Sunday, August 31, 2014

Vancouver - Anchorage off Kits Beach

I am mentally and spiritually exhausted.  I learned of another patient dying, another homeless addict.  I work in a methadone clinic. For some methadone is palliative care. They’ve tried many treatment centres, actually gone to AA and seen dozens of doctors and been hospitalized. For whatever reason they remain ‘junkies’.
This wasn’t a young person.  Young people come in. We get them on methadone and direct them to treatment resources.  Methadone is a stepping stone out of the deepest hole. There’s a lot more hope. The old ones, they started their journey in the ‘Sex drugs and rock and roll’ of the 60’s and now in their 60’s they’re homeless. Instead of depending on theft for heroin they come to the clinic.  It’s medical and there’s dignity.  But they still die.  I've seen more death working in addictions than I did when I was working with AIDs patient or was specifically treating depression and suicide.
I think this is four in the last year or two.  One hung himself. Another took an overdose in an hotel room. This fellow, it’s thought died of some other disease, infection perhaps, heart failure.  An autopsy won’t be done.  Obviously, if he’d just said  ‘no’, he’d probably be alive today.
There’s AA and NA and all the religious programs that work long term. The drugs become their gods and they worship them. A higher power is anything that’s of more intrinsic value to an addict than the drug which is their God. Addicts are highly religious only they worship addiction, fundamentally a death cult of idolatry.  Scientifically their brains are changed by the drugs taken over like a parasite with a host.  The drug dealers are the carriers of this infectious disease.
There’s secular programs like SMART and various treatment and recovery resources with houses and places people can live for years. I’ve seen fellows who were clean and sober so long as they were in such places but the minute they walked out the door the drug dealers accosted them and they were back in slavery.  I love the blues refrain, “I’ve been down so long it looks like up to me.”
If they continue to do drugs they die young.  Really young.  The life expecantcy of a chronic heroin addict especially as they combine it with crack and meth is at most into their 50’s . I've known 20 year olds later found dead in dumpsters.
It takes 20 to 30 years off a life expectancy. It’s hardly living. Methadone gets them out of the clutches of the dealers, away from the criminal world, offers hope.  Alcohol and drugs are fun, then fun and trouble then just plain trouble.  The smart ones get off at the first sign of  trouble.  By the time it’s just trouble it’s end stage disease.  Most of my patients have hepatitis, lung disease, some have HIV, others have heart disease. It’s a rough life, a really rough life.  So much pain for so little gain. And the gain is all false, like feeding a dog cardboard. No nutrition.  Just more and more desire.  Living the life of the lie.
Robin Williams dying has had so many of my patients on the edge. It’s been hard for me, too. So much vulnerability.  The edge is so close now.  There’s so little support too.  Rats leave a sinking ship.  Cutbacks and misallocations, graft and corruption.  People come and go.  As caregivers we’re often alone. Everyone seems stretched so thin.
I liked this fellow. I liked them all. But 2 of them I’d only just met and hardly knew but two I knew well.  We talked often.  This fellow shared his life philosophy. He was a big promoter of the free heroin injection site. Believed in a culture of drugs. Thought the government should support free drugs for all who wanted them. Liked to give out needles and pipes.  Sounded like the 60's at times.  Before Belushi died.  Still had some of the ignorance and innocence.
It was all the old "I need Mommy’s tit" argument but who was going to be Mommy to the old guys and old gals.  We were all so young once.  Entitlement.  Nihilism in a way.  We never thought that one day the Sharia's would be chopping off the heads of journalists and raping Christians before killing them.  We didn't know China would abort millions of girls and make the largest army of horny single men sharing porn pictures of white  American feminists.  We didn't know there'd still be war in Israel. We thought only as far as Vietnam way before Korea came back to haunt us.  We wore flowers in our hair.  That was the sadness in his eyes somewhere deep inside.  There's always the sense of betrayal.  
I’m always selling life, albeit sometimes subtly.  I'm also teaching self sufficiency.  Though I just did tell the joke of the white guy who went prison and there were only 3 gangs and no singles. There were the Panthers, the White Klu Klux Klan and the Latin Gang Bangers.  He said he gained a real love of Mexican food as a result of that incarceration.
I feel badly that I can’t convince someone to play in the sandbox a little while longer. Stay, don’t move on.  Now that I’m old myself it’s harder to hold onto them.  We’re all going to die.  I leave the option of life wide open.  They usually smoke cigarettes and do heroin.  The glamor advertisements of cigarettes and tobacco never included these guys faces.  Defeat. That’s what’s written in the scars and creases.  Defeat.  Hanging on by a thread.
I’m out here in a sailboat anchored off Kitsilano Beach.  It’s raining. Really raining.  A regular downpour.  I was woken by nightmares at 4:30 am. It’s been that kind of week.  Mostly I’m on a journey and I can’t get ahead. This one the vehicle broke down and I was trapped in mud.  I don’t think I’m being pursued. I just have to get somewhere and can’t go on. Another time I had to shit and the toilets were all broken and overflowing and shit was everywhere.  Another time I was on a bus and everyone was complaining about too many people on the bus so I got off and walked. I was walking in the rain and cold.  Just those sorts of nightmares. I haven’t had monsters since I was a kid.  I could do with some monsters.  You could shoot the monsters.
So I’ve been taking pictures of the Vancouver sky line.  I thought I wasn’t doing anything out here till  I looked at the pictures on my iPhone and I liked them. So I thought I’d post them.  I should be fishing. I have a license, a boat and a rod and reel. Instead I’m going to go back to reading this novel.  It’s usually noon when I really get inspired to fish then the fish aren’t biting so I don’t fish.
The novel is a futuristic detective story so far, Greg Egan’s Distress.  Reading at anchorage is a fairly pleasant rocking experience.  The anchor rode is like an umbilical chord.  A bit of the back to the womb feeling. Surrounded by blue.
It’s Sunday. If I was ashore I’d be in church.   Church is uplifting. I must’t suck on sorrow.  I’ll get up again.  Maybe later fish.  Right now I’ll post these pictures then get back to the novel and coffee.  Vancouver is pretty in all kinds of weather. IMG 6337IMG 6341IMG 6343IMG 6344IMG 6322IMG 6323IMG 6333

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