Month: May 2012

Memoirs – Age 11 – Left Behind

I spent my first year of middle school in transition. I was sent to live with my aunt and my favorite cousin because at the time my mom wasn’t doing so well, and I was getting picked on and bullied at school. My grades started dropping due to my situation at home, and just got worse when I couldn’t find peace at school. So I suggested moving into my aunts, and my mother agreed, since it would benefit us both.

I loved every moment of living with my aunt. I lived a few minutes away from Spring Oaks Middle School and was able to listen to my Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men cd’s on the short walk to school. Those few short minutes of singing while I walked, were the peace and escape I was so desperately looking for. That didn’t last long. After a few months, due to several personal issues between my mom and my aunt, it was decided that I was to go back with my mother even though I pleaded to stay.

The first few weeks were pretty normal, I was driven to school in the morning and picked up by either my mom or her husband at the time, Owen. It was friday afternoon, and all the buses were parked and ready for the kids to scramble on. I was in choir class and since we used our time as rehearsal, our teacher let us out a few minutes early. I sat exactly where I normally did and patiently waited for my ride to arrive. As the buses began pulling away, and the parent pick-up line began to dwindle, I came to the realization that they were going to be late. It was already approaching 4:30 and school was let out forty minutes prior.

As one cd turned into two and two turned into three, I started to see some of the faculty leave. I began to get worried. This was a time before cell phones and my attempts to call the house from the school office went unanswered. I was no longer a few minutes away from home, and perhaps because of the rejection, I didn’t feel welcome at my aunts. As the faculty cars pulled away, and I ran out of cd’s to play, the Principal, Mr. Johnson, began walking towards me.

He asked me who I was waiting for, and if I had any success reaching them. He mentioned seeing me in the main office using the phone and was concerned. I tried to brush it off and blame myself but he wasn’t hearing it. It was almost seven, and he and I were the last ones on campus, other than the custodians. He asked me to pick up my belongings and follow him, when at the end of the street, I saw a car pulling in. My relief was short lived and quickly evolved into panic when I saw the situation unfolding in front of  Mr. Johnson.

The front windshield was shattered but still attached, and at the moment we were unaware that she had kicked it  in with her heel, while attempting to jump out of the moving car. Owen got out of the vehicle and tried to hustle me into the car, however, Mr. Johnson wasn’t going to let me go that easily. He asked Owen why they were so late and before he could get out a word, both of our worst fears began to happen. She got out of the car and stumbled towards us. There were 6 stairs blocking her from us and if Mr. Johnson were to have been an officer, she would have been arrested on-site. She began yelling at us for taking too long, and then began to get verbally aggressive towards Mr. Johnson and Owen. She was screaming and  cursing, and in between rants she would drift off into a sleep like state, all the while sitting on the steps of my middle school.

At that point, Mr. Johnson refused to allow me to leave with them, and insisted on calling the police. I pleaded with him. I told him that my mother was on medication and that I really needed to get home to finish my schoolwork and to feed my puppy. Owen managed to scramble her into the car and went along with my story. He assured Mr. Johnson that I would be okay and that we would be putting her straight to sleep. I don’t know what would’ve happened to her if he had called the authorities, but even in the midst of my mortification, I instinctually protected her, and knew that I would be the only one who could convince her, once again, to close her eyes and sleep.

Memoirs – Age 5 – Can I Take Her Pain Away?

{ PREFACE: Mami, please don’t be hurt by what I am writing for it is my truth, and the only way I can move past it, is to surrender to it. I love you always and forever and do not blame you, but our story of addiction should be shared. }

I walked through the door of our two bedroom apartment. The music was so loud, but of course it didn’t bother me, I was accustomed to The Three Tenors. The apartment seemed empty, which was strange, since my mother was there when I left about 4 hours prior. I was a pretty obedient child, and I always knew, when it started to get dark it was time to go home.

I closed the door behind me and began to wonder. Where could my mom be? I walked towards my bedroom and before I made it past the dining room I found her. There she was, lying in fetal position, vinyl records scattered all over the floor around her. Any other child would have been scared to see their parent on the floor and perhaps would have panicked, but this wasn’t an unusual scene at Casa de Rodriguez, in fact, I almost felt dumb for not knowing she would be there.

I turned the volume down, and it almost seemed as if she was hypnotized by the music, because she quickly began to open her eyes. They were red and bloodshot, and she had smeared mascara all over her face from the tears she was shedding hours before. I could smell the alcohol protruding from her body and at that point it clicked. She was drunk, again.

As I helped her get up, she went through the usual range of emotions in a matter of minutes. What started as confusion quickly turned to embarrassment, when she realized where and in what state she had been discovered. From embarrassed to angry for the disruption the final state was generally sorrow.

She asked me to sit next to her as she cleared the records from the floor surrounding her. I had heard this all before, but I listened, because that sorrow could easily have turned back into anger, as she was in a very emotionally volatile state of mind. I began to hear the same story, pretended it was new, and listened because that was all I could do. I heard about her fathers’ death when she was just a young girl, and how she wasn’t given the chance to say goodbye and about how much she missed touching his face and hearing his voice.

I knew where the story was headed. There would be more tears, a panic attack or two and then eventually I would remind her that I had school in the morning and really wanted her to sleep next to me. I knew, even at that age, that it was the only way to get her to go to bed. So as that night wrapped up, she sang me a lullaby and drifted off into a happier dream world, while I laid there and continued to process my reality and wonder if I would ever be able take her pain away.

A New, Better Monitoring System for Prescription Medications

As the daughter of an alcoholic/drug abuser, I have had to deal with many things in my life. At this point, most of them don’t surprise me, however, every now and then I come to conclusions that leave me speechless & somewhat hopeless. One of my most recent realizations (when I say recent, I mean a few years) is the unintentional corruption within our Health Care System. I can no longer stay quiet and offer a solution to this massive problem.

A normal patient walks into any doctor he/she can afford and is treated for whatever symptoms he or she has. They are given a prescription and as long as they can pay for the RX to be filled, they will leave the pharmacy after about an hour, with the solution to their ailment. What about people like my mother? They have found very clever ways to manipulate the system, because of their need for the drug, or the money that selling the drug on the street can provide. We will use my mother as an example.

A year or so ago, I found a bag in her purse containing 26 various medications. Some were the same medication from different doctors, filled on the same day, through the same franchise pharmacy, but at different locations. In her case, she willingly abuses some of the narcotic medications as well as accidentally repeats doses, since mixing certain drugs together causes her to forget what she has taken. My search began here, as I began to note the medications and the prescribing doctors. Many of the doctors that she went to, were “pain-management” doctors or general practitioners that basically see a patient every 10-15 minutes for the money. This outraged me, so I decided to call one of the main doctors prescribing her these downers & pain pills. After asking to speak to him directly over a serious legal matter regarding my mother, I was able to get him on the line. I asked him when the last time he had seen my mother was, and he stated it was at least a year ago. She had prescriptions for things like glucose, hypertension and cholesterol that were being refilled without a physical follow-up.  His secretary was basically authorizing these refills. I asked him if he knew that she was being prescribed the same medications from other doctors and he claimed to have no idea, so at that point, I threatened him with legal action and hung up the phone. Then it dawned on me, how could he know? Unless she was dumb enough to actually tell him, there isn’t really a system in place that logs these things.

Doctors have a responsibility to keep their patients safe and perhaps if there was a united monitoring system, we could prevent the prescription drug overdose epidemic. What if there was a fool proof way of logging what prescriptions we fill and refill. For example, when you go to the doctor, give your fingerprint & a special patient identification code (linked to your social security) this information is then given to the pharmacy when you drop off your prescription. The pharmacy has the same system that logs you in and verifies that what other medications you might have at other pharmacies. This verification is done for a variety of reasons, such as abuse prevention or to assure that medications with contraindications aren’t being accidentally mixed. This system would log your Id/fingerprint and similarly to your drivers license, would retrieve a prescription report through your ID at any pharmacy throughout the country. This would also assist in preventing people who sell the drugs on the streets from being able to get their hands on multiple prescriptions at a time. I would love to hear what your solution to this problem could be, since we are the ones responsible for our own family, children & societies wellbeing, together we can make changes that can help all the people that are touched by addiction.