Loving an Addict (Part 3)

A few months went by and our relationship was beyond perfect. He was clean from heroin and we were happy. When you date a recovering addict it can almost be just as stressful as dating a current user. Every time he went to the bathroom I felt the need to question him. What were you doing in there? What took so long? Let me see your arms! Trusting someone in recovery to not use is very hard to do. Will he use when I’m not here? Will he tell me? Will he lie to me? Lorenzo never lied about when he used. We made a deal that I would not ever get mad at him or degrade him when he used. It was safer for him to tell me so if anything happened to him I would know exactly what to tell the police and EMT’s.

Mother’s Day rolled around and he was a few months clean. He started feeling sick and didn’t know what was wrong. He said it felt like he was going threw withdrawals again, but he promised he didn’t relapse so we didn’t know why. I wanted him to go to the hospital, but since it was Mother’s Day he wanted to spend the day with his Mother. He promised if he was worse tomorrow he would go to the hospital. By the next morning he could barely move. He was stuck in his bed and could barely lift his arm. Time to go to the hospital. It took 3 grown men to carry him down the stairs and put him in the back of my jeep. Lorenzo, his father, and I pulled up to the emergency room and the immediately took him back when he told them he was a recovering addict. After 20 minutes in the waiting room we were called back. We learned that night if he hadn’t gone in he would have passed away during the night. His body was so septic from infection his body was shutting down. He was stable for now and his father and I were sent home. The next day I went to visit him and the doctors explained what had happened. They put him on a large combination of antibiotics and slowly he started looking and feeling better. He’d be coming home soon! Or so we thought.

After a month the antibiotics stopped working and they transferred him into Boston where they had better variety of medication. By the time he got there they put him in the ICU because his vitals were low and he was no longer stable. We learned not only was he septic, meaning infection was coursing through his blood, but because of the infection his heart valve had become infected as well. This meant that instead of pumping out healthy blood into his body he was pumping infection all over the place. They also told him he had gotten Hepatitis C. They started him on a new combination of antibiotics and inserted a pic line into his arm straight to his heart. We were told that if this medicine didn’t work he would need a heart valve transplant. Luckily after a few weeks he was getting better again! Boston Medical Center then had his transferred to Tewksbury state hospital rehabilitation center since he didn’t need to be on IV all day long.

Everything was going good and we almost had a set date he got to come home! After 3 long months in the hospital we were all ready for him to come home. Unfortunately he started feeling sick again and once again antibiotics stopped working. They rushed him to Lowell hospital where they stabilized him and took him back to BMC. After being in the ICU for two days they decided he needed surgery. He was going to have the heart valve transplant. My heart sank and my stomach was in knots. The next day he was scheduled for surgery. His family and I drove into Boston at 430 in the morning to see him off. Once they wheeled him past the doors it was time for us to go home and wait.

To be continued…

Loving an Addict (Part 2)

In October of 2012 I had just started taking classes in Boston to be a Floral Designer two nights a week. After class I would come home to hang out with friends. One of those friends being Lorenzo. Everyone knew what Lorenzo had gotten into, but I didn’t fully understand it. Heroin wasn’t something anyone talked much about in our little town, but when they did the stories never ended good.

On the night of Halloween we were at a costume party. Lorenzo showed up straight from the hospital with a wick in his arm to drain infection. He told everyone he got a spider bite and it got infected. We knew better, but we weren’t going to argue with him. We hung out the whole night and talked about life and our goals and what we wanted to do with our lives. I was confused. I knew he was an addict, so why didn’t he act like one? Why was he kind, loving, funny, and smart? You can’t be any of those if you’re an addict, right?

We started talking and hanging out more. One night, a few weeks later, I picked him up for another party. An hour went by before I realized he wasn’t partying with everyone. I found him in a friends room and he didn’t look good. He was sick. I sat with him as he threw up from withdrawal. He told me to go back to the party and not to worry about him, but that’s the only place I wanted to be. He admitted to me that night his addiction and told me he was tired of depending on a drug in order to not feel sick. Most of his friends had either abandoned him or were doing the drug themselves. I told him I would help him in anyway possible. A couple days later he asked me to be his girlfriend. I said yes. To me he wasn’t just an addict anymore. He was a gentle, fun loving, amazing human with a problem.

In the beginning it was difficult. I would go to his house to hang out and he would disappear into a bathroom or bedroom. I knew he was using behind closed doors and that frightened me. What if its bad? What if he does too much? Should I go in there? He never let me be around it. I never witnessed him putting the needle in his arm and for that I am thankful. Witnessing the aftermath was enough. We’d try and watch a movie, but he would nod. He became so dependent on this drug that we barely left the house.

“Why are you doing this, Sheridan?” People would ask me. All I knew is that the person he was when he wasn’t high was the most amazing person I’d ever have the pleasure of knowing. I was falling in love with him, every piece of him, including his flaws. His addiction was never an easy thing to deal with. I learned that arguing about it would only make it worse. I learned he needed to quit when he was ready and I just needed to be patient. That’s the hardest thing with heroin. Being patient isn’t easy when your constantly worried about the life of the addict. I finished school and our relationship was better than ever. He told me he loved me and everything was great. Heroin was the only thing holding us back.

Finally he was ready. I promised to stay by his side and help him through the most difficult weeks of his life. He went from using upwards of 10 times a day, to twice a day, to not at all in a matter of days. Watching someone withdraw from Heroin is the saddest thing to have to watch. He was vomiting, sweating, shivering, shaking, and uncomfortable for an entire week. I stayed by his side. I knew he was strong enough to get through it because not once did he ever complain. I cleaned up after him. Some days he told me to leave. I didn’t. He got through it. The physical withdrawals were over. Now he just had to get past the mental cravings.

To be continued…