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.


Saturday, January 9, 2021

Where were these people in 4th grade.?

I wasn't going to say anything about this incident. But I see a lesson in this...

Last Sunday (January 3, 2021) I had a wonderful conversation with a man of Hispanic descent who was in his mid-thirties I would guess. The conversation was only a couple of minutes and during that time he shared briefly how he's been a very committed Christian as long as he could remember. We agreed that made us brothers in Christ. We gave each other a little fist bump and off he went walking around the corner and out of sight. 

A very few minutes after that inspiring conversation, a group of men I would guess also in their thirties was walking down the sidewalk passing my car as I parked at Kensington And Somerset.  A group such as this is rather unusual to see at this location.  One of the men toward the front of this group started giving me a difficult time about how I bring bananas. His conversation was verbally abusive and I was picking up the vibe that this might be turning physical. I looked at a couple people who I know and simply said I think it's time for me to leave. 

As I was closing the trunk of my car with my back turned to this man I heard a loud thud. No... It was more of a pop...  No.  It was more of a...  Well, maybe these graphic words from the vintage Batman and Robin series can clarify what I heard behind me...

I turned around and saw my new Hispanic friend holding what looked like a baseball bat-shaped board and he had just given this guy who was harassing me a tough crack against his upper back. The man had fallen part way and was starting to get up when my Hispanic brother in Christ gave him another crack across his back.  I could not help but notice might and determination to defend me on his face and not anger, rage, or anything similar.

The guy went down again and immediately ran away. I knew it was time for me to leave and I got in the car. 

I came back an hour later and people who had seen this and know me from what I do told me that the man who had harassed me "got the s*** beat out of him for disrespecting" me. 

My immediate thought and perhaps this is somewhat selfish was:

Where were these people who defended me today when I was in fourth grade and getting beat up on a regular basis on the playground at Concord Elementary School? 

More simply stated:  Where were these people in their 4th grade? 

It's a question that gave me pause as I reflected on the various stories I've heard of the childhoods of so many of these men and women who now call the streets of Kensington home:

  • His life was perfect until 10th grade when an injury on the baseball field led to months of surgery and opioid-based painkillers to manage the physical agony of that time in his life. 
  • Her life was pure hell from day one and in fourth grade, her uncles started "playing with" her in ways that no uncles should ever play with their nieces. 
  • He watched his mother and her father die in their addiction and he knew (inaccurately) that he had little choice but to follow in their footsteps. 
  • Her perfect life found an emotional pain killer in a little blue packet in the days after her husband and children died in a fiery crash.
  • And more...

Their stories are factual and inconceivably painful. 

One thing is certain. 

None of the hundreds of people who at this moment call the streets of Kensington 'home', when they were in fourth grade, had in their plan of things to become in life that of a street bound adult trapped in active substance use as part of their Substance Use Disorder

Where were these people in 4th grade? 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Thank You for Praying for Us.

I had prayed and asked my friends on Facebook to pray that I would find specific people who live on the streets of Kensington and with whom I try to keep in close communication.  I drove to a common corner, an intersection of two main streets, to find one who is from Delaware County. 

Not there… I drove up one street, looped around, drove down that same street several blocks past the original point, looped around again and came back one block short of the common corner where I felt certain I'd find her. 

Even though she was fully dressed for the winter cold and had her back to me, a tiny tuft of her curly hair with its uncommon shade announced her identify as would any "Hello, my name is…" sticker worn at so many social gatherings.

"Hi, Melanie,"  I called out as she stood on what I presume is her favorite corner when looking for a date.  I'm permitted a bit to presume this.  After all, it was on this corner where she took me on Friday, July 27, 2018 and I told you about in a blog titled  Before The demon Came Calling... (The section of that blog that speaks specifically of this street starts out with: After dinner, as we drove, Melanie asked me to pull over on a side street…)

Today, as I parked my car on that same side street, I noticed that she was in no rush to greet me further.  When I gingerly approached her, she looked sad and sick.  Sniffles and her general appearance told me and she confirmed that she was fully dope sick and standing there trying to find a 'date' so as to fund her next injection of 'heroin' which is hardly heroin at all these days.

We chatted only for a bit.  Before we parted, she was the first of this day to receive a care package that had been donated to me very recently by one of my former high school classmates years ago.  This care package, and about 50 others, have been or will be distributed one by one in the very near future. 

Melanie also told me that she needed a new pair of boots because the ones she had on were just about worn out.  I still had a pair of boots in my car that had been given to me by a now-retired administrator at my former college - Eastern University.  They fit her almost perfectly.

As we parted, Melanie reached out for a hug and did not let go for a while… And so, there I was… To the unknowing eye and stigma thinking brain of an out of town observer, I was hugging an addict, a prostitute, and I won't even utter the additionally derogatory terms often associated with women in her situation.

But no!

To anyone who has taken the time to get to know Melanie, you will know that I was hugging an orphaned former Delaware County resident who knows of Aston, Chichester and Glen Mills, Concord Road, Saint John's Episcopal Church, Elam United Methodist Church and all point in between and around.

Melanie is not any of the derogatory titles often applied to a person in such a situation.  Melanie is not even part of "them" or "they."  Melanie and the hundreds she represents on the streets of Kensington are no less than an extension of "us" and "we" and have every right to receive all of the dignities associated with such a classification.

Thank you for praying for Us. 

Friday, January 1, 2021

Her nearly lifeless underweight and naturally petite body drifted down the steps of the Somerset El stop.

Her nearly lifeless underweight and naturally petite body drifted down the steps of the Somerset El stop[1] as street bound soles continued in their street bound life, mass transit commuters dashed to their destinations and two of Philadelphia's Finest in blue stood by as crowd control. 

I held in my arms this bluing childhood resident of Philadelphia's suburbs and now of Kensington's streets as she drifted further toward death and down the steps at the same time.  I was doing what I could to keep her head from bouncing down each step as she drifted.  With two Narcan given and no breaths detected, I provided the slightest of mouth to mouth resuscitations - only the third time in over 20+ years of medical work that I've needed to do so.

"'First Name', don't do this to your children!"  I pleaded into her ear as I held back my own tears in needing to stay focused on my friend and overdosing medical patient of Substance Use Disorder laying all but lifeless in my arms. 

By the grace of God and the stunning miraculous nature of Narcan, she regained consciousness.  In a state of disorientation, she walked to an awaiting ambulance stretcher, was taken by that ambulance with its blaring lights and sirens to the local denominationally named hospital[2] and, within minutes of arrival, was told by the on duty Registered Nurse to "Get out of my emergency room!"

**********

In my blog "Damaged Determination," I shared with you the situation that "Rose" experienced and the poor medical provision she received by a Philadelphia hospital that treated her medical infection and not her detox/withdraw symptoms of dope sickness.  The understandable end result was that she left AMA[3] so as to find her own healing from the $5.00 contents of a little blue bag of heroin.

**********

In my blog "Drug vs Detox: A Civil War in the Mind," I shared with you the determination of one of my loved ones who was laser focused on being done with heroin - a determination that ended when the detox facility could not provide prompt comfort care during detox to her: their patient who they had beautifully accepted into their care only hours before.

**********

These are three examples of failures of the Medicaid funded medical provision process offered to patients of Substance Use Disorder who are residents of the streets of Kensington.  These three people sought care either through a near death experience or through arriving at that moment of 'being ready' or finding 'rock bottom' that we often hear about as being a required destination prior to detox. 

These three…

No…      

Wait… 

It's time that I share with you a bit of insider information… 

These three factual accounts of what I witnessed firsthand involve not three but two very real people[4]  Two people who I still see and love and hug as they remain actively using their 'medicine'

With that thought in mind of three actually being two, imagine being the one person who is described two times in these three factual accounts of what they experienced as a Medicaid reliant patient of Substance Use Disorder! 

From their perspective, life is much less of a nightmare to continue with fundraising and injecting than it is to seek medical help from a medical provider for their medical diagnosis that is clearly described as such and labeled Substance Use Disorder in the DSM-5.

**********

If you have lost a loved one to overdose and that loved one was reliant on Medicaid for their health care funding, first of all, I'm very sorry for your loss…

Secondly, please know that at some point in your loved one's life on the streets, they probably sought healing.  They most likely found the process of getting to that healing so absurd that they gave up or actually overdosed in the midst of taking their medicine while jumping through the Medicaid required hoops and gross incompetency's on their desired way toward healing.

Let's boil this down further…

When your loved one transitioned by way of overdose from this world to their next, overdose did claim them in that moment.  Medicaid funded health care incompetency's set the stage for that moment.

It is way past time for any and all of us who care about this issue to work together in whatever role we play in society so as to make the changes that are needed.  In so doing, we will save the lives of our Moms and Dads, Brothers and Sisters, and all other manners of relationship from this barbaric and incompetent Medicaid system that has completely flushed the ideals of Hippocrates upon which it is absolutely intended to be fitted upon its firm foundation.



[1] https://www.google.com/maps/@39.9913207,-75.1228445,3a,25.2y,289.65h,88.48t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s3lwJFv-DKrPelbXW1B7sGQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?hl=en

[2] Which is THE hospital in THE bulls eye of THE heroin crisis for THE entire east coast of THE United States of America.  You would think that emergency nursing staff in such a setting could be more professional than this but such was not the case.

[3] Against Medical Advice

[4] As I write my blogs, I often mix pronouns (he/she) and names so as to add anonymity for their privacy.