In the beginning I was the biggest “anti drug” person in the world. I wore my Red Ribbon until it fell off my backpack, ragged and torn. I avoided public transportation because of the “druggies” on the bus. Calling someone a “druggie” was the worst thing I could think of. And then I became sick. It started when I was 13, the night before Easter. I was about to colour eggs with my mom and brother when I got the awful pain in my side. It crippled me. It went on for an hour or so, then disappeared. I was plagued by it several more times, the last a few days before my surgery. There was something wrong with my gall bladder, and the surgeon thought it was stones.
I had my gall bladder removed a week before my 14th birthday and it wasn’t full of stones, it was full of cancer.
I remember going through treatments and how good those magic white pills with blue specks made me feel. I was numb from the brain down for five out of seven days a week. All I had to do to get those pills was stub my toe and there was my mom, with a bottle of pills and a glass of water. Eventually, a year later, I was well. I didn’t need the harsh medicine anymore, I didn’t need the heavy pain pills.
I craved them. I sought out sick family members and offered to care for them. The exchange? I’d steal their pain pills. I cared for aunts, uncles, children, cousins, all extremely sick. All on good pain management pills. Someone suggested I’d be a good nurse. Hey, nurses have access to drugs all the time! Good idea! The thought stuck in the back of my mind. Something to look forward to, I suppose.
In the beginning, I feared injections. I did everything to avoid them. By the end of my sophomore year in college I was regularly shooting up heroin. I had pierced my own ears several times. Pain was no longer associated with the presence needles, but when they had not been present for several days.
I became a ‘super student’. I knew all the answers, but they weren’t on my exams. I would write in the correct answers. I had many conferences with my professors. I was questioned about my arms. I made excuses. I lied and said I was on dialysis. I said I tried to give myself a tattoo. They didn’t buy my excuses and I was drug tested. The test came back positive, but I wasn’t expelled. I don’t know why.
I quit cold turkey after getting caught. I passed more and more drug tests and eventually the school stopped testing me. I changed majors, to that nursing degree. I was on the honor roll. I was doing quite well. Until I was informed that I was out of remission.
With the new diagnosis of cancer, I was able to get those white-with-blue-specked pills again. I was happy to have them. I had more mature friends now. I tried it all. Want to watch the side effects of something? Take it to Jamie. Jamie does it all. Jamie has no limits. Jamie is a Junky. That last one made my world come to a screeching halt. When did Jamie become a Junky?
I started looking at my life then. Where I was. Where I had been. Where I was potentially going. As long as my prognosis was still bad, I didn’t care where my life was going. I liked looking at the world through bleary eyes. I felt unhappy where I had been before.
Soon my friends stopped giving in to my wants. “Either buy or get fucked.” I thought they meant literally and I offered sex to the guys. It didn’t work. I don’t remember how I made it through college. But I did. I stopped hanging out with friends who didn’t have a stash and anyone who had a stash was my friend.
Have I grown? Have I changed? I’d like to thinks so. But at the same time, I’d also like a nice, big, fat shot of heroin.