|“At this point in time”
At 0800 the Sheriff’s patrol car pulls up to the entrance of the Newest Rehab Facility in the Tri County Area. The latest “volunteer” was escorted by two rather burly men in the uniform of the Kyle County, Sheriff’s department.
The passenger, Max de Costa was a diminutive Latino man possibly forty years old. His clothes were wrinkled and he smelled bad enough that the deputies were glad to open the doors to air out the car, even though the ventilation had run at full blast all the way from his little apartment.
The two deputies were the muscle that served commitment papers to possibly belligerent “volunteers” who would at least get a State sponsored seventy-two hour break from their self destructive behavior. It had been an easy call for the deputies.
The deputies knew that without signing additional voluntary commitment papers Max would be out on the street again bright and early on Tuesday morning.
He knew they were coming, his employer had made that plain last evening at the end of his shift. Max’s regular evening’s entertainment had consisted of three pints of hundred proof Whisky.
Max’s head hurt, bad, it felt like his heart had taken up residence inside his skull and was using a jack-hammer to punch its way out.
His hands shook uncontrollably and he felt sick to his stomach. He probably would not vomit; he had nothing left inside his stomach not even water.
He had no pills, which he normally ate by the handful. He did not even have any herbal remedies to combat his symptoms. A ginger concoction he got at a health food store always helped his nausea.
His eyes burned in the bright light of the early morning sun. His feet didn’t want to work properly even though it had been seven long hours since his last drink. His blood alcohol level was still way over the limit.
Max had the Grandfather of all hangovers.
After the intake ritual, which took several hours, Max sat, freshly bathed, and heavily medicated waiting for his first meeting with Eduardo Sanchez, chief of staff. Eduardo has a personal interest in Max. He walks quietly down the brownish marbled tile hall of the Newest Rehab Facility in the Tri-State Area. He looks smart in his freshly starched lab coat over his expensive long sleeved blue silk shirt and gray cashmere trousers. His shoes are highly polished black Italian leather.
He holds Max’s chart in his hand. Eduardo had left Max to sit and cool his heels for almost a half hour while he carefully extracted every bit of information which the chart contained. He knew this man much better than an average doctor would.
Unlocking the lock with his combination key and ID card, Eduardo pushes the door open. Max is clad in clean hospital green scrubs and slippers. He waits in an arm chair next to the examining table. The look in his eyes and the tiny drool at the corner of his mouth makes his over medicated condition obvious.
Eduardo walked up to him, cupped Max’s chin in his hand and said, “Hey Vato, you think you got it
hard? You don’t even know what hard is. Right now you are a walking dead man with nowhere else to go. This is the only chance you got to save yourself from a painful death. I will help, but you must help too. You are going to hear that around here a lot.”
Eduardo flipped to the meds portion of the chart.
He dug is pen out and wrote across the top of the chart in neatly easily readable English,
"We are trying to wean this Patient off the alcohol and street drugs he is addicted to. Filling him full of meds is not the way to help this man. He needs just enough Ativan to keep him from going into convulsions. For a few days Page me if there are problems."
Signed: Eduardo SANCHEZ chief of Staff.
He asked Max questions, like when he had his last drink, and how much he consumed each night.
The little man was used to the equivalent sixteen oz of pure ethanol every day.
Eduardo told Max to lay flat on his back on the examination table, and gently lifted the scrub top so he could probe Max’s liver.
“AAAAH that hurts”, said Max.
“Your liver is severely inflamed; you probably have a lot of damage and only time will tell whether you have already succeeded in killing yourself.”
Max appeared disinterested in anything except Eduardo removing his fingers from his sore abdomen.
“I will talk to you tomorrow when you feel a little better,” said Eduardo. He tapped a push button on the wall close to the door. In a few minutes a tall pink-skinned orderly opened the door.
Max was escorted to his room.
After a larger breakfast than any he had eaten in the time since Maria, his ex, had left, Max still had the remnants of a hangover. He had eaten one soft boiled egg and a piece of toast with coffee. The orderly came to his side and said,” time to see the Doc, bus your dishes as we go.” Max complied with a sullen attitude.
They went up a different hall decorated with several pictures of the high Sierras in winter. They stopped in front of a door with Dr Eduardo Sanchez chief of staff on the placard.
The orderly opened the door; Eduardo was sitting between a small desk and a computer workstation.
He acknowledged Max’s presence with a look and a gesture to sit in the chair in front of the desk.
“You can go, I’ll ring when I need you” he said to the orderly.
Eduardo starred directly into Max’s eyes until he cast his eyes down to the floor. Eduardo stood and removed his lab coat, and unbuttoned his expensive long sleeved silk shirt. He put his bare arms directly in the line of vision of the man before him. His arms were a mass of scars from missed injections, and infected injection sites. His upper arms were covered with multicolored Banger Tats. Max looked up at Eduardo a mixture of disbelief and awe on his face.
Eduardo put his shirt back on, and donned the lab coat. He waited patiently for Max to speak.
Max finally broke the silence. “Man you have been there, haven’t you.”
Eduardo turned both hands palm down. Both hands had a light area about the size of a half dollar on the web of skin that connects the thumb to the rest of his hand. “I Had them removed, I saved the rest to remind me where I have been!”
Eduardo began to speak. “Addiction is like being on a motorcycle going 150 miles an hour right toward a brick wall. The goal here is to put the brakes on and slow steadily to a stop. Then the rider needs to realize that this is the pivotal point where his life can be turned in another direction. “
He pointed to a large wood burned plaque on the wall behind the computer. "Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending."
“This is my personal motto” said Eduardo. “When I was fifteen I was a heroin addict, I stole everything that wasn’t nailed down, and in a couple cases I stole things that weren’t nailed down firmly enough.”
“Look how my life has changed, you can do the same, or better.” “Do you know what I do every day? I walk through the cafeteria and get a cup of coffee I do not need, you see I have coffee here.” He opened a wood door in what appeared to be a combination closet, bookcase, and catch all, revealing an ultra modern coffee brewing set up, a stack of cups and ceramic containers of what appeared to be several kinds of coffee.
“I do that each day without fail; because I want to see the people who have come for the only help I have to offer. I am a walking talking miracle! I turned a different direction, and I certainly was heading toward an open grave at best, and most probably some ditch.”
Is my life different today? I came into this office with a Styrofoam cup of the worst coffee in this hemisphere, got down on my knees and I said,” thank God, for my life today and for the opportunity to help your suffering children.”
“Each second of my life is a gift! The direct result of the moment when I realized there just might be a different way I could go. I decided to try it, what could I possibly lose?”
"That was just the beginning, I went to a Half way house, half way to hell that is, but I am stubborn man, I would pick out somebody that looked like they were getting their shit together, then I would do what they did. I would talk to a success every chance I got. Real success in that place was almost nonexistent. When I finally realized I could be a success; I was at the library! I found out that there were a lot of programs for people like me that would help me get through school. The cool thing was there was no set limit how far I could go the only thing was a one for two commitment to work with addicts and alcoholics one year for every two I went to school. Not a bad deal especially when they pay a salary, only they call it a cost of living stipend. I took off like a rocket. I finished my GED in eleven weeks. I started college, took a full load the first semester, then talked my counselor into letting me take one and one half times the normal load on a trial basis beginning second semester. After that I took a triple load, even in the summer. I spent most of my time in the library when I wasn’t in class. It seems impossible I made it all the way through medical school, working in that halfway house for room and board. As I learned more I did some counseling. I can’t count the number of times I showed these scars and said if I can do it, you can too.
I still have some school loans to pay off, but It is a small price to pay for the new life I received.”
Max listened intently that day, and every day for four long months. Eduardo’s team helped him find a path that he could change to which would save his life.
Max learned that right here, right now is the only time you can do anything. The past is gone and unchangeable; the future is not here yet. If you can’t work toward something right now, you cannot do it at all.
The day Max left he went by to say goodbye to Eduardo, He stuck his head in and said thank you.
Eduardo, as busy as ever, acknowledged him with a wave off as if It were nothing. Max took a long look at the hand wood burned plaque made of plywood on the wall above the computer.
"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending."
He knew beyond doubt that the rest of his life was in his own hands.
He left on a heading he had never been on before toward The Beginning!