Thursday, January 19, 2006

What More Can I Do? Nada.

I discussed you in Part I and Part II of this "series" of posts. Last week, your sister called to complain that you are being evicted from your apartment for drug-related violations of your rental agreement. Seems a guest of yours tried to sell heroin to an undercover cop in your parking lot, and your neighbors have been complaining of the unsavory characters who hang about your place. She asked me to call the Housing Authority and vouch that you are clean and sober to assuage their concerns. How can I do that when the methadone clinic reports repeatedly dirty urines and the visiting nurse has seen new track marks on your arms this month? You've made a messy bed, and now your sleep in it will only become increasingly uncomfortable.

In a last-minute effort, I referred you to the local legal aid society and put you in the sights of an earnest and helpful paralegal who was unable to save you from yourself. I drove over to your apartment in a driving rain yesterday morning and met with the Sherriff and the Housing Authority representative to discuss your imminent eviction. A moving van was on the way to take your belongings to storage, your sister crying in the corner, blaming me for not intervening and stopping the eviction while herself refusing to take you in. The police were also on their way to "assist" you and your sister in vacating the premises as the locksmith changed the locks. After a talk with the Sherriff and other officials, I drove away, knowing full well that within a matter of hours, you would be on the street, the bandages on the gaping wounds on your legs soaked with rain, your massively edematous (swollen) leg aching in the damp cold.

Where are your friends who so readily took advantage of your dry apartment as a shelter from the cold and a place to shoot up? Where are your siblings who bemoan your circumstance yet deny you shelter? Where is your common sense which has been superceded by your addicted brain? The cruel cold world was waiting to swallow you whole, and there was nothing I could do other than refer you to the local shelters and beg you to call me on our office's toll-free number.

You sat there with an incongruous half-smile on your face as the reality of your pending eviction became clear. I, your last hope for salvation, had failed to remedy your sorry situation, and now you faced being turned out as the city streets flooded from the incessant rain, sewers overflowing and icy roads running like small rivers. Cold and cruel is right, more accurate than any of us sheltered suburbanites can know.

Where are you today? How long until you lose that leg? I know we'll miss that appointment with the wound specialist tomorrow---you'll never call. In this morass of misery, heroin and cocaine are most likely your only friends, the only source of temporary succor you can find. I fear that your death is imminent, and my power to prevent it nonexistent. These are the harsh realities, and I pray in this moment for your freedom from suffering in whatever form that freedom might take.



Anonymous said...

poignant post, but i admit that i am most inspired by your statement of life goals over on the right side there... i recommend the shores of lago atitlan in guatemala. :)

Keith "Nurse Keith" Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC said...

Thanks for the prescription, Doctor. We actually have friends who live on those fabled shores. It may be some years yet, but a life of my dreams is poised for the taking.......