Tuesday

she changed it all

She wasn’t a bad girl, not at all. She wasn’t wicked or evil or any of those things. She had no sociopathic leanings or a desire to be cruel. Even as a little girl her teachers and family alike recognised that she didn’t have a malicious bone in her body.

Which is why it makes this discovery all so difficult to understand.

Interviews after the event, with people who had met her or people who had been her friends, all gave the impression that she was a perfectly normal young woman. The overall impression gathered was that she was quiet and attentive. Charming and reassuring. Good to confide in and an excellent listener. Her responses were always reasonable and well thought out. She very rarely entered into conflict and never displayed aggression. She had a healthy level of curiosity and seemed to be very intelligent.

Which is why this whole business is so unsettling really.

Her history reveals maybe a little insight into how such a situation could have developed. As is liable to happen when things like this occur book companies and newspapers were desperate to cash in. They pleaded with her for interviews. They offered substantial amounts of money for the exclusive story; her point of view. She politely declined. Her family were also approached. They say that everybody has a price and whilst the media couldn’t reach the price of her or her close family some of her cousins were bought fairly cheap. Initially cheap but, for what the papers got, far too much money was spent on these snippets of misinformation. Spying some ready money these distant relatives were happy enough to concoct stories of ritualistic animal abuse as a child and perverse leanings which were completely untrue. The extent of the lies were later revealed under some close scrutiny and a trial for libel in which the papers lost more than they had offered her in the first place.

Researchers came out baffled when a book profile was suggested. Like the newspaper people they approached her with offers of large sums of money and like she did with the newspaper people she politely declined. Those people who made the visit to see her went with many preconceptions. It’s hard not to when you hear so much reported about an individual. They all left feeling a little disconcerted, preconceptions shattered and a significant level of doubt. Like those who investigated her, those who knew her, those who were related to her and like everyone she’d ever met they just didn’t think she was capable of that which they knew she had done.

Background checks showed very little in the way of deviant behaviour. The people wanted an explanation just to help them understand what makes a person end up like this. The people were largely disappointed. She grew up just outside an average sized city in an average sized house. Both her parents remained together and she had one sister who she got along with very well. There were no disturbing uncles or bad babysitters or forceful boyfriends. There was no difficulty at school, she got good grades and seemed very happy. She wasn’t a social outcast and had a happy childhood and a small but good group of friends who she always remained in contact with. She went to college and performed very well and got a place at university studying medicine. She had volunteered at her local hospital since she was 15 with the intention of applying for medicine later on and was by all accounts very pleased.

She went to university and met a young man, the letters home to her parents from her early university days tell of courting and happy times. Her tutors were interviewed and always said she was a bright girl who didn’t struggle with the work load and never missed a lecture. She worked part time in an old peoples home to supplement her student grant and her colleagues have since reported her to be hard working and considerate. In the middle of her second year, and much has been made of this, she suffered a very bad illness.

It started with a cold which wouldn’t shift. It has been said that she was looking tired for several months, from the start of term, it was assumed she was just working too hard. She had been to see her doctor and they pronounced her fine if a little anaemic. Before Christmas break she was taken into accident and emergency by her young man because she had a terrible temperature, headache and was pretty incoherent. After running their tests the hospital confirmed that she was suffering a pretty bad case of meningitis and she was placed into an isolation ward where she stayed for three months whilst she recovered. When she was finally allowed out of hospital she still needed a long time for rest and recuperation. The university were sympathetic and were happy for her to repeat the year that she had missed and offered her a special grant to help support her throughout her subsequent years on the course. An offer she took up and started afresh the next semester healthy and well. The head of the department has said they awarded the grant because they truly believed she was a talented young woman and would one day make an excellent doctor. It seemed a shame to allow this unfortunate illness to become a barrier for this and there were concerns she was doing too much work and too little play. A medical degree with a part time job as well would be a strain for any individual.

This illness did not affect her subsequent grades which were consistently good and it has been said her attitude was the same. If anything she was more cheery having met a new group of people and having a larger set of friends now. She was more social and had more time to study now the financial pressure was taken off her. The rest of her time at medical school went without note and she graduated with a respectable degree.

Surgery was her chosen field and when she went out to her first position as a graduate her story began to get interesting. It was a large hospital with a large surgical department and she was to work directly under a consultant surgeon Mister Phillip Burton. Mister Phillip Burton had been a doctor for thirty years and was not one to suffer fools gladly. He was also not the type who was happy about women doctors let alone women surgeons. In his thirty years of doctoring he had only just gotten used to the idea of male nurses, female doctors was still far too much for him to get his head around. So he did not know what to make of this bright enthusiastic young girl. She seemed, to him, to be mocking him and all he stood for. Their relationship started badly and never really improved. Initially he tried ignoring her presence completely, there were a plethora of moronic registrars and house officers who were of the correct sex he could converse with. When, after six months of this stony front, she refused to transfer he changed his tactic to incorporate what a modern lawyer would probably call bullying but to Phillip Burtons mind was just setting the situation straight. He’d order her to file case notes and make him cups of tea. Womanly duties he considered. If she dared enter his theatre prior, during or post surgery he would ensure she was given a menial non medical job to do. Be it helping him on with his scrubs, filing of paperwork or cleaning. She did all these things he asked and never grumbled once. Only after a year of work with Mr Burton and no so much as a stitch to her theatre record did she register a complaint.

The hospital took Phillip Burton to task and lectured him about the cost of surgical staff. About how important it was to develop these young minds. About how in this day and age it just wasn’t on to discriminate against people just because they happened to be women. He was ordered to give the girl some theatre time and treat her as he would any of the male staff.

Mister Phillip Burton did not much like this.

During her first surgery where she was allowed to the table Dr Burton made her step down five times for allegedly contaminating the sterile field. The scrub nurse for that day has gone on the record saying that she saw no contamination and that the situation was all of Dr Burtons making. It was another week before she was allowed back to surgery during which Dr Burton tutted and swore at every move she made. The following week doctor Burton intentionally forgot her name and spent the entire day referring to her as girl. For the next three weeks he refused to let her see case notes or theatre lists so when she arrived she was completely unprepared for what the day might hold. Her colleagues said she coped extremely well considering but Dr. Burton didn’t really see it this way and was often heard labelling her as an incompetent goon. For the next few months Dr Burton would allow her to the able as instructed but he took great pleasure in concocting various ways of making her life miserable by doing so. His wife (now ex wife) has gone on record as saying “It was all the bastard talked about for months – he had a real sadistic streak.

In May about a year and a half into her employment at this hospital she was on a private ward with Dr Burton checking on the previous weeks patients. In room seven – the Oxford suite, resided a patient who was extremely wealthy although no one really knew what for. Dr Burton liked the private patients and liked the money he got from them so tended to be far more attentive to their whims and desires. He was always happy to answer their questions and it has been said that the attention he lavished on the more wealthy patients was a not so subtle way of ingratiating himself into a higher social arena. It never really worked out for him though, even his wife (although the ex should be emphasised again) would describe him as a loathsome creature.

In room seven whilst Dr Burton was schmoozing as hard as he could and ignoring her completely whilst she tried, in vain, to run the check up she was obliged to do she knocked a kidney dish containing various bottled samples to the floor. The incident was a minor one really and the kidney dish had been badly balanced by an over-tired nurse in the first place. There was no damage to the samples and no real harm done. The old metal kidney dishes having long been replaced by cardboard disposable ones it wasn’t even especially noisy. She knelt down to retrieve that which had been dropped and while she was down and vulnerable the not so good doctor in the words of a passing orderly “totally flipped his lid”.

There is a fairly good account of what followed. Dr Burtons words were loud and commanded attention. Patients and staff alike gathered at the door of the Oxford suite and watched slack jawed and wide eyed as he tore into the shocked young doctor on her knees. Whilst the duration of the verbal onslaught that follows is up for debate (estimates run from five to fifteen minutes) the level of insult directed at the girl are not. Dr Burton did not hold back, with arms and spittle flying, he imaginatively called her all names he could think of. If she tried to interrupt or apologise he would talk over her louder. If she tried to stand up to face the doctor he actually started throwing pens at her. He seemed entirely oblivious to the patient he had so recently been buttering up or the crowd he was drawing. It has been said he looked like he was enjoying himself.

As previously noted the duration of this attack is unknown and in some respects is irrelevant, no one doubts the ferocity, the effect was still the same. When he had run out of things to say he placed his hands on his hips and glared at the girl defying her to say something. Reports state her eyes were glassy and she looked on the verge of tears. Everyone who has been asked agreed the following things happened. She lowered her head and sighed, there were tears dropping onto her theatre blues trousers but no one saw her actually cry, she gripped tightly in one hand a screw top bottle containing a sample and when she spoke it was calmly without excessive volume. She unscrewed the lid from the top of the bottle, threw a full tub of bright yellow urine into the doctors face and calmly said: “You, sir, are a god-damned bully”.

The crowd cheered.

Dr Burton looked like he didn’t believe what was happening and when he registered that the fluid dripping down his face was actually urine he scrabbled around looking for something to throw at her, settling on a clipboard. He then made as if to slap her while she was down. Onlookers have gone on record saying they truly believe the doctor would have physically assaulted the girl had the patient not intervened. As the doctor raised his arm and swung towards the girls face the wealthy patient recovering from surgery in room seven grabbed the doctors wrist and ordered him out. Initially the doctor made no movement but the wealthy patient (who cannot be named for legal reasons) raised his voice and ordered the doctor “Out of my room now, I pay you well enough you will do as you’re told. You will leave, you will close the door behind you and you and those other vultures will piss off”.

What happened next no one knows. She’s not talking to anyone and wealth patient, lets call him Mr X, can’t. We know she was in the room for an hour. Several members of the hospital management team tried to interrupt them at several points and were politely but firmly told to “bugger off”. When she finally left the room it was to quit her job without notice. There were objections to this but when it was pointed out that if they insisted on making her work her notice there would be legal action the hospital had little choice but to acquiesce. She went straight back to room seven where Mr X had been busy discharging himself and they both left. That was the last the hospital saw of either of them.

Her friends and family discovered that this incident had occurred only years later. At the time she told them that she had left her hospital job and was going to become a home carer. This was a great surprise to them all as they knew how passionate she was about surgery, about being a doctor even, this was, in their minds, several steps backwards. She reassured them best she could that she was extremely happy with this decision and that in fact financially she would be better off than she was currently. This seemed to placate some of her loved ones worried but some were still worried that this would not stretch her enough.

She was having none of it.

Her young man was concerned but after six months of regular hours, a steady income and a happy girlfriend he was in no real position to complain. He saw her more than he did when she was working at the hospital and she seemed far more content in her work. She would come home exhilarated and happy and it thrilled him to see her like this. They moved in together nine months into her new work situation. After eighteen months he had worked up the courage to propose and has gone as far as buying a ring. But before he had chance she was arrested and the whole story became public.

She had never spoken to him about work, or to any of her friends and family. As far as any of them knew she was working as a home carer for a very wealthy man who would rather have a doctor than a nurse around. Her actual job description, which was never recorded on paper, was something far more sinister.

The police tapes from the initial interviews after her arrest have been leaked a long time ago now. She never denied anything because she never understood why she would have to. The famous scene where the young officer became overcome with nausea and vomited into the corner of the interview room is now legend. The way she came over to try to nurse him and he vomited even more violently at her touch struck a strange chord in each of our hearts. She was obviously caring. She was obviously considerate. She was so obviously an intelligent girl so why couldn't she see why everyone else found her actions so loathsome?

The arrest came after one of her “patients” suffered a change of heart and made an official complaint. The manor in which she worked had a recorded staff of 75 and rising. It was also, it turned out, her duty to tend to the staff as well as the wealth benefactor. The staff were profiled afterwards and each had something in common besides their eventual fate. These were desperately alone people. There were no friends and family, in most case they were orphans. Many homeless runaways from tragic lives had been employed by our wealthy Mr X. all employees lived in an annexe of the manor and none of them, since the day of their employment until the day of the arrest, had ever left the grounds.

And for very good reason.

The complaint came from the now extremely rich and currently in hiding Annabelle Brixton. Despite the fact that she bought this situation to the attention of the world she has never received much of a sympathetic ear. Well, of course initially, when it was her word against everyone else's she did. But as the story unfolded and her fame rose despite her technically being the victim public opinion was generally very negative towards Ms. Brixton.

In the beginning there was Ms. Brixton, in the dead of night entering a police station somewhere in Sussex (not disclosed for legal reasons). How she got there is not known to this day. There are rumours that Ms. Brixton was actually a journalist with an ex boyfriend who had gone to live in the manor. These rumours are unconfirmed at this time. Ms Brixton walked into a police station wearing a cowl and cape and announced that she would like to make a complaint. When asked the nature of her complaint she threw off her cape to reveal her perfectly functioning second set of arms.

In the dead of the night Mr X's manor was raided and 75 staff members with varying degrees of physical abnormality were bundled into buses and taken away. On hearing the disturbance and viewing the goings on, on the CCTV both Mr X and his partner, one Mr. G. Bullard who had been working as a butler but was later disclosed to be his lover, opened up the safe in their room, locked the door and took a large barbiturate overdose. The police took thirty minutes to break down the great door to the bedroom by which time both Mr X and Mr Bullard were quite dead.

Inside the safe were a number of scientific papers, a number of hand written consent forms- 76 all told, a legally binding will and a video tape. At the same time of the raid our girl had a knock on the door and was duly arrested. It is reported she accepted the grounds of her arrest without complaint or question while her partner went “positively mental” and was restrained by the police.

The scientific papers contained within the safe detailed surgical procedure for transference of entire limbs from one individual to another which retained full function. There were some papers detailing how to reattach hands that had been severed and even one on donor genitalia which would still lead to normal procreation even in the case of sex change operations. The consent forms were written by the staff members recording their willingness to undergo the procedures that occurred at the manor. There was no set formula to the consent forms. No indication that they were forced to copy any existing document or any indication of confusion to what they were agreeing to. The will left all the worldly belongings of Mr X and Mr Bullard to our girl. The videotape, ah the videotape, that was a confession.

Mr X gained his wealth by donation. He too was a doctor who had left the medical profession to work solely for an independently wealthy man, who again can not be named for legal reasons so we refer to him as Mr A, who had gained his money through inheritance from his father who was a big noise in industry. Both Mr X and his benefactor had something in common and this was their sexual orientation although there is no indication that the relationship between the two was anything more than business. For Mr A it was not a simple case of homosexuality he was one of the poor individuals who suffered the fate of being born into the wrong gendered body. More than that it can be argued he was born into the wrong time as modern day sex change operations are no rare occurrence. Mr X was one of the pioneers in sex change surgery but it was his biggest regret that in the lifetime of Mr A it could not be perfected and Mr A passed away in the body he was not born to inhabit. He promised Mr A that he would endeavour to ensure this problem would not be a problem for any future generations. In addition to this whilst working for Mr A, Mr X had lost his left leg below the knee in a motorcycle accident. An affliction which caused great distress to Mr X and although he had the best prosthesis money could buy it was just not the same. This is where the manor came in.

When he took his staff on he explained to them what his aims were and detailed the research involved. For many years those who were dying and had no one would find out about the manor and come to live out their last days in a completely secure and happy environment and were more than willing to donate whatever they had to Mr X for this. He had taken the surgical techniques so far but his own ailing health and disability meant he needed to take on someone to continue his research. In the video he outlines his hospital check up and the time he met a newly qualified doctor being abused by her senior in the public glare. He said he knew as soon as he saw the urine hit the old man's face that he had found his replacement. So he hired her.

The video now becomes extremely moving for the select few who have seen it. Mr X's eyes well up and he openly weeps at the talents of his newest recruit. It was she who first perfected the whole functioning limb transfer. As has later been verified Mr X died standing on two feet, as it were, the surgery a complete success. It was she also who made the breakthrough of gender realignment and within the manor there was one couple who through such a swap had managed to produce a normal healthy baby girl.

In the video Mr X takes full responsibility and pleads that for the sake of science and scientific progress the girl not be punished.

There was also a letter in the safe that hasn't been recorded on public record. It was a letter of apology to the girl and an explanation of his suicide. He knew he wouldn't be able to deal with it so Mr X and Mr Bullard made a pact which they ultimately stuck to. He told the girl that all his money was now hers and suggest she bribe an official and have him posthumously blamed for the whole thing. She refused to do this and instead accepted whatever fate befell her.

The scientific community was revolutionised by the papers that were provided in the safe. Her works made a difference to people across the world. To this day she receives letters of thanks from transgender couples who have concieved, from accident victims who can walk and write again. Donor cards have been amended to include limbs and wombs. The world has changed thanks to one woman but was this enough to save her?

Of all the staff members that were taken from the manor that night there were a variety of physical anomalies. There were women with six arms and men with four legs. There were women with four ovaries, there were even people who had arms for legs and legs for arms. Of all the people she had modified only one person made any complaint and that was Ms. Brixton. What amazed the rest of the world was how happy the modified were. They continued to live in the manor after the trial was over and records have shown that all of them were content.

So, was it enough to save her? Well, no. It couldn't go unpunished but punishment was hard to prescribe. The trial went on for four long years without bail and popular opinion varied as to what would be fitting. Life in prison was suggested and dismissed. She hadn't actually killed anyone and with only one complainant it was deemed too harsh. Ms. Brixton applied for compensation and received a healthy sum before refusing to participate in any more legal proceedings and buggering off with her new found wealth to another country. Her second set of arms removed and no harm done. The public had no sympathy for Ms Brixton and while she may have received hundreds of thousands initially for book sales and newspaper stories they soon turned on her. It was suggested our girl serve a lesser prison sentence. This was agreed to be acceptable and four years was decided upon. Four years which was incidentally the length of the trial which she had spent in a minimum security prison anyway so they considered it served.

Then there was the question of her medical licence. The prosecution argued that she should never practice medicine again but the scientific community who were suffering a sort of ecstasy buzz from her research caused an outcry at the suggestion. It seemed, they suggested, sheer waste to allow a brilliant mind to just rot. Think of the benefits...

So, it was decided that she could not practise medicine on the general public any more but was allowed to continue with some highly regulated research. The manor was turned into a research facility and the findings and practises were kept public and submitted to an ethical and regulatory board. After it was all over she lead a fairly private life choosing, like the other inhabitants of the manor, to stay within the grounds for most of the time. She married her young man and had a family of her own. She would allow anyone in to tour her facilities but would rarely answer the questions they wanted answering.

There has never been an accurate account of the events surrounding these discovery's or the motivations of my mother. Until now, that is.

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