“When do I see a doctor?”
“Tomorrow morning, he’ll do his rounds in the morning; he’ll probably get to you around ten. Can you stand up?” it was less of a request, and more of a demand.
I stood up.
“I have to check you for weapons, drugs or paraphernalia. Can you please raise your arms by your side?” another demand. This felt less like a hospital and more like a prison. Drug addict must be synonymous with criminal.
Her clammy hands roughly patted me down.
“Here you go” she thrust a small paper bag at me. “Get some sleep, you’ll need it” and off she went.
I sat on the bed clutching the bag. I looked at the contents, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and shampoo. Right, I had nothing with me. Looking around the sterile room, I felt like I had been dropped off on a cold linoleum desert island, with nothing but a toothbrush.
The tranquilizer they gave me earlier was starting to wear off and I could feel the inner trembling beginning. I knew if there was ever a moment to pray, this was it. If I ever needed the assistance of the all powerful, I knew it was now. I laid back on the bed and tried to pull the thin blue blanket over me. For being so thin, it was surprisingly scratchy. I folded the plastic pillow and tried to find some semblance of comfort.
The last time I spoke to God, I didn’t leave it on good terms. It was a year ago, right before the split with Jason. I was in the depths of a horrific opiate withdrawal. We were living in a shit hole apartment, out of money once again and Jason had been on a month long bender. It was the third day of being sick and I felt like a special little place in hell had been carved out just for me. My body hurt in a way that I never knew it could, starting in the bone and radiating with intensity through the muscle and tissue, crackling at the surface in my skin. I had to keep on my feet because the crawling sensation in my legs was so strong, it only dissipated a bit when I was walking. I was pacing circles in the apartment like a caged animal. My mind was reeling with horrifying thoughts, berating myself for being the complete and utter failure that I was and damning the world around me for my existence. Jason walked in the door at two am, after disappearing for four hours. Clearly he had found a way to sate his habit; his eyes had that loose glazed look.
Every inch of my body exploded with a blinding rage. I came at him swinging my fist with all of the force that I had. Jason was not a small man by any measure; he was over six foot and well over 240 pounds. The fact that he was drunk made him lax and he didn’t respond by shielding himself or ducking. My fist connected with his jaw with a satisfying cracking sound that surprised me. He fell backward, hitting the door and slumping to the floor, holding his face. He was so shocked he couldn’t string together the words to ask me why; he just stared up at me with an injured and puzzled expression on his face.
I whipped around and looked for something else that I could unleash my toxic fury on. I scanned the apartment and saw the grandfather clock inherited by Jason from his great grandfather. One quick stride across the living room and I smashed my fist through the glass, leaning heavily into it. The hundred year old glass was like paper and had no give at all, it crumbled into a million pieces and my hand hit the back of the clock violently. The pain shocked me back into reality; I sat down abruptly on the floor and cradled my hand. Countless tiny slivers of glass were lodged into my hand and blood streamed from my hand down my arm and onto the carpet. It felt like I had broken my knuckles.
Jason was a preacher’s kid, and grew up a devoted Christian. I had skeptically accepted the idea of Christianity, but if there was a God he hadn’t done me any favors . “Where’s God now? Is he going to pay our rent so we don’t get evicted?” I snarled at him “Did he give you the money for your beer?”
Fueled by seething resentment, I rose to my feet, my hand still gushing blood. He still sat dumbstruck on the floor while I returned to pacing around the apartment. I couldn’t feel the pain anymore, just the bitterness at an unjust universe that would allow this level of suffering.
“Such a kind, benevolent God that lets Marco suffer, huh? What kind of God strikes an innocent child deaf and dumb, or just as well as..” I spit my words at him, as if I expected him to answer.
“Sara, I’m sorry.. we’ll come up with the money. We’ll get your pills..” he slurred all of his words together as he squinted and tried to fix his gaze on me.
“Fuck God and fuck you” one of the last things I said to him before we split. It often played over and over like a stuck record in my mind.
So… I was pretty sure that I was not in His good grace. I was guessing that any pleas I had for grace would be overlooked, not that I felt that He had been particularly graceful previously.
I could feel my heart picking up pace, hammering with more urgency in my chest. The quivering feeling had started in my stomach and was working its way through my limbs. The familiar fuzzy white noise like a constant, steady buzz-sawing in my ears had begun. I wondered how long I should lie there before I asked the nurse for help. I knew I was in danger of another seizure, but it was hard to gauge how urgent the danger was.
I made my way down the hall to the nurse’s station. There was a flurry of activity; I timidly approached the station. “Ma’am..” I said to no one in particular because nobody would look at me.
“Ma’am” a little louder. I caught the eye of the nurse who checked me in. “I don’t feel very good, I think the meds are wearing off.”
“We’re in shift change, you’re going to have to wait till the next shift” she distractedly stated while shuffling papers.
I was starting to feel more anxious and the idea of going back to my sterile room did not sound pleasant. I turned towards the TV room to see if I could occupy myself. The young, dark haired girl was still absorbed in the TV. I sidled up to the worn, leather couch, “Hey” I softly said while sitting down. She pulled her eyes from the tube, “Hey” she flatly replied.
“What are you in for?”
“Sorry?” I wasn’t sure exactly what she meant.
“Your drug of choice?” she replied impatiently.
“Oh..umm…pills I guess. Pills and alcohol” I was embarrassed and annoyed by her pushiness.
“What’s yours?” it felt like she owed me a response now.
“Meth” she thrust her forearms towards me, track marks running through various tattoos. She seemed to be proud, like they were a badge of honor. I didn’t know whether to compliment her or be sympathetic.
“Oh..” was the only answer I could muster.
“So are you kickin pretty hard?” she raised a pierced eyebrow.
I blankly stared at her, my heart thudding in my ears.
“Withdrawing, are you withdrawing?” more impatience at my apparent stupidity.
“Yeah, I feel pretty bad” I said plainly.
“Well, you’re going to be shit out of luck. The doc doesn’t come in till the morning and they won’t order meds for you without his ok.” She turned back to the TV.
“So, what they let you get sick?” I found that hard to believe.
“Yep. If something bad happens, you’re in a hospital. They’ll just transfer you to the ER”
“Oh..” made sense I suppose. “My name’s Sara by the way.”
“Caitlin” still absorbed in the TV, I’d lost her interest at this point.
“K, well, I’ll see you later” I was feeling really bad and it was probably better not to subject anybody else to my misery.
“Ok, good luck..”
Back to the linoleum island. I crawled into the scratchy hospital bed and pulled my knees up. I could feel that horrid trembling migrating from deep in my stomach out into my limbs. The white noise buzz saw had picked up in volume and those familiar little snaps of light were flashing in my peripheral vision. I knew that chances were good that I was going to have another seizure, and I was terrified. I felt so small, insignificant and discarded. Defected merchandise, too broken to be of any good to anyone.
Damn, what the hell was wrong with me? Why was I like this? I didn’t have some hugely tragic event to place the blame on. My parents were fucked up, but whose weren’t? I wasn’t broken in one big place, just a thousand little splintered cracks. The only way of surviving all those cracks was to cement them together. Into a shield of numbness, an impenetrable defense. The flaw with being numb, ironically, is that you can’t feel. I couldn’t feel when I was a bad mother, when I was dipping below my moral boundaries… the moments that haunted me now.
The muscles in my body started twitching; I tried to open my mouth to call for help but nothing would come out, like those nightmares where you try to scream but you can’t.
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