It’s Complicated

The word of the day is complicated. Is that ever an understatement! Life has always been complicated, hasn’t it? I mean, always as in, after kindergarten? Post high chair, I think it’s safe to say. Then you had to start making choices. Decisions. Even if it’s not about anything important. What should I eat for lunch? Some days that question is enough to send me to my room, bury me under the covers and just avoid food altogether… Stupid food, demanding I choose… The nerve. That reminds me, actually, of the million dollar breakfast idea I had this morning. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich only the build would be: strawberry jelly, peanut butter, grape jelly! Aha! I’d call it the peanut BETTER and jelly!

But anyway. I’m avoiding. I’m avoiding because it’s complicated! What is it you ask? Well, today it is money. Money and addiction. More addiction than money but both are in play.

Most of you know by now that I have started a GoFundMe campaign. I started it in my sisters name, Natalie, to help combat heroin use. To raise awareness that opioid use is on the rise and the effects are deadly. Three months ago, it was being cut with fentenyl. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than heroin.

!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

I remember in highschool, heroin was *the worst* drug. Ever. Only people who wanted to die, used heroin. It was the end of the line.

To learn that it is being cut with a drug 100 times more potent? And that was three months ago. More recently, THREE DAYS AGO, the Washington Post reports the latest trend in heroin: carfentanil. An elephant tranquilizer. Ten THOUSAND times stronger.

The fatalities are skyrocketing. Because, unfortunately, addicts are addicts. What I mean by that, being in recovery myself, is that when I heard there was something stronger than fentanyl? My gut reaction was “Oh my God, where can I get some?”. Immediately I snapped out of it and was thinking “WTF? Where did that come from?” The addict in me. The “I feel fucking miserable and I will do whatever it takes to NOT feel like this” in me. That thankfully does not rear its head too often, but more often in these past three months than in quite a while, if ever.

I guess my point is, I understand. I don’t know how many people understand addiction. Up until about two months ago, my daughter thought it was a matter of choice. Of willpower. She’s a teenager. There are plenty of adults who think the same way… To that I say:

If poker is a sport? Addiction is a disease. No, wait… Did I just make my point or undermine it? I don’t know…

Who knows, to the people who don’t understand, maybe they don’t want to understand. It would sure make life a lot easier to think addicts could just stop using if they REALLY wanted to…

But I know better. A lot of people know better. Which brings me back to my other point, money.

I started this campaign to raise money to host a fundraiser. To make products that advertise “Hey, heroin is a PROBLEM! Shame, is a PROBLEM” Let’s get it out into the open and stop the stigma! I’ve been updating the GoFundMe page daily. Here’s where the complicated part comes in. I hate talking about money. Did I already say that? Even if I did, I hate it strongly enough to warrant another mention. So everyday, my friends on Facebook get another update and … I guess I’m worried about annoying people. I don’t want to badger people. I get that money is tight. I really do. AND on GoFundMe’s homepage, people have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for sports, honeymoons, getting out of debt etc. and I guess I kinda feel like I must be doing something wrong. Did I piss someone off? Do people in general not care about this epidemic? Is everyone I know as broke as I am? I guess that last one is plausible…

I’m going to just keep doing what I’m doing. That campaign is like this blog to me. Come Hell or high water, it’s getting done.

Anyway, that’s my rant for Sunday.

What causes are close to your heart?

One More Quick Post

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think of all the possible ways to publicize my “Shame End with ME/End the Epidemic” campaign.

I’ve Facebooked. I’ve Tweeted. I’ve Tumbled. I started a Go Fund Me account in hopes I can raise money (and awareness) around the horrible heroin epidemic. My family and friends and are planning on hosting a fundraiser. We will be selling various products, t-shirts, mugs, water bottles, hand painted cards, artwork… there will be music, both live and Natalie’s recordings. There will be AT LEAST one energy worker available for a healing session.

The goal is to get addiction out into the open. Disrobe shame so people can get help. It is KILLING people.

Planning for the end of September or beginning of October but it depends on the venue availability, I will keep you posted.

In the meantime, please check out the GoFundMe page at: End the Epidemic

I will be forever grateful if you could donate, like or share (or all three!)- Thanks!

ETE shirth2o bottle

It’s Time

I’ve been sitting on an idea. For years, it’s been in the back of my mind. Natalie’s passing has brought it to the forefront and it seems with each passing day, it gains more energy.

Today, all that momentum has come to a head. Today is the day to let my “baby” out into the world… because I need help. I can’t do it alone and I don’t want to.

The daily word prompt today is muse. One of the dictionary definitions for the word is: “The goddess or power regarded as inspiring a poet, artist, thinker, or the like.”

I remember the moment with crystal clarity. We were driving home, (the old place) down McAndrews Road. As we approached the stoplight, I saw in my mind’s eye, a vision. A flash. An image… It was shortly after Natalie passed and I was drowning in a sea of my own thoughts and grief.

In 2015, police in MN seized 18 pounds of heroin. That is equivalent to 8,200 doses and heroin has been steadily on the rise.

“This HAS GOT to stop” I thought.

Then I saw it.

FullSizeRender (5)

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it but it has been one of a handful of times where I was sure I was merely the instrument for some higher purpose.

A month or so goes by and I am realizing how much shame plays a part in addiction. “We’re as sick as the secrets we keep”. If people can’t talk about it? They aren’t getting help for it. Addiction has been scientifically proven to be a medical illness. Even if it wasn’t, I still don’t see the good or the point of shaming anyone because of it… if they are talking about it, it’s because they want help.

Anyway, I was reminded of a very low point in my life. I had a lot of shame. A ton of it. So much so, I figured the word shame and my name could be interchangeable. “It even SAYS me in the word” I thought. A minute later, I realized the “me” in shame is at the end. Shame ENDS with me.

This is what we need to realize to stop the stigma.

FullSizeRender (9)
Sample of a cell phone case.

People are dying everyday from this shit. We can not afford to pretend this isn’t a problem or that this doesn’t affect us. My life, my world was shattered nearly three months ago from heroin I never touched…

I keep hearing the mediums voice in my head.

“She says she doesn’t want to be just a number”

The only number Natalie will ever be to me is number one.

I am (hopefully soon) starting a line of products, cell phone cases, t-shirts, magnets etc. to raise money and awareness. A percentage of the proceeds will go to Progress Valley, the treatment center where Natalie stayed and The Steve Rummler Hope Foundation who is committed to ending the problem here in MN. I’ve included links to both organizations, check them out!

We do better together… It doesn’t have to be this hard.

Please, help us?

Steve Rummler Hope Foundation

Progress Valley

 

 

The Gift of Powerlessness

“I just wish I KNEW there was nothing more I could’ve done” my mom said to me this morning.

“Mom. There WAS NOTHING more ANYONE could’ve done. As a mother, I know you would’ve done anything for her. We all would have. That’s the one thing that haunts me. I can’t help but think, if it were all to happen again, I don’t think I’d do anything different. We did what we could. If I had known how much she was struggling, or even struggling at all, I would’ve done whatever it took to help her. I know though, she would’ve outsmarted me. Even if we kidnapped her, babysat her, watched her like a hawk… we couldn’t keep it up forever. Natalie was an adult…”

“Thank you for saying that. I needed to hear that.”

“Well, good. It’s the truth.”

We talked a little while longer and I told her about how Monday was so hard for me. Facebook was out to get me, with its postings of new mothers, days old baby boy, another little boy who didn’t make it. I couldn’t get away from it.

Out of the frying pan into the fire, I turned my attention away from the computer and once again, tried to clear my desk from the mounds of paperwork.

A picture fell off the cork board. A snapshot of Natalie and Niles, in Florida. Under a stack of papers was an envelope from Target, more pictures of Natalie. I collected them up and put them in a box.

“God dammit Natalie. How could you do this? How could you leave, now I have to put you in a box in my closet because it hurts too much to look at you.”

Tears had been slipping, intermittently until I heard her voice. So strong and clear, I had to look up to see if she was actually sitting next to me.

“I’m sorry Melly” she said.

I dropped the box and crumpled to the ground sobbing.

The hurt is so near to unbearable, I don’t know what to do.

Part of me says to be grateful.

And, part of me IS grateful. I know that she is around me.

The other part though… is so angry and confused. So hurt. And SO VERY SICK of hearing “she’s in a better place”. I know people mean well, I guess I’m just selfish… I’m not worried about where she is. I KNOW where she is. I’m not crying for her. I’m crying because I have to fucking figure out how to live without her. How to be without her. Who I AM without her. I am in a worse place. Yes, she’s out of pain. She’s in heaven. Paradise. I’m stuck in Hell on Earth.

And if I had it all to do again? I don’t know that I’d change anything. We didn’t have things left unsaid or unfelt. She (I believe) knows how it all works out now. She knows my and our family, our wishes, intentions, hopes and we have to wait patiently for the day when it all makes sense to us.

We didn’t have the power to control her or her addiction anymore than she could control her cravings for the heroin.

And there’s an odd sense of relief with that knowledge. A slight satisfaction, knowing, we really did everything we could.

That is one small gift to come of this horrific event and if that’s all?

I’ll take it.

Ironic, Isn’t It?

In the end, I didn’t spend a lot of time with Natalie because I was afraid I’d end up going down the rabbit hole, too. How is it that now that she’s gone, I’m ready to jump in with both feet?

“How often are you feeling this way?” Jill asked.

I blew out the air of the breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding and rolled my eyes.

“I don’t know. It changes. Like on a second by second basis.”

There are lots of windows in Jill’s office. Unfortunately, the view is mostly of the parking lot.

“How are you? Taking your meds? Are you getting in all your doses? Do you have all your medication? Nothing is in transition or lost in the move?”

I assured my favorite med provider that they were a priority and they’d been tracked and accounted for within the first couple of days.

She took my blood pressure and my weight.

“Your weight is trending down. Is it something your working on?” She asked.

I shook my head. “Not really. I mean, I guess I have been needing to remind myself to eat… Thanks Nat.”

We talked about sleep, when it’s happening, (which isn’t nearly often enough) if I’m using my CPap machine, (I have to find & unpack it first).

“What medications are you taking for pain?” She asked.

The question caught me off guard. I couldn’t remember right away.

“Um, Cymbalta. Sometimes Robaxin, but not often- I don’t like it. Um, there’s one-”

“So you’re not taking any opiates?”

“No!”

I was surprised. Offended? No, I don’t really know for sure what that feeling was… like I’d been caught doing something wrong. Guilt.

Why did I feel guilty? I wasn’t taking any opiates. I was honest with her. Maybe I felt bad for wanting pain meds. Not even pain meds but to be pain free. I take a variety of medications for various ailments and conditions and have somewhat acclimated to “my level” of pain. This emotional pain though… this fresh, deep, all consuming grief though… I can’t deal with. I don’t want to face it or feel it or tolerate it.

“Have you heard of Naltrexone?”

I shook my head.

“It’s mainly used for opiate addicts who are thought to relapse (I can’t imagine any heroin addict not prone to relapse) but over the years has proven to be effective with alcohol abuse, gambling and even nail biting. I would only use it for a short time. A few weeks or so. I think it might help with getting over this immediate time frame.”

Jill went on to explain that people are especially vulnerable in the first 6-8 weeks of grieving.  That’s when it’s most intense.

Now, nearly 12 hours later, I’m not even sure what it’s supposed to do. It didn’t even occur to me to ask.

I take 17 (now 18) medications. When I filed for disability in 2014, I was on 11. THAT was too many. I’m not sure how 6 more snuck in without me noticing.

I’m not even sure what I’m talking about anymore.

Natalie is here but she’s not here. I’m here but I don’t feel here.

I don’t want to scare anyone. I’m not going anywhere or do anything drastic. Please don’t worry.

I’m over tired and thinking about my appointment today, I thought it was kind of funny. In a sad sort of way. How I was afraid of my life going to hell in a handbasket if I’d spent a ton of time with my sister and now… I feel like I’m in hell, without my handbasket – or my sister.

Natalie
My Heroin(e)

Answers

It’s close enough to Wednesday that I can try to pass this off as Wednesday’s post… just in case we’re not moved and have the computer set up by the end of the day tomorrow.

I received an instant message on Facebook from someone who was close to Natalie at one point, years ago. She sent me a beautiful, heartfelt message and also had some questions.

She said she didn’t expect me to answer them because she and Natalie hadn’t been close in awhile. Life can really get in the way of relationships. I’ve got a girlfriend that I go months and months (years, maybe!) without connecting with but when you’re really friends with someone, I don’t think it matters how much time has gone by. The love and care for that person doesn’t diminish… not for me anyway.

I also think mystery surrounding a death is about the worst thing there is. It helps with closure to have answers. So, with that in mind, I’m going to answer the questions she asked. If anyone has questions, about Natalie or what happened, I’m open to talking about it or answering what I can or looking for the answers that I don’t have.

Here’s what I do know about what happened on May 19th.

Natalie had been alone. If I’m remembering correctly, someone stopped by (most likely a drug dealer) and she waited for him to leave. At around midnight, the was someone trying to buzz in. She never answered.

At around 11:30 that Thursday morning, Jess stopped by with coffee. They had such a close relationship, they even called each other “husband” and “wife”. Jess and Natalie saw each other every day.

The light and the fan in the bathroom were still on, like she was coming right back… She saw Natalie on the bed, Niles (her little miniature dachshund) laying on top of her or next to her, kissing her and trying to keep her warm. Jess called to her and there was no response. As she got closer, she saw that Nat was purple. I think she tried to wake her anyway but Natalie was cold and hard to the touch. I hope I’m ok saying this, I think it’d be ok to say that Jess got onto the bed with her and held her and cried with her. The image is heartbreaking and I’m so grateful to her for doing what I wish I could’ve done.

Eight days after she passed, we saw a medium. I don’t know how many, if any of you believe in that stuff but I do. I was glad we went and felt some relief… Right off the bat, this woman says “I’m getting this was a very recent passing…” We nodded and she said “it was from drugs”. She went on to explain that she had my grandma with her, and my uncle because Natalie didn’t know yet, quite how to move her energy and communicate. She did say, many times how sorry she was. It was an accident. She was confused and wasn’t really sure what had happened.

I’d imagined she took the heroin and laid back and  went to sleep but from the way her body was positioned, her feet were still on the ground. She’d been sitting on the edge of the bed and fell backward. Didn’t curl up with the covers or anything. Like the drug was so powerful, as soon as it hit her bloodstream, she was out.

My mom and dad got to go up and see her before they took her away and they agreed she looked peaceful, kinda like she was sleeping.

What drove me nuts for the longest time was wondering what she was wearing. I’m not exactly sure why. I was afraid she was nude. Afraid she had bruising. Afraid of seeing track marks. Jess told me she was wearing sweats, a t-shirt, socks and a headband. For some reason that was almost worse. More innocent, I guess. Overall though, I was relieved.

We don’t know who sold her the heroin. The police say they’re looking into it but I don’t know if that’s just lip service… They haven’t returned phone calls and I don’t know if they have any leads. I’m guessing if they did, they’d call us back… I’m frustrated with that aspect of it.

At first they were treating it as a homicide. There have been a number of deaths due to an overdose of heroin that’s been laced with fentanyl. Something like nine or 11? The toxicology reports came back today and showed her system was negative for the fentanyl. I was shocked. And scared. Does that mean they’re not going to prosecute whoever did sell her the drugs? I’m scared that they won’t. They said they will but I’m not impressed with their track record thus far, so who knows? Why isn’t this in the newspaper?

I guess I still have a ton of questions myself.

Jess and I were talking the other day and she said she keeps thinking about the movie “Titanic”, where Rose is telling Jack she’ll never let go. I thought it was kinda cool that I also thought about that movie a lot in relation to Natalie but the part I keep replaying is when Jack finds out Rose didn’t get on the lifeboat: “Why did you do that? You’re so stupid, Rose. Rose, you’re so stupid” then he kisses her and holds her tight. I know Natalie was a very bright girl. She just made a stupid decision. A mistake… I don’t want to focus solely on that, but I do need to feel it for a little bit longer…

I hope this has been helpful. I may have repeated some info, but I don’t remember what I have said and what I haven’t so again, I offer to take any questions as I believe knowledge and having answers is imperative to healing.

Take good care of yourselves.

Childhood

Today’s word prompt is childhood.

A list poem:

Hot days, warm nights.

Popsicle puddles pooling around our fisted fingers.

Our version of kick the can was rolling each other (and the neighborhood kids) in that huge cardboard garbage bin… was it a garbage bin or did it just stink like garbage?

Sharing a bed at grandma and grandpa’s house, you losing a sock and then your mind- until it was recovered from somewhere deep within the tangled sheets.

Celebrating our birthday’s on the same get together with grandma and grandpa Allen, the goldfish that swam above the kitchen sink, the M&M’s at the door.

You hiding my pet rock and breaking my pet egg… thank God we got a dog!

Stealing clothes, sharing secrets.

Best friends.

Sworn enemies.

Time passed, as it always does.

We lived so close but were so far from each other.

I lost you before you even left…

I caught glimpses of her, the you that I knew and my hope and my anticipation and my love grew to heights unchartered.

You told me you were living in Hell on Earth and now that you’re gone, you’ve sentenced all who love you to the same.

You were an addict. A slave to the high.

Through your absence, I’ve come to find

that you yourself were a drug, a high I’ll never find.

 

Purpose

Today’s daily word prompt is purpose.

When I first saw the word, I felt a little… awe inspired. “WordPress GETS me” I thought. This prompt, this word, it was the end result of all the cosmic conspirators working together to address one of my main issues: What is my purpose? I got excited and immediately imagined that word in a frying pan and I promptly (get it? I know, sorry) put it on the back burner to simmer.

The second time I saw the word, I laughed. My purpose, right. I’ll have it figured out in no time! All I have to do is blog about it and the answers will come to me because I’m doing the work… just in case my sarcasm isn’t coming across, my tongue and fingers tips are dripping with it.

Earlier this evening was the third time I looked at that word and this time I was angry.

In talking with people about Natalie’s death, I learned some horrible things. One of them was that this was not an isolated thing. I know addiction is running rampant these days but I hadn’t known that the Hennepin County police were investigating her death as a possible homicide. A total of nine people have died from using heroin mixed with fentanyl. I don’t know for sure if that’s what Natalie got but even if it isn’t, NINE? I think the whole idea of labeling a heroin related death an overdose is ridiculous. For one thing, it’s not prescribed, meaning there IS no dosing. If there is no amount safe enough to regulate, there can’t be an OVER-dose. Right?

Second, I was told the police were there because Natalie may have gotten ahold of some tainted heroin. Why isn’t heroin itself bad enough? It’s illegal… I don’t think the dealer or the cook or whomever is making/selling this shit is intentionally trying to kill people, what sense does it make to kill off your customer base? I know, my brother already told me. Drug dealers don’t have the best moral compass…

I scoured the internet for stories related to the fentanyl heroin deaths and reached out to a woman who lost her son to it. She pointed me in the direction of The Steve Rummler Hope Foundation.

I watched a YouTube video about Steve’s life, death and the work his family is doing to try to prevent it to happening to anyone else.

I was moved. Empowered. I felt a sense of PURPOSE. I signed up for all of their volunteer activities and their newsletter.

I know Natalie didn’t want to be a poster child (not in the traditional sense… I’m sure she would’ve LOVED to have been on actual posters…) but she’s not here to stop me.

I looked up the word purpose and the images that went along with it. There were a lot of quotes and questions: What is the purpose of life? “Live your life on purpose”, “success demands singleness of purpose”, “if you’re not working with purpose, you’re doing it wrong” and “the two most important days of your life is the day you are born and the day you find out why”. I get that these are meant to be optimistic, inspiration, hopeful and helpful… Today they pissed me off. This is NOT the life I imagined. I cannot devote all of my focus on “singleness of purpose” and I’m not doing “it” wrong. I’m doing the best I can.

This is not the way I’d hoped to collaborate with her on a project nor did I ever imagine she’d inspire me in the ways she has… I know it’s going to be an uphill battle, it’ll probably often times feel like a losing battle but that doesn’t mean we don’t fight.