“If you think a mother’s pain is unimaginable, you should see her strength.”
You were visiting your mother when, while in another room, you became unresponsive and fell to the floor. She heard the thump of your fall and raced into the room to find you pale and barely breathing. Drug paraphernalia sat beside you.
Your mother screamed. She cried. She fell to her knees and tried to wake you, slapping your cheek and compressing your chest, and forcing her own breath into your mouth. You did not respond.
Your mother frantically called 911. Within minutes, the paramedics arrived. With quick and concise care, they administered several large doses of Narcan to you. Within seconds, you began to cough and gag before finally taking a deep breath. Your eyes fluttered and then finally opened. In your daze, you saw your mother’s heartbroken eyes staring back at you. Her prayers were answered.
In the ER, I was your doctor. I interviewed both you and your mother and learned what had just happened at her house. I learned that you recently had some success with drug rehabilitation after struggling with your addiction for over a decade. Your relapse today, at your mother’s home, was a complete shock to her. Her pain was palpable. Despite her attempts at being brave, her tears and etched wrinkles, and fearful eyes shared what her heart felt. She had hoped that your struggles were behind you. Instead, her hopes were decimated once again.
You were quite upset and in tremendous turmoil for letting down the world and your “Mama.” You knew the pain you inflicted on her but were clearly unable to stop it, still searching for the path of releasing the power that addiction held over you. I saw the tremble of your arms as you wrapped them around her as a way to apologize.
I examined you and observed you until I was certain that you were medically safe. You napped a bit during your observation and during this, your mother and I had a chance to talk. She shared a bit about her pain and struggles with your addiction, about how it had changed her own life. She had adjusted her dreams for you too many times to count, once hoping that you would rule the world and now only wishing that you could exist without your addiction. As a fellow parent, I couldn’t begin to imagine the shifting perspective of her dreams for you, her only child.
Finally, I discharged you. I prescribed you a Narcan kit and offered you our available resources for addiction and drug abuse. You refused our resources, including an assessment for inpatient care, assuring me you had your “team” of support and would reach out to them about your relapse. I was hopeful that your assurances were sincere, especially for your mother’s sake. I had faith in you.
As you walked down the hallway to leave, I noticed you lean into your mother, her left arm wrapped around your waist. I was mesmerized by her strength and undeniable love for you. As you both rounded the bend, she turned back to find me watching. She mouthed a “thank you” to me and gave me the hint of a small smile. Her gesture and gratitude made me catch my breath.
Today was a good day for you and your mother. You survived your overdose. Many don’t. I hope that someday that hint of a smile on your mother’s face turns into one so big that her face cannot contain it, all because your efforts to healing and overcoming your addiction succeed. I pray she is spared the devastation and pain of anything less.
Each day we are given is a gift. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. With each day, I hope we can all find a little time to appreciate our gift and maybe even take a few minutes to make it a better one for those around us. If you know of anyone struggling with addiction, like this Mama or her child, why don’t you take a moment today to reach out to them, whether by text or a phone call or a visit, and share some of your good stuff with them.
Share your love.
Share your compassion.
Share your support.
Share your healing words.
Share your presence.
If you are too embarrassed or uncomfortable to do this, think about this mother going to bed at night and crying herself to sleep, praying her child survives another day. Think about her and her child’s loneliness and isolation and suffering as they deal with addiction. Imagine the depths of their pain. Imagine if it were you. Imagine the good you could bring to their world today with your heartfelt gesture of kindness and love.
We are all human, and we are all imperfect. We should never sit in judgment of another. When we bear witness to another’s struggle, choose to be a person of inspiration. You can change the world of another with your words and your actions. It would be exactly what we would hope for if we were that person struggling. You have the power to make an impact. Please rise up and make a difference today in the life of another, like this Mama and her child.
Thanks to those of you who continue to nourish my faith in my fellow man. You make me proud to be a part of this big family of mankind.
And I wish that someday peace and calm and happiness will flood this mother’s heart.
“StorytellERdoc” is an emergency physician who blogs at his self-titled site, StorytellERdoc.
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