Matt, your back pain, now relentless and worsening brought you to me for help.  At first, I really didn’t believe how bad your pain  truly was.  This knife stabbing pain that hit with every step, pain shooting down your leg leaving you unable to stand.  My medically trained brain reliving all the nights the drug seeking patients would show up at the E.D. with the God awful back pain and leave with a smile and script.  No way was I falling for this, how stupid did you think I was.

 You showed up on a Saturday unexpected, your handsome face wracked with pain.   You walked toward me like an old man, limping and holding your back.  Crap, this was real.  you weren’t lying. I watched you try to get comfortable and my heart ached.  You were way too young to be so broken.  Oh Matt, all those years of reckless motor cross racing, the jumps and falls finally catching up with you.   My mom brain shouted I told you so, but my mouth stayed shut.

Ice and ibuprofen didn’t seem to make a difference in the pain wracking your body.  Matt, I want the truth.  Have you taken narcotics.  Matt, I know you are having legitimate pain, but I need to know.  Mom, I took some Percs, I had to I can’t live with this pain.  Oh Matt, we can’t go down that road again.  I left you on the couch and prayed for a diagnosis of extreme muscle spasms anything that could be treated without the power of those demons.  I made some calls and got a script for a muscle relaxer, praying we could get through the weekend without a visit to the E.D.  There was no way I was letting those demons take you back to that pain free world I feared you still craved.  

Muscle relaxer, ice and Ibuprofen on board your pain seemed to let up a bit.  You refused to lie in bed so in the recliner you slept,  I stayed by your side on the couch conscious of your every move.  Fear gripping my heart as I relived days past where the scenario was the same,  you on the couch me on the floor after a night of hell battling your demons.  Please God, let the new day come and bring relief to your body and my mind.  I watched your every move as you slept, my mind in turmoil, my throat tight thinking of what new drama this could mean for our lives.

We never seemed to be able to catch a break.  Always something bringing chaos into the order we finally managed to find in our lives.  You were working, living with Lisa.  Still by the sea you loved.  Me,  finally being able to concentrate on my life without the constant worry over you.   Dating Ray, life was good.  Little did I know we were just about to board a runaway train that only the demons would control.

Monday came, pain the same.  Calls were made.  Charlie, this is Matt’s mom.  He’s here with me.  Don’t know what happened but he’s in horrible pain, can barely walk.  Oh, you know.  He left work early on Friday, told you he had doctor’s appointment.  Well, he’s with me and will be here until we get him seen and diagnosed.  Yes Charlie, I’ll keep you posted.   Hi Cindy, it’s MaryBeth.  I need a big favor.  My son, Matt is here and can barely move.  Can I get him in today, please I’m really scared.  Yes, I’ll hold.  Great, yes we will be there.  I wasn’t even wasting time with the family doctor.  My nursing gut instinct was guiding me and you were going to the best.  Dr. K. was surprised to see me and even more surprised to see how you were walking.   MRI and myelogram being ordered. The lump in my throat getting tighter as I look at your face seeing your fear growing.  Oh God, why is this happening.  Please help Matt. Stop this pain.  

We left his office and headed to the hospital for the first round of diagnostic tests.  You constantly complaining of pain, me pumping you with food and Motrin.  Thank God Dr. K. was more  interested in what was causing your pain then in masking it with pain killers.  Deep down I knew the time was coming to spill our dirty little secret, but now it would stay locked in my heart.

I sat alone in the hall lost in my thoughts while you lay still inside the metal tube that would give us information about the battle taking place in your spine.  My mind searching for the right words.  Matt had a problem with narcotics, no he’s not addicted, I mean he had a problem and we fixed it.  Oh God, why did it have to be so hard to just say it.  YES, he took Oxycontin and Percocet and liked the way he felt.  Yes, he might have a problem if he takes them again.   My heart prayed for a miracle as my mind was preparing for the worst.

I was so lost in my thoughts that I didn’t hear you coming.  Your face said it all.  Still gray in pain.  Your survived the MRI.  You were able to put your claustrophobia on hold to get threw, so I thought until that Hey Mama flowed from your mouth.  Xanax, shit.  Matt where did you get Xanax.  Chill out Mom. You’re not helping me so yeah I got some Z’s to get me through this crap.  Ok Matt. I guess the fun is about to begin.  You and Xanax were a bad combo.  You either got sloppy or belligerent.  God, let’s be sloppy.  Please one more test to get through before I could run and hide from this hell.

Once again I’m left behind as you are led back to be prepared for your myelogram.  This time my thoughts are interrupted by your angry voice.  You are not getting an IV.  You start cussing at the nurse.  OK buddy.  Nobody cusses at nurses.  I am done with your behavior.  Mom, I’m not dressed. You can’t be here.  I glance at the young pretty nurse, now visibly embarrassed by your behavior.  Hi, I’m Matt’s mom and I’m a nurse.  I’m sorry for his behavior.  He is very stressed and in pain.  Yes, I heard.  No IV.  Surprising that someone with  tattoos has a fear of needles, my attempt to make a joke out of this nightmare falls flat.  OK buddy.  You sit, shut your mouth and get that IV.  Matt it’s her or me.  She puts it in or I will!!!!!  Mom.  Shut up Matt. I’m sitting right here until that IV is in, I’m in no mood for your crap.  Get it done. I’m done!

The ride home is quiet.  My mind spinning thinking of the possibilities of what’s to come.  My gut stirred up, throat with that familiar tightness.  You look at me with those eyes and that smile, sorry Mom.  I’m so scared. I hate hospitals.  Matt you melt my heart.  All my anger gone replaced by mother’s intuition that something dark is looming around us.  You will always be my little boy, disappointed by the father that broke your heart.  I see that scared little boy when I look at you.  Don’t worry Matt, you will always have me.

Later that night the phone rings.  You’re on the couch with an ice bag and I’m having a glass of red trying to keep my thoughts positive.  Shit, this was not going to be good.  Dr. K. calling at night.  Never good when you get a call after office hours.  I take a deep breath and answer.  I try to keep my voice low, not wanting to alert you until I knew.  Oh God, this can’t be.  Yes I hear you.  Yes, schedule it as soon as you can.  Your test results.  My heart sinking as tears start to fall.  I take a breath and sit next to you.  Matt, your spine has a deformity.  You need surgery to stabilize.  A fall could bring paralysis.  I know I’m scared too.  We will get through this I will take care of you.  Matt, there will be pain.  We will have to be very careful.  Yes, I have to tell.  Our dirty little secret about to be revealed.   You finally asleep.  Me playing our game, you hide I seek, searching your stuff for signs of the demons that followed you everywhere.  IMG_0420