Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thanks, Elle

It was another warm summer night and me and my friend Johnny were entirely too bored. We had gone through our usual outlets to try and score some MDMA from Tommy the Asian, but he was too smacked out of his mind to try and do anything productive. Tommy was on the outs with his Laotian friends because of his increased heroin use. At this point in my life I had no idea what heroin was about, I just knew that from watching Tommy's downward spiral that I wanted no part of it. Previously, Tommy had the best rolls in town. They were always the same; blue Porches. They were pure MDMA, no speed, no MDA, no PMA, no bullshit. Well, as previously stated, this wasn't going to happen tonight.

Johnny had given me money for "some rolls or some trip or some shit like that". Johnny and I had a language no other person on the planet could really understand. That was in part to his nearly incomprehensible accent. No, accent is not even the right word. The man barely spoke English. When we first began hanging out, he would call me on the phone and without his body language and being able to read his lips, I had no fucking clue what the man was talking about. Initially, his girlfriend, Amy, had to translate everything for me. You see, he was from Cullman County, Alabama, and his teeth were rotting out from years of abuse. His accent was so heavy that he pronounced, and for months, I thought he was from Oldeman County, Alabama, a place I could not find on any map.

The third player tonight was Elle Boogy. I love Elle like a little sister. She and I grew up together since elementary school. If you took a Barbie doll and shrunk her down to about 4'4", that would be Elle. She and her beau Paul were broken up and she was with some new guy named Bear. I'm not even changing this guy's name. His Christian name on his fucking birth certificate was Bear. He was only slightly taller than Elle and from what I could tell, White trash. Now, I'm not one to judge and given my past I hardly have a leg to stand on and presently I only have one leg I can really stand on, but Bear was no good. Through him she had connections to mushroom chocolates. A week prior I had gotten some from her that were almost no good. I had eaten one and it was so weak that outside of a few chills, slightly distorted vision, and a little head change that only peaked at slight confusion. I was sorely disappointed.

I had taken the money Johnny had given me, called her, complained, and she swore that the new chocolates were a lot better. She said that half of one was stronger than the two she had eaten last week and she apologized profusely. Now, I had no reason to doubt Elle, she was a sweet little girl, and I do mean little, but I didn't trust Bear. I really didn't trust his redneck friends and this was the source. I picked up 6 of the chocolates and she gave me two extra. I rode over to her mom's house on my motorcycle, picked them up, and rode back over to Johnny's.

"What de fuck is dis shit? Deez ain't no fuckin' trips! Dis' is fuckin' candy. That purty little girl dun ripped you off." He interjected with his laugh, which if spelled phonetically would be something like, "Ah-haw. Ah-haw. Ah-haw."

"Germy," (he has never pronounced my name with three syllables) "boy, I don't know what to do about you. We ain't even goin' to get to try these out tonight. Casey is commin' over here so here, you try a few before we all do them tomorrow night and tell me how they treat you."

He gave me two of the chocolates, wrapped in foil. I nodded, unwrapped one, and ate it just as I had eaten the one the week prior. This time, however, something was a little different. It was the same kind of baker's chocolate, but this time, it was horribly more bitter, grittier, and I even came across some straw like material. I bit the second one in half and examined the middle of it. The center was full of this whiteish gray like straw and powder that was held together with chocolate. Johnny kept me there until Casey arrived. Within the ten minutes that had passed, I began to feel disassociated, off balance, and the lights in the room had gotten considerably brighter. I knew this was going to be different when I got the goose bumps and cold chills that start at my elbows and shot both up and down my arms at the same time. The hair on my arms was standing at attention, and I looked like I was slowly turning into Teen Wolf. I decided it was time to go.

On my way to my bike, I nearly tripped over the curb, my own shoes, and then almost fell over my the Kawasaki and planted both it and myself onto the pavement. Lucky for me it was a very light bike and when I fell, I was able to keep it from completely dropping and caught myself with the other arm. This would indeed be a very different experience. I noticed on the ride home that the cold chills had subsided and I was very much enjoying the warm night air. One by one as I passed under the street lights I noticed my attention was being diverted from the road in front of me and up to them. At one stop sign I took my glasses off and just stared up at the stars. They were beautiful, not only twinkling, but together they were winking at me, as if they were collectively trying to tell me something in Morse code, some cosmic secret that they were always trying to tap out but I was ordinarily too busy to notice.

I decided not to go straight home, but rather, to ride around a bit through some of the winding country roads. I enjoyed this until I had to come to a stop and then pick back up again. I realized that my motor skills were so badly distorted that I had trouble working the clutch and the gear shift. I stalled the bike out, it puttered and convulsed to a stop, and then I had trouble cranking it back up. A police officer was passing and slowed down once he realized I was having trouble. Luckily, I was able to get the bike going again and he didn't pull me over. This was a good thing on many levels. For one, I'm sure my eyes were dilated, two I had no motorcycle endorsement on my license, no insurance, and I don't think I could have effectively communicated my identity or address to him with an English sentence. I made my way back home and almost spilled pulling into the drive way.

Once I had gotten off of my bike I noticed that when walking I certainly was very dizzy, but had a lot more energy, was moving very quickly, and all of this combined with the auras and halos I was seeing around everything made me very nauseous. I decided at this point to cool off, I went to lay down and my head felt extraordinarily heavy. I hadn't even taken off my helmet. I collapsed on my back in my front yard. I'm very glad that my neighbors were good sports. I looked up at the stars and watched as they began to move around one another. Organizing in clusters, making patterns, and then systematically scattering back into their original formations. I felt lighter and the grass felt cool against my skin. For a moment I felt like I was hovering above the grass. I felt kind of itchy, then I felt bugs on me. I jumped up swiping them away, but there were none there. I started scratching all over and I felt like something was in my throat. It was scratchy. I tried to cough it up, but I couldn't. My hair felt like it was growing and the physical sensations I felt were very unnerving. The itching became much worse. I took my shirt off and began clawing at my chest and back. Then as if I weren't uncomfortable enough, my mucus membranes woke up. Here I was, in my front yard, shirtless, scratching like a caveman, all while snorting, sniffing, blowing, coughing, and spitting, trying to expel all the mucus that I was producing. I don't know for how long this continued, but after a while I felt even more nauseous and went to the side of the house where I dry heaved a few times and drenched myself with the water hose and dried myself off with my shirt.

After this show in the front yard at 1AM, I decided to go inside. I felt really warm and decided to strip down to my boxers. It felt very good to take off my clunky boots. I remember spreading out on my bed and wiggling my toes, but I could not get this almost allergic reaction to stop. I turned the lights off and put on some music. I listened to Jack Johnson on repeat for a few hours. The music must have really gotten me going, because I went into a frenzy and decided to clean my room. I use the word "clean" because at the time, that's what I decided to do, because I couldn't find anything and I was getting increasingly more frustrated with the condition of my room. I began to think that my life was just as cluttered and that I hadn't found my purpose or rather that I was avoiding it. This really made me mad and instead of cleaning my room, I went into the kitchen, got several large lawn bags out of the pantry and returned. I started searching my rooms in the manner of a drug enforcement agent. I was emptying drawers into the floor, flipping the mattress over, taking the mattress off of the box springs and the bed frame. I took everything out from under the bed and threw it into the center of the room and then I moved to the closet, the dark, ominous walk-in closet.

At first I was completely mortified by the idea. I knew I wouldn't like what I would find. The door was slightly cracked open and that really bothered me. It reminded me of the scene from Lost Boys when the mother puts the youngest to bed. I flipped out, dove to the floor and covered myself with my blankets. I still don't know what I was scared of or why I had any negative thoughts at all, but then I started hearing this bell going off. I was taking random objects that were on the floor and began tossing them at the closet door wondering what it could have been making that noise: a shoe, darts, a dirty balled-up sock... Then I realized that the sound was coming from my computer. I realized further, that I was getting instant messages from my friend, Dove. I began laughing hysterically. I went to the computer, sat down, and began chatting with her. She made me feel much more at ease and I was able to very easily pound out my ideas on the keyboard. After she went to bed I attacked the closet, going through my things, trying to throw out everything that I didn't need. I eventually nodded off and fell asleep on a pile of clothes in my closet.

I awoke the next morning to a shit storm in my room, I was exhausted, and I really wanted to just relax. I did however finish the task I started, and cleaned out and completely rearranged my room. I felt beter about my situation in life afterwards and had come to the conclusion that I had to et out of my dad's house and get a better job than what I had at MCI. The trip would change my train of thought for the better, and my life would undergo some major changes in the following weeks.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I have an idea for a Christian children's cereal. I had to get this published as quickly as possible so that I could get credit for it before that big ole mean devil gives it to some long haired liberal:

little oat crosses, whole grain of course.

marshmallows as follows:
yellow holy grails
green palm leaves
red hearts (the vision of Mother Teresa)
pink vaginas, obviously for Mary Magdaline's snatch
blue Stars of David, hey, Jesus was a Jew!
little white silver pieces that Judas Iscariot received for betraying Jesus

The best part, when you add milk, it it turns red.

Now just think of it, "Eat of my flesh, drink of my blood, receive eternal life, eat your Crucifix-ios"

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

7-7-7 Part 3: Fear and Loathing in Tunica

I don't remember much of the ride to Tunica. I do remember after doing the first few lines of cocaine my brain was completely scattered. I was beginning to believe that we were being chased by police. The paranoia and anxiety were overwhelming. I thought that Elvis was an undercover agent. The pistol, the drugs, the casino, I thought it was all one big red herring. I hid behind my aviators. If people could not see my eyes and I didn't speak, no one would know how out of my mind I really was. I agreed with whatever suggestions Elvis had made. I currently can find no words to describe the amount of fear and dread I had looming over me. I was completely consumed by it. Every thought, every action, every step I made, I felt I was being observed, monitored, and judged.

We entered the casino and surprisingly it wasn't overly full for the 7th day of July in 2007. We sat down at a roulette wheel and immediately the board blanked out. This even greater led to the ominous feeling that something bigger than me had intentions on my having a disastrous evening. While I do possess the ability to think logically, when it comes to gambling, I throw logic out the window, with the exception of odds and probability, and I find myself easily giving into the delusions of luck. We commented to the pit boss and he said that the board was on the fritz. This would continue to happen throughout the evening. For me, it meant that I would not be able to see what numbers had previously come up, and would have a harder time predicting the numbers that were yet to arise. No matter, there were drugs to be done.

Elvis would palm off the bullet to me at intervals and I would go to the bathroom stall to toot up. I was not the only one in the casino who had this idea. I couldn't have been. Why else would there be people making huffing and sniffing noises from a bathroom stall? Oh God, perhaps it is best if I just think they were all doing cocaine. After running back and forth to the bathroom a few times, we were both increasingly thirsty.

It's imperative that I state that at this time in my life I did not drink bourbon. I drank gin, only gin, and I drank it with zeal. This day however, I felt that by ordering a gin and tonic and trying to speak on my own would alert the authorities that I was out of my mind and I would be thrown out or arrested. Elvis was ordering Jack Daniels by the shot. Following suit, I did the same. He told them that I didn't talk much, they probably thought I was a retard with big sunglasses and Elvis was my handler. Being about the same size and having just shaved his head as well, we probably looked like to Neo-Nazi goons. After waiting for a half hour for an ordered drink, giving the waitress a dollar when she took the order, another when she returned, a third immediately upon taking the shot, and asking for another, Elvis was very unhappy with the service.

"Payne, take your money off the table. We're not going to play. BOSS! Pit Boss! We came here to drink and spend money in your casino. If you want us to spend money, we need shots. We'll take good care of the ladies, but we won't be thirsty while we play roulette."

The boss understood, the ladies, returned, and they remained at our beck and call for the evening. We were tipping rather well, but we were also doing very well at the wheel. My mind, having been in such a negative space, was stuck on Martina. I was playing her birthday, my mom's birthday, my birthday, and my sister's birthday: 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, and 16. When I play roulette I always play 9 numbers. When I get up I start to play more, but I always play 9. The other number I would play were the ones that appeared to visually rise off of the table. As I was vividly hallucinating, the numbers appeared to be growing and shrinking. The numbers that grew the largest with the brightest halos encircling them were the numbers I picked.

Four hours, twenty one shots of Jack Daniels, and three Heineken later, Elvis and I were completely fucked. I however, being on copious amounts of LSD, did not appear to be nearly as drunk as him. After spending our time there, we asked for our buffet tickets, and made our way to the opposite end of the casino. En route, Elvis detoured to the bathroom where he spent 20 minutes throwing up. I practically carried him into the buffet area, where we both filled up plates, and he then went back to the bathroom to vomit some more. I went to the casino gift shop and purchased some Alka-Seltzer tablets. After dragging him back to the buffet area, I gave him the good ole "plop, plop, fizz, fizz" and he was able to hold down his meal.

I am unlike any person I have ever met when it comes to cocaine. Cocaine will stimulate my appetite and I can ravenously eat several large portions without hesitation. Being the American that I am, I ate until I could barely walk. Elvis and I stumbled out of the casino and he began to drive us home. It was at this point I discovered his psychological illness. He began to tell me about his trials and tribulations with Zyprexa after having been diagnosed schizophrenic. I did not have my glasses, it was night time, I was wearing sunglasses, on too many drugs, and I was lost. I however, was not bothered by this. I was more concerned with my driver's ability to color inside the lines and not go off the page.

After an hour and a half we make it back to his house near Lamar. Elvis immediately passed out and uttered the phrase, "mi casa es su casa" before collapsing on his sofa. I certainly did not have the capacity to sit there alone on a head full of drugs in his house without any form of entertainment. I had to get out, but I didn't have a vehicle and there were a few miles of dangerous territory between his home and mine. I set off walking in the direction of my home, at midnight, wearing sunglasses, having nothing more for protection than a pocket knife, and too many chemicals coursing through my veins to have the sense to be scared. After getting lost in Orange Mound and finally recognizing Cooper, I made it to the Young Ave Deli. Upon arrival I called Floyd who didn't mind my calling him at 1:30AM to pick me up and bring me home safely. I guess he figured an annoying room mate who paid the bills was better than a dead room mate who did not. I would say I gambled quite a bit that day and was very happy to return home to the safety of my own bed.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

7-7-7 Part 2: Gearing Up

My friend Jack has gotten me into more trouble than anyone I know. After returning home from certain death or disfigurement on the pavement, I walk in to apartment to find a strange man standing in my living room. I scream and fling my motorcycle helmet at him, but don't come anywhere close. It's just Jack. He said he had heard about the untimely end of my affair with Martina and brought over a bottle of bourbon. Ordinarily I wouldn't touch the stuff, I much prefer gin and tonic, but I wasn't myself. Jack mentioned a friend of his who went by the name of Elvis who was looking to trade a F&N Herstal FiveSeven for two pounds of weed and wanted me to ride with him for the trade. I asked if the guy was white trash with a name like Elvis, but he insisted that the guy was real cool and didn't like people to know his real name. Jack, at this point, failed to mention that I had already met Elvis at a party and he is a raging coke head, alcoholic, and borders on anti-social. Thinking I would get to meet someone new and because I had nothing else to do at this point, I decided to go along.

Having to be in the company of someone you don't care for and being on a headfull of acid is not a good idea. You might come to say or do things which would be uncharacteristic. We arrive at "Elvis's" house on Manilla near Lamar. Jack knocks on the front door, no answer. He taps on the window. No answer. We hear the sound of a gun being racked. "Who the fuck is there?" yelled out in a loud cajun accent from inside. Jack replies, "It's just us, man. I've got my backpack and it's hot outside, can we come in?" Normally, this would have been enough for me to leave, but normal rode out a long time ago. He tells us to go to the back door and he'll let us in. We walk around the small fence and I can hear someone turning the locks on the door. Slowly the door creeks open but no one is standing there. We walk in and the guy closes the door behind us. I'm in shock and immediately recognize the guy. He is coked out of his mind, has a pistol in one hand, the door in the other, and has no idea who I am. He asks who I am, but I don't reply, Jack intervenes. "This is my friend J. He's a nice guy. Doesn't talk much though. He was just here for the ride."
Jack hands over the bag full supposedly full of pot. Elvis walks us into another room. There's a big screen, a leather couch, and a glass coffee table with a shoe box lid covered with cocaine. Elvis sits down and does a line, offers us some, we both decline, nasty stuff. Elvis pulls the almost kilo of pot out of the bag. He looks at it and inspects it very closely. "This stuff's old and has gone moldy. No wonder you only wanted 800 for all of it. I can't do nothing with this. Nobody will buy it. If you want the pistol, the light, and the ammo, I need shit I can sale. Go back home and get me the other bud." Jack tried his best to convince him otherwise, "Naw man, that white stuff? Man those are THC crystals. I told you I didn't kief this stuff first." I could tell Jack was lying. Elvis put the bud back into the backpack, opened the window, dropped it onto the ground and said, "Get out. Stop wasting my time and come back when you have some decent stuff." We leave.

We're headed back to my place and I lay into him.
"What the FUCK was that about? You bring me along for a drug for gun trade and the drugs aren't even good? Have you lost your fucking mind? He's a coke and weapons dealer. You don't even own a gun, Jack. Why would you even do business with this guy? Don't you know he can just take your shit? You dumb mother-fucker!"
"Man, be cool."
"Be cool?!? Me? I'm on a headfull of acid right now. I know that guy. You know I knew him and you didn't tell me who he was. Why the fuck would you do that? God damnit, just take me home you stupid fuck!"
"Man, be cool."
Jack's phone rings. I can't tell what is being said, but apparently it's Elvis. Jack sums up the conversation for me.
"That was Elvis. He said he recognized you as being Martina's 'stand in boyfriend' while A was off studying. He wanted to know if you wanted any coke... I told him it wasn't your thing."
"No, no I don't want any fucking coke. I want to go home."
"He also said to tell you that Martina is a two bit whore and you shouldn't be upset about her."
Now I was not only pissed off, but confused, frustrated and bordering on enraged.

We get back to my house and I help Jack start to clean off the buds. We are using a solution of 20 parts water to 1 part vinegar to remove the mold from the pot, then we place it all under a cake lid with tangerine peels to "cure" and change the smell. This was not a problem for me because it allowed me to take my stress out on the tangerines, peeling them and compulsively devouring them one after another. After a few hours of being under the cake lid, it worked. The smell was completely different and the pot had "fluffed" up a bit. We returned to Elvis's place to find him full of cocaine. He made the transaction with Jack and then invited me to join him at the casinos:

"So Payne, you a gamblin' man? I'm going down to the casinos, have a quarter ounce of blow to take with me, and would like some company. Do you play roulette?"

Fuck, was this really happening? Did I just get an offer from Satan himself to forget my troubles and play my favorite casino game on a head full of cocaine and LSD. I believe I did. I gladly took him up on his offer, ditched Jack because I was pissed at him, and headed for Tunica.

Oops, I'll pay to have that fixed...

Ever have one of those days where all you want is some ice cream? All you want to do is sit back, relax on a hot day, mind your own business, and eat your double scoop on a waffle cone. Then just as you're about to enjoy that first taste, the fucker rolls off the cone, down your shirt, your pants, and finally depositing itself onto your shoe. This is the kind of day I was having. It had been a fucking horrible day at work, it was beautiful outside, and I was trapped inside. I had called a connection on my lunch break, everything was setup as soon as I got off.

At this point in my heroin career I was up to about a $40 per diem habit to stave off the effects of the sickness. I say heroin career because being a junkie is a full time job in and of itself. Hey, at the time shooting heroin and forgetting how shitty my day was seemed oddly more rewarding than going to a bar and drinking alcohol with a bunch of fucktards; people who I wouldn't cross the street to piss on if they were on fire. My daytime job was really just a part time gig. I only worked for an investment bank to have the means to maintain my real full time job. A $40 bag was by no means going to get me high or satiate my thirst, it was only a more temporary fix to a bigger problem with inevitable consequences.

The floor above mine was filled with people my age and like children running home when the bell rings, they would all simultaneously stampede out down the stairs to go home for the day. Ordinarily I wasn't leading the pack by any means, but today, today I was in pole position.Today however, was the pay day for that bullshit morning job where I pretended to be someone and something I wasn't. Today I was going to get high.

B picked me up from work and we headed in the general area of the airport. We stopped outside of a dollar store, made a call, and before we could even finish our cigarettes the man had arrived. We headed back to my house. I remember this stuff. We opened the cellophane and the smell of vinegar and tin was intoxicating. This is the smell I associate with good heroin. It was yellowish or whitish powder. I dropped mine in and tried to dissolve it, but it was chunkier than usual and I had to apply a little heat to it. I of course did this after I drew up the water and added more to melt down the chunks. B asked me if he thought I should do that much and I didn't see a problem with it, I was going to get high today. I had spent too many days and too much money just keeping myself from being sick. It was time for the real reward. The brown powder turned completely clear when I heated it. I shot and before the needle was out my ears were ringing and it felt as if my soul had left my body. I heard B:
"J, J! You've got to breathe man, you're turning blue."
"Nah man, I'm fine."

Next I felt my knees buckle and I fell to the ground. At this point I gasped for breath. I had walked the line, bordering on overdose, but had will enough to come back. It was amazing. For a brief moment I thought I had slain the dragon. The phone was ringing as my senses were returning. It was my Arab friend. He and Hawaii were at his place, drinking and doing blow with some cute girl and they wanted to know if I would stop by. My Arab friend and I had a habit of sharing drugs with each other. It was an unwritten, unspoken rule. Whatever one was using, the other was always welcome to partake.

Upon arriving at his house, I could see they had only put a dent in the eight ball they had bought from Jack the night before. I asked Arab if he minded if I dipped my spoon in and fixed myself a shot in the bathroom. He was reluctant, as he was not a fan of my using a needle, but none the less, he obliged. In my past I had used better coke than this. This was nothing special. I had used some with him when he first procured it. I drew up 20 units of water, combined it with the dope in the spoon, and when it was all said and done, I had a 65 shot of cocaine in a 1cc syringe. There is no way I can accurately describe the terror I was shortly about to succumb.

As was usual I could feel my arm go numb and warm, I the taste of cocaine in my mouth was overwhelming, I couldn't move, I couldn't talk. All I could hear was the sound of a train. It sounded as if I were standing right next to a moving train. I could yell as loudly as I wanted and I'd never hear my own voice, just that fucking train. I must have been at this point for quite a while. I have no idea how long I was actually in the bathroom in this state, but I was later told it was about 15 minutes. I had tried to conceal my gear, stand up, and walk out of the bathroom. Instead, I fell off the toilet, and my body wouldn't obey the most simple commands. Get up. Move your right leg. Slide the left knee under you. Put both arms outright and use the wall to stand up. Fail. Back down onto my knees, unable to answer my friends whom I could now hear calling my name, asking if I was okay. I grabbed the sink and attempted to stand. I ripped the sink from the wall, hit the ground and was convulsing. I could feel the water spraying my face from the section of wall where a sink previously resided. The water was cold. It felt good. Next my legs locked. I went from a fetal position to locking both legs straight out and in doing so I kicked my friend's toilet in half. Rather, I shoved my right leg through the base of the toilet. I can't tell you how glad I am that there was clean water in the toilet. By this point Hawaii had forced the door open. I had control of my body again and leaned over into the tub, ripping the shower curtains down in the process, and proceeded to throw up several times.

I don't really remember so much the details of conversations I had shortly thereafter. I convinced them not to call the paramedics. I went rummaging through my jacket, found my prescription for xanax, placed 4 tablets under my tongue, and swallowed an additional 6. 5mg of alprazolam should be more than an adequate dose to counteract the effects of a speed ball overdose. After the tablets had dissolved under my tongue all I could say was, "I'm done. No more drugs. I've done them all and I've done them all to the greatest degrees and I'm still alive. I'm done."

Hawaii tried to talk calmly to me, "J, you don't mean that. What about the psychedelics? Pot? You're not done with them, you just need to quit doing this hard shit."

"No, I'm done. I'll pay for all the damage that has been done to your apartment. I'll pay for it all. Right now I need to go to sleep."

I slept for 20 hours. I woke up in the throws of severe heroin withdrawal. Later that day I would find myself attending my first NA meeting. No one describes heroin withdrawal like John and Yoko:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

In Heroin Veritas

Forewarning: Some of you may find this post disturbing, more so than others. You have been warned.

There are many ways a person can measure their worth. I have found one of the most honest systems of measurement is to strip someone of all the things they feel make them important, leave them truly hungry and desperate, and then see how much of their bullshit ethics and flighty pacifist ideals they cling to. The truth of the matter is that when most people are in dire straits, and you were their best friend for years, once they lose sight of anything beyond their own noses, they wouldn't cross the street to piss on your head if you were in flames. I'd like to think I am better than most of those people. Much more so than any of you who will read this, I know what a real struggle is.

I had started using heroin back in November, I had used it in the past, but opiates were always a constant in my recreational/therapeutic drug menu. Weekend warrior in November, avid user by Christmas, and daily user before Ground hog Day. I have no idea how my employer didn't know I was a junkie. Everyday at 3:30PM I bolted for the door, cell phone up to my hand, either calling my "best friend" or one of our shared connections. Even if it meant buying Brandon a bag, I'd prefer to pick him up. He knew the best dealers, got the purest dope, and dope was always more fun when you had someone to use it with. Also, it was much safer to use with a friend. If one of you started to turn blue and pass out, the other could, usually rouse you, hopefully without the use of Naloxone.

My first accidental overdose happened on a Sunday evening. Brandon and I went to see his contact, Nico. Nico does not look like a pusher, nor does he talk like one. Nico is a gentleman. Brandon had called him while he was eating dinner at Beni Hana's. If nothing else explains how much money we were spending on heroin, this will: Nico invited us to come in to the place, sit down with him and his family, and eat dinner on his tab. We met his wife, some of his cousins, and his son. While we were there making small talk, Nico slipped off into the restroom, fixed up what we had asked for, and slipped it to Brandon as he took his seat. We left the restaurants, and being the junkies we were, I was snorting mine off the dashboard while I was driving, and Brandon was cooking a shot on the bottom of an old soda can in the floor board. This wasn't the kind of dope that had been going around. It was a deep, dark brown and smelled very strongly of vinegar. I could smell it through the wax paper before it was opened. The shit was good, no doubt about that. It was real good. Once we got back to Brandon's house, we realized that we had made a mistake. We didn't get enough. I don't say that to mean that we were jonesing for more, I just mean we would want some for the next few days. Dope this good didn't come around often.

We get back to Brandon's house, and being the kind of junkie I am, ate again. I am the only person that could ravenously eat under the influence of drugs. Benzos and opiates tend to have the strongest effect on my craving of foods, but I could do and eightball of blow, sit down at a kitchen table, and polish off a whole cherry pie on my own. After I ate again and Brandon and I played a few games of pool, we decided to call Nico to get some more that night so we wouldn't have to hustle in the days coming. Nico had dealt out his supply to his cousins that were at the dinner table. He gave us contact information for one of them, and we set out, across town to a motel by the airport in the pouring rain to score. I waited outside as Brandon went in and came back out. This was so sketchy. Anyone who had any idea of what a drug deal looked like could tell what just happened. When we arrived back at Brandon's he promptly went into the bathroom to shoot another bag. He warned me, he told me it was good. He came out of the bathroom and he was visibly altered. I had never seen him like this.

"Don't do both of your bags. Just do one. It's...." his eyes began to roll in his head a little. He was already on the nod, "it's some good shit, if you're not out of the bathroom in five minutes I'm coming in there."

Brandon had given me a "setup". For those of you who don't know what that means, it's all the gear you need to shoot up with, safely. There's a lot of shit that they show in the movies that isn't true. The thing I find most disturbing is the tie off. Maybe I have good veins, Brandon had destroyed most of his, but I have never, ever used a tie off. I could hit damn near any vein in my body without using one. Besides, using a tie off is a good way to get a clot if you're injecting into the vein, not drawing from it.

First thing first, I took the spoon out, laid it on the marble counter top, and flattened out handle. I did this so the spoon would sit evenly and be more balanced for when I go to draw up the dope into the syringe. Brandon had even put a few cotton balls in the bag. I, am not a fan of using cotton balls, I much prefer to tear a piece of the filter out of the end of a cigarette. The fibers aren't as fine and are less likely to draw up into the syringe. If you do push that poly or poly-cotton fiber into a vein, you will regret it. It is a sickness known to the junk world as "cotton fever". It has happened to me once, and will save you that bit for another time...

Also, in the movies, you always see people cooking heroin. Okay... let's get something straight. Heroin is a compound that is highly sensitive to heat, light, and moisture. Cooking it is all wrong. I dropped the dope into the spoon, took the orange cap of the 1cc insulin syringe Brandon had placed in the bag, and I crushed the brown rocks into a fine powder. I then filled the orange cap with water, pulled back, and let her go. By this point I had figured out that with a certain amount of force, I could pull the plunger back to 60 units and let it go quickly, the air would escape and I would be left with 20 units of water. I then sprayed the dope with the 20 units of water and stirred the mixture with the cap. Then I took the cotton from a cigarette, balled it up, and placed the fine edge of the needle on the cotton. The cotton's purpose is to keep anything bigger than the needle out of your veins, also, it allows you to soak up all the fluid from the surface of the spoon. After drawing up, I added another 20 units to the spoon, boiled it, and drew it up. I should have only had 40 units of water, but with all the dope, I was sitting at 85.

As I mentioned earlier, I have good veins. I don't have to use a tie off, few do. Also, you don't hit veins by sight, you hit them by feeling. Mine don't roll, and they protrude from my arms. In with the needle, I could feel it break the skin, and find its resting place inside my vein. I drew back, dark red, I was definitely in. Then I pushed the plunger in and emptied the contents into my arm. I almost passed out then and there. The room begin to move, I was dizzy, I had to force myself to breathe, and I was very nauseous. I was able to clean up my things, and secure my setup and my dope in my jacket. I walked, stumbled rather, out of the bathroom, and Brandon could tell I was most noticeably altered. I sat beside him at the computer while he was working on a new song. His father and older brother were in the room. The last thing I remember hearing was his older brother yelling, "CATCH HIM!"

This next portion is not from my memory, it was told to me later. I had most certainly overdosed. I was blue in the face and my lips were purple. I wasn't breathing, and I didn't have a pulse. I was clinically dead. Brandon began CPR on me while his father called 911. It was Brandon giving me CPR that saved my life. The next thing I feel is pain all over. My gut, my head, my entire body feels like it's being put through a meat grinder. I sit up, fighting 3 men my size that are trying to restrain me. They had no doubt pushed Naloxone into my system. It works by taking over the opioid receptors in the brain. It puts you into instantaneous withdrawal.

"I'm fine! I'm fine! Dear God, where am I? What's going on? Let go of me! Stop it!"

My outbursts had attracted the attention of a Bartlett police officer who had been called to the scene.

"Let me go. I'm refusing medical attention. I'm okay. I don't know what happened but I'm ok now." I wanted them to let me go so I could get my fix. I felt like shit from the Naloxone. Yes, that's how strong the physical addiction to opiates is, I had just killed myself and was begging to be released so I could do it again.

The firemen were very kind and told me that they would be happy to let me go after I signed an AMA form. AMA stands for Against Meical Advice, I was familiar with them. As soon as the police officer heard this he jumped into the back of the ambulance.

"You either go with them or you go with me, it's your choice."

I laid back down on the stretcher. At least the hospitals wouldn't feed me some wet ass bologna sandwich and taunt me while I went through withdrawals, try to make me sweat it out in an interrogation room and try to get names and phone numbers out of me, no, the hospital was definitely my choice.

They rolled me in, did the routine workup on me, "What have you been using? How long have you been using? How much did you use tonight?"

They got nothing out of me. I told them that I had prescriptions for Xanax, Effexor, and Hydrocodone syrup for a cough and that is how this happened and I didn't know why. They knew I was lying, I knew I was lying, but it beat telling them heroin and having to talk to an addiction specialist when all I could think about was getting out of there.

The problem with Naloxone is that it only lasts about an hour, heroin lasts several, so it must be re-administered several times. They would take my blood oxygen levels, for me to be stable to leave, they had to stay at 90. They would jump up to 95 and then within 45 minutes, would drop to 60. They assured me that if I fell asleep, I would die. The doctor came in and saw me, I told him I wanted to go home, but he said only after an evaluation and 3 days of rest. Ha! Rest, now I know is meant by celebrities going into rehab for "rest". At this point I kept pulling the mask off of my face while I slept that they secured it to me with rubber bands. I woke up a few times, the final time it was 6:00AM. I had to be at work in 2 hours.

Panic. I looked around the room. On a table I found my glasses, a plastic bag that had my clothes that the paramedics had cut to ribbons, and a vial of Naloxone. The Naloxone hadn't been opened and was there to use on me, no doubt, when my O2 levels had dropped again. I struggled to pull the mask off because I could feel that my lungs were full of some kind of fluid, probably vomit. The nurse came in as I had pulled it off and was throwing up. She insisted I keep it on. I told her that I could feel fluid in my lungs and if she knew anything about medicine, then she knew it was imperative that I cough it up.

I pulled the mask back and started coughing up mouth fulls of a chalky brown fluid. I did this several times until I no longer felt or heard the rattle in my chest. I could feel myself starting to go back under. I took the vial of Naloxone and put it in my bag with my clothes and I asked the nurse for another shot because it made me feel better, or so I said. They gave me the shot and my breathing went up to 99. I cleaned myself up as much as possible and asked the nurse to remove my IVs. She said she couldn't do that. She was not the kind nurse I had spoken to earlier. She knew I was a junkie, and she didn't feel like wasting her time on me, that much was apparent.

"Ma'am, I know you don't want to take care of me. I know you have better things to do, but I know that I'm not going to let you charge me and my insurance company $700 for a bag full of Sodium Bi-Carb and water. Take the IVs out or I will." I said this directly but politely.

"Sir, just lie back down. You're not going to take out your IVs, you know you won't...."

I had had enough. I took the tape off of my right forearm and slid the IV out. I'm a needle junkie, come on, did she really think that would bother me? Blood began spurting from my arm and she was mortified. She had really never seen anyone do that before. She got the attention of a much more seasoned nurse who came in and was very polite and kind. She commented on my tattoo and piercings, said she ran the shop where my piercings were done. She took the IV out of my left hand, gave me another shot of Naloxone, and I got dressed while she printed up an AMA form. I got my phone and called Brandon, he came and picked me up.

Before I even made it to his house the Heroin was starting to overpower the Naloxone yet again. Once we arrived, I drew the Narcan up into the syringe, capped it, taped the cap, and slid it down into my sock. I went to work that morning. I took one quarter of the dose then, and then continued with 25 units every two hours while I worked. I would feel the heroin creep up on me and I would just go into the bathroom and shoot some into my thigh. I worked the full day and shot my remaining bag once I got off work. This was my first of several overdoses before I would kick the habit.

Monday, April 6, 2009

And my diagnosis is...

The DSM IV has various stratifications of this term, "Bipolar Disorder". I happen to be Bipolar Disorder II. It's not what you think. It's much more than the new and improved version of plain old manic-depression. You see, Bipolar Disorder I are the crazies that scare the world shitless. They are the guys that try to bankrupt the casinos after watching Ocean's Eleven, they're called upon by God to serve a higher purpose and throw of the chains that enslave humanity by breeding the platypus, sometimes they go on killing sprees with smiles on their faces, their motor skills are so fine tuned that they can walk blindfolded down the interstate and move out of the way of cars traveling at speeds of 80mph, they're the crazy women that happily go skipping of cliffs, champagne bottle in one hand while donning their wedding dress. Ok, you get the point right? They're the ones that make the news.

You don't hear much about the people like me. I'm Bipolar Disorder II. I'm not prone to flights of fancy and your delusions of grandeur brought on by Bipolar Disorder uno. My highs aren't so high, but my lows go much deeper. My highs only get to what is called "hypomania". Think of this as mania lite, "now with 30% MORE sleep!" There's not really any middle ground for me. I'm either a little bit higher than I should be or I'm way down depressed. With typical BPD, doctors are afraid their patients are going to "become a threat to themselves and others" so they over-prescribe a myriad of mood-stabilizers and anti-psychotics to suppress these dangerous, selfish, and compulsive thoughts and behaviors. I have been on such drugs: Depakote, Zyprexa, and Seroquel. All of these robbed me of my creativity, independent thought, brilliant memory recall, and drive. I became the world's happiest vegetable. I went from an A- student who never went to class because I was too depressed or too "activated" to becoming a B+ student who went every day and had to struggle to grasp the most basic concepts. I also gained so much weight so quickly that at 19 I got stretch marks on my sides (hot imagery, I know).

I was first diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder when I was 18, almost 19. I was having panic attacks, trouble getting any work done, could barely function socially for fear of the next panic attack. I was too depressed to get out of bed most days. I made my doctors aware of my past drug indiscretions and he prescribed Celexa. Celexa at this time was the mildest of the SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake-Inhibitors). It was meant to increase levels of serotonin in my brain and stave off the depression and anxiety. It did just that and it worked rather well for about 4 months. Then it just stopped working. I experienced side effects with it that were pretty common: dry mouth, sweating, persistent yawn without being tired, insomnia, increased energy, and I had a little trouble getting off. At this point I could fuck for hours and not get off. My dick was bruised as was my girlfriend's ego. Being that I don't lie to my parents, doctors, or lawyers, I told my doctor. He suggested we switch to Lexapro. It was *NEW* and shiny, and it was an isomer of Celexa, could be administered at lower doses with higher efficacy. It wouldn't have all those nasty side effects. He assured me...

Two weeks on Lexapro and I was noticing some strange effects. I was able to get off during sex, but I was really distressed. I would break down into tears at things which ordinarily I wouldn't find disturbing. While running the meat slicer at work I thought, "I wonder what it would feel like to run my arm down the blade?" What the fuck? Where did that come from? Odd... While looking off the balcony, across a field, I looked down. I thought, "I wonder what kind of design my body would make if I jumped off and became a splatter paint on the concrete below?" and I would chuckle. Then while driving I had equally disturbing thoughts about driving into the support pillars of an overpass. I shared these thoughts with my girlfriend. I told her that lately things like that had been crossing my mind. I wasn't suicidal, I assured her, but these really weird thoughts kept passing through my mind. She did not laugh. She was mortified. Then as CK was prone to do, she broke into histrionics.

"WHAT? How often do you think shit like this, J? That's just not fucking healthy! That's not normal! We're taking you to my doctor. Dr. Klein is a good man and he'll get you straightened out. Lexapro is not working for you. Besides, your doctor's name is Steve Martin. Didn't that tell you something? I'll call him and make you an appointment or you can just go with me on Thursday. Jesus, now I have to worry about every time I go home, coming in and finding your dead body."

My doctor's name was in fact Steve Martin, but he was a nice guy. We go to see Klein, CK was the 2nd of my girlfriends to have seen him. He knew me by reputation already. Apparently The Good Reverend had opened her mouth about every instance of ecstasy taking and pot smoking we had done. After a little interrogation of Katy and I, he was kind enough to give me 3 months worth of samples of Wellbutrin XR and told me it was a cure all for the kind of depression I was experiencing. Boy, was he right. I began taking Wellbutrin and the effects were immediate. I was full of energy and creativity, I found myself smoking fewer cigarettes, and I wasn't prone to raiding the fridge, something I frequently do when I'm depressed. Instead I was only sleeping for 3 or 4 hours a night, all of my class work was finished before deadline, and I felt very confident.

After the third day of taking Wellbutrin, I was making a lot more money selling cocaine. I attributed this to the fact that I wasn't sleeping very much, but I didn't care. I was happy. CK noticed that my ego was becoming a little inflated, that I was a little more hostile to people, talked down to them, and was really mean. I didn't care if they didn't understand. They were stupid, slow, and just another inconvenience. They couldn't go fast enough and they were always in my way, slowing me down. I hadn't noticed that I had stopped smoking, but I did notice that I couldn't stand to be in the same room with a lit cigarette. The smell made me nauseous. I tried smoking one for fun, because I genuinely enjoy the way they taste. It felt like sand paper was being rubbed against my throat and that something acidic was filling my lungs, my head spun, and I threw up in my mouth a little. Definitely effective at getting me to stop smoking.

After the first week, I had to force myself to eat. I would only eat when I felt my blood sugar was so low that I was going to pass out. Usually this happened after class while working at the deli. Doing all the prep work, I would just make myself a salad wrap and devour while doing counts in the freezer. Also, the freezer was the only place where I didn't feel like my skin was on fire. It was the only place I could be where I wasn't sweating profusely. It was nice. I started isolating myself from people as I saw them merely as sources of frustration. I was surrounded by people who couldn't think or move fast enough. My tongue was getting sharper and my temper shorter. Poor CK, she endured a lot. Mostly she endured me fucking her, all the time. No drug on the face of the earth has skyrocketed my libido like Welbutrin.

After two weeks of Wellbutrin the good doctor recommended I go from 150 to 300mg. I did as were his orders. The 150mg is the starter dose just to get you used to it. The 300mg is the maintenance dose. Things became stranger and stranger. Everyday seemed to get longer and longer, all the while my patience got shorter and shorter. I looked in the mirror and noticed that I looked very thin. Even I could see where I had lost weight. I stepped on the scales and had indeed lost weight. I was no longer 215lb, I was a solid 200. I had lost 15lb in two weeks. I weighed less than I did when I graduated high school. In the time since graduation, I had developed and kicked a cocaine habit and had stopped smoking. How is it possible that I had lost weight? The next two weeks were a blur to me. I know that I stoped sleeping in the conventional sense. I would just take the occasional power nap. I was staying up all hours of the night, associating with other drug dealers. I gained connections for any drug I could have wanted, although, I had no desire to use any of them.

After two weeks of a 300mg dose regimen, I stepped on the scales. I now weighed in at 185lb. I had lost another 15lb in two weeks. My manager at work mentioned how thin I had become and asked me if I was using cocaine. This really took me back because I fueled that deli with the cocaine that made its workers competent. She made me particularly uneasy with the questioning. I had in fact, not been using cocaine, but when I lifted up my shirt, I could count my ribs. I looked pretty sick. I had dark circles under my eyes, and my cheek bones protruded from my face. I took a physical exam at the university. My resting heart beat was 93bpm and my blood pressure was 133 over 85. They told me this was not healthy for a 19 year old. I believed them.

The next 5 days were a complete blur to me. I do not really remember much other than becoming completely delusional, going from no money after having paid bills and in a single night, I raised $500, used that money to buy a quarter ounce of methamphetamine, bagged it up into quarter grams, still not using any of it, attended a party, turned that $500 investment into $800 and left the party with 2.5g of meth, used that money to buy a quarter ounce of cocaine, went on a shopping spree, and still had $200 in my pocket. I was riding with Sarah and CK and they told me we were going to go to CK's mother's house to house-sit while she was out of town. I remember the drive there because Sarah and CK were terrified at my erratic behavior. CK kept asking me if I had been blowing coke or smoking meth. I answered honestly that I had not. She eventually put 2 and 2 together and recognized that I was having a full blown manic episode. Upon arrival to her parent's house she noticed how I was very agitated and couldn't focus. The details of that night are very blurry to me as I don't remember much. Some how, even though I whole heartedly disagreed with her, she convinced me to take a sleeping pill. I took it and nothing happened. I took another, nothing. After 3 hours of delirium I became stark mad. I was completely delusional, having hallucinations, and talking in complete nonsense. 45 minutes after my third dose of trazadone, I fell out. I woke up 4 hours later and had that same energy. CK had taken the liberty of scheduling an appointment for me. After we arrived, she explained the details to my doctor. I was very quickly diagnosed as Bipolar Disorder and given a prescription for Zyprexa and Celexa.