After working in the same environment for 21 years you begin to see repeat customers that become friends or maybe I should call them acquaintance. Walking down the hall I look up to see walking toward me a 6'4 tall, thin, tattooed, long hair pulled back into a greasy pony tail, patient smiling ear to ear. "HEY Ang, what's up!" I smiled, back and laughed you made it back for Thanksgiving. I was beginning to worry about you.
As he rubs his belly that is larger than normal for him, throws his head back and laughs out loud, I can't miss Thanksgiving. Over the last 6-7 years he has always been in the hospital for the holidays. Diagnosed with schizophrenia and a very long history of drug abuse. From the tender age of 12 years old he has popped pills, snorted, shot up, huffed, any kind of drug he could find. His favorite is crank. Well actually he prefers Cocaine but crank is cheaper for someone who can not longer hold any type of a job.
He is from a well educated family of doctors, lawyers, college professors. His mother from his description was a loving a person who supported him. She passed away a few years ago and he mentioned when she died there was no one who really cared about him left. He father a successful lawyer also has passed away at the age of 82 years old was a heavy drinker. He said in his fathers younger years he was an ass. That he drank daily from the stress of his lawyer profession and the mother was the sponge for the stress. He was close to his dad because he provided money for his habits and always got him out of jail when he went to far.
I have learned a lot about 'street living' from this one person. I sit an listen in awe and he has my full attention as he shares his life story with me. Our conversation is always more detailed than what he shares with any other staff. Mostly because…I listen and ask alot of questions about his profession. He has served 3 years in prison after getting busted for selling drugs. He said inside that prison wall is a whole other world. His facial expressions change when he talks about his prison time. He comments," I don't want to go back in there. I minded my own business and stayed as quiet as possible." As I look into the eyes of the man with a tear drop tattoo on the side of his eye an a scorpion tattooed on his neck, for some reason I was surprised he was scared.
A tear drop tattoo has different regional meanings and he has never gone into details of the meaning for his. His only comment was "it was something stupid". Normally thugs, convicts, and gang members wear them saying they have killed someone while in prison. Originally placed on in prison to signify that the bearer was owned by a fellow prisoner. In prison terms "their bitch." The tear drop signifies that pain and humiliation one would feel after being "turned out" in prison. The tattoo is placed on the face to further humiliate the victim and mark them in a place where they could not cover the mark.
I always like to ask someone who they were before the addiction took over their life. The one conversation that will usually get them talking is about their jobs history. So I asked, "Where did you used to work?" As he runs his fingers threw his oily hair, an looks away, " Awe I have worked all kinds of job but I liked construction the best because it is outside. However, dealing drugs is better money. I know it is illegal but I would bring $3000-4000 a month easy. If I had a trash can full of lortab I could make $5-10 a pill and xanax are the same. " He laughed as he told about walking past the pharmacy in Wal Mart. They had a prescription line and a sudafed line. He said,"Those people paid $10 and I could get $50 a box!" His knowledge about the side effects, dosages, chemical make up of different drugs is amazing. He spoke in such a serious tone about the amount of money he could make an how many ounces it takes to make a sale. I commented – "You are a very smart person, you should use that to do something positive." He stated, " I am the family reject – the loser from a family of successful people.
I called him the success CEO of the streets. He laughed – I have never thought about it like that. I said your not a stupid person, as he referred to himself. You are super smart and have allot of knowledge about the world and how to survive where most people would not know where to get started. He rubbed his belly and said, "Yeah I have always survived. I don't have anything now, but I used too.
I ask have you ever wanted to be anything more than a druggy? He said, I never cared because I had the money and I did what I wanted too. I did not grow up wanting to sell drugs I just fell into to fast money and I loved it. Most people don't make $2000 a month working a job and I could turn $3000-$4000.00 a month easy. People would come to me I did not even have to look for them. He mentioned if I laid a tobacco cigarette on the desk next to a needle full of crank he would choose the needle every time. He loves it.
When he talked about mixing the different drugs that are poisonous alone and would kill you with very little ingested,can be mixed in 1/3's and make speed that would sell. As he talked about his street business his eyes lit up, his body posture straightened and he spoke like a pharmacist. He knew where to get the supplies and how much to mix – what the market value was – the product desired by the customers – He spoke like he was running a lock and key business.
An amazing person from the under side. He received his degree in the life of hard knocks. He lived by rules of the police, on the slim side. His circle of friends depends on what he has to sell or to share with others to use. I am not sure if his DNA was already mapped out to have schizophrenia or the continued over use of drugs gave it to him. He is not someone I would trust to turn my head for even a minute but he is interesting to talk to and hear what he has done since the last admission. His life is now down to a friends couch as home, jail or a mental hospital.
He was once his mothers baby whom she loved and held and kissed. Now he will sleep anywhere someone will allow him. Drugs are his passion, his skills, his life. One hit away from the grave.
Angela Brooks has worked in a state-funded psychiatric hospital in Kentucky for 21 years as a nurse, assisting sometimes-dangerous patients who come in shackled and cuffed. At AngelaBrook.com, she offers stories of life on the inside of a psychiatric ward, and the site, as well as her company, offers support for nurses in the mental health field and helps them bring passion into their role at work.
On her BlogTalkRadio show, Mental Happiness with Angela Brooks, she shares some of her experiences “learning to love those others have forsaken” and gives tips on how to bring peace to your own life.
Everyday we share insights, strategies and even some of our biggest secrets to business on our Facebook page! Join the fun and connect with like-minded business owners and Nurses EVERY single day! Click here and "Like" Angela's page NOW!
* Please note: I am not here to CURE, DIAGNOSE, Treat or suggest replacements for what a doctor prescribes – I am sharing my nursing adventures with you.
What Did You Think?
Let us know your thoughts on today's issue.
Post your comments below.