Friday, April 27, 2018

The Southern Convening On Harm Reduction

This past week, I was deep in the heart of the Smokey Mountains for the Southern Conference on Harm Reduction. While I did everything humanly possible to talk the organizers out of having me, I was brought in to discuss the negative and positive realities of sharing stories about drug use and abuse as a woman. I was excited to attend but the trip was LONG- two flights and a forty minute car ride. The day I arrived, nothing at the hotel was open so I had to walk into the town. This involved walking along the grassy side of a busy rural highway. I channeled my inner Eileen Wuornos and hiked down to the breakfast place. The after church crowd was filing in, discussing the sermon. What was pretty clear from this trip was that Harm Reduction or pretty much anything cannot take place with some level of cooperation from the religious community. Coming from the "godless" Bay Area, this was a culture shock but not wholly surprising. 

These types of events energize me as I see there are hundreds of rational folks out there pushing for common sense drug policies. North Carolina, a red state, has over twenty syringe exchange sites including one located at a pawn shop. You have no idea how much I love this. There is no more "any door is the right door" that giving out supplies at the mfing pawn shop. There was also a wrestling show/fundraiser held at a brewery that also had a two step dance class going on. It was kind of other worldly. I have lived in GA, TN, and KY but I had forgot a lot of the flavor of the different areas. 

The Southern Harm Reduction is plugging along despite some of the worst drug laws in the nation. Poverty, race, and the stigma of being a person who uses drugs were hot topics. I was especially surprised to learn about repressive child protective service practises where parents can be separated from their children over weed. Most importantly, I think the conference highlighted that change IS happening. We ARE mobilizing. There are people that care about you. 

I also had a young person approach me and tell me I had provided the correct contacts to their friend to enable them to start the only naloxone program in the state of Arkansas. That was pretty rad. I also loaded up on shrimp and grits AND biscuits and gravy with greens. Lord help my digestive tract. It still has not recovered from the copious amounts of butter. 

I love you and want for you to be safe. 

Here is a dose of the new puppy, Buster Pimms. 


Friday, April 20, 2018

Abscesses

I want to talk briefly about my love/hate relationship with abscesses. I've had like 34 of them :(. First of all, if you inject drugs and you have never had one, congrats. I feel like the key to avoiding them is really keeping a sterile field at the injection site, using sterile water, and new syringes. Being a homeless junkie, it get REALLY hard to keep a sterile injection area. Even in the best case scenario using alcohol wipes, just the environment all around me was fucking filthy. Syringes were kept in my sock, my gross pockets, or in some kind of bag with god knows what swirling around in there. Also, as a person who injected tar, god knows what kinds of bacteria and folgers coffee I injected over the years.

Secondly, I would get super excited to pop one. So gross. So wrong. So true though. They get red, painful, and your skin gets swollen and tight. It is as if mother nature compels you to do something. They gush out gross green stuff. The human body is truly amazing. The fact that we can walk around with a part of the body rotting is crazy to me. I am in no means dismissing this as a dangerous situation- it absolutely is- unfortunately people who use drugs are put in so many dangerous situation there is a certain amount of system overload prioritizing what to deal with first.

Anyway, as I'm sitting with the new puppy in my lap I was looking at one of my scars thinking about how I used to always have some infection brewing on one limb or another, walking around like an extra from a zombie movie.

The sun is slowly creeping in to the house. I hope you are having a good day.

Reason # 1001 to get naloxone This is a message from reddit. The naloxone was used the same day it arrived:

Hey Tracey! First off thank you so much so sending that, I received it this morning and it saved my cousin's life this evening. We ( his mom and I) can't thank you enough. His mom found him unresponsive and was able to administer two shots before the ems arrived on site. My cousin is a big boy @ 6'3 & 310lbs. And there is no way my aunt (has COPD on permanent oxygen in her 60s) could have got him out of the bathroom to start any form of resuscitation. Thank you for all the selfless work you for the community, you're an angel.





Thursday, April 12, 2018

My Dog Died and Other Unexpected Life Events

Well readers this has been kind of a shit week for me. My dog Sadie, who has been my baby for the past 12 1/2 years had to put sleep Monday morning. She was 14 so it wasn't wholly unexpected but is was extremely sad. I was grateful I could be there with her to the very end. Of course, I wanted to know what drugs they were using to put her to sleep to make sure she would be feeling no pain. 

In addition to this, I threw my back out. It isn't even a cool story like "oh I was lifting at the gym" or "I was carrying this pack on a ten mile hike". I pulled a muscle in my back angrily cleaning up kid toys. It was super humbling to have to lay my old ass down. SIGH. Oh well. 

In other news, I am leading a writing workshop for women who has histories of drug use and abuse in North Carolina this month. That is pretty exciting. It's a volunteer gig which are generally the best ones. Plus, I will get to see lots of my Harm Reduction friends. 

A news crew is meeting me this week to talk about care packages. That is always nerve wracking and exciting. There is also a project starting in New York State called next distribution. They are in the early stages of doing care packs there. The seeds are slowly growing. WE are going to get the message out there. Every life is worth saving. 

Big shout to the DOPE Project here. I am loosely associated with them and have been since 2000. 

Love you friends XOXO tracey 


Monday, April 2, 2018

This is Us (Dope Fiend Edition)

Well family, another day is coming to a close. I am sitting on my bed in a t-shirt and boxer shorts figuring out how to inspire the world. In today's edition, I really want to discuss how the media portrays us. Pretty much on a daily basis, a journalist of one type of another want to get the "inside story" by interviewing current and former opioid "addicts". While some may be kind hearted and many are sympathetic, they aren't us. I look at the books coming out about the "epidemic". They aren't US either. I want to hear stories written by us.

What constitutes US:
- Have you used toilet water to fix?
- Have you gone to work dopesick?
- Have you had to drive you kid to school holding your cheeks sick?
- Have you traded a family heirloom for some pills?
- Have you washed the dope man's dishes? Watched their kids?
- Have you cried over a lost bag?
- Have you burned out all forms of credit?
- Are you on house arrest? Do you have to pee in a cup
- Have you thought subs taste like defeat at least once?
- Have you had to put your legs against the wall and pushed to poop?
- Have you nodded out on top of food?
- Have you used a syringe with the numbers worn off?
- Have you been called in on a pill count?
- Do you know what "BLOW, BLOW!!!" means
- Has anyone ever walked off with your last money?
- Do you know what squat and cough means? Or spread your cheeks?
- Have you had your dose held for a UA?
- Have you been narcaned?

I want to hear THOSE stories from US. We don't need all those to qualify. That is just a start. I want to hear about your first day at the sub clinic. I want to hear about the time you bought baking soda. I want to hear about your first week back at college. Our stories are being taken away. We need our voices heard. I am not sure how I am doing this yet. I am on the case. Nothing about US with out US.

I love you all. Fentanyl is in pretty much every part of the US drug supply. Please get naloxone.

I have had folks inquire about my day job. I run peer based mental health programs. I use my day job to help fund the care package program. There is no way I could do my advocacy without the support of my full time job. They are very understanding and I enjoy my work.