In 2000 I was in a terrible car accident and broke one hundred twenty-three bones in my body. By the looks of the vehicle, anyone who saw it guessed no one could have possibly survived. Somehow I did. I was awake when they finally pried me out and I remember saying something about my phone being off the hook and I needed to call my dad. I had no feeling in my legs.
A few days later I woke up in the hospital with a very limited range of movement. My head was cloudy and pumped full of morphine. From my waist down felt like the pins and needles of having you limbs fall asleep. My mother and father were sitting next to me. My mother began to cry as she told me I would be confined to a wheelchair for a while because my spinal cord had been badly damaged. I knew when she said, “a while” she meant the rest of my life. I told her not to cry, that it would be o.k. She kissed my forehead.
My father stood tall in the corner of the room, with a scared look in his eye that I had never seen on him. He sat down at the corner of the bed and told me how much he loved me and how happy he was that I was alive. The nurse soon came in and told them to come back in the morning after the doctors did some tests.
The next few days were excruciating. The burning feeling below my waist got worse and worse with each passing day. Morphine was my only savior.
I was released from the hospital two weeks later with plenty of prescriptions. The pain would never go away. I went back to college in a wheelchair, but school soon dropped out of the picture because the drugs were too heavy on my mind. I collapsed into a dark depression and not long after, replaced my morphine prescription with heroin. Heroin, she was exactly what the name describes. She was my heroin. I no longer thought about life without legs. Or the things I could no longer do. The pain I was to endure for eternity melted away with the mere sight of a rig. I hid the heroin habit from my parents pretty well for a long time. They were so used to seeing me depressed and on drugs that they barely noticed the shift in my pain medicine.
Heroin became my only goal in life. For years after I first got my wings, I would wake up from a nod and call my “friends” to come pick me up and take me to the park. I would spend hours in the park panhandling, mainlining, and watching children play with youthful legs.
One morning around 3 a.m., I woke up on my parent’s dining room floor covered in vomit and a needle in my leg. My mother was on the phone and my father was sitting on the couch with his head in his hands. They thought I was dead. When I groaned, my father looked at me with the most defeated eyes I had ever seen. Heroin, my heroin, the relief of all my pain and hopelessness, had become my death knell. The ambulance picked me up and I spent another two weeks in a hospital before being shipped off to a treatment center.
I have been off heroin for six months now, thanks to this place. If my mom and dad are reading this, I just want to say I’m sorry. I never meant to cause you so much pain or cost you so much money. I have failed you. But Mom and Dad, if you can find it in your souls to forgive me, I will do everything in my power to repair all the damage and become the son you once had. I love you.