STIGMA AND DISCRIMINATION!

PART II & PART III “OPERATION RESCUE DANIEL” FOLLOW ONE ANOTHER

**Post two is the First one I posted on WordPress. That way the sequence is straight forward.

PART II

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You can learn a lot standing outside in a methadone line every twenty four hours waiting like cattle to be dosed. I still consider each person a comrade. It’s only natural that while waiting we would mention our daily lives. Most of the women were always concerned about making it back in time to get school-aged children on the bus. And believe me it was a source of anxiety. You never knew if you were required to provide a “Drop” or urine sample each morning. And who could forget the required counseling sessions that always seemed to occur on the worst of days. I suppose that it wouldn’t be a big deal if not for the knowledge that you had no idea just how long these daily interruptions might take. Sometimes you would drive into downtown early in the morning, then get in line outside only to finally be told on the inside up at the dosing window that you were required to provide a sample. It’s part of the game. We could accept that inconvenience. However if your counselor hadn’t yet arrived or if she was in the middle of a one-on-one appointment with a different client, than that meant you would have to sit patiently in the waiting room until she was available. If you needed to get to work- you were at the mercy of one individual staff member. And who’s to say she didn’t take a few minutes to drink her coffee or make an important phone call?? All the while you’re sitting, steaming in the Midtown waiting room. Watching all your fellow addicts the ones who arrived after you did and who were dosed and ready to leave before you. It’s as if your life was just secondary. And this is the life that the clinic had promised they could improve for you. It does boggle the mind some. Didn’t they realize that without our hard-earned money that we couldn’t even be there? Evidently not. Or perhaps they were always secure in the knowledge that they would be paid- without a doubt! Hmm.

One of the most important observations that I made was how some of the clients genuinely seemed grateful for the opportunity to dose each day. I myself hadn’t yet reached the point in my life where I was in desperate need of services. I had never even seen illicit drugs outside of weed. My life couldn’t be improved with a daily dose of methadone. But some folks had a legitimate need to stand in line at 4:30am each day. They couldn’t be gainfully employed without it where as others couldn’t maintain employment while in treatment. This is an important distinction. Another red flag. it’s exactly the kind of red flag that an experienced advocate could make.

I should mention that one of the reoccurring themes in my life involved public humiliation. I was so clearly being overmedicated that virtually any time I was out in public someone would become seriously alarmed by my lethargic state. Once as I waited in a drive thru line to purchase a cup of coffee the manager called the police and I was questioned about my possible drug use(?) Another incident involved me pumping gasoline and the gas station clerk summoned the paramedics. I was even waiting at a red light and an off duty police officer got out his car and requested I roll down my window! I have literally dozens of these examples. Seems everywhere I went someone noticed I wasn’t Coherent or alert. Everyone noticed something was definitely wrong- except for the medical outpatient clinic where each day I was dosed by a registered nurse!! They didn’t ask me why I appeared to be high. I also began vomiting regularly after dosing each morning. I was told just to dose and remain sitting with a plastic bag in my lap. They’d only redose me if they had actually seen me throw up. Doesn’t matter why I was so sick. Three years into my sentence, oops treatment and that’s what a typical day looked like. I’m sure everyone can relate right?

Four to five years after my treatment began I’d one night find myself engaged in my typical routine. I was making my beautiful nine-year-one his dinner. At that time maintaining employment wasn’t possible and I had lost several jobs due to drug induced state. No matter how hard I tried explaining to my supervisors that methadone maintenance was a legitimate form of treatment. No one wants a methadone maintenance client working for them.

We may have been forced out of cozy apartment since I was admitted into Midtown NTP ( eviction#1) and forced to live with my parents in their home, but we strictly followed the same routine as we had always been accustomed to. After getting off the school bus I was always there to greet him and immediately ordered him to do his homework. Then after preparing him a snack.
He’d watch television until it was time for dinner. That particular evening was a special one. It was the night before Thanksgiving and  along with dinner I had planned to bake a pie for our family’s celebration. Although I’d never receive the chance.

Shortly after I had started his dinner I suddenly found myself on the sofa. I was confused about how I had ended up in the living room. The last memory I had was leaning over a hot stove in the kitchen. I then heard my son sobbing and immediately asked him what was wrong (?) That’s when he informed me that I had a grand mal seizure and that he’d already called for the paramedics.

I was completely stunned. I was convinced he must be mistaken. Since I had absolutely no memory of this event I couldn’t quite comprehend what he was telling me. Moments later the ambulance arrived and started questioning me about what had happened.

After a grand mal seizure a person is not able to make sense of much. I couldn’t remember if I’d actually had one but I did have an errie sense of time missing. They began to question me about current events. They asked me for the date, then they asked me if I knew who the president was. I was in a fog. I couldn’t tell them very much. However when they asked me if I was taking any prescribed medications I did recall the one constant routine I’d been forced to obey every day for the past five years, “Methadone”. Little did I know that my honesty would harm both myself and my brave child of nine. They exchanged knowing glances and proceeded to load me into a waiting ambulance. They allowed my son to ride along up front.

Now here’s something interesting to realize about me. I happen to be an identical twin. And anyone who wants to read up on this anomaly will discover that identical twins often share very similar health conditions. Sure they might not suffer their health problems simultaneously but over a long enough time line, they are often are plagued by the same health problems.* That would be good to know especially if one particular twin suddenly suffered a grand mal seizure for the first time and then without any warning the other identical twin also experienced a grand mal seizure. And it becomes more interesting when it’s realized that only one twin was participating in a Midtown methadone clinic ( NTP) While the other one was completely methadone free! Of course hindsight is twenty-twenty!! And believe me no one treating me had that advantage!!

Within minutes I had arrived at Methadist hospital. That’s where a doctor, who had read the description of the EMT report,

“METHADONE”

It was nearly the only detail that they had documented. The physician quite obviously didn’t believe that I’d suffer from a seizure. His hand was already turning the door knob to leave when I blurted out that my tongue was very sore. He briefly paused and turned around towards me. He pointed his flashlight at my mouth and then asked me to open up so he could take a look. He appeared perplexed and muttered ” hmm”.

Then he was gone just as soon as he’d came. When he didn’t immediately return I assumed he was preparing my discharge papers. I told my son we were going back home to finish his dinner.
  Ten minutes later I was introduced to a social worker, BARBARA DAVIS. Ms. Davis happened to be an extremely over-zeoulous social worker. Her ignorance dictated her actions that evening.

After a brief interview she unwisely marched right into the waiting room of the hospital where she callously announced, without my permission, and informed not ONLY my entire family that I was on Methadone- but also anyone else who happened to be around the waiting room that night! (HIPPA).

Now I happen to follow the cardinal rule of Methadone maintenance.

NEVER EVER TELL ANYONE THAT YOU’RE TAKING METHADONE!

That would also include my immediate family. Not leaving anything to the imagination. She painted a terrible image of the type of people who participated in methadone maintenance as she used the word “heroin” or “dope” in place of opiates and always “addiction”  instead of opioid dependency.
Every participant was nothing more than a “dope fiend” using heroin with wreck less abandon.(?)
My family was introduced to the “evils” of methadone clinics by a person who was totally ignorant of the treatment.
She wasn’t just violating my private medical information. As if she hadn’t quite done enough damage by disrespecting  one patient that evening.
She proceeded to do all patients in methadone treatment everywhere a disservice.  By explaining that methadone maintenance patients spend every free moment they can looking to score and experience the new ways available of getting themselves”High” by misusing their methadone with other illicit substances(???)
And I’ll acknowledge to this very day I’ve never again seen such a blatant disregard of a person’s privacy concerning the involuntarily disclosure of medical information in a public setting.
She also managed to give credence to the stigma that’s responsible for how poorly society views addiction and drug users. She definitely hit one out of the discrimination ball park on that night! Had it not been tragic I probably would have laughed at her obvious prejudice and ignorant portrails. But while discrimination is in motion, trust me it’s not a laughing matter.

To see the expressions on my family’s faces was awful. My mother looked at me puzzled. I knew she shocked to learn I  had been living my life as a secret dope fiend! It truly was like watching a runaway train speeding out of control.

My father lowered his head and shook it from side to side. My grandmother gasped! I tried to interject and offer up my reasons for taking methadone but my voice would not be heard. STIGMA.
She also reminded them that I was most certainly using drugs since I’d never had a seizure before (Gee, another medical expert). My Uncle blurted out that he once saw me take some kind of pill months earlier at his birthday party!(??)

At this point I still was in complete denial regarding the situation. I certainly didn’t believe that a woman who was 120% dedicated to her child would become the subject of scrutiny. But unfortunately that’s exactly what happened. My family, in particular, my parents were disappointed in me. They offered virtually no support. Even after I volunteered for a drug test. It simply didn’t matter. I was a Methadone Client. And nothing more. No one even asked me if I was taking drugs since obviously I was doing something wrong if I was enrolled in a methadone maintenance clinic.

About an hour later as my son and I we’re hugging each other in a secluded room the door suddenly opened and my heart stopped. There stood a security guard, gun and all. And next to him was Ms BARBARA DAVIS.  Who appeared to actually glare at me. They informed me that on the night before THANKSGIVING they were placing my son in a guardian’s home.

I couldn’t even breathe.

I stood over my beautiful baby and I had to break the frightening news to him that he would not be going home with his mother that night.
I’d never spent more than twenty-four hours away from him before. One aspect of my parenting that was of particular importance to me was spending time together as a family. Regardless of the fact our family had only two members. And even though we didn’t have much money. We were a family none the less. What ordinarily fosters a sense of security and creates family ties would serve to inadvertently create a sense of panic for my child. We had never before discussed any contingencies under a scenerio like this one. He’d only experienced life alongside his mother. He didn’t have a frame of reference for any other kind of survival. I was the only parent this child had ever known.
He was going to experience the “unknown” for the very first time in his young life.  And there wasn’t anything I could do in that moment to better prepare him.
My mind was racing as I reached deep down inside of my maternal instincts to continue putting his best interests at heart. I couldn’t waiver in my devotion to him even while I was faced with losing him.
I had felt like screaming hysterically and grabbing the social worker by her throat. The sound of sirens were blaring through my mind. I heard myself yelling the words:
“NOOOOOOOO!! NO NO NO NO!! ANYTHING OTHER THAN THIS GOD! NO!”
I probably would have gone for that gun had I been completely flying on “autopilot”.
Only one thing prevented me from becoming psychotic.
My son’s welfare.
As badly as I wanted to fight to the death for my child. It wouldn’t help my boy.  I was going to have to force myself to stay completely calm under these circumstances. Becoming irate wouldn’t serve him well. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as a mother was not allow my son to see me become upset. If he saw me becoming hysterical it would reinforce that something was clearly wrong and scare him.

My voice remaining steading. I then instructed him to do exactly what “fine” folks said. My son immediately started to whimper. I then couldn’t stop the flow of tears from falling down my own cheeks.

I got down on my knees and took this trusting creature’s hand’s into my own before looking straight into his beautiful brown eyes and promised him that I was coming back to get him as soon as I humanly could! I repeated those words out loud to him. I wanted him to remember that I was coming soon.
“Daniel mom’s coming to get you as soon as she can. I promise!”

The guard tore him out of our sobbing embrace and just like that my child vanished from the safety of my loving arms.
I had failed him.

No sooner had the door closed I fell down to the floor and began to whail. That’s the official day my heart was shredded. And for anyone whose curious. No, it never did heal. And it’s painful all these years later.

I have searched, researched and explored. There are no words that can possibly articulate how God awful this was. I wasn’t on any illegal drugs. I was merely following the doctor’s orders. I had made the single biggest error of my young life by agreeing to methadone maintenance. The second worst mistake I ever made was the day I had my first Grand Mal seizure and needed an ambulance.

Since the social worker and hospital didn’t actually believe that I’d suffered my very first grand-mal seizure in my late twenties, no seizure medication was written for me. I was sent home with no medicine and no son to care for. I didn’t even get a doggie bag for all the tiny pieces of my heart that were still bleeding on the hospital floor.
For the record I’ve lost count how many times my child apologized for dialing 911 to me. It infuriates me knowing my son felt responsible for our predictament. I’ve told him repeatedly that he did everything right. I would tell him that’s exactly what a person is supposed to do.

But I know he’ll never believe that’s true.

I returned home and suffered yet ANOTHER grand mal seizure approximately one hour later. This particular seizure almost permanently damaged my eye. I returned via ambulance and finally this time they decided that they’d go ahead and provide me with seizure medication. Of course I didn’t truly give a fuck since my heart was ripped out my chest. The damage was done. I’d have to fight to win the privilege of seeing my son again. Naively, I expected the clinic TO ASSIST IN THIS QUEST. I’m not sure why I suddenly thought that Midtown might be appalled by the discrimination and do everything in their power to help me. I wanted so badly to believe that they’d care as much as I did about my son’s fate. And although every staff member that heard about it was very sympathetic and apologized for the needless torture me and my son were enduring, they didn’t do anything about it. Only one person even offered help me. But without an advocate who could explain my options or offer support services.
I couldn’t possibly know what I would need in terms of help. It was unfamiliar territory for me. And what I would need was a miracle.
After all prior to being admitted into Midtown, I never had occasion to end up with a family court case.

Our lives would never again be the same as before.

I’m sorry I need a moment to stop hurting before I can describe what happened next.

L**** R**l#600
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That’s where I had to take a break. For a very long time it was almost impossible to even remember without screaming, kicking walls and sometimes hitting myself. I’m sure I suffered some kind of PTSD. Otherwise known as
Broken heart syndrome

It’s probably not wise to assume that anyone else could possibly know where this story is heading. Or prematurely select any theme! Before I’m tarred and feathered please stay tuned! As always

Don’t assume anything!

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