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.