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[ Personal Narratives ]

  Blindsided by addiction 

A view of addiction through another lens, this is the story of Kirstyn, whose mother also wrote a story, which will be linked at the bottom.

I held the receiver to her ear.  Despite her stillness,  I knew Kirstyn could hear each caller.  I had watched many television shows regarding near-death experiences (or comatose patients) which supported this fact. 

My heart ached as each caller begged her to remain strong while expressing their love,  I contacted my son (her boyfriend) who had recently relocated to England along with her brother and stepdad (who were living in California).  But the most difficult of calls was to her mother, Katrina.  Although she lived just a few miles away from the hospital, her “house” had bars and a lock that kept her secure.  She was incarcerated due to her involvement of writing prescriptions in support of her dependency of “legal drugs” (prescription pills). 

I was now her mother’s eyes and ears as she lay there each breath calculated from the machine.  It was too painful to explain to her mom what was before me.  The Father that I called to pray over her had to sit down due to her condition.  The nurse stated this was one of the worst cases they had seen.  I prayed God’s will would be done, but I prayed that I knew I was selfish in asking if she could be spared.  I am a realist and unless a miracle occurred,  I knew it would only be time before her vessel would be left behind…I couldn’t even imagine how helpless and empty her mother felt.  All I knew is that I loved Kirstyn as my own and I was going to try my hardest to be a shining light In her dark world of addiction…

I continued to give her hugs and kisses.  It was never too difficult to give Kirstyn affection.  She was one of the most loving souls.  Her heart was filled with sweetness.  I had no experience with addiction when she showed up at my door explaining her mother’s addiction and incarceration.  My job sheltered me with the expectation of the highest of standard of lifestyle.  If it came down to not being able to help her, I was willing to give up my salary; however, with a recent divorce, I knew it would cause a major harship.  Thankfully, they gave me their blessing…

I was extremely passionate about ensuring she would be safe.  I could never replace her mom, but I could do my best to provide as much loving care as possible.

The nurses commented how strong I was.  Unfortunately strength wasn’t any part of this equation.  I was totally numb despite my appearing to excel during crisis.  I have always had the ability to step-it-up.  But this was so very difficult.  Experiencing someone  you love being pulverized from continuous resuscitations is a tragic sight.  Your body can only take so much and her body was reacting from every crevice… 

I begged for the nurses to stop.  They explained once they are directed to keep someone alive, they cannot stop.  I fully understood why her mother wanted every attempt made to keep her alive; however, nothing was quick about letting her mom out of jail to see her daughter.  As many strings as they had to pull (with paperwork and permissions) her mother was unable to see her daughter alive. You would think there would be something they could have done to let her out to see her daughter.  It wasn’t like she was a mass murderer. The only person she harmed was herself!

For 5 months I tried my hardest to get Kirstyn to love and believe in herself.  I also tried to keep her busy so she wouldn’t take off with her “friends”.  We talked about her future; we went to dinner, watched movies. saw a Rock Concert, clothes shopped, got our nails done.  We talked about life and love.  I was unaware of the evil pulls of prescription drugs.

I posted bail for Kirstyn, took her to court in several different counties. I ensured lawyers knew she had someone trying to help her.  I thought things were starting to move in the right direction.  I spoke with her probation officers (in several counties).  They were all so very nice and extremely thankful she had someone helping her. 

I introduced myself to her drug counselor.  I took her to sign up for for EBT (Food Stamps).  I had to clean out the pantry to ensure she had her own shelves so I was not eating any of her food.  The EBT card enabled her to shop with her own money in addition to limited cash flow. 

When she was incarcerated a second time, I refused to bail her out. I had kept my word if she returned to jail, she would stay In jail.  She pleaded to me on the phone and she called my son in England who also refused to post bail. I told her that I was glad she was away from her friends. 

Soon after our conversation, she was sitting in front of my door when I pulled up from work. She had this sheepish grin. I was so glad to see her, but I knew jail was the best place for he.  She showed me her paperwork and I noticed a bondsmen of all people bailed her out!  I was so angry, I contacted the bondsman and voiced HE SHOULD NOT HAVE POSTED BAIL FOR HER.  She was struggling and he should know better…who is better at manipulation then someone who is an addict!

He didn’t think she belonged in jail stating she was just too sweet.  I felt his gesture was a death sentence. 

I noticed she was struggling even more.   I took a video of her in hopes she would see how bad she was and could compare It to just how far she got.  I also thought it could  be used to help others.  I told her I could feel she was going to help people one day.

I contacted several organizations to see if I could get assistance. I was not too proud to admit I was way over my head.  They turned her down because she wasn’t blind or pregnant.  I kept getting told by each organization the other would help. No one stepped up to help.  I even called a toll-free drug hotline.  For $22k I was told I could send her to Battle Creek, MI. They stated that if she chose to leave, they couldn’t force her to stay.  

I called her drug counselor who said he had a long waiting list,  One of her friends assisted and called shelters.  They were all booked.  

I cringed every time her phone rang.  If it wasn’t illegal to tie her down and board my windows and lock her in a room, I would have done so.  I wanted to protect her from the outside.  But in reality, I realized I needed to protect her from herself…

I felt lifeless when their last attempt to resuscitate her failed.  She was too young to die.  She had so much life ahead of her.  I kissed her and whispered in her ear I would take care of her mother…I could still smell the vomit despite them washing her face.  

She looked 40 pounds heavier from her failed kidneys.  She had my inexpensive ring on her finger that she borrowed (which in actuality was a toe ring).  I took it off her finger and placed it on my hand….It now sits on a shelf in my dresser curio cabinet along with other things that remind me of her.  I noticed her nails still had some of the polish from the last manicure I took her to a few weeks before. 

I cried out to God that this was so cruel.  She was a beautiful soul lost in this evil world of addiction.  And it occurred to me, she was finally at peace.  She no longer had to suffer temptations and her many friends who used her and lured her back to drugs.

She was supposed to marry our son and they spoke about having children.  I knew she would be such a good mother.  So many people don’t understand addictions and their pull.  I surely didn’t.  I had a few people tell me I was stupid for helping her.  They would say the meanest things like,  “Why are you wasting your time helping someone on drugs?  If you have this need to help, go help an innocent baby for God’s sake, not an addict!”  I started to despise the mouths of people.

It is comments like this that is testament that our society is ignorant to the fact that dependency has no borders. When I showed people her picture, their tune changed.  They saw she was this china doll beautiful young woman.  I wanted them to know this was a life, not just an “addict”.  I was disgusted that people could be so callus.  Everyone is a child of God.  I was helping someone who succumbed to the prescription dependency demons that plagued both her and her mother.

I learned more about life in those few months I spent with Kirstyn and in the years I have gotten to know her mother. I learned that laws need to change. The Scarlet Letter, AKA Felony, often direct people right back to their addictions by limiting them. How can law enforcement think this label is justified when the ultimate price was paid?

I learned that love can be painful. I was thrown into the depths of addiction fire. And I learned many get burned.


Read the story from Kirstyn’s mother here: