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.


Thursday, October 22, 2020

Are you enjoying to any degree the pleasures of your substance use? Your ready moment for healing does not need to be built on the rocks at the bottom.

A few days ago, I had a conversation with a man who was heading to detox.  His story was not typical of those you normally hear.  This man had a job.  He was paying his own bills.  He bought his own groceries.  His substance use was an issue but it was not causing any significant problems in his life. 

His family was going through some major issues, not the slightest bit related to this man's substance use.  Multiple deaths by unrelated various natural causes in his family within a very short time led to a staggering level of pain and confusion as to how to handle all of the new dynamics within his family. 

This man told me that he loved the feeling that his substances were giving him.  He emphasized how these substances were not causing any significant problems in HIS world… 

BUT… 

He knew that his family needed him to be there for them and be there 100% with his physical, spiritual, and intellectual presence and abilities.  This is where his substances were getting in the way.  He realized that he could not consume his substances AND be fully present to his family. 

From his perspective and within his desire to keep experiencing the pleasures of his substances, he made a self-sacrificial decision and chose to focus on the needs of his family.  He did what he knew he needed to do to be fully present with them.  He put aside his own pleasures of his substances and entered detox and then rehab. 

This man did not wait to hit that supposedly required moment of "rock bottom."  Rather than looking down and waiting to find the rocks or for the rocks to find him, he looked up to the needs of his loved ones and climbed the hill of healing so as to regain his full presence with them. 

********** 

Are you enjoying to any degree the pleasures of your substance use?  

Do you have a family longing for your 100% presence with them?  Are your closest loved ones getting up in years?  Do you have children who don't know you as a fully present parent?  Do you have an educational degree waiting to be used again? 

Any of these reasons and so many more for not waiting for rock bottom to find you are reasons to climb that hill of healing. 

Your ready moment for healing does not need to be built on the rocks at the bottom.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Sophia Sits Saturated in Sadness

Sophia sat saturated in sadness at the prospect of missing her daughter's likely random visit on this day.  

Her daughter turns 17 today and Sophia knows that her daughter would want to visit her homeless Mom at the God-Forsaken street corner of This and That Streets in the suburbs surrounding Emerald City.

And so Sophia sat soaked in the sweat of dope sickness knowing full well that she could find healing after one 'date' and the quick purchase of a little blue bag of 'medicine.'  

"I don't want to miss my daughter's visit on this, her 17th birthday."

Tears of a broken-hearted Mom and the Trembles of Dope Sickness competed for Sophia's attention and yet her determination set sickness aside in the hopes of hearing from her deeply devoutly cherished daughter.

**********

To occupy her time between dates and consuming her 'medicine' Sophia paints pictures.  As a resident of the streets of Kensington, she is limited on supplies and locations to paint.  But her passion persists.  

A few days ago, she chose the flat metal surface of a trash dumpster that had been parked near where I found her earlier today.


Sophia is an artist and a Suburban County resident reliant on Medicaid to pay for the treatment she needs to put aside her Substance Use Disorder and pursue her passion for painting.  

Sophia is a patient with a Substance Use Disorder.

Sophia is not "an addict" nor is she any of those derogatory terms used to describe a person who begrudgingly provides sexual services so as to raise funds to purchase drugs she'd rather not be consuming.   

Sophia is a Mom and an artist.  

Sophia is a woman worthy of dignity, honor, respect, and love.  

Sophia is worthy of dignity filled health care provided by people who pledged their medical careers to the ideals of Hippocrates.  

Sophia is not one of "them."  

Sophia is an extension of "us."

**********

Sophia Sits Saturated in Sadness…

Thursday, October 8, 2020

It is absolutely wrong of the medical establishment within the Medicaid system to cast the sole blame on the patient as to why they are not seeking services. To take that attitude is to take the attitude that cancer should cure itself.

Time and time again, I hear from the Medicaid reliant men and women on the streets of Kensington and those who have been given housing these related and similar phrases: 

"If I didn't have to wait so long for treatment in a crisis center, I would go to detox right now." 

"My caseworker is trying to arrange it so I can get my medical clearance and go directly to detox without waiting in the crisis center for hours." 

This unreasonable wait time with its accompanying humiliations and the inevitable onset of dope sickness as I have described in recent blogs is a major reason why so many of our nation's sons and daughters don't even bother seeking medical services. 

Some people will argue this point by saying that the Substance Use Disorder patient is simply '"not ready" for treatment and that they "just don't want it bad enough to go through the existing process." 

There is an element of truth to that just as there is for any of us who have been told by our doctor that at some point we will need medical intervention for something that is not as it should be within our own bodies.  When that point comes for us that we decide we are "ready" we go for the treatment, have whatever therapies are required, and move on with life.  As we have done so, we've been warmly and professionally greeted and treated in a generally pleasant environment as a person worthy of dignity and respect. 

Such is not the case for Medicaid reliant patients of Substance Use Disorder. 

It is absolutely wrong of the medical establishment within the Medicaid system to cast the sole blame on the patient as to why they are not seeking services.  To take that attitude is to take the attitude that cancer should cure itself.  

The medical establishment must be willing to receive input from its customers - In this case, patients of Substance Use Disorder - compare that input with its own processes and procedures and act on its findings to improve the system.  

Once that is done, the medical establishment must develop respectful and dignified ways to REALLY connect with the people on the streets and let them know that they will be welcomed with prompt dignity, honor, respect, and love when their "ready" arrives. 

A patient who knows that they will be treated as a human being who is worthy of dignity, honor, respect, and love will be more willing to consider taking that next step toward healing.  

That's just human nature.

Monday, October 5, 2020

The Representatives of Hippocrates within this Medicaid health care system required of street bound Substance Use Disorder patients MUST review their processes of health care provision! They can seek the input of these patients, make corrections and improve their processes. In so doing, much of this crisis of mind-blowing and staggering unnecessary suffering and overdose and death will be eliminated.

When any patient of any illness or any injury gets to the point with that medical condition where they want care by a professional medical provider they go to the appropriate place.  They make an appointment with their primary care physician or go to the local emergency room.  With a sudden severe cut or unexpected fall or traffic accident they will, out of something resembling a knee jerk reaction, go to the local emergency room. 

An unexplainable severe pain in any part of the body or symptoms of a cold or virus will send them with little thought to the same or to their primary care physician. 

Far more often than not, they will be greeted with dignity and respect as they arrive and go through the health care receiving process.  The medical providers will do what they do so well as they begin to provide healing to their patient. 

For some of these patients, the need for medical care is noticeable but not so severe that they go immediately for that care.  The medical situation builds with time and eventually, the pain is severe enough that the patient goes to the appropriate facility. 

This second category of patient more accurately describes the plight of the person of Substance Use Disorder combined with homelessness.  At first, the pain of the situation is not severe enough to knee jerk them to the emergency room.  Eventually, pain builds to the point when it's time to seek care. 

With every ounce of their soul's determination, this human being makes their way to the local crisis center and not the local emergency room[1].  I have provided two blogs that clearly show what people go through in this Medicaid required process: 

Why is one of my loved ones from the streets of Kensington having to go back to a crisis center for the third consecutive day so as to MAYBE be admitted to a detox unit that accepts Medicaid patients? 

A Tale of Addiction, One Set of Fraternal Twins And Two Sets of SimulatedHardwood Floors

 

The bottom line is this: 

The patient with a sudden cut, unexpected fall, traffic accident, cold, virus, or Substance Use Disorder, immediately or eventually are all patients of people who have vowed their professions to the ideals of Hippocrates. 

No system of health care provision is perfect and every process of health care provision warrants self-examination and improvement of the identifiable weak areas within existing processes.   

Medicaid reliant street residing patients of Substance Use Disorder have clearly expressed their concerns regarding the failures of the system in which they are required to seek care.  Undignified environments and unreasonable wait times combined with an absence of comfort care during that wait lead to giving up on receiving care, seeking their own comfort care[2] and for some, overdosing and dying before they build up again enough soul determination to enter the Medicaid required process one more time. 

With every ounce of their soul's determination, these patients have decided to seek care for their condition.  It is not the place of representatives of Hippocrates to institute additional obstacles to receiving that care.  It is the privilege of these providers to welcome and encourage and to celebrate this moment of desired care and to connect in a healthful way with these human beings who are worthy of dignity, honor, respect, and love. 

The representatives of Hippocrates within this Medicaid health care system required of street bound Substance Use Disorder patients MUST review their processes of health care provision!  They can seek the input of these patients, make corrections, and improve their processes.  In so doing, much of this crisis of mind-blowing and staggering unnecessary suffering and overdose and death will be eliminated.


[1] A requirement of the current system

[2] by way of their next unwanted heroin injection

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Why is one of my loved ones from the streets of Kensington having to go back to a crisis center for the third consecutive day so as to MAYBE be admitted to a detox unit that accepts Medicaid patients?

 Answer:

The Hippocratic Oath as sworn by the Nursing and Medical personnel who work in these crisis centers is NOT Being honored.

Discussion:

A patient of any other medical condition (out of control diabetes as one among many examples) would NEVER be required to go to their local emergency room three consecutive days so as to be treated and bring their Diabetes back in control.  Why are patients of Substance Use Disorder treated in such a substandard way?

During these intervals of leaving and then returning to the crisis center, if they can bring themselves to return, patients of Substance Use Disorder will continue to take their medicine and some will die. 

Is this the intent of the nursing and medical personnel in these crisis centers?

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

As I write this, one of my Medicaid reliant loved ones from the streets sits in a crisis center awaiting a bed for detox.

Will this person be treated with the dignity and respect offered to a patient in any of our Philadelphia area emergency rooms with (for one among many examples) out of control diabetes? ...their symptoms managed and comfort care provided while awaiting in-patient services or will they be treated as described by another of my Medicaid reliant loved ones:

**********
I have personally been to several crisis centers in Philadelphia. A few months ago, I went to one and sat for about 13 hours in a waiting room so very sick shaking and sweating and vomiting everywhere and all for them to come out and tell me that there were no beds and said to come back the next day to try again.
Mind you I was very very sick and when they told me that, I asked them what should I do as I was laying on their bathroom floor vomiting everywhere and it looked like someone had sprayed a hose on me because I was dripping wet. My clothes were soaked and I was flopping on the floor like a fish out of water.
The doctor said to me "I don't know what to do." She said she cannot give me anything because I am not admitted and there are no beds. So they asked me where would I like to go to because they will call a cab for me. As I was waiting for the cab, security and a nurse came outside to me and asked me what I was doing and I said "You told me you are calling a cab." The nurse said, "We did not call one and you have to get off of the property!"
Mind you I had no money and I was so sick so I ended up walking to the EL. The SEPTA personnel told me I cannot go through without money and I told them that I just came from the hospital. I showed them paperwork and they still said "No" so I ended up jumping the train and the SEPTA personnel hit the alarm!
So thank God the train came before any cops got there so I was fine. As I was on the train I dropped to the floor and had a seizure. When I woke up people were standing around me and they were waiting for the ambulance but I jumped up and said no and got back on the next train and got off at Somerset station and had to find a way to get well...
My experience that day with the crisis center made me so sick to my stomach thinking that I really wanted to get clean and I really wanted help and nobody helped.

**********

It is high time that Medicaid Reliant patients of Substance Use Disorder who are wanting detox be given the same dignified and prompt care that is automatically given to patients of any other medical condition.
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Friday, September 18, 2020

As I write this blog, an inspirational human being who is made in the image of God and who is worthy of dignity, honor, respect, and love lies in an Intensive Care Unit bed with a chest tube and multiple IVs

...so as to bring her back from the edge of a very thin hiking trail on a cliff that separates life from death that he's walked on as she[1] has tried to traverse over Medicaid Mountain.  

Too many medical and nursing professionals who have dedicated their careers to the ideals of Hypocrites have failed in their sworn privileges when this human being sought care in their required visit to a local crisis center.[2]  

  • They failed to treat him with the dignity and respect that he deserves.  
  • They failed to provide basic comfort care as she waited double digit hours for full[3] treatment as an inpatient.  
  • They failed with their built-in procedure that any human being must wait double-digit hours for care that is (currently) only provided as an inpatient.

 

Here's how one person explained their experience when they tried to traverse Medicaid Mountain… 

I have personally been to several crisis centers in Philadelphia.  A few months ago, I went to one and sat for about 13 hours in a waiting room so very sick shaking and sweating and vomiting everywhere and all for them to come out and tell me that there were no beds and said to come back the next day to try again.   

Mind you I was very very sick and when they told me that, I asked them what should I do as I was laying on their bathroom floor vomiting everywhere and it looked like someone had sprayed a hose on me because I was dripping wet.  My clothes were soaked and I was flopping on the floor like a fish out of water.   

The doctor said to me "I don't know what to do."  She said she cannot give me anything because I am not admitted and there are no beds.  So they asked me where would I like to go to because they will call a cab for me.  As I was waiting for the cab, security and a nurse came outside to me and asked me what I was doing and I said "You told me you are calling a cab."  The nurse said, "We did not call one and you have to get off of the property!"  

Mind you I had no money and I was so sick so I ended up walking to the EL.  The SEPTA personnel told me I cannot go through without money and I told them that I just came from the hospital.  I showed them paperwork and they still said "No" so I ended up jumping the train and the SEPTA personnel hit the alarm!  

So thank God the train came before any cops got there so I was fine.  As I was on the train I dropped to the floor and had a seizure.  When I woke up people were standing around me and they were waiting for the ambulance but I jumped up and said no and got back on the next train and got off at Somerset station and had to find a way to get well... 

My experience that day with the crisis center made me so sick to my stomach thinking that I really wanted to get clean and I really wanted help and nobody helped. 

It is time to plow down Medicaid Mountain!



[1] (Note the deliberate mixing of the pronoun he/she.  This story is playing itself out multiple times and in multiple places as I write and as you read.)

[2] Medicaid reliant patients of Substance Use Disorder are required to go to a crisis center - a place where mental disorders are diagnosed - for clearance and as the first step in finding a bed for further treatment somewhere within the city.

[3] And proper treatment as outlined in their sworn Hippocratic Oath

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Symptoms of Sickness

The symptoms of the medically recognized condition known as 'Substance Use Disorder' can be found here.

The symptoms of withdraw, commonly referred to on the street as 'dope sickness,' can be found here.

It is time for us to look at the symptoms of sickness that make health care provision to patients of Substance Use Disorder and who are reliant on Medicaid so incredibly week and unable to support its patients who are in desperate need and desire for care. 

There are no articles that I can find to share with you so here are two blogs from within my own series:

It would be far better to initiate treatment of the Medicaid reliant patient of Substance Use Disorder in the Crisis Center rather than make them wait for full admission to the detox facility.

A Tale of Addiction, One Set of Fraternal Twins And Two Sets of Simulated Hardwood Floors

In these links, you will find firsthand accounts of the symptoms of Medicaid healthcare provision sickness that is causing overdose death at a higher rate than the actual use of the drugs would cause in and of themselves.

It all boils down to money.  In round numbers, private insurance pays $1,000 per day to provide Substance Use Disorder detox and rehabilitation services in an inpatient facility.  Medicaid pays $200 for the same services.  

Close that gap.  

Find ways for Medicaid to properly fund and we will save lives.

Friday, September 11, 2020

My First ever Redundant and Repetitive Blog that Says the Same Thing In Different Ways... :)

This is the first time that I can recall when I used my occasional ministry email as my blog.  I'm repeating themes and topics in hopes that some readers will decide that this topic needs to be addressed.  


And so, without further delay,  Here's a link to my recent email that expands on recent blog posts.


If for any reason that link does not work, here it is in its raw detail:

https://myemail.constantcontact.com/-Your-Helpful-Neighbor--An-Update-on-Ministry-in-Kensington---where-life-is-real-and-love-and-care-for-each-individual-is-thorou.html?soid=1102708875927&aid=hhUcgSbB5O8


Thursday, September 10, 2020

It would be far better to initiate treatment of the Medicaid reliant patient of Substance Use Disorder in the Crisis Center rather than make them wait for full admission to the detox facility.

The following is a firsthand account of a person I've known for a few years now as he tried to seek detox services while being reliant on Medicaid.

 

I have personally been to several crisis[1] centers in Philadelphia.  A few months ago, I went to one and sat for about 13 hours in a waiting room so very sick shaking and sweating and vomiting everywhere and all for them to come out and tell me that there were no beds and said to come back the next day to try again.  

 

Mind you I was very very sick and when they told me that, I asked them what should I do as I was laying on their bathroom floor vomiting everywhere and it looked like someone had sprayed a hose on me because I was dripping wet.  My clothes were soaked and I was flopping on the floor like a fish out of water.  

 

The doctor said to me "I don't know what to do."  She said she cannot give me anything because I am not admitted and there are no beds.[2]  So they asked me where would I like to go to because they will call a cab for me.  As I was waiting for the cab, security and a nurse came outside to me and asked me what I was doing and I said "You told me you are calling a cab."  The nurse said, "We did not call one and you have to get off of the property!" 

 

Mind you I had no money and I was so sick so I ended up walking to the EL.  The SEPTA personnel told me I cannot go through without money and I told them that I just came from the hospital.  I showed them paperwork and they still said "No" so I ended up jumping the train and the SEPTA personnel hit the alarm! 

 

So thank God the train came before any cops got there so I was fine.  As I was on the train I dropped to the floor and had a seizure.  When I woke up people were standing around me and they were waiting for the ambulance but I jumped up and said no and got back on the next train and got off at Somerset station and had to find a way to get well...[3] 

 

My experience that day with the crisis center made me so sick to my stomach thinking that I really wanted to get clean and I really wanted help and nobody helped.

 



[1] Medicaid reliant patients of Substance Use Disorder are required to go to a crisis center - a place where mental disorders are diagnosed - for clearance and as the first step in finding a bed for further treatment somewhere within the city.

 

[2] She said she cannot give me anything because I am not admitted and there are no beds…  The crisis center is the equivalent of an emergency room in a medical hospital.  Would the nurses or doctors of an emergency room tell a patient with severe life-threatening injury or illness that "We cannot treat you because you're not yet admitted to the hospital."?  No. Of course not!  That patient with the medical injury or illness is a patient of that medical emergency room and would be provided whatever medical intervention is needed until being transferred to an inpatient setting.  Why do we treat patients of Substance Use Disorder differently and in such a substandard way - a way that dishonors the sworn intentions of the Hippocratic Oath?

 

[3] find a way to get well… Well…  From what?:  What does that really mean?  Here's an outline as provided in this linked article:

 

The Symptoms of Withdrawal

Symptoms of dope sickness – and their intensity – can vary by person, drug of choice, and the amount of drugs used on a regular basis. However, common signs of dope sickness include:

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and/or constipation

Loss of appetite/huge return of appetite

Hot and cold flashes

Muscle aches and spasms

Sensation of bugs crawling on or under skin

Hyper-awareness

Dry mouth

Headaches

Insomnia

Sweating

These physical effects are often accompanied by mental and emotional symptoms. Those who are dope sick may also experience:

Agitation

Anxiety

Paranoia

Frustration

Depression

Despondency

What does "Find a way…" really mean?  Imagine, not that you can actually fully understand but do your best to try…  Imagine being a woman in this situation.  You have no money for that five-dollar little blue paper-wrapped "cure" to your dope sickness.  You have no option but stand on a street corner doing all you can to hide the above symptoms when some random man pulls up next to you…

 

"One was an important lawyer who picked me up in his Cadillac, took me to a center city hotel, tied me to the bed, had his way with me, got dressed, untied me and left the room.  I had to use some of the money he gave me for public transit just to get back here to buy my medicine." 

 

It would be far better to initiate treatment of the Medicaid reliant patient of Substance Use Disorder 

in the Crisis Center 

rather than make them wait for full admission to the detox facility?

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

My experience that day with the crisis center made me so sick to my stomach thinking that I really wanted to get clean and I really wanted help and nobody helped.

Compare and contrast the Hippocratic Oath with the reality faced by men and women who are dealing with Substance Use Disorder, addicted, and reliant on Medicaid… 

Hippocratic Oath: Modern Version 

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant: 

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow. 

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism. 

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug. 

I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery. 

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God. 

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems if I am to care adequately for the sick. 

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure. 

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm. 

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help. 

—Written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, and used in many medical schools today.

**********

And now read this, an all too common account of what a patient of Substance Use Disorder in the active grips of addition faces when that human being decides it's time to seek treatment… 

I have personally been to several crisis centers in Philadelphia.  A few months ago, I went to one and sat for about 13 hours in a waiting room so so sick shaking and sweating and vomiting everywhere and all for them to come out and tell me that there were no beds and said to come back the next day to try again.  

Mind you I was very very sick and when they told me that, I asked them what should I do as I was laying on their bathroom floor vomiting everywhere and it looked like someone had sprayed a hose on me because I was dripping wet.  My clothes were soaked and I was flopping on the floor like a fish out of water.  

The doctor said to me "I don't know what to do."  She said she cannot give me anything because I am not admitted and there are no beds.  So they asked me where would I like to go to because they will call a cab for me.  As I was waiting for the cab, security and a nurse came outside to me and asked me what I was doing and I said "You told me you are calling a cab."  The nurse said, "We did not call one and you have to get off of the property!" 

Mind you I had no money and I was so sick so I ended up walking to the EL.  The SEPTA personnel told me I cannot go through without money and I told them that I just came from the hospital.  I showed them paperwork and they still said "No" so I ended up jumping the train and the SEPTA personnel hit the alarm! 

So thank God the train came before any cops got there so I was fine.  As I was on the train I dropped to the floor and had a seizure.  When I woke up people were standing around me and they were waiting for the ambulance but I jumped up and said no and got back on the next train and got off at Somerset station and had to find a way to get well... 

My experience that day with the crisis center made me so sick to my stomach thinking that I really wanted to get clean and I really wanted help and nobody helped.

 **********

How was the Hippocratic Oath upheld and honored that day?…  

That day repeats itself multiple times each and every day and is doing so as you read this…

Friday, September 4, 2020

Too many people have died recently in this apartment building.

 "Too many people have died recently in this apartment building.  One was in the building for three days before they found their body."[1] 

Subsidized housing for people who are suffering homelessness can be a powerful first step in regaining orientation to life and strength and developing a clear focus on what steps to take next in life.  

If that person's reason for homelessness is rooted in Substance Use Disorder and that person is still using, is housing in a setting of solitude an acceptable answer?  Is it a safe answer?  Is it an answer that the medical community, the members of which have dedicated their careers to the ideals of Hippocrates, would approve? 

People who are still using must continue to use until medical intervention is realized within their personal journey.  Until then, I simply ask this question in this short blog: 


Is private housing in the absence of a definite plan for ending potentially deadly drug use an acceptable answer to this current crisis?



[1] This quote has been generalized so as to preserve the anonymity of those who have died and the one who made this statement.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Touch of the Master's Hand at the Corner of Emerald and Somerset.

Last Saturday the poem "Touch of the Master's Hand" came to mind for no particular nor tangible reason.  I felt a strong urging to print it as one of my songs for distribution the following day.  I had done so maybe two years ago.  The next morning - this past Sunday - the same urge continued.  I printed it on one side of the song sheet and "Love Like This" by Lauren Daigle on the other side. 

I visited the people who are escaping the summer sun in the former Emerald City, the people of Ruth and Somerset and then the people on Emerald between Hart and Somerset.  And that's when the Touch of the Master's Hand quickly touched two men on the block.  One of those men was me and the other was a well-groomed and rugged, gentle-spirited Hispanic man who has always been kind.  He specifically requested a song sheet and without me asking him to do so, began to read out loud for others to hear the poem, "Touch of the Master's Hand." 

As he began to read, we were standing right at the corner of Emerald and Somerset.  He was facing the street.  My back was to the street.  With Spanish as his primary language in both speaking and reading, he began to read in English, pausing only a bit here or there to ask me how to pronounce a particular word.  

As he read, I listened and marveled at the privilege in my humble attempts in ministry that I was experiencing at that moment.  As he read, I looked up the block and saw our - yours and mine - misplaced suburban neighbors who are currently homeless and who have been bound with invisible chains to the streets by active substance use due to Substance Use Disorder and society's and Medicaid's inability to provide dignified health care to them. 

At this man's feet and about a yard behind him, Roman Catholic glass candle holders remained as the only items left from a memorial to the two men shot and killed right there in June.  The stuffed teddy bears and other cloth items that were once lovingly placed had been rained on and removed.  

It is in that setting that the Touch of the Master's Hand did in actual fact touch the hearts of anyone within earshot of this man's reading… 


Friday, August 14, 2020

A Time of Mental Rot

 

I have, just this morning, learned of the overdose death of a young man with whom I've had some interaction on the streets of Kensington.  He and I have several Facebook friends in common.  I'm deeply saddened as I learn of his passing.  

As I write this, I'm trying to find that balance of sharing with you my thoughts, honoring him and being sensitive to his family's agony.  This young man spent the last several months in local jails, was discharged, and overdosed within hours.  

Why Die? 

In the words of a woman of whom I've written here and as she unwittingly followed the same path: 

“This (time in jail)  is a time of mental rot.” 

“This process only builds up more resentment in people who are already dealing with resentment from the emotional traumas that got them here in the first place.” 

This woman went on to describe this time of mental rot… 

As a time of sitting in an oversized toilet stall  with no privacy around the toilet and sharing that toilet stall with some other woman she doesn't know, having two cots in that toilet stall with something that's supposed to resemble a mattress and one sheet to cover herself at night.  It is a time of little to no therapies and living inside one's own head and reliving the emotional traumas that escorted her into addiction and convincing herself more and more that she's just not worth it.  It is indeed a time of "mental rot."


Jail is no place for a patient of Substance Use Disorder to receive treatment for their condition.  

Detox and Rehab Facilities are designed for patients of Substance Use Disorder. 

Jails are designed for people guilty of a crime. 

Having Substance Use Disorder and behaving accordingly with active drug consumption should not be viewed as a crime worthy of jail but rather a condition worthy of appropriate treatment. 


If you, governmental leaders, insist on having medical patients of Substance Use Disorder residing in your jails, then you must provide the therapies that are needed so that your patient/inmate will be healed enough and have the resources so as not to be called back to their substance(s) and be dead within hours.

Much of this blog series looks at this topic.  A next blog to read that you may find helpful is this one:

This Week with Tabitha and Melanie

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Kensington - where life is real and love and care for each individual is thoroughly obvious and abundant

It's a hard thing to come home to an empty apartment after experiencing what I experience in Kensington some days.

Until you've been there, and by "there" I mean that section of Philadelphia that is 30 minutes away from us in Delaware County, you will never really understand what it's like to listen to and sing praise songs through my humble sound system with another Ministry person on the street as we look across a gathering of men and women who I know by name as they inject and sleep and smoke and dream of, in one particular case, heading to Kirkbride tomorrow morning so is to begin their detox and rehab and all new life.

As this scene was playing out, we were under the El, the elevated train line which runs down Kensington Avenue. On occasion, the sound of the train drowned out the playing of the praise music but that did not seem to matter. 

At one point I looked down the street as the praise music continued and I saw men and women who I know by name and story and others who I do not. I saw one man to whom I had provided Narcan months ago as he was assisting a woman with her injection into her neck. I turned my head to the right and looked down the street a little bit and saw the XXX video store which may or may not have been open at that moment. And the praise music continued.

I thought of how incredibly blessed I am to be permitted into the lives of these men and women who, for the most part, are not actually from Kensington. Almost everybody within eyesight of where this praise music was being played is from some other County and on occasion some other state.

For at least half an hour of this praise music time, I found myself sitting on the back of my open trunk with my feet propped up on my water cooler which had long since run out of its water as if the entire arrangement was my backyard lounge chair. The other Ministry person and I chose songs and played them through YouTube and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as various men and women came up, some to join us for a little bit, and others to ask for water or bananas or song sheets.

I'm sharing all this with you as I sit here in my living room in my humble apartment here in Concordville in hopes that maybe somebody in this area will be inspired and choose to become involved and maybe, just maybe, actually meet a neighbor with whom you went to high school here in Garnet Valley or with whom you have been involved in some group here in Glen Mills, or with whom you have shared some moments in Chester Heights.

If it seems to you that I am rambling on nonsensically it's because I don't know what else to say to inspire you to get involved with these men and women who are not they but rather extensions of us. I can think of no place that I would rather be than on the streets of Kensington where life is real and love and care for each individual is thoroughly obvious and abundant.