpful if your landlord is, you know… around and willing to help if something breaks… or if snow starts coming in through all the holes in the front door… or if he isn’t playing exceptionally loud country music at his house with his buddies over at 2am in the middle of the week.
Needless to say, it was a less than ideal situation, but more annoying than anything else. I learned how to fix my own dishwasher, so at least now I have that ability to help me throughout the rest of my lifetime laugh.
Winter came and went… then spring crawled along and the robins laid some eggs up in their nest. Of course I didn’t disturb them but it was always nice to watch the new little family getting situated.
Around 4 months ago – two months before I ultimately moved out, however. Something seemed to change.
The landlord, His name is Colin. Colin, stopped waving to me when I walked to work… started avoiding my phone calls entirely rather than just calling me back a day or two later. His parties stopped, but his music stayed on… at full volume… all day and all night. I noticed that he was progressively losing weight, and also seemed to be getting much more tanned. Maybe he started going to tanning salons or soemthing, I’m not sure.
I figured he had something going on in his personal life and maybe was having a difficult time… but nevertheless I still would mention to him when things had broken… or continued to be broken…. Like the dishwasher that, despite my best efforts continued to be dysfunctional.
And then….
…then he started coming to my house, without notice, at strange hours. I would find myself studying, or cleaning dishes or whatnot at 9pm at night… shortly before I usually go to bed as my working days start incredibly early, and all of a sudden I would hear banging at my door. Not knocking – BANGING. So I would go to the door and open it, and there would be Colin… standing there. With this …. Look on his face.
He never really wanted anything when he would show up. He would just stand there almost with a sneer as he glared at me. And he would say something small and kind of petty. Like… “you should try hanging up your hose a little neater” or “the inside of your car is dirty”. Something like that.
And he would keep on staring at me until I nodded and said I would do something about whatever the mundane issue-of-the-day was… and then I would shut the door. He would still be standing there …long after our conversation ended.
One day I woke up to the sound of some kind of loud buzzing. When I looked outside, Colin was in my backyard with a whipper snipper… purposely cutting the heads off of my sunflowers. He must have felt me staring at him because he turned to look at me with that same blank sneer.
I didn’t confront him because, honestly? I was afraid he would have attacked me.
The final… straw that broke the camels back… so to speak… was when I woke up from a night shift one afternoon. I just had this really… eerie feeling that I wasn’t alone.
So I opened my eyes and I shot up in bed… I couldn’t see anything of course because I was still wearing my Sleep Mask that I wear whenever I have to try to sleep during the day. Once I figured that part out, I tore the mask off of my eyes.

… nobody there. Not in my room, anyway.
So I got out of bed and I walked toward my bedroom door. When I went to turn the knob to let myself out into the hallway though, I heard three very clear and loud footsteps. Sounded like someone wearing heavy boots. And then I heard the back door that heads into the yard open and slam closed.
My arms were covered in goosebumps. Somehow I knew it was him… the landlord… Colin.
When I finally got the courage to leave my bedroom, I walked out and did surveillance of the whole main floor. At first I didn’t think there was anything different… same kind of controlled chaos of a mess that I tend to live in during busy weeks… a couple of dishes in the sink… a few blankets left askew on the couch. Nothing out of the ordinary.
But then I saw that for some reason there was a second dishwasher in my kitchen. Not installed… just… in the middle of the kitchen. Dirty handprints all over the outside stainless steel with the tubing still haphazardly bent along the back – protruding out into nothingness.
For some reason I felt inclined to open the machine. Don’t ask me why… I think I was still partially asleep? I don’t know.
But inside the dishwasher… was the robin’s nest. There were three little eggs inside the nest. Two of the three were… it looked like someone had purposely poked their finger through them… cracked and caved in on top with mucousy discharge leaking around the edges. The third egg… it looked like that one had hatched. Because there was a tiny featherless baby bird still partially inside.
Its head was nailed to the base of the bird nest. Its tiny little eyes hadn’t even opened yet.
And that was when I saw the mom and dad Robin.
Flopped carelessly on the floor next to the muddy footsteps tracked outside into the backyard.
I don’t know why he did it, but Colin killed that whole little family of birds.
So I started looking for a new place.
I had seen billboards around town for Rapture and I thought, hey – it’s a little out of my price range but that’s a small price to pay to feel safe again.
And when an incident at work happened, and I watched a young man who couldn’t qualify for a heart transplant because of his smoking and his intermittent drug habits…die of a failed heart ….
I don’t know.
I just left.
I left work.
I put in my notice for my old house, and I started packing up my things.
……. And so here I am. In apartment 518. In the fancy new apartment building up on top the hill overlooking the city.
Right across from the children’s hospital…. A buildling I’ve never bothered going into because there is noooo way I am equipt to work with those little monsters. Haha
PHOOO! Heavy stuff, right?
Well… let me tell you some happier news, Mr Microphone recording device!
My little garden is doing… kind of well up here! Sure it’s a little difficult trying to grow corn in pots, but the tomatos seem happy, and the peppers are giving it their best shot! Haha.
I bought a little bistro set second hand for the balcony, so that makes it pretty easy to watch the sunset or watch the moon float around the stars on days its not super dusty.
Being at the top of a construction site apparently means everything is covered in dust all the time!
But that’s a small price to pay for feeling…. Well just feeling better because I’m not at ground level so if someone was coming to leave dead animals in my house they would at least have to put in some additional effort!
And I haven’t heard the creepy phonograph music for a while now – I bought some earplugs so I’ve been sleeping a lot better haha!
The elderly couple finally moved into the apartment above me! They seem really nice… the husband seems a bit… confused ? Maybe? But they both seem super healthy for their age! They tend to keep to themselves.
Sometimes I wonder if that eye I saw through my door’s peep hole was the older gentleman. Maybe he’s got dementia…. It’s a touchy thing to ask about, but I feel like if he had any significant physical concerns the couple probably would not have rented an independent apartment with a balcony on the sixth floor.
Alright, well I’m sure I’ve prattled along enough for you – I’m starting to sound like Carrie, the building manager! Hahaha – Oh I’m just kidding. I’m sure she’s lovelyw hen she’s not under so much stress.
Alright, recorder. I’m going to go… focus on the positive! Water my tomatoes and enjoy the view.
This is Dr. Sarah Penn
Over and out!

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