My Sister, The Perfect Addict
Addicts are regular peolple too
When you think of an addict, what comes to mind? A homeless man sitting at the bottom of an overpass with a sign that says "Will Work for Food". The women who lives next door and never seems to have enough money to buy groceries for her kids but party's all the time?
These thoughts used to come to my mind when thinking of an addict but that is not always true. In my sister's case, it was a Paramedic, a Perfect Mom, Great Daughter, perfect wife, beloved by all, the one I wished I was. My sister. I feel ashamed that I am even writing about her because her life was so picture perfect but sad as well. Maybe by reading this, you will understand why addicts become addicts, how it happens and what to do, before it is too late.
Always better, I thought
Tina and I were born 14 months apart. We were pretty much raised as twins although we carried not one same apperance characterisitc and our personalities were like night and day. We were so different, Tina was aggressive, territorial and stubborn as a child and my mother tells me that I was passive and just smiled all the time.
In school Tina played the Flute, Piccolo, Bag Pipe, and French Horn. She was in the Symphonic Band, Honor's Society and ran for Student Council, and of course won. I was the air-headed Cheerleader, Fashion Merchandising Club Member, and attended every party, every weekend. Although I never drank for fear my mother would knock the breath out of me, if there was a party I was there and Tina would be at home waiting for me to come tell her all the news and to bluntly tell me I looked like a Madonna wanna be on a real bad day.
Tina went to church 3 times a week not including Youth, Church Camp, Band Camp and volunteered as blood drives and the local hospital. She always said she was going to be a Doctor. I had absolutely no idea of my future, I lived from one Wham song to the next. She always had it so together and I secretly wished I could be her, free from pressure of friends, smart, talented. I never told her. Every single day I regret that.
Everybody's Life Saver
After graduating High School Tina went to college for Accounting. My mother worked at the the City Police Department in our small town and that is where she met then married her husband. Tina went back to college again to be a Paramedic. Her husband had exposed her to the life of a policeman and she loved she rush so she decided to become a Paramedic. Her job at the EMS Services was pretty set in stone with her high grades and contacts with the City and County. After only a year she was Captain of her squad and again going to school to be a Flight Nurse. She had assisted on several occasions with flights from our local hosptal transporting patients to Duke and UNC Chapel Hill. She wanted to do that as well.
Tina and her husband had a little boy by this time. She had a nanny due to her and her husbands 12 hour shifts and sometimes were opposite. She had a beautiful home, 3 cars, a life anyone would love.
She was the "one to call" in our family. Our grandparents were getting older and sometimes EMS services were required. If Tina was working, mom would call 911 and ask to speak to Tina! They knew there had to be a problem and rushed right out. If i had got stung by a bee I would call her and she would come running with her lights flashing in her Explorer. I am allergic to bees and can't stand needles so I would call Tina and she would rush wherever i was at to give me my epi shot. I never imagined not being able to due that. If anyone was ever sick in the family they called her before going to the Dr. She was everybody's life-savior.
In two years time Tina was working with the paramedics with Nascar in Rockingham NC and Darlington SC. She stayed on the sidelines with the Ambulance crew and assisted the drivers after many accidents. Her life was so full. Hanging out with Mark Martin, how cool was that?
She and her husband were having probems. They rarely seen each other and he had a girlfriend. I think in some ways she tried to accept it. She was in alot of emotional pain but she hid it very well.
How it all Started
This particular year, Tina was faced with alot of situations that most people could never handle. Being a Paramedic and a Flight Nurse you see things that are so unreal that they leave images embedded in your mind. She got a call one night to a trailer park where someone had been shot. That was not all of it. It wasn't one person, it was four. A father had killed himself and his three children in the bathtub. She went to de-briefing several times, but that image haunted her with chilling nightmares.
That following summer she went on a call where a child had been hit by a car. This child belonged to a dear friend of mine and he knew Tina well and vice versa. The little boy was 9 years old and had been riding his bicycle in his driveway. They lived on a very busy road. The little boy was going fast and tried to stop in time but was hit by an oncoming car at the end of his driveway. The car was going 50-55 mph for the speed limit was 55. After being hit by the car, he was hit again by a car coming from the other direction. When Tina and her squad arrived at the scene there was absolutley nothing that could be done. Without being graphic, he was dead on arrival. Our friend, his father got on his hands and knees and begged Tina to save hime, it was the most pitiful thing I had ever seen. (Tina was on call so I went with her) That image will never leave my mind and once again there was another traumatic event which Tina could not shake. She never talked about it, she worked harder.
Tina being Tina she volunteerd to work during an ice storm. She went on a call where a car had slid down an overpass and no one could get the the driver. While on this call Tina injured her back. As soon as they got the patient to the ER a doctor gave her a shot for the pain, a prescription for 90 Percocet. That is when it started.
When the prescription ran out she got another, then another, then another and more shots every time she complained to a Doctor. Not only were these pills making her psuedo pain go away but it also made the emotional and mental pain fo away. She was addicted. It would be a long road to try to reach recovery ahead with so many enablers. It was impossible.
The long Years Ahead
Eventually, Tina and her husband divorced. Tina would sometimes work 24 to 36 hours straight and leave her son with his nanny. Her Ex soon got custody and that just through her in a more downward sprial.
The family, especially my older brother Jeff tried intervention and intervention. Her addiction had escalated to the point that she had lost her job. My older brother Jeff supported Tina and her habit at this time. He thought, as so many do he was doing the right thing. She had been in re-hab several times but watching her withdrawl from the pills upset my brother so much he would go out and find what she needed. He was our only father figure for our father had abandoned us at an early age and we had no relationship with him at all.
My brother Jeff got my Tina an apartment beside me. I was in the middle of a divorce at this time with two girls of my own. Tina was doing alot better and was about to have a baby. After her child was born Tina went back to re-hab. Her daughter, who is now 9, stayed with my mother.
Thanksgiving was right around the corner and I was looking forward to a normal family dinner with Tina and her two kids. I prayed so hard things would re-wind. Thanksgiving Day my sister sat at the table and nodded off several times. As it would turn out, my brother Jeff had heard about methedone maintenance for opiate addiction, got her some and was weaning her off himself. It was working until she fell in love with the methedone. Angry, saddened and sompletely distraught we had her committed again. Tina came home 2 weeks later, she always managed to talk her way out. No matter what she was coming home, she didnt belong there, there was nothing wrong with her.
One week after coming home from re-hab with a prescription for Methadone, everyone's life would be turned upside down.
The Lost Weekend
I will never forget the phone call. Not in a million years. I was at work and Tina's ex-husband called me and told me that I needed to come home it was about Tina. I had not seen her all weekend, although I lived beside her she often took her daughter and stayed with her best friend on weekends. We were relieved when she did this for her best friend was clean. Tina seemed to do well when she maintained a close relationship with her. I procrastinated about leaving my job to run to Tina's side. Over the years I had gotten her out of trouble alot with the law and so did her ex and his friends. I assumed she had just called them to her apartment to report her pills being stole. She had a habit of doing that when she ran out. That is what i assumed was going on. He called back again and said he was coming to pick me up, not to leave. He had called my boss man ahead of time so he knew I would be leaving. He got there so quickly and went i got in the car he had the funniest look on his face. He didnt say a word, just drove 5 miles to her apartment extremely fast. When we pulled into the Apartment Complex I could not believe what was going in. There were 4 ambulances, every city cop, state troopers, and county. I couldnt figure it out. I immediately got out of the car and ran up to my sisters door where I was pulled back by several officers. I turned around and saw my mother, holding my sister's beautiful, soiled, sleeping daughter. I was so confused I just ran past the officers and ran into my sisters apartment. There stood the Medical Examiner and my sister was on the floor with a sheet over her head. The back door was busted down. I lost all control and the next thing I remember is being held by my pastor, my friends and some officers. My sister had died of withdrawal, two days ago. Her 17 month old daughter lived off of Funions, potato chips and pepsi all weekend. My brother had gone to check on her and when he didnt get an answer to the door be busted it down and there lay my sister with blood trickling down her nose and my neice asleep beside her dead mother. My sister was gone, gone, gone for good. Words can't explain what I was and still felt. My brother was so devastated he left on foot.
Too Much Too Soon
Four days later our family, ( my mother, grandmother, 2 of my 4 brothers and myself) sat in the Funeral Home making arrangments. Jeff wasn't there and we couldn't figure out why. We knew he wasn't doing well for no one was and we had all stayed together that week but Jeff stayed home. My mothers best friend was taking him something to eat when she walked in his unlocked house and found Jeff, dead. He had committed suicide because apparently or what we believe is that he blamed himself. That's another story. May you both rest in peace, I love you, i will always always love you,
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