By: Meagan Esler
As I write this, my nineteen-year-old son is in the intensive care unit because of a heroin addiction. He is trying to stop, and the withdrawal is wreaking havoc. His body is bruised and battered beyond belief.
Last night we spent hours in the hospital, stroking his hair and talking to him as he lay there unconscious. He never knew we were there. There was an occasional tremor or eyebrow raise, and his heart rate would increase, but he never woke up.
(I should clarify that while I fully consider him my son, he is technically my stepson. I raised him since he was seven, so we pretty much leave the “step” out of it. His biological mother was an addict. She has been out of the picture since he was young.)
As a type 1 diabetic, I take five or six shots a day. I cannot imagine why people use needles if they don’t have to, how they can take a beautiful healthy body and damage it.
A couple of years ago, a brand-new bottle of my insulin went missing from the refrigerator door’s butter compartment. I always use the bottles in the order that the pharmacy numbered them, and as I went to the fridge to get one, I noticed that they were out of sequence. “Weird,” I thought, “I must have grabbed the wrong one last time.”
I didn’t give it much more thought until a short time later, when my son moved out. I was cleaning his room and packing the last of his things when I discovered the purple snap-off cap to a bottle of Humalog insulin. Whenever I open a new bottle, I break the tab off the top and toss it in the garbage along with the instructions and tear strip to the box. I haven’t ever opened a bottle and kept the tab.
Why would my son take a bottle of insulin? Curiosity, I suppose. It’s beyond dangerous for someone without diabetes to inject insulin. It could, in fact, easily kill him. Perhaps he thought that since I act kind of drunk if my blood sugars go too low, that he could get the same effect if he tried it. Thankfully, I believe he got scared and decided against it. We never found the actual vial.
My son fell in with the wrong crowd in high school and became hooked on anything he could get his hands on, anything that would cause some sort of high. Teenage drug use has become so common. Prescription drugs seem to be the choice of most teens, which in turn, usually lead to illegal drug use. We warned our son about drugs many times. We simply never thought to speak to him about the things we considered medically necessary and safe.
I never thought to lock up my insulin. It would be really difficult actually, since a three-month supply needs to be refrigerated. All the cold medicine, pain relievers, and prescription meds remained locked away from my troubled teen, but who’d have thought to watch my insulin?
I’m praying for a new life for my son. Rather, I suppose I’m praying for his old life back, for the happy, sweet boy we used to know, before drugs.