Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Tag: trauma patient

Surviving The Slippery Slope: Hanging On By A Thread

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Matt.   The wait felt endless.  The four of us sitting together.  The silence is deafening.  I am praying that you will survive.  I hate being a nurse.  My knowledge is killing me.   We wait for hours.  I watch the sun go down from the window and pray this will not be your last day on earth.  I relive every moment.  I hate myself for telling you to leave.  I hate the fighting, the chaos, the destruction your addiction has thrust on our lives.  I want you to be that little towhead boy again.  The one who holds my hand and gives me hugs and kisses.  I want to close my eyes and go back in time.  Where are my ruby red slippers when I need them.

So once again I wait.  I tell everyone to go.  I will stay and call if anything changes.  Ray, Mike and Heather need to get some rest.  Everyone having to work in the morning but me.   Terri brings a pillow and blanket.  I camp out in the ICU waiting room.  My body shaking uncontrollably as I try to settle in for the night.   I curl up in a chair and let the tears come.  How many times will we go through this until you realize your demons are killing you.  Little by little, piece by piece, your body and mind are leaving me.    I try to calm my mind.  I jump with every noise.  Fearing the worst.  I give up on sleep and pace the room.  I talk to God.

The girls in the NICU have heard.  The hospital grapevine.  They come bringing coffee and soup.  They sit and let me sob covering me in their hugs.  They are mother’s and can’t believe this has happened again.   Your surgeon finds me.  You are being moved to the ICU.  No surgery for now.  Heavily drugged, your battered body covered in warm blankets.  I watch you being wheeled behind those doors.  The doors where I know you will get the best of care.  The doors that will separate us for now.  I’m told your nurse will come after you are settled.   Time is standing still.  I need to see you.  To tell you I am here.  To tell you I love you.  To let you know that no matter what I will never give up this fight.  You have taken my world and spun it out of control.  Shattering my peaceful life into a million pieces.   People tell me to walk away to save myself.  You are not worth the pain you put me through.  I remember you before the demons.  My beautiful boy.  My go to guy.  My baby.  I find a strength in my soul I never felt before.  I know that I will stand by you until I can stand no more.

Matt, your recovery is slow and steady.  I become a fixture in the waiting room.  Visiting you for 15 minutes every hour.  I obey the rules, not wanting to cause conflict with your nurses’ or the other anxious waiting parents.  I sit in scrubs or street clothes depending on my purpose for that day.  Back to saving Matt or saving babies.  I spend every free minute waiting to see your face.  To watch your reaction to your pain.  I wonder if you realize how close you came to death.   I wonder if this will be your so called rock bottom or if the pull from your demons will drag you back to the hell that landed you in this ICU.

Mike and Ray are in and out.  Both offering food and coffee.  Both knowing I can barely eat and am going nowhere until you are out of the woods.  When I visit you are quiet.  An IV hanging, giving you monitored doses of your favorite cocktail.  Your breathing is comfortable.  Your body looks like a giant eggplant with a human head sitting on top.  I sit on your bed and hold your hand.  Tears run down my face.  I can’t allow myself to think of what could have happened.  The nightmare that haunts my daily thoughts.  Losing you.  You open your eyes and smile.  I squeeze your hand and kiss your cheek.  “I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck” you say and give me a little laugh.   I allow myself a laugh, a deep breath.  You are back.

The next days are one of laughing, crying and biting my tongue.  You are moved to a step down unit and are expected to get up and move.  Yup, my spoiled boy, this party is over.   Your drugs are being weaned and you are being pushed.  I hear you before I find your room.   Your flirty eyes and sweet smile are getting you nowhere as the nurses are onto you.   I hear their whispers, drug seeker, addict.  I cringe inside when I remember being one of them.  Making judgements about people and their pain without knowing their story.  I remember and feel shame.  I continue our charade of nurse/mother to a man who survived a horrible accident.   I visit with my painted smile as you cuss and threaten when your demons are not delivered at your request.  I remain calm when inside I am dying.  You behave like an addict.  A stranger.  You scream at me and tell me I don’t understand your pain.  I don’t live in your body.  I try to reason with your abuse.   The nurse’s look at me with pity in their eyes.  They feel my pain.

Discharge day arrives.  I brace myself.  Your surgeon is taking over your pain control.  You see Matt, I have another dirty little secret.  Your surgeon and I go way back.  He has my back.  Joined my team to save Matt.  So now the fun begins.   I pick you up at the front door.  You are wheeled out by one of your nurses.  She hugs me and whispers good luck.  You see Matt, nurses have an unspoken bond.  They had my back too.  I was the one calling the shots during your recovery.  I spilled my guts the night I thought you were leaving me.  Your surgeon held me as I cried and together we formed a plan.   Detox during recovery.  I know if you ever find out I am done.    I will once again be the bitch.  The mother fu**** that gets into your business.  The enemy trying to save your life so she can save hers.  I hear your grunt as I hand you the bottle that you love more than life.  I brace myself for the reaction I have come to fear.  Your first words to me “What the F***”, when you see the dose prescribed.   Your eyes bore into my soul.  You turn your back as you say the words I pray you don’t mean.  Matt, how can you hate me when I am the one picking up your pieces.  The one who loves you more than her life.  The one slowly dying inside with you.  Your addiction no longer  belongs to you.  It has become who I am.  I’m disappearing with you.  Your demons are taking me along for the ride.  It’s not all about you.  It’s about a mother who will never give up.  A mother who will kick, scream and claw our way out of your addiction.  A mother who would rather die than see you continue to destroy her precious boy.

The house is silent.  I offer you food.  I try to let you know how blessed we are that you lived.  I wait for a response.  I get nothing.  You are in that world.  You have chosen sides.   The battle begins again.  I pray for strength.  I close my eyes and dream that I am Alice floating down the rabbit hole.  Leaving all this shit behind.   I am slowly losing myself.  Pieces of me are floating away.  I imagine myself disappearing.   Then I hear the laughter.  Your demons.  I become the Queen of Hearts.  My army chopping off their heads…….

A Matt With Nine Lives

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Matt.   So this tender love seemed to be working.  You would stop by to visit Kahlua.  You looked reasonably straight.  We were trying to work on getting back to you and me.  I couldn’t stay mad forever.  I was becoming cautiously optimistic that Ray and I did the right thing.  I was okay knowing you had a roof over your head and food that of course I’d send with you each visit.  You blew my mind during one visit when you thanked me for kicking you out.  I’ll never forget your smile as you said, “Mom,  I’m really glad you kicked me out”.  “It’s about time I figure out how to take care of myself”.  You gave me one of those bear hugs as you left.  I watched you walk to your car with a mixed feeling of joy and sadness.  This was never what I wanted.  I wanted you living at the beach.  I wanted you to be successful.  I wanted our life back.  I wanted you back and I wanted me back.

You shocked me when you came home one day and announced you found a job.  Working at the same auto parts store you did in high school.  You were so proud.   I was so sad.  I smiled and hugged you, all the time thinking how much your demons cost you.  Prior to the pills,  you owned a very successful business.  Living my dream life by the sea.  Now here you were working for minimum wage exactly where you started a million years ago.  I wondered if you actually passed the drug test or if you were able to sweet talk your way back in.   I guess I couldn’t be too picky.  Wanting you to be who you no longer were.  At least you had a place to be and responsibility.  I prayed this was a step in the right direction.  That if you started to feel useful and were surrounded by clean people maybe just maybe normal would find us again.

Matt, I remember the call like it was yesterday.  It was a beautiful summer day.  Ray and I were tag teaming the housework so we could head out to mountain bike.  Ray was happier knowing I was fine with you not living here as long as I controlled where you lived. We were finding a new rhythm, finally having the house to ourselves.  I never realized the enormous chaos you created until it was gone.   I was learning how to focus on something other than saving you.  A little piece of the way life could be.

Ray was vacuuming,  I was in the kitchen.  My cell rang.  Surprisingly, I heard it.  A number I didn’t recognize.  Any other time I would not have answered.  That little voice and a chill had me grabbing my phone.  “Hello”.  I hear a voice asking if I am MaryBeth.  Dear God, do I want to be?  Yes, I can feel my body starting to react.  My soul knew it was you.  “Yes, who is this?”   The next words brought me to my knees and had Ray at my side.  “Oh God,  is he alive,  please tell me the truth”.  You’re a nurse, so am I.  “Please stay with him, tell him I love him, please keep him alive for me”.  “Yes, Christiana, I work there, please tell them to get him to Christiana.”  I’m sobbing trying to talk to you as this nurse holds the phone to your ear.  She tells me you are still breathing but the accident was a head on and you are in very bad shape.  I stay on the phone until I hear the medics arrive.  She again reassures me you are still alive.  I hear the medics muffled words.  Calling ahead to alert the E.D a trauma is coming.  I don’t want to hang up.  I can’t lose our connection.  I want to keep telling you that I love you.  That I will be there.  Please don’t leave me.  Please fight, breathe, stay alive.

We fly to the E.D.  Ray has already called Mike.  Ray pulls up and slows down as I leap out.  I see the ambulance and know you were it’s patient.  A nurse/mother’s instinct.  I run in and am ignored by the unit clerk sitting in triage behind the plexiglass screen on her phone.  I am ready to punch the window to get her attention.  I look up and Terry, a nurse I worked with during my E.D days smiles.  Hey, what are you doing here.  My son is your trauma.  He was just brought in.  She asks for your name.  “Matt”.  Her smile disappears. She walks toward me and wraps an arm around me.  “You need to come with me”, she says.  Ray runs in the door and sees us.  Terry tells him to stay back and wait.  She continues to guide me toward those doors.  Oh God,  “Terry, I can’t do this.  I remember being the nurse and taking parents like you are taking me”.  ” I can’t do this”.  My body is racked with sobs.  I’m shaking so badly I can barely think or walk.   “Mare, you can do this, you must do this”.   She tightens her grip as we walk into the trauma room.  All eyes turn toward me.   “Hey, what are you doing here?”  I’m surrounded by a sea of familiar faces.  “That’s my Matt”.  I walk to the table.  You’re body is broken.  Purple bruising covers your chest.  The doc is scanning your abdomen.  I tell you I’m here and squeeze your hand.  You are alive.  I stifle a sob and try to calm my trembling body.  Terry remains by my side.  I don’t know why but my nurse mode turned on.  I’m looking at the scans asking about your liver and spleen pointing out things I don’t want to see.  I’m asking which Trauma Surgeon is coming.  I’m relieved when one of the best will be arriving shortly.  I’m asking about pain control and my mind is running down the trauma protocol when I hear this young nurse cop an attitude.  “Who does she think she is?”  I’m ready to scream, “I’ll tell you who I am smart ass, snot nosed, don’t know nothing little shit”.   Terry saves me from my tirade.  “Shut up, you have no idea who she is, she was our trauma coordinator,  She was here when you were being potty trained”.   We exchange a glance.  The trauma surgeon takes his place by my side.  He gives me a hug.  “Hey, we got this. You try to be the mom, we will do everything, you know we love you and he is one of our’s.  Go take a break.  I’ll see you soon”.

Terry walks me to that room.  The one we always deliver bad news in.  I tell her I can’t wait there.  Too many memories of families I’ve stayed with.  The mother’s and father’s I held as the news of loss was delivered.  I’m shaking again.  Ray opens the door.  He’s been waiting for me.  I collapse in his arms.  I tell him you are alive and to pray.  The door swings open.  Mike walks in with Heather.  His face says it all.  I tell him you are alive.  He needs to see you.  I call Terry.  Yes, Mike go.  Terry meets him and takes him to see your battered body.   I’m pacing as Mike returns with an officer.  He sits and tells me he was at the scene.  Witnesses say you crossed the center line.  He apologizes as he hands me your ticket.   He tells me how sorry he is.   They have drawn a drug screen.  The results are pending.  He leaves us in silence.  Each one of us lost in our thoughts.  I’m giving thanks that you are alive.  I’m praying you will recover.  The sadness surrounding your family  binds us.  Your addiction is killing us.

What started out as a day of happiness has turned into one of fear.  Once again not knowing where we were headed.  The normal I was starting to feel shattered.  The chaos of your demons never letting up.  I thought I had regained some control of my life.  How foolish to think after all we survived that normal would ever find us again.   Mike goes for coffee.  He needs to cry for his broken brother.  His only sibling.  Matt, your tough as nails brother is sobbing.  I wonder how much more we will survive.  How many more insults your body can take.  I wonder how to fix this.  The door opens again.  Our surgeon.  My heart stops.  He sits.  Your spleen is torn, several vertebra are fractured.  They are keeping you heavily sedated.  Watching closely for changes that will buy you a trip to the O.R.  He hands me a small bag, his eyes full of pity.  Matt our dirty little secret is out.  “He’s an addict”.  Those ugly words flying around the room.  Your demons laughing.  My heart breaking.  They will pump you full of drugs.  They have no choice.   I hear the roller coaster pulling up.  I see myself getting on.  The bar locking firmly in place.  I have no control.  I sob as if the world is ending.  My fantasy over.  The ride will start again………

 

 

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