Overdose Awareness Day

I feel gutted. My head hurts, my eyes are puffy, my heart feels filleted and drained.

I went to the Overdose Awareness Candlelight Vigil tonight, where a handful of people spoke about heroin, opioids, overdose, prevention, reversal and loved ones lost.

It was very interesting to hear people from different areas of expertise talk about what they saw and what they knew.

I learned about brain chemistry, a needle exchange program, new laws and Don, Tayla and I attended the Naloxone training afterward.

After all the info., after all the heartbreaking stories, there was the tribute video. I think Miles said he added 36 new names this year, bringing the three year total to 103. It’s too much! Too much senselessness. Too much loss. Too much heartache…

Natalie was there too. I felt her. I saw the signs. Don pointed out shortly after we’d gotten there, this:

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I wish I had more energy to describe everything…

The video started to play and I started to panic that maybe Natalie’s info didn’t get added. No! People have to see her face, know she was important! This is what was racing through my mind. Until the song “You Raise Me Up” started to play. Grandma’s song. I started to relax a little. She’s with grandma. Everything will be ok. About the middle of the song, Natalie appeared on the large, white projection screen. Sorry about the video quality… my phone had run out of space, so Don took the video and once you see Natalie’s picture, I start bawling… so. There’s that. The photo doesn’t show up that well on the video, so I’ll include it below.

Video Tribute

I love you Natalie.

Goodnight.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

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.