There Should At Least Be A T-Shirt

Some weeks (months?) ago, a reader sent me a treatise/essay/sermon of a preacher. It was explaining chronic pain and illness were the result of demonic influence. For whatever reason, he singled out lupus as being particularly severe and no longer a matter of influence, but demonic possession. Which means CRPS must be multiple demons in possession of the body. Anyway, it was followed up the other day with her sending me an article about how to request an exorcism from a Baptist preacher. From what I can tell, it seems easy…

Now, we all know I’m not hugely religious and I don’t believe in demons or demonic possession. But I’m not sure it isn’t worth a try, after all, I could be wrong. If demonic possession or influence is responsible for chronic pain and illnesses, whether I believe in demons or not, should not change whether it can be treated via exorcism and I sort of feel like I’m trying everything else.

But, let’s be honest, if I go through an exorcism in an attempt to cure my pain… I’m going to expect a T-Shirt.

My research on exorcism and faith healing, isn’t encouraging as treatment for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. For starters, I can’t find evidence it’s ever been used. And there’s a lot in the literature about how you have to be a believer for it to work. I’ve gotta say, this is weird to me. If demonic influence is capable of making us ill, even when we don’t believe in it, than divine healing should also work regardless.

I’ll be shelving the idea of exorcism to treat my CRPS for now. I don’t think I could ask a preacher for one with a straight face.

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Nightmares, Migraines, and Is it Halloween Yet?

I’m having nightmares every night. They are getting so bad, that I’m avoiding going to sleep at night or during the day. One’s first instinct is to tell me to cut back on my diet of horror movies. But they aren’t those kinds of nightmares. I think they are contributing to my migraine from Hell.

All of my nightmares revolve around a reaction to the electrical spinal stimulator that we test in December (maybe, I’m not sure what the psych evaluation is for, but I kind of think with these concerns and nightmares, I might not pass it). In one nightmare, they insert the test and it goes fine, so we move on to the real one. It gets inserted and three weeks or there about later, I wake up one morning completely paralyzed, because the electrodes have caused massive amounts of infection to form between the sheath and spinal column and the weight of the pus paralyzes me from the mid-section down. Same premise, slightly different nightmare, I get up one day and go to put on clothes only to find my shirt doesn’t fit. My mom inspects my back and notices massive swelling along my spine. We rush me to the ER and they tell me it’s the opiates. Then when I spike a fever, they finally admit me and the following morning have to do emergency surgery to relieve the pressure the infection has caused along my spinal cord… but they don’t use Ketamine and I end up getting CRPS in my entire spinal column. Then after they’ve increased my pain and spread my disease, they take me off the opiates, the only thing that has ever even remotely assisted with my pain.

On rare occasions, in my nightmares, I go to sleep and during the night, I wake up with my throat swollen and no epi pen… none of my allergies warrant an epi pen, but I DON’T PUT METAL IN MY BODY… except the silver amalgam filling. But let me tell you a secret about that filling; my dentist custom made it. It is composed of tin (standard), silver (standard), aluminum (not standard) and mercury (standard), he left out the nickel and copper… he told me so all those decades ago when he put it in, because they were metals I knew I reacted to. The four listed in my filling are the weakest magnetic ability of metals. Even titanium and niobium, both of which are touted as non-magnetic are more magnetic.

So, I’m not sleeping well. Lack of sleep night after night (even a few panic attacks at night have occurred), and tada: MIGRAINE FROM HELL. I don’t even sleep “well” when I nap. My psych eval is October 30th. As I understand it, it is the psychiatrist that will make the final determination on whether I can or cannot do the e-stim. I don’t really know what to expect from this eval. I mean I saw a psychiatrist for years for my anxiety and I like them as a general rule (if I like her, maybe she’ll take me on as a patient for my anxiety….). But it’s “another doctor”. I know that sounds weird and a bit combatitive right out the gate, even before I’ve met her… but I’ve had a lot of doctor’s the past two years… The first pain management with the terrible nurse practitioner. The rheumatologist that ruled out everything but CRPS. The rheumatologist who gave a second opinion and agreed with rheumatologist one. The second pain management doctor that scared the shit out of me by telling me all I could do was live with it because he didn’t believe in prescribing addictive medications, including but not limited to, muscle relaxers. Then came Dr. Wonderful. I liked him. He had me do another rheumatology consult and rheumatologist 3 agreed with 1 & 2, it had to be CRPS. Then there was The Expert who said he couldn’t take me on as a patient, even though he’d offered a consult, because he was at his prescribing limit on opiates for the state because he was the EXPERT in CRPS for the state. Now, Dr. Smart. I like Dr. Smart as much as I liked Dr. Wonderful… oh wait, there was a psychiatrist I missed who was supposed to teach me coping methods for my anxiety and pain and spent four sessions telling me what I really needed was a different psychiatrist – one equipped to deal with chronic pain issues and anxiety. Now, this one…

A Smart Doctor

After yesterday’s gloomy post, I decided to share some good news, that is still kind of in the works. However, it’s been 14 days, so I figure it’s shareable. The gastroenterologist that I didn’t like, recommended I try drinking a cup of coffee a day for my health. When I met with my pain management doctor on the 7th, he reiterated the sentiment, for slightly different reasons.

I came home on September 30th, determined to try to force down a cup of coffee a day. I bought some dairy creamer (hazelnut) to help. Then I talked to a reader that has a job working with coffee beans and she told me she thought it sounded like I was using too much sugar for my tastes. It took a couple of tries, but by the 7th, I had found a way to drink coffee that I enjoyed.

I brought up my stomach issues to my pain management doctor, because I have thought for 9 years now that Complex Regional Pain Syndrome had spread to my digestive tract. Especially, after they went away from the entire time I was on Lyrica. However, I am not going back on Lyrica just so I can eat jalapenos again.

He told me what all previous doctors have told me; it is rare for CRPS to spread to the digestive system. Then he added; rare doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. The symptoms you’ve described are inline with opiate use, but they pre-date your opiate prescription and they match with one other patient I’ve had with CRPS. Especially, the debilitating stomach and abdominal cramps made worse by a high fiber diet, which you seem to enjoy.

In her case, it wasn’t the meds that solved her stomach issues, it was coffee. And you’ve mentioned more than once, you aren’t a coffee drinker. But somehow, we have to get you to become one. Because I think a cup in the morning and a cup in the evening would do wonders for you. I told him, I was learning to like coffee, but it basically has to be white. And he responded with “as long as there is 6-8 ounces of coffee with the cream and sugar, you’re fine. And don’t drink decaf, the caffeine in the coffee is part of what helps. She had less success with decaf, but once we switched her back to regular caffeinated coffee, she improved again.”

Well, that’s counter-intuitive… Every doctor and patient, I’ve talked to since being diagnosed has told me to cut out all caffeine. I haven’t, but I’ve been told to. So, I asked him about it.

“Most people consider stimulants bad for the nervous system when you experience nerve pain. But sometimes, the body needs stimulants. I don’t know if it’s the antioxidants or if the caffeine in coffee is different than in other things, but for whatever reason, in my twenty years of dealing with CRPS patients, I have never found caffeinated coffee harmful. Quite the opposite, I’ve found it helpful. Try drinking 12-16 ounces of coffee a day, some in the morning and some in the evening and let me know how your digestive system is acting.”

And so, I have been. A cup in the early afternoon (around lunch), half coffee, half creamer, and a sprinkle of sugar. Now, if it gets cold, I can’t finish it, but that’s why the microwave was invented. And when I remember, I’ve been repeating the regimen in the evening. After 10 consistent days of drinking coffee… I was able to eat and enjoy jalapenos, something I hadn’t done since July. Yet, more importantly, after running out of Lactaid milk, I managed to drink a glass of regular milk the other night without it bothering me.

Which means, after a year, I finally found the nickname for my pain management doctor Dr. Smart. I haven’t been brave enough to try an NSAID pain reliever yet, but with my current incurable migraine, it’s getting closer. And WTF?! Why isn’t this on the freakin’ coffee can labels?! I’m drinking Breakfast Blend coffee by Maxwell House, because it’s my mom’s favorite. But I am considering branching out. Perhaps one of the stronger coffees might work better?

For the record, I teared up as I wrote this. It seems stupid, but yesterday, I mentioned “hopelessness” in association with CRPS. Don’t get me wrong, coffee isn’t going to cure my daily pain, but if it can alleviate even a few of my symptoms and allow me to enjoy a few things, I’ve been crossing off the list of things I can eat and drink. It’s worth a few tears of joy and hopefulness. At the weekend barbecue, I made stuffed jalapenos that J grilled. I ate one, expecting to get sick after the first bite. I managed to eat the entire thing with no ill effects. Even better, I try to eat vegetarian when I have a migraine. I had J stop and pick me up a veggie pizza from Casey’s on Wednesday, after I just couldn’t convince myself to eat more onion soup or a grilled cheese sandwich. I ordered it with jalapenos. Pizza in general has been dodgy the last ten years or so, god forbid, I put jalapenos on it. However, on Lyrica, I found my love of pizza and jalapenos again. I had some reservations after I ordered my pizza. Would it make me sick? I hoped not. And much to my surprise, it didn’t… not even with the hot peppers and green peppers on it. I pulled some of them off as a precaution. But I ate them when I reheated a slice for lunch on Thursday. And guess what? It didn’t make me sick that second time either.

Life is about the little things and apparently, coffee is one of my little things. Now, if only someone had told me this 12 years ago, I wouldn’t have had to miss a Nine Inch Nails concert (as well as forcing my best friend and nephews to miss it) after eating a slice of pepperoni pizza.

The Worst Months of My Life

At 1am Thursday morning, someone posted tragic news to one of my CRPS support groups. Yet, another of my fellow sufferers succeeded in committing suicide. Several things ran through my brain. Could I have done more? Was he a victim of the war on opiates? Or was it something else.

This is the third time in 2 years, I’ve experienced a CRPS victim commit suicide. We are talking about a disease with a suicide rate of 95% or higher in the first 10 years of symptoms showing up. Sometimes, I have to remind myself it’s been 25 years, since my symptoms first reared their ugly head. I think I’m doing pretty well most of the time.

And as we all expressed our grief, an announcement was added regarding the suicide: they were on Gabapentin and they left a note. I complain about Lyrica a lot and my time on it. But Gabapentin was worse.

I started it full time – 900mgs a day in March 2017. I was tapered off in November 2017. I don’t remember much about those months and I was originally put on it, not for CRPS, but for an unexplained nerve pain in my lower legs. Mostly, I remember I cried a lot and wished I were dead a lot. Whenever one of my fellow sufferers decides to call it quits, I spend some time pondering; was it the pain, the hopelessness, or the meds?

I tolerate the opiates fairly well. But I didn’t handle the gabapentin well. Every day, I faced the possibility of committing suicide on it. And the scariest part, it wasn’t always a conscious decision. I was taken off the drug, when I was interrupted counting every prescription pill I was on. A full bottle of clonazepam (Klonopin), a more than half full bottle of gabapentin (Neurontin), a partial bottle of hydrocodone, and a partial bottle of butalbital/acetaminophen (Fioricet).

I can’t say in all certainty that I intended to take all those meds. But I think it’s likely, I can think of no other reason for me to count them out. There was enough… If I hadn’t been interrupted, I would probably be a statistic. I got lucky. The 60 tablets of .5mg clonazepam would have done the trick without the more than 45 gabapentin, 20 hydrocodone, and 15 Fioricet.

The incident disturbed me enough, that I wrote it down in my migraine/pain journal – including the amounts. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to suicide. Two years later, it still haunts me. The date was October 21, 2017. I actually had trouble getting in to see my pain management doctor after it. And I am the one that began to taper myself off the gabapentin the next day, October 22. One of the nephew’s birthdays.

And so, I begin today with a heavy heart. My migraine has returned in full force. There are 226,000 people with CRPS in the world. And in two years, 3 of those in my support groups have killed themselves. The world continues to turn and those that are left, continue to push forward… until we can’t. Some succumb to the pain. Others to the meds, like I nearly did. And the rest, the depression that comes with knowing these tattered shreds are all that’s left of our life and it won’t get much better, no matter how hard we try. We have to find something we can cling to. For me, it’s work and family. I’d go crazy if I couldn’t write. God knows, I felt like I was going insane while I was on Lyrica.

Now, I prepare to try something else and let me tell you… If things were different; if I could function on Lyrica, Gabapentin, or Cymbalta, and war hadn’t been declared on opiates for the abuse of the masses and the corporate greed that drives our healthcare system in the US. I wouldn’t be considering this at all. Because no matter how we word it, it is possible that those titanium electrodes in my spinal column will cause anaphylaxis and kill me. Or, the same thing that happens when I pierce my ears, will happen to the spots around those electrodes and the area will become engorged with pus – I have trouble believing that would go well. But these are my options; I can agree to the trial or I can do nothing and hope my doctor doesn’t remove the only thing that does work for me.

Anonymous Dreams Update

In case, you haven’t figured it out, Anonymous Dreams will not releasing this month. I apologize for this, I simply ran out of time for editing and getting the cover. I’m hoping the first part of 2020 will see it released. Followed by The Dysfunctional Expansion (and the return of some armadillos to the story line – I can’t even say this with giggling). And then Avenging Reality.

In the meantime, I’ll be finishing up Buried Dreams, Demons in the Details (Working title), Poisoned Dreams and a few others.

And as soon as I get rid of my migraine, I’ll return to work on my female killers blog posts. As of this update writing (Tuesday afternoon – I still have it).

Not Back On Track

I’m going to need more than just Monday to get back on track. I spent Monday battling a migraine. When I got ready for bed on Monday night and took my second dose of migraine medication I still had it. I suspect it will be a few more days before I get my body back on track. My apologizes to my readers. I was really looking forward to this series and feel terrible that my body decided to rebel.

Recovery

I’m still in recovery mode from this past week. I’m taking a few days off to recoup.

The Barbecue

We had an of the season barbecue last night. Lots of food. Good friends. I feel terrible today. So, I didn’t get my Wuornos blog post written. October has been a fairly crazy and busy month. Cross your fingers for tomorrow.

Dorothea Puente

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming: Dorothea Puente doesn’t fit the pattern of most serial killers and not because she’s a woman. She was 64 years old when she committed her first confirmed murder. Now, there have been elderly serial killers before Puente, Albert Fish was in his 70s when he committed his last murder. But like most serial killers, Fish committed his first murder when he was in his late twenties or early thirties.

Furthermore, Puente was a for profit killer. Puente ran a boarding house in the 1980s for the elderly. It was a pretty good racket. She and her best friend/business partner (Ruth Monroe) would take the lodgers to cash their social security checks. Once the checks were cashed, Dorothea and Ruth took all the money for their expenses in the boarding house and dispensed them a monthly stipend of their money. Dorothea and Ruth seemed fairly content with this arrangement. Then in April 1982, Ruth moved into the boarding house. Her husband had become ill and been forced to move into a nursing home to receive full time care. A few weeks later, Ruth was dead. The official cause of death was ruled suicide. Lethal overdose amounts of Tylenol and codeine were found in her system and Dorothea told investigators that over the last few months, Ruth had sunk into a deep depression over her husband’s illness.

For some reason, after Ruth’s death, Dorothea decided maybe her current scam wasn’t good enough. In the summer of 1982; she drugged one of her 72 year old residents and while he was unconscious snuck into his room and stole the stipend she was doling out to her residents. Needless to say, the 72 year old was not happy. He filed a criminal complaint regarding the theft. The 72 year old told police he’d been drugged and when he woke up, his money was gone. And blood tests revealed that he had indeed been roofied. Dorothea was quickly arrested; she was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 5 years in jail.

Unfortunately, Puente also serves as a cautionary tale of why you don’t become pen-pals with criminals serving prison time. While Puente was serving her sentence, a man named Everson Gilmouth became penpals with Dorothea. There are conflicting reports on how this penpal friendship began. Some say it was solicited by Dorothea and that Gilmouth was a friend of someone Dorothea knew. And some sources say it was through a prison penpal program. Yet a third source I found, stated Gilmouth initiated the penpal relationship after seeing Dorothea’s booking photos in the newspaper and becoming smitten. Just like some women are attracted to violent men because the threat of violence excites them (this is exclusively a female thing, go figure), some men are attracted to female criminals because they are sure they can “save the lost soul” (this is not an exclusively male thing to do and plenty of women become attracted to men with the idea that the man will be so smitten with them, they will change their ways to be with the woman). However, it happened, Gilmouth and Dorothea became frequent penpals. Gilmouth was 77 years old when Dorothea Puente was released from jail. She had served three years of her five year sentence.

Dorothea had put her time in jail to good use, beyond being penpals with Gilmouth. If she wanted to continue her schemes once on the outside, she needed to try to prevent victims from filing police reports. I will mention here, that as a condition of her release, she was ordered to have no contact with elderly people. However, Dorothea immediately took back over her boarding house for the elderly and disabled. She also immediately returned to stealing their pension checks for room and board and paying her residents monthly stipends. Oddly, parole officers checked in with her every two weeks at that boarding house and never violated her parole, even though it was obvious that she back in the business of running a boarding house for the elderly.

And Dorothea really needed all that extra money, because she needed some stuff built to facilitate the next stage of her plan to continue to defraud the government and ruin the lives of her fellow elderly Californians. She and Gilmouth had become romantically involved upon her release. Also, within months of her release from jail, Puente hired a handyman to install wood panelling throughout the boarding house. Once he finished the job, she paid him for part of it in cash and part of with by giving him a 1980 Ford truck that she said her boyfriend who had moved to LA had given her. Oh, and she had another job for him. She had a bunch of old clothes, books, magazines, and brick-a-brack that she needed to get rid of. If he could build her a box that was six feet long, by three feet deep, and two feet wide, she’d give him more money. The handyman built the box and thought nothing of it. Then Dorothea called him and said the box was full, but she couldn’t haul it away by herself. She’d gladly pay him to help her move and dispose of the heavy box. Which he did. They disposed of the box on the banks of a river.

On New Year’s Day, 1986 a fisherman in Sutter County, California discovered a large wooden box near his favorite fishing spot. Because he was curious about what could possibly be in this large box, he opened it… then he notified police that he had found a dead body in a box along the bank of the river. The body was decomposed enough that the remains went unidentified for some time and they weren’t even sure what the cause of death was.

Then Dorothea became eccentric. She took in a homeless called Chief. She actually told the neighbors she had adopted him, despite him being an adult and an alcoholic. Not exactly, the idea person to adopt, even by an old woman. She put Chief to work around the property as a handyman. His primary tasks were to remove garbage that was accumulating on the property and to remove a bunch of soil from Dorothea’s basement.

She then had Chief pour a concrete slab in the basement. Within a few weeks, he disappeared and she told neighbors different stories according to my research. But honestly, he was a homeless man with a drinking problem, so no one really paid much attention to his disappearance.

In 1988, one of Dorothea’s tenants disappeared. His name was Alvaro Montoya. He had developmental disabilities as well as schizophrenia. After Montoya missed one of his regular weekly appointments with a counselor, a social worker notified police he was missing. They immediately went to the boarding house and instigated a search. They were in for a shocking surprise.

During their search, police noticed disturbed soil in the backyard as well as the basement. They ordered some of the disturbed soil in the backyard turned over just to check it out and discovered a body… But it wasn’t Alvaro Montoya. There are two locations involved in this case, which makes it a bit confusing. Puente had an apartment in her house that she rented (Ruth Monroe died in this apartment) and for a time, Ruth and Dorothea ran a 16-room boarding house, before Dorothea went to jail for drugging and stealing from one of her tenants. Some of my research said all seven bodies found in the backyard had rented the upstairs apartment in Dorothea’s house. Other sources said the bodies, which were found at the home where Dorothea lived, were a mixture of people from the 16-room boarding house and her upstairs apartment. My personal feeling leans more towards the second account of the bodies being a combination of tenants from the boarding house and tenants from the apartment in her own home, because of how fast the bodies seemed to pile up. All nine of Dorothea’s confirmed victims were killed between 1982 and 1988. That’s a lot of tenants to have move in and disappear in just six years, three of which she was in prison for.

Also, for the record, the body of Chief was discovered in her basement. While she wasn’t tried for Ruth Monroe’s death, she was strongly suspected after police finally identified the body in the box as belong to Everson Gilmouth. And the truck Dorothea had used to pay her handyman’s bill, was later identified as belonging to Gilmouth. And in another complicated twist, Dorothea and Ruth had been taking out life insurance policies on some of the elderly tenants of the boarding house. And in total, 25 residents went missing during the time that Dorothea and Ruth were running it.

There has been speculation that after Ruth’s husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness and she moved in with Dorothea; the two quarrelled about their get rich schemes and Dorothea killed Ruth to prevent her from going to the police about it. All in all, Dorothea was suspected of killing as many as 30 people, some possibly with Ruth’s assistance and some with the assistance of a resident. He was never charged due to insufficient evidence.

And in the final twist, while police dug up Dorothea’s backyard in their initial search for Alvaro Montoya, Dorothea Puente escaped. It was also learned that neighbors had been calling in complaints for several months prior to the search because Dorothea’s property smelled really bad and stunk up the entire neighborhood. It was followed up on, but Dorothea said she was using a new fish based fertilizer and that was the source of the foul smell.

Wednesday’s Dart Drama/Thursday’s Delay Explained

After dedicating nearly a decade to the CDA, it became dramatic on Wednesday night. As everyone knows, I had to give up playing due to my health. J though, after a year to rehab first his shoulder and then his wrist, returned to our local Columbia Dart Association. Wednesday night, I got an angry phone call around 10 pm. Apparently, three members had accused me of theft (I never had access to the accounts) and when J stood up for me, they accused him of being involved in it. They also requested J pay back the league so it could go away.

I spoke first to a private investigator, then a lawyer, then a deputy from the Boone County Sheriff’s Department. I think it goes without saying, I’m not a thief. Oddly, all three of these professionals informed me that since no criminal charges had been filed in the matter, they felt the accusations were basically a slander campaign to hurt J and I’s standing for whatever reason

I was given an incident report to use at a later date, should my accusers continue to contact me (they have been informed in writing, that they are not to contact me and that if they believe they have proof of my theft, they need to file criminal charges). It is also of interest to note, that as soon as one of my accuser’s discovered I had contacted a lawyer and would be contacting the police department I got a series of texts saying it was a misunderstanding and that J just misunderstood what was said to him and that we should all sit down and talk it out.

However, as the deputy and I discussed the situation more, he told me one of the things a perpetrator of this kind of attack expects is that the victim(s) will be too embarrassed to contradict them or tell anyone that it is even going on. I, however, am not embarrassed by it. I have done nothing wrong to warrant embarrassment, accusation, or thide that this is being done to J and myself. I have no problems shouting from the rooftops that I am being maliciously slandered. He also told me I was not to have a sit down discussion with them about it and they should have suggested that before they started their attack on J and I. He felt they were just trying to backtrack after realizing J and I were not going to let them walk all over us.

The worst part, J and I know why this happened. One member of the CDA does not like me and never has, because I have always refused and continue to refuse to pretend that I am not an intelligent, strong female. I like books. Books have helped me learn many things. I like books enough that I now write books and I have a career that I love that can pay exceptionally well. This means I talk about books and the things I have learned from books. It is not done to make anyone feel stupid, they are just the things I like. Why should I pretend to not to be who I am, just so one person will like me more?

Furthermore, in my need to justify that I don’t need to pretend to be someone else to have dart player friends, I asked a few of them that I had become close to, if it bothered them that I was like this. They all told me, they actually liked me because I was like this.

And that dear friends and readers, is why I struggled on Wednesday night to sleep and why I struggled with a panic attack, high pain levels on Thursday, and decided I needed to be proactive about this situation. Furthermore, this post isn’t just about “getting the word out.” It’s about helping others that may find themselves in this situation. At this moment, no criminal offense has occurred that I can pursue. This is at its essence an attempt at bullying and character assassination. The detective told me, it can only work, if the victims are complicit. He said most of the time, people are too embarrassed to admit that someone has accused them of a crime, so they only deny it when it’s brought up. However, if you know you did not commit said crime, you need to be proactive. You have done nothing wrong. You do not need to be embarrassed about it. If you tell people it’s happening and give the details (like in this case, the accusers actually sent me a text and asked why I had talked to a lawyer since they weren’t going to contact the police about it). Both the lawyer and the detective I spoke to said the same thing… “If they have proof you committed theft, why wouldn’t they take it to the police?” I can’t answer this question specifically, but the deputy suggested the reason was because they know the accusation is baseless and therefore, not worthy of a criminal investigation and they are just using it as an excuse to try to ruin our reputations. If you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t be afraid to contact a lawyer, most offer a free consultation. And you can always contact your local police department’s non-emergency number and get advice from them.

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