July 26, Sunday, 2009

(So, what would you do as this man? How would you face each day? As Emily Dickinson once wrote,

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

However, what happens when Hope is gone? When the icy droplets of defeat freeze the will to continue, when the storm crusts the branches, when the bird is ensconced in layers of memories, and only the muffled song or maybe a memory of the song are heard, what would you do? Some of you reading may not feel that your daily existence depends on Hope. But, if you would humor me a bit, consider that hope is tied to faith, faith/hope that your loved ones will answer the phone, that your car will start, that you don’t have cancer, that you will eat today, that you will find love, that you will have kids and grand kids and family outings and campfire chats, and a life without daily pain and shame. Life without hope dries a person’s soul. In the words of Langston Hughes,

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

For Matthew, it was a heavy load that was daily on his mind. Matt’s mom”

Today was the first time I worked at the restaurant on a Sunday, and then being open only for this EAA bullshit, that’s going to seriously test my patience for the next week. Tonight sucked, Tabitha was doing non-essential work all evening and left me to the actual main shit (just like always). They don’t see what I do for them, not one bit. It’s a shame. When, oh when, God, will I decide to throw myself back into school? The tipping point is coming soon enough where I will elevate or destroy myself forever.

I remember today as quite depressing. I awoke in a depressed mood and it stuck with me throughout the day, probably because I knew that I wouldn’t be getting high. I didn’t get high today, didn’t take a thing. I’m sipping some whiskey now, just because, but no opiates were to be found. This is good; I feel a sense of clarity off of that shit. But, I feel naked at the same time, deeply bored, useless. I need to work harder; really I do, if I’m going to get anywhere at all. I’m not feeling sick yet, tomorrow I will be I’m sure.

Intake: Ø, day one

The Physician

Me and Matt, trout at Colorado cabin

You may be one of four kinds of people reading this: someone who has never seen an addict (unlikely), someone who knows an addict (most common), someone who is close to an addict (plenty of this kind), or an addict yourself (you’re not alone). I was reading a piece done by a frustrated doctor describing his encounters with addicts in a clinic. It struck me. He was frustrated by these addicts’ apparent predictability and irritating tenaciousness. Outwardly, he or she (not sure) was cold, snobbish, unfeeling. But, once my initial steam condensed I saw the irony and truth there. The little rant reminded me of my encounter with one of Matt’s physicians.

When Matt was deep in his addiction, he would try to get operations. I am not kidding. (Those of you who are close to an addict will not be surprised.) Well, he would go to the emergency room complaining of extreme pain due to a hemorrhoidectomy he had years earlier. He claimed that he was still experiencing extreme pain and needed medication (i.e., oxy-anything). The physicians knew he was not, but what could they do? He just kept coming back, and he would make sure to keep appointments too. He would also tell me of his pain, at which point I would roll my eyes. But, it had worked in the past as he had several unnecessary operations to fix his “problem” over several years. He was quite tenacious and maybe even convinced himself at times, he was that much of a salesman.

The doctor’s story made me consider how physicians might feel, how they deal with these individuals, and how the individuals may feel. You see, Matt told me that he was going to get a colonoscopy bag as the pain was unbearable. (You should know that before this he told me he had cancer too.)  I just thought he was dramatizing for effect and didn’t believe it was in the works. Until I got a call to confirm the surgery check-in time! He had actually talked a doctor into doing it! I was beside myself as to what to do. Just the thought of Matt getting mutilated for more scripts was horrifying.

Therefore, I called the physician and we talked. I was angry and of course threatened a law suit if he went through with it. He explained that he knew Matt had a problem but didn’t know how to deal with his insistence. Short of it: the doctor understood that Matt did have someone who cared enough to call, and he cancelled the operation. Maybe he just needed some support, or maybe he just needed to see that this addict was more than just an irritation factor—a real human with real family. In the end, the doctor agreed to put Matt on a system of emergency room warnings to not prescribe pain meds. Wow, was Matt angry. He vented that I crossed the patient confidentiality clause and had no right. My response, “Hosh posh confidentiality maash. Love you more than some stupid law, kid.”

Well, about a year later he thanked me for doing it as he was clean at that point. He also gave me some insight into the insanity of addiction. Addicts, I now realize, don’t see these physicians as people, they see them as walls or doors. Caught in the secret tomb of Xanadu, below in the dark they just keep pounding their fists on the wall while repeating “Open sesame!” These doctors, being trained as scientists and not always especially socially adept, see the addicts in the same way; they are the baby birds brought into vets, and are of little value compared to the pedigreed dogs nicely leashed by caring owners. The birds have little hope without someone to spend the time with an eye-dropper holding and nurturing them, and they need to triage their caseload. I’m sure vets and doctors alike feel for those that fall out of nests, but really they don’t have the resources to help them, so they are just loud, open beaks. I imagine being bombarded by addicts would wear a person down considerably. I know Matt wore me down during his darkest days.

I complained and nagged and warned and blah, blah, blah. He didn’t hear a thing. Guaranteed. What I had to do in the end for Matt was be more human. I started listening more and asking more questions. I started looking at him less as someone who ‘just needed to straighten up’ and more like someone who just needed to be presented with alternatives, understanding, real help, a real way out of the icy caverns, something that didn’t sound like an unsympathetic response to the real pain he was experiencing—the pain of withdrawal and the fear of a tomorrow without peace.

I am hoping that doctors, friends and loved-ones of addicts, passersby, and those only acquainted with addicts will start to see them as people who have fallen out of the nest and need more than the “Just put it back in its nest and hopefully the mother will return,” sort of approach. I am also wondering why more programs don’t exist to help addicts. Throwing money at keeping drugs out of the country only keeps cops employed. It doesn’t help at all; just ask a cop if he believes the drug-control-effort is helping. Addicts need more than cops. If this doctor that vented about his/her duties had the training and the options, the conversations could go more like this: “Wow, you are in such pain. I can so feel for you. I can help, really. Would you like to go into a program that will give you the drugs you need? I can do that. But, they will continue to help you and not let you get to this point again. Don’t worry; your job will be waiting for you when you are feeling better again.” These addicts know that there are very few willing to do what it takes to have that conversation.

I wonder how many cops’ salaries it would take to put one addict in treatment for a year. Matt’s incarceration costs the state around 40K, not to mention the free lawyer he received and all the court time. After his death a detective worked on the case for six months. Hummm. His funeral costs me 15K and I didn’t pay for the autopsy, the State did. Big Pharma made a good percentage of his script costs—around 500 bucks a month for around seven years. I have no idea how much Middle Eastern drug lords made off him—plenty though. And, just think of the cost of his education. What a waste in capitalistic eyes. More importantly, what a waste of humanity. If you are a capitalist, fine, hopefully you can see that this is ridiculous spending. If you are a physician, hopefully you will one day see past the addiction and consider reaching out to these individuals with compassion. However, if you are a human, even better, hopefully you can see that people of all four kinds might consider looking more at the problem that prescription drug use is costing in souls.

Matt’s mom

July 24, Friday, 2009

Hung out with A_____ again today, went on the stereotypical “pill hunt” early this afternoon, and couldn’t score.  A_____ gets sick after only 20 hours or so, her habit is way bad.  She’s going to crash here, just like me, but can she handle it? Ended up scoring after work, that was nice, but for the first time in 2 years I have quite noticeable track marks on my right arm, which will certainly prevent me from selling any plasma for the next few weeks, or until I can quit shooting long enough for them to heal. F***.

Saw E____ at work tonight.  She was nice, but her typical weird coldness was in full effect.  I highly doubt that anymore “sexy time” will occur with her, which kinda sucks.  She is pretty hot, but she obviously isn’t into me, and I see it.

This other girl, N_____, has gotten my attention at work lately.  She is young for me, only 18, but after checking her Facebook page thoroughly I have discovered that she is quite wise past her years, mature in her tastes and experiences..  I get the feeling at work that she is attracted to me … and am to her in the slightest way.  I hesitate because she is so very young.  My prediction is that we will spend time together this week.  I could see a future with her, quite intelligent.

Intake: 75 mg morphine IV

July 21, Tuesday, 2009

Well, today was actually a really big, good day for me, so much happened! It started when I scored big on the morphine–my dealer came by and fronted me 90 mg! See? What a nice guy.  I’ll even be able to pay him back via valium, so good for me.  A____ came by next and got high.  I got her a job working for the old dentist, S_____. She is thrilled and so am I that I could help her out; makes me feel great when I help other people.

Work was strange too.  I had to go in and take this stupid-ass piddley test, which was all bull s**t.  We then proceeded to have a big “meeting” with all the kitchen staff in attendance.  Nothing of importance was discussed, but you wouldn’t know it from the tone of the whole thing–M__H__, the ‘boss’ so to speak of the kitchen was doing all he could to put off responsibility of the terrible way this place is run onto all of us.  It didn’t work.  Everyone knows he is worthless.  I got stuck there from 2 pm until I had to leave a 8:30.  R___ FINALLY QUIT!! Thank God! What a worthless asshole he was.   I am so happy that I won’t have to deal with him any longer, whatever happens.  I hope to finally move to the top spot at this restaurant.  I feel they don’t think that I’m capable, but I will prove it to them one way or another.  I’m going to talk to them about taking on R___’s responsibilities as soon as I go in tomorrow.  I’m worried they may turn me down for that incompetent T____, worthless too!

On Facebook I saw K_____E_____ say that Uncle J____ wants to send me a plane ticket to Cleaveland sometime soon.  That would be f***ing awesome! I would be really happy to explore the family again, maybe scout Cleaveland as a new place to live and work, who knows?  I’m as free as the wind now, and looking for the next opportunity.  I would really like to know my father’s side of the family, always wanted to, this may be my chance!

Anyways, it’s been a great day, mixed in ways, but cool nonetheless.

Intake: 105 mg morphine IV

The basis for this blog

Hello,

This is Matt’s mom. Matt died in September 2010 at age 25 of a heroin/etc. overdose. I know what you’re thinking–you’re thinking, “He must have been one of those seedy types I see sleeping on park benches by day and leaning against brick walls under neon, beer signs by night.” Not Matt. He didn’t stick out in the crowd like that. There is a growing trend in heroin use that is changing stereotypical herion user. Matt was one of those statistics changing the faces associated with heroin addicts. We came from rural America; I am a teacher of 19 years, and he liked to bow hunt, study music, ride his dirt bike, travel overseas, play cards, discuss politics, read (The Daily Onion, Blake, social commentaries, Facebook…), play the guitar, and write. He loved to write and write he did. He wrote little vignettes, lists of does and don’ts, random rants, poems, and daily journal entries. So, I suspect you will find these writings quite sublime. I found them after he died yet found them full of hope. They tell of the struggles, common yet often unheard, of a hometown junkie. As I type them up I will add them here.

This is a work, in part, to allow me to express the love I have for Matt, yet to express the depth that people of all types have even when dominated by outside forces. I would like others to experience not only how expressive my son was (I struggle with the past tense, as I believe he still IS) but how in tune to reality he was . I found his conversations so refreshing and engaging, however, I find his writings additionally timeless and enlightening. Oh, how I hope for one more conversation with him. Whoever is reading this, have you ever wanted for one last chance to say something? I believe Matt wants to say one more thing. This is here for you, in hopes that this one more thing will rise like smoke to the nostrils of God and live on though his body here does not. I invite any comments at all on his writings. In whatever area of growth you are, I hope they enlighten, entertain, educate, and enbolden you further. Additionally, I would like this blog to serve as one more way of saying, “Matt, I love you still and always.” Through my tears I will type out these writings and hope that someone visits here and finds something of value.

If I may suggest, read Matt’s Story Told by Matt on the top menu. The journals show the last year of his life day by day, and I will post them as I can under Matt’s Journals.

Warm regards,

Matt’s mom, Jane