Please Know...

As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.


Monday, November 26, 2018

E.R. Staff… Please ask the question.

Recently, I had the privilege of being asked by 'Ellie' a resident of Emerald City to take her to a Philadelphia emergency room for an injury directly related to IV drug use.  The triage nurse asked Ellie how the injury came to be.  My friend from the streets of Kensington openly stated heroin use.  The response was simply, "Okay."

As our time in the E.R. progressed, Ellie was met with basic professionalism.  Her injury was checked and a course of action suggested to which Ellie made the final decision on what course to take.  In and of itself, all that is fine, just fine…

But it's not fine…

Ellie's injury was as they would say in a medical chart, "secondary to IV drug use."  The fact was known to and acknowledged by the medical and nursing staff as they professionally interacted with Ellie regarding her injury.  At no time did anyone inquire as to Ellie's interest in seeking medical care for the primary cause of her injury.  Ellie's injury was a symptom of a disease.  The E.R. staff was willing to treat the symptom but not treat the disease.

If they had asked about Ellie's interest in seeking detox, she would have told them about the numerous attempts to get into a detox facility - any detox facility - for the past few months.  People in Ellie's situation have spent so much time in waiting rooms that dope sickness has set in and they have had to make the choice to inject themselves in the facility's restroom with heroin that they have smuggled in or leave and lose their place in line to inject their medicine.

On another attempt, Ellie was told that she could not enter detox without being medically cleared in light of the injury that led her to this emergency room visit.  She left dejected, in need of heroin, penniless and now forced to walk the streets to find a date.  A date found her and before it was over by way of Ellie's kicks to his face, this date would have ended in one more episode of Ellie being raped.

Addicted people who live on the streets don't just head to the local E.R. when something hurts.  They do what they can to take care of their situation on their own.  This includes possible pneumonia and broken limbs. It takes a lot to finally make that decision to seek professional help.  This was Ellie's situation.  And so here she was…

Professional medical caregivers were all around her and no one asked if she would like assistance with medically caring for her disease of addiction.  She has tried so hard to find healing…  Maybe, just maybe, the right question, asked with a caring tone from a professional who has been preauthorized to make it happen could redirect Ellie's life starting that very moment…

But there was no question.  Ellie is out there, somewhere, still injured and in pain, wanting detox, eating our discarded other people's saliva laden leftovers, dreaming of detox, walking blocks for a shower, desperate for detox, out there - in her own words - "whoring" to earn money to inject a drug that she does not want to consume and risking rape.


E.R. Staff…  Please ask the question.  

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