This blog is my public diary of experiences that I've had as I become increasingly involved in the area of Kensington, Pa. I am including experiences that I am having as I sit down, one on one, with homeless people who are dealing with Substance Use Disorder. All Names have been changed and, occasionally, I share a story using the opposite pronoun (he/she him/her), as an additional way to assure privacy.
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.
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Sunday, July 24, 2022
Found in Kensington saving a life so another family would not know loss...
A BSN student misplaced on the streets of Kensington...
Tuesday, July 19, 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 and has stayed away thus far.
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 with a 15-acre property, that of an Episcopal church with a very 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 and 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 is screaming louder at that moment.
The little child choosing to run away from home typically doesn't go very 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 too much 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 transferred to the loved one and the loved one ends up having a Civil War in their own mind of what they should or should not have done. It’s a really tough place in which loved ones often find themselves…
A few days ago I dropped off one of my empty banana crates on a street corner where a bunch of my loved ones live. These banana crates are very solid cardboard boxes. I came back the next day and it had been filled with trash from a particular local man's sweeping of the street.
After my visit on this next day, I had another banana crate that I really did not want to bring home with me. I saw the man across the street and I asked him if he would like me to leave this empty banana crate for him to fill with local street trash. He said that would be fine. And then he said something really interesting. He actually said…
Now, what's so usual about that? I was doing something that was beneficial to his perspective on what was going on. Why wouldn't he say “Thank you.”? That particular expression of appreciation really dug into my soul because this man is the corner drug dealer.
The corner drug dealer was appreciative of my humble kindness toward his cleaning efforts. Keep in mind that I don't like what he's doing as his income but I did appreciate the fact that he was keeping the streets clean.
The drug dealer said, “Thank you.”
And this really got me thinking.
When's the last time anyone else in a position of some sort of authority over me demonstrated appreciation?
A demonstration of appreciation through a simple “Thank you.” keeps people going and it is sorely lacking in our culture these days.
If you are in a position of authority over people in any way shape or form, I would highly encourage you to demonstrate appreciation for their efforts. It's amazing how many more miles you will get out of a person whether that person is a friend or an employee or what-have-you.
Demonstrate some appreciation and see how much better your interaction with that person becomes.
Friday, July 8, 2022
To Better Understand...
For those of us who are on the outside of addiction and looking in trying to better understand what it's all about, I have a few suggestions.
To better understand the nursing aspects of addiction, you could speak to an RN or a student nearing graduation with a nursing degree. They can explain to you much of the discomfort that is associated with the healing process, especially in the early stages thereof.
If you're interested in having a better understanding of what goes on in the brain, you could speak to a neurologist or a neurosurgeon, or a student advanced in their studies. This person could give you a reasonably clear understanding of what the patient’s brain is doing and how it's been damaged by the drug use and how it tricks the person into thinking one thing when reality is actually something else.
If you're wondering what addiction does to one's spirit, you could speak to a pastoral person of whatever spiritual persuasion is best for you. This person could give you a better understanding of the battle between the disease and the spirit.
If you're wondering how addiction affects the person on the social level and within the family, you could sit down with a social worker and learn about that aspect of this.
If you are wondering how addiction affects the person from a legal perspective, you could sit down with an attorney or a police officer and ask related questions.
And here's the kicker to all of these suggestions…
You don't need to sit down with a currently working RN or neurologist or neurosurgeon or pastoral person or social worker or attorney or police officer. You can find several of each on the streets of Kensington and ask them about their professional insights as they live within the nightmare of the topic.
Their professional credentials may have been stripped from them due to their disease but they still have their professional insights.
I've had this privilege many times over almost 6 years. I've listened as these professionals explain their own addiction from their professional perspective and how much they despise the situation they're in.
As our conversations conclude, each one goes back to doing what their disease tells them they must do. Some will go to their preferred street corner to be picked up by some random guy. Others will make their way to that store where they can easily steal something to sell on the streets. Others yet will stand in the street and ‘panhandle’ to raise funds. Each of these persons will then buy the drugs that their body demands, and inject or otherwise consume them quickly.
It is not likely to be their professionalism that will help them find their way out of their personal nightmare. That will only come when they choose to surrender to the healing process and claim victory over their disease.
It is their professionalism that will give you insights into their situation of street-bound addiction like you have never had before.