"What are you going to do about that thing? he asks.
I pull up my shorts. "I am going to drain it." I tell him.
He gives me a look of feigned disgust. This isn't his first time at the junkie rodeo. "Right here?" he asks.
I start looking for a good spot to poke. "yes," I tell him "right here."
The question was pretty ridiculous. Where else am I going to go to get my leg sliced open on a Sunday. There is no way in hell I am traveling all the way out to San Francisco General to get this cut open. After waiting dopeless for 6-8 hours for them to clear gunshot victims, they would finally get some medical resident to hack away at me while they generously provided me with MAYBE 10mg of methadone to tie me over. I can't do it. I couldn't hop the Muni to make it there even if I tried.
Overnight, my knee and began to swell to the point that my appendage looks like a hot, red tree trunk. I no longer have a knee. I just have a single swollen area that blends in. The cellulitis is starting to spread in angry ferocity. This all started a few days ago. I was digging in the vein in my leg when I thought I had found a sweet spot. I felt the burnt and knew right away I was fucking my future self. I just didn't care. All I wanted was that hot, sweet vaccination of tar to create some relief. After searching for a vein fruitlessly for twenty minutes, it seemed so much easier to succuum to the reality that a muscle shot would have to do the trick. There were some days it just wasn't worth it anymore. It wasn't worth carrying about myself, my body, my life. The dark railroad tracks that circle around my legs show my road to nowhere.
"Well, if you are going to do it, hurry the fuck up" he told me. Junkies can be such unpleasant traveling companions. This dude thinks because he has occasional access to my pussy that he is running the show. The only time we have sex is when we have expended all other options. Is there coke? no. Is there speed? no. Is there benzos? no. Is there tv? no. Is there food? no. Well, I guess we can have sex. Whatever. He has sex for money. So why waste his precious tools on affection. The only way I know he loves me is that he gives me half of his cinnamon roll. He saves it for me. He leaves it on the desk. "here babe, I know you are hungry" he says. Love is a hot cinnamon roll when I am curled up beside you on a dirty sheets and a scratchy mattress, pulled from the dumpster.
The real reason he is rushing me is he is tired of waiting for me. My leg is so swollen, I am dragging it. I look like an extra from Thriller. Dragging my leg past the other creatures of the night. I pull out my alcohol wipes an rub the area. Safety first. As I cut the soft center with a razor blade, the results are strangely satisfying. The green and yellow puss captures my attention as the tourists walk past me. They don't see me. They don't feel my pain. This wound might make me a few dollars. When I get it bleeding, I can ask for change. People generally give to a wounded woman- only if the scars are on the outside. I will ask him to sit across the street until I am finished.
"That is fucking disgusting" he tells me. I shrug my shoulders. What else can I do? There isn't enough heroin to hold the pain back now. My leg hurts, my mind hurts. How many more hours until I need more? How many more days can I live like this? How many more grams can I shove into this hole where my heart was until I feel something again. I take some napkins I got from Taco Bell out of my purse and wipe my leg. When I stand up, more blood gushes down my leg into my sock. I won't be going anywhere for awhile. As I throw my napkins into the trash can, I see a mother turn her child's head to the side. That's right. Please don't feed the animals. Nothing to see here, move along.
I am clean now. Clean 17 long years. Sometimes I wonder to myself- how in the hell did I do these things to myself? How did I stick needles in myself all day long for years at a time? How did I trade my life for drugs? How did I get to the point where I completely gave myself over to heroin. I lost my my family, my job, my place to live, my schooling, my friends, my health, and nearly my life for drugs. I am not sure that addiction is a disease. A disease is caused by a pathogen. I do believe that addiction is a disorder, a brain disorder that takes over when you seek relief from reality. This disorder causes cognitive dissoance. You are completely falling apart, yet you think just this one more ____ won't hurt me. No one notices, no one cares about me. I am now the mother that shields their children's eyes from people on the street, people like myself. I cannot change the past. It is what it is. But I refuse to forget it. I refuse to ignore the suffering of others.
Are you suffering today? Are you enjoying your life? Either way, you matter. You are important. All I can tell you is that you, my friend, are fucking awesome. I love your stories, your insight. You are smart. You are funny. You are capable. You can do anything. I am telling you all the things I wish someone had told me. Be safe my friends.