The 11th Hour was the hour I lost hope in America. The Veterans Administration’s solution to treating those of us who have served in America’s outposts is to over medicate with opiates. I started my “pain management” program early on in life prior to 9/11 and made several attempts to treat my service-connected condition through physical therapy that failed.
I was offered Hydrocodone two tablets of 2000 mg twice per day for over two years along with muscle relaxers and Gabapentin. I was up to a total of 15,000 mgs of mixed pharmaceuticals to include VA prescribed Ibuprofen per day.
In 2008, the VA introduced its “Pharmaceutical Pain Management Program,” which led me into a near-death experience. The VA refers to opiates as a “pain management program,” which really translates to being a Veteran test subject who will be subjected to a long and slow death through a journey of taking and becoming addicted to pharmaceutical Heroin.
My 11th hour was in August of 2010 when the VA took me off opioids’ cold turkey without treatment. My blood pressure was 220/190 and had come in ten days early for my prescription refill in hopes of avoiding certain death. I paid a visit to the VA for a refill after dropping my prescription in the toilet from the shakes. I would come to know the feeling of overwhelming dread being cut off by the VA forever. Being cut off forever changed my life as my prescription suddenly ran out after the Pharmacist said, “Get lost! You are not getting a refill!” What I was about to experience would take me through a journey that would leave me all alone.
My 11th hour was the minute I went into cardiac arrest and passed out in my living room without help. My phone was shut off after running out of minutes and had no way to call for help. I lost consciousness due to tremors I was experiencing as a result of painkiller over-prescription. I knew I was done. America finally gave up on me.
My defining moment began the morning of August 13, 2010, when I woke up in a stream of cold sweat that left me confined to my bed. My body began to go into detox.
I began to develop thoughts of despair that ravaged my mind like a driving force of a hundred horses in a stampede. All I could think about was finding a safe place to die. I knew I would not be able to make it to the closet where I knew my kids would not find me.
The struggle to maintain my pain manifested into throwing up from the pit of my soul. Detoxing from VA pain prescriptions is nothing short of demonic possession. As I attempted to take each step towards the door, I felt my body give out and went into convulsions.
My Veterans Administration pain medication had me for keeps. Thoughts raced through my head about my mother who would find me lying face-down on the floor. I began to weep over missing my children’s birthdays and especially their graduation. I began to see the room grow dim and the light of the doorway shine under the threshold. Shards of glass from broken bottles covered the kitchen floor due to scrambling to find my pills.
I crawled over to the linoleum to cool myself down. I began to vomit once again and had accidentally inhaled shards of glass in my mouth that cut my tongue. The taste of opiate withdrawal mixed with shards of glass took a once standing tall soldier and threw them in the gutter.
Vomit soaked teeth from the dry heaves started me down the path into the Valley of the Shadow of VA Opiate death. I laid on the floor crying for help and nobody heard a word as I went into cardiac arrest. I had called my sister the week before in a fit to say mean things to her. She was my only hope. She was all I had left. My brothers gave up on me and told me I was hopeless.
I could not possibly trouble my mother after living in her basement and overstaying my welcome.
My heart raced and I passed out. Not a single person at the Tayco Street Apartments in Menasha, WI, heard a word I said. I did not know what to do and began to slip into a coma. I did not know how I could possibly live one more minute.
The benevolent light led me through the maze back into life as I vowed to do anything for just one more chance. The hand of life shoved me back into my body and awoke to a massive head contusion. I was alive and that was all that mattered. Whatever the higher power was that saved my life, I have dedicated my life to it. Today I am nine years opiate free and have returned to school as a result.