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.

Throughout this blog you are now seeing advertising. I need to provide this so as to keep going financially with this ministry. If you see something that is inappropriate to this site, please let me know - maybe get a screen shot of it for me. I do get credit for any "click" that you might make on any of the ads. If you're bored some night and want to help me raise some needed cash, visit my site and click away to your heart's content....


Tuesday, May 31, 2022

When God tells you to buy a Kit Kat bar, you should listen...

C. was one of the people I met the very first time I visited the people on the streets of Kensington. 5 1/2 years later, she's still out there doing her thing.

Kit Kat bars are her favorite of all candies. As I was pulling into Kensington today, I stopped at the Rite Aid on Aramingo Avenue to pick up a couple of things for myself. That still small voice told me to buy a Kit Kat bar because I would see C. on my way to church. I wrote it off as a silly thought, bought my stuff, and hopped in my car.

I drove down Kensington Avenue and there she was. I saw C. for the first time in quite some time. We chatted briefly. She said she needed a ride four blocks north and so she hopped in. During the ride, I told her how God told me to buy a Kit Kat bar for her and I didn't listen and now I was regretting it.

She gave her typical lite laugh and said something about the importance of listening to God.

It's funny how some of the most important lessons in Christian Life - that of actually listening to God when God speaks - can be had while cruising down Kensington Avenue.

Monday, May 30, 2022

An event in my recent past gave me flashbacks to my own childhood.

One of my loved ones who I met on the streets of Kensington decided to walk away from the care that they were receiving.   While his family and I did what we could to encourage him to stay and continue his care, he was absolutely determined to do otherwise. We did all that we knew to do and said all that we knew to say to convince him to stay and keep working toward renewed health. In the end, he walked away.

As I was leaving the situation, I started reminiscing about my own childhood and the day I decided to run away from home when I was about five years of age. My home at that point in life was a 15-acre property, that of an Episcopal church with a large parking lot. My dad was an Episcopal priest and my mom was a teacher specializing in private tutoring. 

I made it known that I was planning on running away from home. This was a storyline I had seen in a recent TV show and I related to it for some weird childhood reason. I told my parents what I was doing. They spoke to me briefly and said that since I wasn't happy I could do so. I packed my bag and walked down the sidewalk and into the parking lot. I remember looking back and waiting for them to come running after me.

No one did. 

I sat at the far end of the parking lot for a little while hoping that someone would come out and get me. After some amount of time, I walked back to the house and continued on with my day back with my family.

**********

As I compared these two storylines, I started wondering if the better approach to take when someone in the throes of addiction demanding to be fed should just be allowed to leave and not put up any fight at all. The difference, of course, is that the addiction demanding to be fed could easily kill the person whose rational side of thinking would actually prefer to be healed even though the addiction side of thinking is screaming louder at that moment.

The little child choosing to run away from home typically doesn't go far. They walk down the sidewalk, sit for a bit and come home.  The person in addiction running away from their healing may or may not ever come home and that's frightening.

Loved ones of the person running away from their healing are put in a terrible bind. If they simply let their loved one walk away without putting up any debate or argument and their loved one dies, they are left wondering what more they should have done. If they debate or argue to encourage them to stay and their loved one still leaves and dies, they're left wondering if they debated and argued the point too much.

The Civil War that goes on in the mind of the addicted person in this sense ends up being shared or transferred to the loved one. The loved one ends up having a Civil War in their own mind about what they should or should not have done. It’s a really tough place in which loved ones often find themselves… 

**********

Join the conversation:

I've created this anonymous survey for you to share your thoughts on this topic…

Sunday, May 22, 2022

I handed Jawn the card...

It's now Sunday evening. On Saturday morning I woke up with the very clear image of providing ministry handout cards to a certain man who is there far more than I am as he is picking up young ladies for his own sexual purposes. 

Regardless of the time of day that I am there doing my thing, he is there doing his thing.

I don't mean to be rude but this individual is truly disgusting to look at. The very thought of a young lady having to be sexual with him so as to gain funding for an addiction she would rather not have turns my stomach to the point of absolute nausea.

And yet, this past Saturday morning I had an image of sharing cards with him to hand out to the young ladies when they get in his car being that he is there actually far more than am I.

On one side of these cards is the statement,

I am an inspiration on human being. I am in made in the image of God. I am worthy of dignity and honor and respect and love.

As I was visiting on Saturday, this man pulled up on the opposite side of Kensington Avenue.  Very quickly one of the ladies who I've come to know got into his car. She was noticeably high from her drug use. He made a u-turn on Kensington Avenue and pulled over right next to where I was parked as I was doing my thing.  That in itself was a very unusual thing to happen. He and I have never actually spoken. 

He opened the passenger window and asked if the two of them could have two bananas and two bottles of water. I simply stated to him in a matter of fact kind of way that I could give her one banana and one bottle of water. He seemed content with that as she was almost unconscious in the passenger front seat.

I then told him that I had something for him to give to her when she woke up from her high. I handed him a few cards that stated as referenced above. With a weird sort of smile on his face he took them and said that he would read one to her.  And off he drove.

I did not see him today. This is the first day in weeks that I did not see him. Did he read the card and suddenly feel guilty? I sort of doubt that. But I did not see him today.

Maybe, just maybe, those words which he read in reference to the woman he was about to use for his own sexual purposes, may have touched his heart. I don't know. I guess in the days and weeks that follow, I will have a better understanding of what he felt from that.

This is one of many examples of profound ministry experiences that I have had on the streets of Kensington.  I wouldn't trade this for anything. 


Sunday, May 15, 2022

I opened the casket lid hoping to find her still alive and I did.

This is the nature of substance use disorder on the streets of Kensington among the people who are currently homeless.

She had been held up at gunpoint at the end of a 'date' earlier in the day. Tears filled her eyes as she tried to explain the total disgust that she feels for herself and her life on the streets of Kensington.

All of her family is not in touch with her due to death or incarceration or in choosing to look down on her as something not worth considering. She feels totally alone and she told me so quite clearly a matter of just a few hours ago.

A medical condition secondary to her drug use is consuming her body and she knows she needs immediate and probable inpatient care. I told her that I would take her to a certain hospital that is showing itself to be better than the others these days. But first, she had to go do her "get well" so as to be prepared for the hours ahead. And that was the end of her journey to actually getting well.

She did her drugs which one side of her brain demands she does in preparation for the other side of the brain fulfilling its task of seeking and receiving care. She crawled into the back seat of a car that belongs to a friend of hers. After a reasonable amount of time, I along with one other person from the streets gingerly opened the door of the car (which felt like we were opening a potential casket lid) to make sure our loved one was okay. And she was. She was breathing and that's all that counts in such a situation. We let her sleep.

Before you think that this young lady is something less than you because she's an "addict" who raises money as a prostitute, I do want you to know this. Her family home is within the rolling high society hills of Chester County. She is a good and fine and decent and wonderful woman who desperately wants out of this God-forsaken literal hell in which she spends her days.

I opened the casket hoping to find her still alive and I did.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

An overlooked aspect of harm reduction is to pre-arrange the transfer of homeless former inmates to an awaiting rehab, shelter, or subsidized housing.

Michael has been living on the streets of Kensington for several years.  He “boosts’ (shoplifts) to raise some of the funds that he needs for his drug addiction.  He’s actually far more reliant on his street girlfriend’s doing of dates to support his habit as she funds her own addiction. 


About three months ago, Michael was caught shoplifting and taken to the local jail.  It was also discovered that he had outstanding warrants for missing his probation appointments.  


As part of the intake process, he listed his home address as ‘homeless.’

Over the next three months, as he unintentionally detoxed and had time away from his drug use, a seed of rational thinking took root.  By the time he was discharged from jail, he had decided that he was done with drug use.  He had gained much of his physical health and was beaming with a new sense of life, the likes of which he’d not known in years.

It was on a Sunday that I saw Michael for the first time in those three months.  He explained how very done he was with his past lifestyle.  

He added a powerful exclamation point to his statements: 

“Jail was actually a blessing in disguise!”

I asked him why he was there, on the street, when he said that he was done with it all.

“I was discharged from jail on Friday night.  I hope to meet with the housing folks on Monday to get into a shelter or start looking for an apartment.”

In the meantime, for those approximate 72 hours, at least to some degree, he’s reliant on boosting and his girlfriend’s dates just to supply his basic food needs.

I saw him again this past Wednesday.  He was still living on the street, boosting a bit and relying on her as his primary source of income.  I asked how he was doing with staying away from his drug use…

“I’m dabbling a bit with it.”

**********

Michaela has been living on the streets of Kensington for several years.  She does dates to raise most of the funds that she needs for her drug addiction and for a large part of her street boyfriend’s addiction.  

About three months ago, Michaela was caught in a prostitution ‘sting operation’ and taken to the local jail.  It was also discovered that she had outstanding warrants for missing her probation appointments.  

As part of the intake process, she listed her home address as ‘homeless.’

Over the next three months, as she unintentionally detoxed and had time away from her drug use, a seed of rational thinking took root.  By the time she was discharged from jail, she had decided that she was done with drug use.  She had gained much of her physical health and was beaming with a new sense of life, the likes of which she’d not known in years.

It was on a Sunday that I saw Michaela for the first time in those three months.  She explained how very done she was with her past lifestyle.  

She added a powerful exclamation point to her statements: 

“Jail was actually a blessing in disguise!”

I asked her why she was there, on the street, when she said that she was done with it all.

“I was discharged from jail on Friday night.  I hope to meet with the housing folks on Monday to get into a shelter or start looking for an apartment.”

In the meantime, for those approximate 72 hours, at least to some degree, she’s reliant on doing dates just to supply her basic food needs and very possibly for the drug needs of her street boyfriend.

I saw Michaela again this past Wednesday.  She was still living on the street and doing dates for basic income. I asked how she was doing with staying away from her drug use…

“I’m dabbling a bit with it.”

**********

Michael and Michaela both experienced the growth of a seed of rational thinking that could have grown into a strong plant and led them to a new life. 

During those three months of incarceration, nothing had been done in regard to housing in preparation for their discharge.

And so the cycle of recidivism comes back to square one.  In fact, having been opioid-free for those 12 weeks, both are at higher risk of overdose and death since their bodies have reset to having no tolerance to these substances.

**********

In a very real way, those 12 weeks of jail time were equivalent to 12 weeks of hospital admission time.  Each patient entered fully addicted and left non-addicted.  

It’s not at all unusual for a hospitalized patient to be transferred to an extended care facility prior to going home.  This transfer process to an extended care facility is prepared for even as the person is in their active healing mode.

For both Michael and Michaela, it was a known fact that their home was in a state of homelessness.  How much better off would they be if their equivalent of extended care - shelter or subsidized housing or better yet, rehab - had been worked out prior to their discharge from jail?

While none of this can produce guaranteed results:

There would have been no more boosting and dating.

There would have been no more chance of overdosing.

There would have been the potential for eventual reunification with family and re-establishment of a healthy life.

There would have been the re-entering of two people into the workforce, contributing to society, paying taxes and so much more.

An overlooked aspect of harm reduction is to pre-arrange the transfer of homeless former inmates to an awaiting rehab, shelter, or subsidized housing.






Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Raped at Gunpoint in the Absence of Prompt, Dignity and Respect Filled Healthcare

I arrived at Huntington Station in Kensington this morning at about 10:30 a.m. I got out of my car and the first conversation I had was with a woman who approached me. She appeared very shaken. She told me that she had been raped at gunpoint earlier in the morning.

Why do we allow medical patients with substance use disorder to be raped at gunpoint instead of giving them prompt and dignity and respect filled care through the Medicaid healthcare system?

Monday, April 18, 2022

As the car pulled away, I could not help but realize the power play that had just transpired in front of me...

It was just after 3 p.m. on this Good Friday, a time when the Christian World acknowledges the death of Christ and his dead body's removal from the Cross. This moment of annual Historical remembrance was barely noticed by a soft-spoken and broken couple as he dipped and she napped while leaning against a wall at their typical location, the intersection of This and That. 

He had just injected his latest dose of medicine which his body demands. He was dipping out from its effect. She lay next to him exhausted from the never-ending requirement of doing ‘dates’ to fund their combined drug use.[1] 

As the dip and the nap came to a natural conclusion for each, she stood up next to him and rubbed his neck and they loved on each other the way a devoted couple does. She then put on some makeup in preparation for the man who would be picking her up for a weekend-long date for his own pleasures. 

And sure enough, a short time later, he pulled up and she hopped in his car.  As she did so, she didn’t look back at her long-time actual lover.  His back was turned away from her as she departed so as not to see her leave. 

As the car pulled away, I could not help but realize the power play that had just transpired in front of me.  It’s an unspoken monologue of the 'date' to the long-time lover of the lady who is trapped in the middle of this drama.  

"I'm going to have sex with your lady because I have the money and you have the addiction." 

The actual lover of the lady has no rebuttal available.  He's trapped.  As the woman of this[2] heterosexual couple, she's the breadwinner.  She raises the money by making herself available to any guy who will pay her for 'services.' 

Is "trapped" the right word for this situation?  

In their medically weakened and spiritually broken condition, can they endure the climb up "Medicaid Mountain" with its narrow cliff trails and absence of guard rails that would keep them from falling?   

Most people in such a condition can't make the climb up the mountain.  It's easier to stay on the known side of the mountain than it is to climb it in hopes of getting to the land of healing and renewed health. 

So, in that sense "trapped" is the right word. 

The medical and legislative powers that be must plow down Medicaid Mountain!  

To do so, every real and perceived obstacle that the patient claims is holding them back from starting the journey to healing must be identified and removed from the path.  While it's very true that the patient must do the work of their own healing, the medical community must make it possible for the patient to do so. 

All patients of any medical diagnosis have the right to decide when they will seek professional help toward healing.  When any Medicaid-reliant Substance Use Disorder patient finds that ready moment, they must not be required to climb a mountain before getting to the care they now want.

Plow down Medicaid Mountain and you will untrap this soft-spoken and currently broken couple.



[1] The total cost is 4 to $500 per 24-hour cycle

[2] Or any

Friday, March 25, 2022

I Hope So...


These hours between sunset and sunrise, Friday into Saturday have become a Sacred time in my world as of eleven weeks ago this night.  

Unwittingly, unwantingly, her spirit moved Home sometime in the quiet hours between dusk and dawn.  


Four weeks after that fateful night, these words in yellow came to me as if being spoken to me by a loved one.  I believe they were…  No… I know they were from her.


Anyone who knew my Earth departed and now Heaven-homed friend knew that she was an amazing, naturally gifted counselor.  Numerous times during the two years that we were in nearly daily communication, she would listen intently, question inquisitively and respectfully, share a thought, offer an idea, or make a suggestion that demonstrated her skills of counsel which were far beyond her years and academic level.  


Our world lost the opportunity of knowing this amazing counselor.


These words in yellow were on Wednesday’s song sheet that I shared with the people on the streets, quite a few of whom knew and loved my friend.  The spontaneous routine reaction from many of them as they read these words was:  “Oh! WOW!”


One woman took these words farther than the other folks who read the same thing.  She came back to me maybe half an hour later with a shake in her voice…


“I want to wake up tomorrow morning.  I’m going to detox today.”


She didn’t stay to talk about her idea.  She was on a mission.  She marched out of view and I didn’t see her again.


Did she go to a crisis center to be cleared for admission to a detox facility?  I hope so.  If she did go, did she stay long enough to be admitted or did she experience what another person I know experienced when she found her ‘ready moment’ and went to a crisis center for entry into detox?  Click here to read about that in her own words.


Did she get into detox or did she need to be medically cleared at an emergency room only to be told by an R.N. to “Get Out of My Emergency Room!” as was one of the DelCo Five?  


For as bad as that statement by an R.N. is, the worst statement I’ve ever heard was received by my friend days before she died: 


"We are discharging you because we need your bed for real patients.” 


Why would any medical professional say such a dreadful thing to a physically, emotionally, and spiritually fragile patient of an officially recognized medical diagnosis?


These words in yellow which were provided by one who wishes she had done something differently this evening eleven weeks ago and who didn’t want to die are her words of counsel offered to one and all who still have an opportunity to create a new path for life.


The reader of these words in yellow was ready to receive care?


Was the system for medical provision ready, willing, and able to provide the care?


I Hope So...



Thursday, March 24, 2022

“I moved home and had been on Methadone for two months. I didn’t do any opioids that whole time.”

In one of those moments that could have only been coordinated by God, I arrived a few minutes earlier than normal and parked where I normally do not.  I got out of my car and there she was.  Our mutual joy in seeing each other was spontaneous and overflowing.  We walked toward each other and hugged the hug of loved ones who had not seen each other in a long time.

I’d not seen her in a couple of months and was growing concerned that something had happened.  I had no way of knowing where to find her other than checking hospitals and jails.

As she beamed her delight for life in the midst of her challenges, she shared with me what she’d been doing during those missing months…


“I moved home and had been on Methadone for two months.  I didn’t do any opioids that whole time.”

I celebrated with her as did Tom and Jonathan, two men who join me on Wednesdays, and then delicately asked why she was there now…

“My dad threw me out of the house yesterday.  I had nowhere to go so I came back here where I know people.  My Methadone dose isn’t high enough and so I used opioids last night for the first time in two months and I overdosed.  (My friend here) saved me with Narcan.  That threw me into precipitated withdrawal and so I used a tiny bit more just to get over that and I overdosed again and (my friend) saved me again.”

I turned to her friend, a man I’ve come to know, and I thanked him for being there for her.  I gave him two more Narcan from my supply that had been given to me by the Medics on the Rapid Response vehicle.

She then added this…

“Prior to moving home and starting on Methadone, I was using about two bundles[1] every 24 hours.  I never overdosed.  I stopped using and started again with one packet last night and overdosed right away.”

“I wish you could have just stayed home,”  I added.

“Well, it’s better that I’m here.  My dad was touching me too much.”

**********

*****Stop reading and contemplate that statement!*****

From her understandable perspective, it’s better to live homeless doing opioids than it is to live at home.

**********

Our conversation continued for a bit and came to a natural close as she walked to the corner or “This and That Streets” so as to be picked up by some random guy who in our moments of conversation neither of us knew existed on this earth.  She was in his car within minutes.

For funding of her Medicine that she needs due to a too low dose of Methadone, her MAT medicine[2] that could save her life, she has little choice but to allow herself to be touched too much by a random guy and touch him in ways that no one should touch another except in the most intimate and committed of relationships.

If she overdoses again, will she survive?  If she survives and ends up in a local emergency room, will she be treated like a medical patient with Substance Use Disorder?

 

Dear Emergency Room Medical/Nursing/Support Staff,

If this dear soul which beams brightly even in the midst of her life's darkness should come before you in her time of crisis, please treat her as the inspirational human being made in the image of God worthy of dignity, honor, respect, and love who she absolutely is. 

Please do not be misguided if she comes to you malnourished, emaciated, and with the physical appearance of your grandmother.  Remember, she's in her twenties.

Please remember that within what you see with your eyes, there beats the young heart of a soul who wants to heal.  Her mind is in a civil war like no other civil war on this planet.  Please use your medical skills and your compassion that brought you into your chosen medical field to help her win her battle for her betterment.

Please do not allow any prejudices that may exist within you to provide anything less than excellent medical intervention for her.  Do not tell her to "Get out of my emergency room." as did one RN to another of my loved ones.  Do not tell her that you're discharging her because "We need your bed for real patients" as someone did to yet another loved one on January 3  of this year.  That one died four days later.

Please use your medical/nursing/support skills as best as is possible to connect with her and to encourage her to stay the course and stay focused on the healing that can be found.  She needs you to be her strength and guide and all mechanism of artillery to win her civil war.

In the belief that you will do so,

Chris


[1] That's 32 bags of heroin/fentanyl at $5.00 per bag totaling $160.00 per day requiring 5 to 10 'dates' per 24 hour cycle to have the money.

[2] Medication-Assisted Treatment - An officially recognized method of treatment for Substance Use Disorder patients

Friday, March 11, 2022

Saturday, March 5, 2022

"When he was finally done..."

 "When he was finally done..." 

In the context of this blog, these are not the words of a young mother waiting for her juvenile son to finish his broccoli at the family dinner table. 

These are the words of a woman who is the same age as that young mother and who is waiting for some until very recently unknown man to finish thrusting himself inside of her in the midst of a rape or a casually agreed to encounter in the back of a pickup truck or back alley on the streets of Kensington.

She agreed to get into his vehicle with the intent of providing some lesser degree of sexual service in exchange for funding for her next supply of drugs. She has no actual interest in him nor does he for her.

She needs his money to buy the drugs that are required in the midst of her addiction that she would rather not have and he needs, well, whatever it is that he needs. 

He robs her of dignity and respect in exchange for what he needs and he provides funds for what she needs.

In the past two weeks, I've heard two women make that simple statement...

"When he was finally done..."

The first of these statements came from a woman who lived for a time so close to my childhood home that I consider her my closest actual neighbor on those streets of my younger years.

The second woman to make this statement to me happened earlier today. She's one of the original Delco 5. You've already met her in at least one previous blog. I had to Narcan her a couple of years ago.  She was taken by ambulance to Episcopal hospital where the registered nurse told her:

"Get out of my emergency room!" 

This young woman was violently raped about 3 days ago and still bears the physical scars and emotional scars.

Both of these women have had their encounters with medical professionals within the realm of Medicaid who could have guided them onto a new and healthier path. In the case of the latter, the registered nurse simply said...

"Get out of my emergency room!" 

Each and every time that a medical professional fails to provide dignity and respect-filled service in a prompt way to these men and women on the streets of Kensington, they are opening the door to further physical and emotional, and spiritual deterioration and injury.

It is way beyond time for the issues of neglect and abuse and malpractice to be addressed so as to bring substance use disorder patients back to the healing that is so desperately wanted and needed who are currently homeless and residents on the streets of Kensington.


Monday, February 28, 2022

"It's the Disease Itself."

I am adding a new feature to some of my blogs.  If you would like to ANONYMOUSLY participate in a short questionnaire about this topic, after reading this blog, I invite you to click here and share your thoughts.

**********

I pulled up to just a bit south of the intersection of 'This and That Streets.'  On this day, I had my usual water, bananas, and song sheets.  I also had apple sauce and fruit cocktails in single-serving containers thanks to "Loaves of Love."

As I glanced toward the intersection, I saw 'Susan' standing and waiting for an as of yet unknown guy to pick her up to 'do a date.'  I organized each of my items for her into an earth-friendly vanilla-scented plastic bag and walked over to her.  Two seconds earlier, a white minivan with Delaware tags pulled down 'That Street.'  Susan walked toward the passenger side.  As she did so, I called out to her from about 20 feet away and asked her if I could give her the bag.  With a smile of appreciation, she said she would be right back and to hold it for her if I was willing.  She hopped in that white minivan with Delaware tags and off they went.

True to her word, a few minutes later, she hopped out of that white minivan with Delaware tags at the corner of 'This and Another That Streets' one block south.  She slipped her new money into her pocket as she walked toward me.  I gave her the bag as the guy drove off in his white minivan with Delaware tags.

As I gave her the bag, with all the casualness of a morning conversation over coffee, 'Susan' started talking about the hazards of 'doing dates' and life on the streets in general.  The details she shared were frightening.  I asked her if the high that she gets from the drugs is so good that it makes the hazards somehow worth it.

"Absolutely Not!"  She declared. "I rarely get high anymore."  She added.

"So what keeps you doing this?"  I asked.

Her answer was amazingly simple.

"It's the disease itself."[1]

Now hold that thought for a bit…

 

The very next day, I parked right at the intersection of 'This and That Streets.'  'Susan' was standing there waiting for yet another as of yet unknown guy to pick her up to 'do a date.'  We greeted each other as I handed her another banana, water, and song sheet.  I thanked her for sharing her thoughts with me the day before.  I told her that I found her answer "It's the disease itself." to be so to the point and profound. 

I then asked her how she handles the risks to herself when dealing with potentially dangerous men while 'doing dates.'

Again, her answer caught my attention and it should you as well…

"My husband watches me as I get into each car.  He writes down the car description and license plate.  If I come up missing, he'll at least have that information to share with authorities."

Did you read that?  "My husband watches me as I get into each car…"

WOW!

What other disease requires its sufferers to 'do dates' and, in the case of a married couple, engage in open adultery while the other spouse is forced to watch her leave and take notes regarding the car in which the act of adultery will take place?

'Susan' recognizes that she has a disease.[2] 

The disease is not making this requirement of its sufferers!

When will the powers that be within the realm of Medicaid-based health care recognize these people as having a disease and begin to treat them as patients with the dignity and respect that they deserve and do so in a prompt manner?



[1] "Substance Use Disorder" is the official title.

[2] Her husband also has the disease and lives on the street with her.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Absolutely Unacceptable.

That which follows was originally presented as four separate blogs.  The original blogs were removed and are now presented here as one blog for clarity of events as shared with me by 'Dakota's' friends who were there and by 'Dakota' herself during these days.

Isn't there a better approach?

12/16/2021 11:22:00 AM

In mid-2016, I truly believe that God led me to the streets of Kensington.  Two unrelated storylines in my life got me there.

In this time I've come to know and love so many people who call the streets home.

  • Some have found healing and moved on in amazing, new, and revitalized lives.
  • Others have died by overdose or medical situations secondary to their drug use.
  • And then there is a third category of loved ones who rips my heart to shreds…


These are the men and women who are growing increasingly physically emaciated.  Whatever degree of healthy weight they may have had at one point has reduced itself to a living and breathing skeleton of their former self.  Some are riddled with abscesses while others are on the verge of losing one or more extremities.  Teeth are falling out or gone.  


And I'm supposed to just sit back and not say anything directly to them because people tell me that would be rude.


It's extremely painful to watch a loved one or multiple loved ones seemingly run and run hard toward their own casket.


Isn't there a better approach for loved ones than to just sit back and wait for that phone call informing me that the run is done?

**********

Sprint to the Finish

December 17, 2021

Have you ever seen a long-distance runner who has a nice even pace?  They are not always at the front of the pack of runners.  Nor are they at the back.  They are just running along doing what a long-distance runner does - run and run and run - until they cross the finish line.

And then there are the runners doing exactly that until they find within themselves a burst of determination despite utter exhaustion to not just finish the race but win the race. 

Their run becomes a sprint to the finish line.  They push themselves beyond their exhaustion point and keep pushing until they pass the current leader of the pack, cross that line and win the race.

One of my dear and treasured friends is in sprint mode right now. 

Her sprint is not one of a runner's race.  It is her personal sprint fueled by determination to keep her active addiction alive.  I'm in the bleachers of her life and can't reach her to stop her or slow her down.

The fuel for her run has been one part food and six parts prostitution.  Each and every day, seven days per week, 365 days per year, this fuel has kept her going barely nutritionally and fully financially.  The never-ending consistent pattern of a runner for my friend is Make money... Get high...  Make Money... Get high... Eat… Make money... Get high...  Make Money... Get high…

With a lack of meals and an abundance of drugs, emaciation moves in and 'regulars'[1] move out.  Streetwalking to be picked up by some previously unknown to her guy upon which to provide a sexual 'service' to fund her medicinal needs becomes a central part of the sprint in the final stage of her race.

Tunnel vision blocks out the love of family and friends who beg her to stop or at least slow the pace of the race.  There seems to be nothing we can do or say that she can see or hear.

Unlike the Olympic runner's race where the finish line is a laser-measured point of claiming joy-filled victory, the finish for my loved one will be that final unwitnessed and therefore unsaved by Narcan overdose, her murder on a 'date' gone bad, that stray bullet or that severe injury or infection brought on by the hazards of her run.

Unlike the runner's finish line visible at a specific point on the track, my loved one's finish could come at any moment.  She won't know it until she gets there and in reality, not even then for death will have closed her eyes to it before her realization knows it.  She'll cross the line and her sprint to her own casket will be complete.

I'm in the bleachers of her life deeply desiring to cheer her on to a life filled with all of the goodness that I know lays within her.  At one point in her race, before she started the sprint to her finish, she did hear and appreciate my cheers for her.  Her tunnel vision and laser focus on feeding her addiction now block me out regardless of how loud I cheer for her goodness or scream in my fear for her finish.

For as much as I want her to do so, with little belief that she will soon quit her sprint, surrender herself to healing and claim her health-filled victory, I can only hope that she trips in her sprint, lands alive on her face, and needs medical intervention to tend to her minor wounds.  At that moment, I hope and pray that medical professionals who are poised right next to the track upon which she now sprints and who have dedicated their careers to the ideals of Hippocrates will come alongside her, compassionately connect with her, and guide her into the healing that she deserves and deep down inside truly desires.


[1] Men who call her consistently to 'serve' them.

********************************************


'Dakota' was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.

Monday, January 3, 2022


Just a few hours ago, 'Dakota' was taken by ambulance to a local [1] hospital.  She was bundled in a blanket, lifted to a 'stair chair', and carried to an awaiting ambulance stretcher by an ambulance crew due to weakness brought on by her serious medical condition.

Please understand that 'Dakota' is a treasure to know.  She's devoted to her friends and a stunning, intelligent, and naturally gifted professional counselor even though she does not (yet) carry the scholastic credentials that make her skills official and employable.

Would it not have been better for the healthcare system to provide prompt, dignity, and respect-filled medical care to 'Dakota' when she wanted it months and years ago? 

Why must a patient with Substance Use Disorder who is reliant on Medicaid lay in something resembling their death bed before they start receiving legitimate and meaningful health care?

On Wednesday, May 26, 2021, 'Dakota' helped me finalize the writing of this blog about herself and the situation she was unwittingly in.:

"What keeps you from going to detox?"

Let's expand the definition of 'Harm Reduction' to include and resolve these issues.



[1] Local to the residence of a friend who was doing everything possible to keep her alive….

[2] independent of intellectual understanding by the same patient that this is not good

**********


“We Need Your Bed for ‘Real Patients.’”

January 15, 2022

Was it too much to have the following hope as I wrote (above in this blog) on December 17, 2021?

For as much as I want her to do so, with little belief that she will soon quit her sprint, surrender herself to healing and claim her health-filled victory, I can only hope that she trips in her sprint, lands alive on her face, and needs a brief medical intervention to tend to her minor wounds. 

At that moment, I hope and pray that medical professionals who are poised right next to the track upon which she now sprints and who have dedicated their careers to the ideals of Hippocrates will come alongside her, compassionately connect with her, and guide her into the healing that she deserves and deep down inside truly desires.

**********

When I learned that 'Dakota' had tripped in her sprint[1] and that she had surrendered to the care she desperately needed, I was relieved in knowing that this moment of healing and the first step toward her new life was at hand.

Two hours after she was admitted to the emergency room, with their Hippocratic Oath long since forgotten and compassion for her as a patient disconnected, my dear friend was discharged with little care given to her 'trip wound.' 

Their explanation to her for her unwanted discharge:

"We need your bed for 'real patients.'"

She was dead by the end of the week.

**********

She surrendered herself to healing.

She started to claim her health-filled victory.

She was too weak to walk and so was carried off the sprinter's track by an ambulance crew who she said was kind and caring and into the presence of medical professionals who had forgotten their Hippocratic Oath and failed to compassionately connect

In our last ever phone conversation, with a weakened voice 'Dakota' told me hours later that she was truly scared by what was happening and that it took a great deal for her to agree to have help called for her. 

She wanted and submitted to help and help failed her.

Help in the form of hospital emergency room staff failed her and so, from her perspective,

Why bother trying again?

'Dakota's' sprint to and crossing of her finish line came, not when she gave up on herself.  It came when the medical community gave up on her.  

Her race is now complete not because she wanted it to be complete but because emergency room staff brought the finish line to her and placed it within easy and unintended reach.

The body of this hospital's 'real patient' contained the spirit of a living and breathing inspirational human being.  She was made in the image of God.  She was worthy of dignity, honor, respect, and love. 

She was my friend and I miss her.

She is now lying in a morgue awaiting retrieval by her family.

**********

Update: As of January 22, ‘Dakota’s’ ashes are in an urn at her mother’s house…



[1] Metaphorically Speaking