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?

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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.

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.