Car Crash and Pain Pills

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In mid 2013 you moved to Chandler, Arizona. One of your best friends was working/living up there and had recently fallen into financial difficulties. She called in tears one night while you were working as a security guard in Yuma. She described herself living in a large two bedroom apartment with only a bed and she found herself lying on the empty living room floor most nights. Her boyfriend had left her and without his income she was unable to afford the apartment. She was lonely and in a state of depression. You then, hated Yuma, loved her, and saw no reason not to use this situation as a means of escape from your small town. So you sold your car, quit your job, packed all of your belongings into the back of a friend’s truck, and started a new life in Chandler.

You settled in nicely to your new city. Your roommate helped you get a job at PayPal, where she worked. You were even able to get the same shift as her, so carpool was simple. You made friends at local coffee shops, and got involved in open mic nights. Twice a week you would get on stage and perform your silly songs with your new friends. You would have a ten minute slot to play and for that allotted amount of time you felt free, you felt invincible. One time  you got a handful of musicians to do a surfing song by Weezer and you and the drummer (the admittedly two largest people in the group) decided to play without your shirts on. The crowd loved it, they laughed and applauded your oddness. For once in your life you felt like your weight problem did not make you less of a person then everyone else, which consequently led to you losing over eighty pounds! Once you did not obsess about your weight it became easy to lose some of it. Life was exciting, life was fun, and you were happy. You did well on your job and you were making more money than you ever had. When you were not working, you and your roommate did everything together, which usually involved drinking. The two of you became staples at the local bars, spending almost every penny you earned that was not already allocated for bills. You threw huge parties in your apartment where your co workers would fill your living space with laughter and drinking. Usually most of the people would end up sleeping in the living room or in either of the two bedrooms till the next morning when they would all return to PayPal to work their shifts. The first party you and your roommate had, you posted a picture of the inside of your fridge showing that there was more beer than food, and that was before your guests showed up with even more alcohol! Life was full of amazing friends and great moments. Still you knew the good times could not last, as they never did. You could see cracks forming in you and your roommates friendship and knew a break was inevitable.

Perhaps you and your roommate grew tired of each other because you were never really ever apart. You have said to yourself and others, “I cannot stand being with myself for twenty-four hours a day, let alone anyone else.” Or maybe it was because you two were fundamentally different; you came to her in her time of depression, and she is normally a happy individual, whereas you are usually quite pessimistic. It could have had something to do with you bringing over a mean-spirited girlfriend to the apartment, or because you unintentionally chased off all your roommates love interests. It was most likely a combination of it all, but regardless, you and your good friend decided to split ways. You moved to a one bedroom apartment and started carpooling with other coworkers. It was a few months into 2014 and you were once again all on your own.

On one of your days off you walked to the Wal-Mart close to your apartment and bought yourself a mountain bike. It was a six-mile trip between your apartment and your job, so on the same day you took a test ride to see how long it would take you to get to work. That day the sun was bright but the air was cool with a beautiful light breeze blowing on you as you rode.  You had your headphones in, jamming to your favorite tunes. You can visualize the ride, you remember the day, you can think back and see it all, up until the point everything went black. You were in the crosswalk with  the right away, by the Chandler Fashion Center, the town mall, about a half a mile away from PayPal when the lights went out.

You woke up in a strange room, lying in a bed experiencing excruciating pain, with no idea what had happened to you. A male nurse walked into the hospital room and informed you that your parents were on their way from Yuma. You drifted in and out of consciousness, partly because of the pain, and because the doctors administered strong pain management drugs into your  system. Your mother and father arrived and more became clear to you. They told you that about five hours before you were struck by a car going forty-five miles per hour. You had been thrown from your bicycle, busted the windshield with your forehead, went flying over the vehicle and finally scraped across the street before coming to a complete stop. Your mother asked you if you had noticed that all your nurses were male? You had not, and she then explained that when you had come to after the accident, you were combative and the female staff had not felt safe around you. You had a concussion and your back was split open from top to bottom on your left side, but you were alive. The police officer that had responded to the scene would later tell you that when he arrived he assumed you were dead.

You remember being in the hospital in a state of panic. You were suffering from a concussion and obviously not thinking clearly. You became worried that if you were going to stay in the hospital, that your parents would go to your apartment and find your cigarettes. You also had it in your mind that you would lose your job if you did not get back to work that same week. You argued with the doctor and against the hospital’s wishes you were released the next day. Your parents stayed with you a few days and begged you to let your mother stay with you for a week to take care of you. You were scared and confused and just wanted life to go back to normal. So you thanked your parents, sent them back home and tried to pretend everything was okay.

Your first week back to work was a joke. Your face looked like something out of a horror film, and you were not all there mentally. You would barely make it a couple of hours into your shift before you would need to be sent home. You were more tired than you had ever been in your life, and in desperate need of help, but you refused to go get it. You have always been hard-headed and you expected your body to recover and  for things to settle back to how they usually were. Your job was over the phone customer service and you had been very good at it. Before the accident you viewed angry customers as a fun challenge and worked hard to calm them down and leave them feeling better by the end of the call, but the wreck changed things. Now when customers called and yelled at you, you took it personally. You would get angry back at your clients and then blow up on your supervisors for trying to correct you. Needless to say, after a few months of this behavior, your position at PayPal was terminated.

You tried unsuccessfully for months to find another job. When you were not looking for work, you laid in bed in pain. You relied on weed and pain meds to keep you going. You still played your guitar at open mics, but your energy and drive was gone. You had no vehicle, no money and no way to get to a doctor. You went several times to nearby urgent care, but they told you that you needed to get a primary care physician. On a particularly hard night you got a bus ride to the emergency room and told them that because of all the pain you had put serious thought into jumping in front of a moving vehicle. In your mind you had messed up by having yourself released early from the hospital the first time around. Maybe if you got hit again, this time, you could get the help you needed. Those were the confused thoughts running through your head at that time. The hospital placed you in a behavioral health clinic where you stayed for a week. In the clinic they only focused on depression and gave you many antidepressants and mood stabilizers, but nothing for the pain. After being released you went back to looking for employment. After falling asleep on the bus taking you to an interview, you woke up in the wrong side of town, and knew you couldn’t keep doing this, you needed help.

You moved back into your parents house in Yuma, where you stayed for four months. You were able to get your old job back and even moved back into the old apartment you had before moving to Chandler. Unfortunately you were unable to keep up with the tasks your occupation required. You called in at least once a week  and even spent four days in the hospital after suffering from heat exhaustion. Your boss tried his best to work with you and your health concerns, but after a month short of a year of working for them, you were let go. Your landlord was kind and gave you the time to find another means for paying rent. Four months went by, nothing changed. You ate pain meds like they were candy and smoked marijuana on a daily basis. You spent most of your time lying in bed watching Law & Order SVU reruns,trying to avoid the real world, full of terror. At the end of the fourth month of unemployment you felt your landlord was losing patience. You knew soon that he would have no choice but to evict you. You had not had a good night’s sleep in weeks and you saw no hope of things changing for the better. So you took a huge amount of hydrocodone and figured you would fall asleep soon, either you would wake up or you wouldn’t. Sleep did not come. Instead you started experiencing violent chest pains and your heart was beating so fast you felt your death was near. You called Nursewise and they sent an ambulance that rushed you to the hospital. The hospital monitored your vitals and decided to send you to another behavior health clinic.

Many things happened while you were in the behavioral clinic. Your Landlord evicted you and your parents had to move all of your belongings out of your apartment. Every time you talked to your mother on the phone she was kind and supportive, but you could tell she was hurt, confused and angry. Some good came of the stay in the clinic, you found a second wind. You felt you had a new lease on life. You realized that between the car accident and overdoing the pain pills that there is no good reason why you shouldn’t already be dead. If there is something out there, not giving up on you, then you should not either. You began attending meetings, meeting with counselors, and working on yourself.

After your visit in the clinic, you returned to Yuma with no place to call home. You stayed at the local homeless shelter for two weeks and then got yourself into a recovery home. You still suffer from constant pain, your head feels like someone hit it with a two-by-four most days, and you have to fight strong paranoia that somehow the floor will fall out from beneath you at any moment. You still ride a bicycle although you feel terrified every time you do so. You work on making yourself more stable, but it never seems like you are accomplishing enough. You fear you will never have a handle on life, but you have decided to keep trying until it gets better, or it gets worse, either way. You are thankful to be breathing at all and ever grateful  for  the family and friends who did not give up on you. Life hits hard and you know there is little that anyone can do about it. You tell yourself you are excited to see what will happen next in this crazy journey of yours, and for the most part this is true.

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