It’s been about twelve hours now.
There’s been a headache perpetuating my conscious. Chills sweating all throughout my body. And a very lonely feeling of disillusionment.
I sat there, in the white room, trying to forget what was happening.
Twelve hours seems like nothing when you think about the five years it’s been since. Five years – it seems so far into the future, yet, so close from the past.
Only about a week to go. That’s what the doctors told me anyways. I don’t really trust them though.
I’ve tried this once before. On my own terms. I made it about a week and a half before I gave in again.
Furthermore, I have suspicions that go back to my childhood. I remember when I was eight, I broke my arm while attempting to do a skateboard trick. I went to the hospital where they threw a cast on me and said the body would do the rest.
Then I went home only to get yelled at by my parents. They didn’t have much money and even worse health insurance. They really didn’t like wasting what they did have on “stupid decisions”.
But I always questioned, if the body was going to take care of itself anyway, why’d we go spend a bunch of money on a doctor?
I’m in a very similar situation now. So far, all these doctors have done is take some tests and throw me into this white room while I go through – as they call it – “the natural cycle”. I seriously don’t know what the fuck I paid for when I checked into this place.
I’m expecting a visit from the nurse in about an hour. Then it’ll be thirteen since. Wonder what she wants to know. Or if she’ll give me anything.
I hope for an extra blanket. I’m quite cold. It’s the middle of summer and this place has the air condition running on full blast. I want to open a window, to let some warm air in, but it’s locked. Maybe they think I’ll escape.
I don’t know who would run off when they’re paying so much?
It’s officially been twenty-four hours and I feel awful. Same feelings as yesterday. But much more intense. I’m starting to question if I can even do this.
It feels like bugs are crawling all over me. Like my stomach is churning and won’t allow any more food to go down. My head feels so loose. As though it’s going to fall off.
I tell all this to the nurse and she says it’s normal. I don’t know what she’s been taking, but this doesn’t feel normal.
Still, I’m grateful when she comes in. She gives me this medicine which sort of makes me feel better. And I must admit, she’s pretty cute.
Her name’s Veronica and she’s recently graduated from nursing school. She’s small in size but great in warmth. Every touch she offers my body is a tiny relief from the nightmare I experience. Through her gentle grasp, I get the sense Veronica genuinely cares about her profession.
It’s quite nice when she comes into the white room. She nurtures me in a sort of way. It’s quite similar to that of a mother. I’ll be honest, I look forward to her visits.
Nursing’s an important career we don’t give enough credit to. You really need a certain attitude to do it right.
Veronica does it right.
She began asking me what was my decision to quit. I told her about my son. I mentioned how much I feel I’ve let him down even though he’s only one year old. He doesn’t really even know what’s going on. All he knows is daddy isn’t there.
Veronica told me I shouldn’t worry too much as I’m making the right decision now. But how can I not worry? There’s the possibility I won’t have the opportunity to raise my boy.
That’s what his mother told me anyways. Her name’s Tori and, to be honest, she’s not the worst person in the world. I fell in love with her at one point for good reasons. However, she didn’t give me much of a chance when I fell deeper into my mistake.
When I told her I’d change and pleaded for a second chance, she said she didn’t believe me. And that I’ve already had my second chance.
You can bet I really hate Tori for that.
I try not to think about her too much. I try to think about how I will change and, when Tori sees this, she’ll have to give me a second chance. She’ll have to let me raise my son.
Those thoughts really make me feel better.
Thirty-six hours. I can’t sleep. Don’t even bother trying anymore. There’s too much pain.
I feel it most in my stomach. Every little muscle is cramping together. Pushing all chunky liquids up into my throat. I choke on most of them, but a few make it onto the floor beside me. I feel a bit guilty. I hope Veronica doesn’t have to clean it up.
Then again, I guess that’s what I paid for.
The more I wrap myself in blankets, the colder I get. I can’t stop shivering. And with each shiver, sweat oozes out of all the pours on my back.
You can’t think properly in these conditions.
All you can comprehend is you’d do anything for another hit. Just one more. To take it away.
But they locked me in this white room. For they knew very well I’d feel this way. They even locked the windows.
I wish Veronica came back. I need medicine. And her nurture. But she’s home for the night.
I keep looking at the clock in hopes it’ll all be over. It seems to only get worse with each ticking second.
I feel myself getting so lightheaded, I almost forget about the pain a moment. Then I puke a little and it comes back.
I imagine if my son saw me in this state. What’d he even think?
We’d have to just tell him daddy’s very sick and will get better in about a week. And we’d have to leave it at that.
I hate how we feel it’s okay to bullshit our children. Just because they don’t understand. I don’t want to bullshit my son. I’ll tell him daddy’s addicted to dope. And if he doesn’t understand, I’ll explain just what the fuck heroin is. And sure, he may still not entirely get what’s happening. But at least he’ll receive his first lesson.
Why bullshit a kid? Why make them figure it all out later in life?
I don’t know. I need medicine.
I need Veronica.
Seventy-two hours. I might not make it.
I remember little from the prior thirty-six. Only an unforgivable pain.
The doctor came in today. Said the worst is soon to be over. It doesn’t feel that way. But I’m starting to trust him. For I desperately hope he’s right.
I’ve been praying to a God I don’t believe in. Not so much praying, I guess, as much attempting to speak to a higher power. Someone or something that can take away the pain. I knew the entire time no one was really listening. But for some reason, it made me feel better to pretend like someone was.
I asked the doctor for more medication. He said Veronica would bring in some. My darling. I now wait patiently.
I wonder how my son’s doing? I really wish Tori and him would come to visit. Just their presence would really make me feel a lot better. But she hasn’t been picking up my phone calls. It scares me a bit, but I try to remain optimistic.
Just as I start thinking a bit too much, Veronica walks in. She wears such a sweet smile. It really lightens up the room.
“How are you?” she asks.
“Better now,” I say.
She giggles, “You seem to be doing much better.”
“Almost good enough to leave, I hate to say.”
“I’m sure you’ll adjust well in the treatment center.”
“Yes! The treatment center,” she looks at me and sees my confusion, “Were you not informed?”
“Informed of what?”
“Well, sir. You were signed up to receive full inpatient treatment. Meaning, after this, you’ll be going to the treatment center to receive psychotherapies.”
“I never signed up for no such thing.”
“You must’ve. Or maybe you’ve just forgotten.”
“I don’t have time for therapy. I need to go see my son.”
“I’m sure your son will wait…”
“You don’t understand, Veronica! His mother is trying to throw me out. I need to see him before she goes someplace I don’t know about.”
“Why don’t I talk to the doctor and maybe we can offer an outpatient…”
“No!” I stand up just as Veronica slipped the needle of medicine out of my veins. “I need to go now!”
In a sudden spurt of energy, I lunge toward the door. Throwing my body at full force. I make it out to the hallway and frantically look around for an exit sign. I hear Veronica screaming bloody murder in the back. I’m not too sure why. I didn’t do anything to her.
Maybe it was to get the attention of the security pacing towards me. I turn around to a dead end. I figure my only shot is to dart past them. I attempt this, but they are much stronger than me.
I don’t even put up much of a fight. I feel my determination crawl into the back of my brain. Leaving my emotions weak and desperate. I begin to cry. For I feel as though these people hold the very belief Tori – and, potentially, my son – likewise have.
The belief that I’m incapable of life.
More than a week went by before they let me leave. I knew I couldn’t trust these doctors. I pleaded and told them I was paying for the room. Therefore, I had a right to leave whenever I damn well felt like it. But they said I wasn’t ready to leave.
As you can imagine, this upset me very much. I spent the entire week protesting my freedom. As though it was something to be protested. I don’t know where these doctors got the idea that they could hold onto me like a dog on a leash, but that’s exactly what they did.
In fact, I felt quite like an animal. I seemed to have no rights. No defense to give myself. I was a pawn to be toiled with as ever these doctors pleased. The entire time, my withdraws continued which didn’t help the matter. The whole thing made me feel quite sick.
What made me feel worse was the fact that I was paying for this sort of treatment.
When they finally let me go, it wasn’t out and into the world or even to the treatment center Veronica promised.
They sent me to what they kept calling a hospital. But when I got there, it didn’t feel quite like a hospital. Sure, it had the look of one, but there wasn’t all the equipment you expect to see.
They put me in this waiting room where I was told to “relax”. It was a rather small room and there wasn’t much to see except for black walls and out-of-date magazines. I began feeling quite anxious as I had no idea what was happening.
Then a doctor came in, introduced himself, and told me I was suffering from a co-occurring disease. When I questioned, he only said I was a drug addict and suffering from a severe mental illness. I asked what kind of mental illness to which he said they’re about to find out.
That’s when they started taking all these tests and asking all these questions and touching me in places I didn’t want to be touched. I never asked for this kind of treatment and began to retaliate. But they held me down.
When I told them it was all illegal, they told me they had the right to this “involuntary hospitalization”. For I was a threat to myself and those around me.
This made me quite scared. Did they really see me as a danger? I didn’t feel like one. No. I had no intention of hurting anyone. Especially, myself. I don’t know where these people got this idea, but it didn’t seem right. And it left me at a confusion as to what to do.
I decided to play it their way. Pulling out the crazy card, not answering their questions, giving them weird faces, and acting as though I hadn’t a clue what was going on. I don’t know why I did all this. I guess I just hoped they put me somewhere and leave me alone.
I was too concerned about all this taking time away from me and my son. I no longer knew how long these people were going to keep me hostage. I didn’t even know if I could reach out to anyone and have them help me. My parents haven’t talked to me in some years. My friends can’t even help themselves. There was only Tori and she’s been trying to do kick me out of her life for some time now.
They eventually threw me into another white room which is where I sit now. This one’s smaller and there’s not much in it. Nothing but pads and a tiny window way up near the ceiling. It makes me miss the old white room. I was a lot more comfortable there.
Some days went by and not much happened. They fed me, let me use the bathroom, analyzed me some, and that was about it. For the most part, I was simply stuck in that depressing white room. Wondering about all the time I was missing out on.
I cried a great deal. I didn’t know what else to do most of the time. There wasn’t much else to do, honestly.
Then today, out of the blue, I was told I just received a visitor. They didn’t tell me who it was or what they came for. Only that I’m allowed one hour with this person.
They guide me into a room and lock the door behind me. In front of me is a man I don’t recognize. But for some reason, I feel as though I’ve seen him before. He’s quite young, probably in his early 20’s. He’s got short dark hair and a bit of scruffle on his face. He looks a bit disappointed at the sight of me.
“Who are you?” I question.
“It’s me, Dad.”
I stepped back some. Feeling as though this man was playing tricks on me. “That’s impossible,” I bark. “My son’s just a baby. Yes. Tori and I just had him a year ago.”
“No, Dad. You had me twenty-five years ago.”
I felt myself getting lightheaded. Why would someone want to trick me like this? Did this place want me to think I’ve already lost the time to raise my boy? I never even told them about him. I don’t trust anyone anymore.
“Bullshit. You’re a liar. You’re a goddamn liar! Just like these doctors.”
The man stands up. He seems more disappointed. In fact, I notice a tear falling down the side of his cheek. And suddenly, I feel something deep within me. Almost a connection of sorts. A connection which is broken.
“You can’t be my son! I’m cleaning my life up to raise you! I’m doing all this for you!”
A nurse walks in. She grabs the man, apologizes, and walks him out of the room.
“Hey! Where are you going? I’m not done with you! I’m not done with you!”
Two large security men grab me from behind and begin to drag me back towards the white room. I scream senselessly. I don’t know why I do. I guess I feel this deep anger within myself. As though I had done something wrong and regret it with everything I’ve got. I don’t know.
All I know is when these people throw me into the white room, they inject me with a syrup which is due to make me knock out before I can recall.
I wake up to just a dim of light hanging through the little window by the ceiling. Within that light sits a piece of an envelope which reads, “To Dad”.
I barely remember the incident which happened before I fell asleep. I remember a man and feeling a deep anger. A shiver runs up my spine. Yes. A man who claimed to be my son. The envelope reminds me. But there’s no way.
I remember just two weeks ago, I had signed up for the detox facility. My intention was to finally get off heroin. I used to play my guitar for money on the streets and was able to save a couple grand in a year. Yes. And once I made that money, I signed up for this treatment facility. To clean myself for my son.
I opened the letter and, due to the dim lighting, I have a bit of trouble reading the words on the page. But I manage:
I’m assuming you aren’t aware of the twenty-five years that have come to pass since my birth. I get the feeling you were too high to remember. I don’t hold these things against you. In fact, that’s why I tried to find you help.
It’s funny because a lot of people told me not to bother with you. They claimed you were a lost cause. Especially, my mother. However, I recently found success in Silicon Valley and wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt.
Though I used to blame you for not being there, it became apparent to me that Mom was truly the one keeping you away. In fact, I remember a few times growing up, you came to our shitty apartment in desperation to see me. But mother would throw you out and tell me to ignore what had just happened.
I feel sort of guilty for that. I know I didn’t really do anything wrong, but to this day, I wonder what would’ve happened if Mom never did that. Maybe you’d be off the streets. If there’s one thing I remember, you kept talking about how you’d do anything to get clean.
That’s why I signed you up for the treatment facility. I understand nothing can be done of the past, but I had hoped you could be apart of my future. For I am about to have a son of my own which would make you a grandfather.
However, as the doctors continuously tell me, this hope may just be useless. You’re unresponsive, Dad. They think you’ve done serious permanent damage to your brain due to all the drug use. They don’t know if they can help you.
Still, I will return, Dad. I know you’re not a bad guy. I know you try for good reasons. I know well those reasons have just been ignored your whole life. And I’m sorry about that.
I will come back to try and speak with you again. And if nothing can be done, the least I can do is make sure you’re put in a better place than this.
Your Son, Andrew.
Artwork by A.A.D.