June, 2011:


After three days in Harbor Hospital, I was more than ready to go home, despite the challenges I knew I’d face. Ever the optimist, I figured I could manage fairly well at home with Heidi’s occasional help, even though my apartment was on the second floor.

With a cast on my right arm and hand and a cast on my right leg from mid-thigh to ankle, the simple things of life would no longer be easy.   Using the toilet and keeping myself clean, for instance. At least my left side was cast-free and I did have a crutch. There would be no quick movements or a dash to the bathroom if I had to pee urgently.

I quickly learned the toilet seat would need a handicap insert or I’d never be able to get up and down, despite the close proximity of the bathroom doorknob, when the door was open. A few days of using my right elbow, which was cast-free, to balance me on the doorknob while I lowered myself, produced a colorful bruise up and down my arm. Baby wipes were ideal for cleaning: there was no way I could manage a bath or shower. My bathtub/shower had a sliding glass door.

Sleeping was no easy matter because my lower back hurt, although between bouts of turning from one side to another, I slept quite well. I learned how to place extra pillows  so I could lie on my favorite left side, but negotiating the leg under the covers and to the left was a sweaty business and then I had to make sure the pillow between my legs was in the right position. The leg cast was heavy, probably 10 pounds, and it slipped down onto my ankle where it worked on causing a blister on the heel. At night, on my left side, the ankle frequently bothered me. Heidi helped me with bandages on my heel, but they inevitably peeled off.

Because my right arm was in a splint, my fingers were hardly useful. I had to learn to feed myself with my left hand, and to use it for makeup in case I had a visitor. I even tried a tiny bit of Email—hunting and pecking with left fingers.

I was blessed with visitors who helped. Sally came over the day after I got home—presenting me with a week’s worth of ready-made salads and a gift certificate for the grocery store. What I enjoyed the most was her wonderful company. We had lunch and talked most of the afternoon.  Another friend, who visited a week later, decided to challenge me to an excursion to a local ice cream parlor. I was able to negotiate the stairs and get into her BMW without much problem once the seat was back far enough to accommodate my leg cast. I managed, ungracefully, to sit down at a table at the store, not an easy proposition with all the extra weight on my right side. Anxious to be part of society again, I overdid the ice cream cone, which melted quickly and dripped all over my left hand.

My friend Sherri made me a delicious brisket of beef dinner, large enough for leftovers, and dessert. I managed to find and put on my Hawaiian mu-mu for the occasion. It was as colorful as my still very bruised face.

My son Hans, who had moved to Dallas, was very attentive during my little crisis. During the first week or so after my accident, I heard from him many times—at the hospital and at home. He wished he were there helping me out and talked of coming home and taking a few days off. At one point he even cried! He was having very mixed emotions.

I was touched by his concern and told him that in crisis situations, we really discover what is most important in our lives—the people, especially family. It wasn’t necessary, I said, for him to come home because I’d manage, especially since Heidi would be helping out. The outpouring of love is certainly a definitive positive in a time of struggle.


The Brief Oblivion of the OR

About 10 a.m. the next morning a strong and chatty female hospital attendant helped me climb onto a gurney, which she wheeled down various halls and onto the elevator to the OR area in the basement.  I was placed in a large recovery room/holding station, a veritable warehouse of breathing bodies on gurneys—all of us either getting ready for operations or recovering from them. I was there for maybe 20 minutes and then was wheeled into the hall where the operating team came to greet me.

Dr. Lin apologized for not taking me the previous day, but it would have been another team who operated on me. My anesthesiologist stopped to say hi and a congenial female doctor (older than all the young studs) on the team introduced herself. One minute I was basking in happy attention–the next, I was out cold. I don’t remember a thing until they wheeled me back into my room!

After the operation was the first time I felt any real pain, and even then it wasn’t bad, or I had a high threshold for pain. Besides checking your vitals, an attendant was continually coming into my room asking about my pain level. I had told them “2” until after the operation when I was about a “5″ or “6.” I took Vicodin later that day and was able to eat that night. I felt OK and told Heidi she didn’t need to get caught up in traffic to come visit me; I would be fine. I enjoyed watching the activity in the room. Another young patient had come in for the fourth bed and she and I chatted a little. Next to me, Fran had recovered a bit, and the young woman in the third bed was discharged and left with her grandparents.

My handsome anesthesiologist stopped in to check on me and asked about my reactions. The night before I had asked him about the sore throat from the throat tube used during surgery. He must have felt challenged to do it gently: I only had a slightly raspy voice, and I thanked him. We talked  about music—I asked what kind of music was played while I was under.  Some rock and some Beethoven, he told me. I asked if he knew the band Incubus, since I’d done one of their first interviews. He seemed impressed—I wasn’t just any old fuddy-duddy!

I slept well with the meds, which aided my forced position of being on my back with my arm, in a cotton sleeve, hooked up to the “coat hanger” for IV’s, etc. I felt cheery because I figured I’d be leaving the next day.  I had also heard from my children, and that always perked me up.

Before Heidi picked me up the next day, a young female physical therapist took me to a special room to show me how to go up and down stairs one foot at a time and how to hold the one crutch she adjusted for me. I was given a bottle of 60 Vicodin generic pills. Considering how woozy they made me feel and how little pain I had, I knew I would hardly use them.


Upcoming: Living alone and dealing with a right arm cast and a right leg cast.





I was hungry by the time I got settled in my hospital bed, which was around 7 p.m., Monday night. The scheduled dinner had already been served so they brought me a sandwich, an apple, and something sweet I don’t remember. I learned the hospital routine fairly fast—a nurse of some sort took my vitals (blood pressure and temperature) quite often. Since I was supposed to have the operation the next day, they came to give me a EKG and chest X-ray and a young doctor advised me about painkillers.

I was a bit skeptical of Vicoden since I didn’t have a lot of pain. I told him I thought all the doctors at Harbor Hospital were attractive. “Wait until you take the Vicodin!” he joked.

The nurses, whose shifts changed from night to day, were all friendly. I had to ask for help going to the bathroom since the handrail was on the right side, where I was hampered by casts on my arm and leg. There was a handy pull cord to signal a nurse for help so it worked out well. By the end of the second day, I felt stronger and was figuring out ways to use the bathroom by myself.

A hospital isn’t meant for relaxing sleep I discovered quickly. I was awakened about 2 a.m. for another vitals check; by that time the Vicodin had made me woozy but not very sleepy. By the next night, on the advice of a young roommate, I asked for Vicodin plus a sleeping pill and it really did the trick.

I got to know my three roommates. Fran, a middle-aged yoga studio owner and teacher next to me, had leukemia and her prognosis, according to her friends who talked to me later, was not good. Diagonally across from me was a 23 year-old who was due for the same operation for the wrist that I was and by the same doctor. We both agreed on his good looks. She had broken her wrist a year before and it had never healed properly. Both roommates had visitors that evening—grandparents for the young gal, an old friend for Fran.

Tuesday morning I couldn’t have food or liquid (I cheated with a swallow when I brushed my teeth with my left hand) and was on an IV drip. They took the young woman first thing, and I assumed I would go a few hours later. In the meantime I got to know Fran. We had lots in common spiritually and had read the same material—Seth and Louise Hay, for instance. Fran’s birthday was 2:30 p.m. December 31 (the same time my birth father, Victor Hobson, had died), which was 12 hours before my birthday at 2:30 a.m. on January 1.  She was facing a difficult operation on her sinuses, which were infected and had to be healed before they could start a second round of chemotherapy for her. That morning she had dressed in street clothes and had on makeup: she met with a business friend since she was getting ready to sell her yoga studio. Ironically, they took her off for her operation about 2:30 p.m.

I waited patiently and hungrily as the day dragged on, but nobody came to take me. I had my own little TV on an expandable metal arm.  One of the nurses said she felt I would be taken care of before the end of the day, but by 5 p.m. it seemed there was no hope. Apparently, there had been some emergency surgeries. I was taken off the IV and got ready for dinner. I was discouraged but resigned. I had heard from my children by phone a couple of times by then, which lightened my mood considerably.

My anesthesiologist, a young blond fellow with dimples and a winning manner, visited to ask questions about diseases and general health. He was amazed I didn’t have something I needed meds for—diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. for my age. I had been there two days and was beginning to think the current crop of young doctors were required to be cute to work there!

When Fran came back from her operation, she was obviously in pain and spent the next hours and through the night vomiting and having a horrible time of it. I took the Vicodin and sleeping pill and managed to mostly ignore it, despite my sympathetic feelings.


Upcoming: Operation time: a metal wrist plate.





Two days after my sidewalk spill, my daughter Heidi drove me the 30 miles to Harbor UCLA Hospital in Torrance. Thirty miles isn’t far in the middle of the night, but in LA Monday morning traffic, it will take an hour or more. We arrived at 9:30 a.m., found parking, and Heidi guided me to a very large waiting room, which wasn’t yet full.

Despite my bruised face—I looked like I’d been in a traffic accident—I was told I didn’t look in my 60s! It’s great to start with a compliment, especially when little children couldn’t help but stare when they took a gander at my red and purple face, my arm in a splint, and my leg clasped straight by the immobilizer.

We sat for hours as the room filled up. The excitement that day on the TVs around the room was the Michael Jackson child abuse trial. The verdict was to be announced at 1:30; by the time he was pronounced not guilty, Heidi and I were getting closer to actually seeing a doctor.

There was a lengthy process of elimination before a doctor looked at me, but the staff was polite and the waiting room had a reasonable sound level. I was quite patient, after all I had been raised with military health care: serious cases were first on the list and it always took hours to see a doctor.  In the meantime, it was fascinating to see all the different cultures waiting for care. Los Angeles has a larger cultural mix than any other city in the world. Many came as a family unit, even if only one family member was hurt or sick.

When I finally saw the admitting nurse, he was kind enough to assign us to the urgent care side of the emergency area where we would see a doctor for an evaluation. I saw two doctors and got X-rayed before I finally arrived to see the orthopedist in the early evening. The first good news was that my nose wasn’t broken.

So many attractive doctors for "pain" control!

Harbor Hospital is a teaching hospital affiliated with UCLA, and I enjoyed the enthusiasm of the young doctors (looking back at the incident, I can see why I enjoy “Gray’s Anatomy” on TV). My orthopedic surgeon was a tall, handsome Asian fellow and I wondered how many nurses and/or female doctors were interested in him.  Dr. Lin had me lie on the examining table. “Can you lift your right leg?” he asked. When I could—I was proud that all my exercising had strengthened my legs—he told me a cast would be suitable and no operation was necessary.

The wrist was another matter: I’d need a pin inserted to straighten it out. Since there was an opening for an operation the next day, he’d see if he could get me into this very busy hospital.  A bed was available but I wasn’t ready for a room yet; I needed a cast for my right leg from ankle to mid-thigh and a splint for my right arm. A nice-looking older Latin man was the cast technician and his “bedside manner” made everything seem more positive. I hadn’t been in a hospital for years and appreciated all the friendly medical staff—it made things so much easier and fun. I flirted with and complimented them all.

I hadn’t been in a wheelchair since my son was born, 33 years before. Heidi tagged along as an attendant wheeled me into a four-person hospital room. I hadn’t been prepared to be admitted, over 10 hours after we’d arrived, but circumstances demanded it. It felt strange to get into a hospital gown and wiggle my way into a narrow bed, and I felt a bit abandoned when Heidi left.

Upcoming: Hospital life and the Operating Room.



What’s it all about, Victoria?

When I was home for my long recuperation from my injuries, I had plenty of time to ruminate about why I’d brought this “accident” into my life. Initially, I had a cast on my right arm from the middle of my upper arm to my fingertips. My right leg had a cast from mid thigh to right above my ankle. At least the left side of my body remained strong and unbroken and I was given crutches to help me get around.

The week before my “crash” I had been in the midst of a minor financial crisis and I was blaming myself. Full of self-recrimination, I asked myself again and again: Why couldn’t I make enough money to avoid running into walls of debt? Why was it so difficult to make a living in the creative arts?  Why was it always a roller coaster ride? My rent had been overdue, although I had an editing client and the money was due to arrive any day. I was beating myself up, as it turned out, literally, because of what I deemed were my shortcomings.

I believe we all have a journey to find ourselves worthy. I had already started writing this blog when I watched Oprah Winfrey’s very last show. She pointed out that in 25 years of interviewing and getting to know people, she noticed the most difficult and heartbreaking element of people’s lives was their lack of feeling worthy. Whatever happens on our path through life, most of us hit that snag of not feeling deserving, which prevents us from allowing our own good fortune. These feelings don’t come out of nowhere, usually they are buried in our past and then, perhaps inadvertently, reinforced as we go through life.

The wonderful convolutions of life as interpreted by my daughter Heidi

My childhood wouldn’t qualify as horrific, but it had its nasty side with damaging after-effects I still deal with from time to time. Looking back on it from my mature years, I can better understand that my Army officer stepfather was not a happy man. He was quite intelligent and could be immensely charming, but when things didn’t go the way he thought they should, his behavior toward his family was abusive. That WWII generation, in my view, was not very reflective (perhaps none of us are reflective enough—we keep having wars!) and took their frustrations and blame out on others. They had fought an awful war and carried their pain inside, for the most part. Psychiatric help was not well known or generally available, and there were no drugs for post-traumatic stress disorder. It wasn’t pretty when these veterans did lash out physically and/or emotionally. Who knew what damage these men carried from their childhoods, much less the actions of war?

I have noticed men are mostly outwardly directed with anger, and women go inward. In general, men blame others for problems and women blame themselves. I was really into “What have I done again?” instead of realizing that every life has its ups and downs, and a creative life seems to have more yin and yang than the usual. It took me years to realize I enjoyed the challenge of life on the edge, for the most part. It was exciting, a great deal of the time, to get to a point when funds were low, and not know when life would improve. Somehow it always worked out and over the years I learned better skills to manage my finances and my emotional health. Before I fell, however, I had gotten so low and angry that I had slapped myself in the face several times. Looking back, I find that action immensely sad and now take pains to tell myself I love me. When I hit the rocky places in life, I acknowledge: “It is what it is,” and know that things will always change for the better. Every negative has a positive and every positive has its negatives.

Upcoming: Dealing with operations, casts, and life in general.



Cherish yourself, readers—you are the most important person in your life. If you can’t love yourself, you can’t love anyone else.

On June 11, 2005, I had a smashing encounter with a sidewalk: brought to my knees by a quarter-inch bulge in the concrete. I was crossing a bridge  over the Los Angeles River channel less than a block from home, headed to my daughter’s place, a 15-minute walk. There was no obvious reason for my tripping; I had on sports shoes and jeans and wasn’t rushing. My attention had been caught by a child’s bike lying a few hundred yards away in the waterless channel. It was the last thing I saw before my arms began to flail as I tried to regain my balance.

I was propelled toward the sidewalk and hit knees first, then palms and finally my nose. As my head whipped forward, I remember thinking, “Please, no, don’t let me squash my face and kiss the concrete.” Luckily, my momentum had slowed and only my nose touched down.

Positioned on all fours, I noticed my nose and lip begin to bleed. I took stock: I wasn’t wearing anything I’d miss and I’d brought my cell phone for a change. It was in my purse, and since I’d worn the strap crosswise across my chest, it was all intact and hadn’t slipped off, another small favor.

Traffic was progressing across the four-lane residential bridge, but no one had noticed me because I was partially hidden by what looked like a tall, bushy weed growing from a crack in the concrete. I stayed bent over for a few moments, assessing the bodily damage and waiting for the bleeding to stop. I hadn’t hit my nose too hard. When I caught my breath and found a semi-comfortable position, I could see my right wrist was askew and definitely damaged. I didn’t know yet what had happened to my right knee; I  hurt but was in no great pain physically. My dignity had definitely been damaged, however.

With tissue from my purse, I dabbed at myself, then called my daughter Heidi. Since I’m no drama queen and wasn’t crying, I remember being brief. In the midst of putting on makeup when I called, I later learned, Heidi ignored one eyebrow and flew down the stairs to get her car. She was on the bridge in five minutes and had even thought to bring a towel.  After we cleaned off some of the blood and negotiated getting me off the sidewalk, she drove me the half-block to my apartment and helped me up the stairs.

My crutch, just in case I ever need it again.

I was surprisingly calm considering I didn’t know the extent of my injuries or what I’d do to solve my dilemma. Medical insurance was not a part of my life. I called a good friend who’d broken her ankle a few weeks before. Pat, who was familiar with the ins and outs of how to deal with life in LA, advised me to go to the Sherman Oaks Hospital emergency clinic. “Don’t worry about the bill,” Pat said, “they have to take you.”

The clinic was a short drive away and it was empty when we arrived at 1:30 p.m. The Sherman Oaks Hospital is famous as a burn clinic; it was where comedian Richard Pryor was taken when he nearly killed himself lighting his crack cocaine.

I was impressed with the clinic’s cordiality and prompt service. As a plus, the young doctor was not only attractive, he was complimentary. He told me I didn’t look in my sixties, which brightened my attitude right away. After the X-rays, the news wasn’t marvelous: I had fractured my right wrist and my right knee.  They fitted me up with a splint for my arm and a Velcro brace (called an immobilizer) for my leg. For further treatment, I had the choice of two LA County hospitals: County USC or Harbor UCLA. The doctor said Harbor was the best choice because orthopedics was their specialty, but they weren’t exactly close-by.

Upcoming: Why I think I “crashed” and the adventure of the LA County health care system.



Vision of Space from the Hubble Telescope

One of the most heartening spiritual stories I’ve heard concerns my cousin’s husband, Ray, a Vietnam vet with PTSD, whom I’ve mentioned in a previous blog. Besides post-traumatic stress disorder, in the 1980s Ray was struggling with kidney stones. The pain was so bad he had been drinking Seagram’s VO and popping Demerol.

When he went into a medical facility to have the stones removed, he had to stop the drugs, and it didn’t take long for his body to suffer withdrawal symptoms. His condition was so serious, he was rushed to the best hospital in the area at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

“Practically every organ had failed, and I had to have whole blood transfusions,” Ray recalled. “Jackie (his wife and my cousin) was told that I wouldn’t live through the night.”

During the night, he sensed a presence in his room and looked over to the right of the hospital bed where there was a hardback chair. Sitting in it was his friend Bobby, who had served in the same Army company and platoon in Vietnam. Bobby and Ray had lived within 40 miles of each other and after the service remained friends.

“We hunted, fished and partied hard together,” Ray remembered.

“I would ask him now and then if he was OK because he would get quiet and his eyes looked blank. When he came out of this state, he always said, ‘All right, now’ with great feeling, but he never answered my question.”

Right before Christmas a few years before Ray’s hospital crisis, Bobby had put an end to his troubled life and to the deep depression resulting from PTSD. He had locked himself in a dog pen at his home, put a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. “If he’d made it a few more years, he could have gotten help for PTSD,” Ray said.

In the chair next to Ray that night, Bobby was dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt and looked peaceful. He was there in spirit to give his old friend encouragement. “You messed up bad, buddy,” he told Ray, “but you’re going to be all right.”

“And I did get all right,” Ray declared.

Ray Scott, Sr. in a photo taken in Vietnam, 1963.


MUSING ON THE MYSTICAL–from ancient caves to a modern home

I recently saw Werner Herzog’s documentary, “The Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” about the Chauvet Cave in southern France that is full of over 30,000 year-old prehistoric drawings and bones of animals: lions, horses, rhinoceros, cave bears and wooly mammoths, among others. Protected by an ancient landslide, the cave was hidden until 1994 and is in pristine shape. Herzog was given special permission by the French minister of culture to film there.

Ancient cave drawings in Southern France

Other than the incredibly beautiful and realistic drawings and the realization that humanity was capable of so much more than we’ve thought, I was intrigued by the observations voiced by Herzog and the French experts Herzog interviewed. A French interviewee said ancient man felt differently about his/her world. As I interpreted, the mind was not of primary importance, emotion was. Mankind felt more connected to the world around him: to the animals, the earth and its features, birth and death. They were more naturally spiritual.

Herzog said he and his crew, plus many of the scientists who study the cave, sense other presences when they visit the site. They feel as if they are being watched.  I can easily imagine this cave is a sacred place of spirits.

Some of us are more spiritually aware than others. Perhaps some were born that way or have had experiences that have opened up their sensibilities. Perhaps certain cultures can make easier use of the third eye, as it is called in Hindu philosophy, which leads to the inner realms of higher consciousness.  Millions of us have had inexplicable encounters, and I am always intrigued by them.

My friend Sally remembers when she was driving home to Los Angeles from San Diego late at night and she began to get very tired. Instead of pulling over, she kept trying to keep herself alert. All of a sudden, she was frightened by a loud noise and flashing colorful lights. It jolted her wide awake. When she couldn’t figure out what had happened, she pulled over to check everything on her van. By the time she determined the van was fine, she was totally alert and got back in the car to finish the drive. She never forgot, and later concluded she had received spiritual help in keeping her safe.

My cousin Jackie’s husband Ray is a Vietnam vet who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has battled his demons over the years. For help in this world, he sees a psychiatrist every three months and takes pills for depression every day. Despite the negatives, Ray’s life has been blessed with some unusual spiritual positives.

Ever since Ray almost died from an overdose of pain pills and alcohol in the 1980s and had an encounter with a deceased friend from his Vietnam days (I’ll have a more detailed story in an upcoming blog), he’s felt and seen spirits in his peripheral vision. About a week ago when he walked into a bathroom in his home, he heard large wings flapping and felt wind in his face despite the fact that the windows were all closed and there was no air conditioning running. “I suddenly had a very warm feeling of love in my chest,” Ray told me.

Ray feels spirits of people beside him, but if he turns to look, they disappear.  “I hear voices but I can’t understand what they are saying. I hear a woman calling me at times, but I don’t recognize the voice.” He’s grown used to these unusual experiences over the years and appreciates them for the comfort they bring.





In the 90s I got to mingle with a few celebrities on a couple of magazines I helped co-create, write and edit. One of them, Westlife Magazine, featured Bob Hope for our initial cover. Alas, Hope was recovering from prostate surgery . The closest I got to him for an interview was visiting Ward Grant, his longtime publicist  in his Burbank office, which was an obvious testament to Hope’s many movies with its framed giant blowups of movie stills going back to the 1930s.

In the mid 1990s, Beverly Hills Country Club, a posh tennis club, decided they needed a magazine featuring their members. My boss was an enterprising Iranian who spoke English but was not fluent in writing English. For our first cover, I interviewed Barbara Eden in her home along Mulholland Drive. Delightful and personable, she wore a cropped top and low riding pants, showing off her still fabulous figure and revealing the belly button that had been blocked out on “I Dream of Jeannie,” her famous TV series. Yes, the cover was “photo-shopped.” I wrote over 90% of the material in the magazine and enjoyed all of it.

World-Class Magazine cover of Barbara Eden



Appropriately for a sports club magazine, I did stories on members, Rafer Johnson, the Olympics decathlon champion from the 1960s, and 1940s tennis champion Jack Kramer, who had remained active in the sports world promoting tennis and then golf. My first tennis racket was a Jack Kramer and I told him so. Both of these athletes were gentlemen and easy to chat with.


The 90s included a few years of writing a weekly column, People and Places, and local play reviews for the Daily News, a major newspaper that still exists. I must have seen and reviewed about 200 plays, performed by a range of talent of all ages. I was a positive reviewer; it was essentially community theater and equity waiver. I recall a production of “Mr. Roberts,” starring Harry Belafonte’s son-in-law. The still very attractive Belafonte was there and I was thrilled to shake his hand as he told me he loved community theater. Although I was sorely tempted (Remember those famous lines: “Day O, day O?”), I did not hum any calypso songs!

One of my weekly columns focused on Jake Lloyd, a seven-year-old starring in his first movie, “Jingle All the Way,” with Arnold Swarzenegger (before he became the California Governator). Jake was charming, easy to interview, and full of a little boy’s energy. On the huge sound stage at 20th Century Fox, he led me up to a sort of catwalk on the upper levels of the living room set, where I could have an overview and see where the cameras and lights were positioned. They were filming the last scene of the movie that day. As filming is erratic and scenes are not filmed in order, the last scene of filming would be the actual first scene of the movie.  Jake went on to play Anakin Skywalker in a Star Wars movie, “The Phantom Menace.”

I left journalism when I had the opportunity to take time off and concentrate on writing my adventure/romance novel, Melaynie’s Masquerade, which I self-published. This year I plan to make my novel available as an Ebook .



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