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?
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' 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.
 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  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.:
Let's expand the definition of 'Harm Reduction' to include and resolve these issues.
 Local to the residence of a friend who was doing everything possible to keep her alive….
 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 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…
 Metaphorically Speaking