As a mom of a seriously ill child, you would give your life so they would not have to suffer. At the age of one, my son had the first of what would end up being 32 abdominal surgeries. Life, as we knew it for over 15 years, was spent in and out of hospitals. I spent many years of my life sleeping on a cot butted up against a hospital bed. I heard the feeding pumps, IV pumps, monitors in my sleep. But what I heard most was the pain in my little boy’s voice. The pain of a 12-hour operation, the pain of a collapsed lung, the pain of another IV or feeding tube being inserted. And as a mom, all I wanted to do was to make the pain go away. I would plead with the nurses to please give him something for pain. I couldn’t bear to see my son suffer. He didn’t deserve this kind of pain. Little did I know at that time, that the doctors were allowing my son to become addicted to what he refers to as his “first childhood best friend, Morphine”. The thought of my little boy becoming a full-blown addict never even crossed my mind. We were only doing what was prescribed by his many doctors. I remember many a night Of him begging for his pain medicine and telling him it was too soon. He would rock back and forth crying until his next dose was given. Then he would get relief and sleep for a few hours only to wake up pleading for more medicine. We had nurses in our home at night so that we were able to get some sleep. They would religiously give him his medicine as prescribed, just like I did day in and day out. Never once did I even fathom that one day I would watch my son face the evils of drug addiction. That wasn’t supposed to happen to a child who was only taking what was prescribed.
I didn’t know that as time passed and my son grew up, his love of feeling “pain-free” would change our lives forever. You see, addiction can happen to anyone. Denial….oh you have no idea. My son, a drug addict, that couldn’t be. But you see, as time passed and that euphoric feeling was no longer there, street drugs became a way of life for my son. He was no longer being prescribed massive amounts of “legal” drugs so he had to resort to whatever he could buy on the streets. I was in denial when I first got the call that he was going into rehab. I had no idea how bad his addiction was. I figured he’d go in for a few days and they would talk to him and tell him the horrible things that drugs could lead to and he would come home and be fine and never touch another pill that wasn’t prescribed. Boy was I wrong. It didn’t take one admittance into rehab, but four, before he hit rock bottom. I remember talking to him on the phone and crying and pleading with him to just stop. I would tell him over and over again how there were so many times when he should not have survived surgery and here he was killing himself. God did not take him many times when he could have so I know he was left on this earth to do good things. They say an addict has to hit rock bottom before he can help himself. How true that statement is. We became a broken family, turning our backs on our son. Tough love I guess. But until he realized he was losing everything, his addiction was worth more to him than his family. I can’t tell you how hard it was to let go of all those motherly feelings and to not answer those calls. Later on, I would learn that I was an enabler. I believed him when he said he needed money for gas to get to work. I didn’t think my son would lie and steal from his own mother. But he did again and again until I had the courage to say “no, I’m done.” When I think of all the times I sat in his hospital room crying because I couldn’t take the pain away….it kills me.
In April, I will be by his side when he gets his four-year medallion. I promised I would be there for him every year that I can to help him celebrate taking his life back from the horrible demon known as “addiction”. I know he was left on this earth for a reason. God didn’t take him when he was so deathly ill as a child and God didn’t take him when he was in the throes of addiction. He has a story to tell and share. I have seen him help so many other addicts through the tough times, I have seen him cry when a friend dies of an overdose and I have seen him turn to me and his dad when he accepts that medallion every year…with a feeling of knowing he has his family back in his life. Now I see my son save other sons, fathers, mothers, and daughters with stories just like his at a rehabilitation center in Florida owned by the therapist that helped him overcome his addiction- a true miracle. Addiction…it can happen to anyone, for any reason, but with the help of God and a will to survive, it can be overcome.