I had always lived in a ghetto, low income environment. I was always in a drug infested area. My parents both had personalities prone to addiction, so addiction is hereditary. But it was not my parents’ fault that I am like this. It was my choice. I chose to go to my mom’s purse and pull out a joint of weed. I grew up in Las Vegas. When I was young and I needed to get money, I had to hustle on my own. My sister and I used to wait for an expensive car, because we would know that they had money. So I used to go around corners and jump in front of a Mercedes. The driver would come out of their car and say, “Oh my god I killed a kid, are you alright?” I would wink and reply, “Well I might be alright if you hand me some cash”. Then they would get out their purses and give me money.
Before my stroke, I knew I had an issue. A hundred dollars a day issue. I needed a hundred dollars a day just to survive, just to do enough drugs. I didn’t think of stopping at all before my stroke. I wanted to shoot up, get better so I can shoot up again. Then I couldn’t find my veins anymore.
I had a stroke because I was a drug user. I had an addiction, and I just put too much junk into my system and it ended up going to my heart. Blood clots built up there and they busted loose when I did too much dope. I was in the hospital for two years. I didn’t know what was happening. I figured out that I couldn’t move my left side, and that I kept falling down. But I didn’t want to admit to myself that I couldn’t walk, so I kept trying to walk and falling down and falling down. I still can’t use my left hand.
My doctors had done all they could with me, and it’s now up to me to get past the plateau. It’s like when a runner’s high kicks in, the adrenaline, and they can keep going further. Even though their bodies are exhausted, it keeps their body running till the end. I have a lot of motivation. I have that adrenaline.
After my stroke, I never took shots again. I’ve thought about it before, when I see syringes on the ground, or needles on TV. I would think about the good feelings that I use to get. The endorphins, the high.
But I feel great now. I live in a nice house now. I’m quite happy here, happier than I had ever been in my whole life. I feel like I’m a reborn man, with a second chance and all that. I think about life a lot differently now. I enjoy the little things like sitting outside and watching the sun come up, and the little birds coming around or brushing my doggie. I just enjoy little things like that, I appreciate it a lot more now. I like staying around the house and reading things, and searching up things like ancient mysteries.
After the stroke, I realized that if you have something to say to somebody, you better say it, or else you might not get a chance to. Like if you want to tell somebody that you are glad that they are in your life, or that you love them, or that you appreciate them. You know, something nice to let them know how you felt about them. When I was in the hospital bed, I found reasons that I wanted to stay alive for, and it was usually because I wanted to tell someone that I love them. I have a daughter, who is now in touch with me, who I haven’t spoke with in 30 years. She called me. Also, my safety became important to me. Injecting needles into my arm is not safe. I thought I was superman before, that I was invincible, a daredevil.
I also plan more into my future now. I plan to come here, to Semiahmoo House Society, every week. I never did that before. I like coming here because people are always here for me.
If I were to offer to others some advice, I would say that you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. That means, even if others may recognize that someone has problems, the individual may not have realized yet. The key point of realization, is all up to them. Another advice? Get help. Talk to the families of people with addictions. Because they will tell you that it isn’t the person who has the addiction that is hurting the most, it’s the people around them that are hurting. It’s the family that realizes that someone has an issue, and they are the ones that also realize someone is getting better.
Responsibilities make one sober. I chose not to have responsibilities. I chose to do nothing. That was my goal. I achieved the goal. Responsibilities were a drag. I do regret it though. I wish I can go back and change it but I can’t. I am very grateful of what I have right now. I don’t what to go back. I’ve had to restart from the beginning, from the starting line so many times that it just became a drag. But right now, I’m at the end and I don’t want to go back.