93, 92, 90, 88, 85. The red flashing numbers on the monitor were screaming to be noticed, as they dived downward.
My son pulled his head up off the bed in the intensive care unit and gasped for air.
“Please get me out of here!”
“I can’t breathe!” He yelled.
His face was a shade of non- agreeable gray as his reddened eyes rolled back. He started grabbing the many tubes that were sustaining his life for 2 days now. Just an hour before, he had told me he thought he was going to die the night before. But now…..
This seemed pretty close too.
“Please help me G-d dammit!” His teeth clenched together to bite the tube that was in his mouth.
I was embarrassed, worried, scared, sad, angry, powerless and confused.
I held my trembling insides together as I watched this first born son of mine fight the ravages of the disease of addiction’s monstrous withdrawal symptoms coupled with new diagnoses of pneumonia, flu and the surprise one: congestive heart failure.
He was only 35.
This boy of mine who was always moving (no sedentary lifestyle for him); didn’t cave to the smoking fad for years; Loved salads along with his hamburgers; now had the heart of an 80 year old.
Over the last few years, I had conjured up all sorts of scenarios of addiction and lived in fear of overdoses; but this? Heart failure? Never, in a million years.
With the withdrawals out of control and his oxygen dropping quickly, I had to make the decision to let them intubate him. This means a tube would be inserted into his lungs to breathe for him.
My husband and I were whisked out of the room while they inserted another lifeline into my little 9 pound 5 oz baby who had metamorphosed into a 6 ft 220 man now. Or more like 190 after the last 6 month “run”.
A flailing struggling human.
He was finally beaten down by the deprivation and the twisted, sharp fangs of the lifestyle of addiction. This larger than life man, who was the life of the party, now reduced to the mercy of these medical professionals who were strangers in a strange and dark town.
Driving into this town lately, made my insides sick mostly because of my sons infatuation with it. 6 hours from my home; we had made many trips here to try to console, consort, bribe, and pray for my son out of it. I had begged, literally begged; stars, famous entertainers, politicians, influencers and famous recovery “helpers” and rap stars that my son loved; to take an interest, take him under his wing and help us with an intervention to save him.
No one answered me.
One slightly famous, very influential- although a bit controversial -“star”. He told me:
“Your son is not who he thinks he is, and until he can find a way back to his true self, the true destiny he was meant to fulfil; he will continue to suffer.”
Well, here we are.
I’m not sure who was suffering worse. Him or me. Probably him.
I was told once that pain is a huge motivator. Would this be enough pain? How much suffering must one human endure? Either the recipient or the recipient’s loved ones- how much can one withstand?
I try to distract myself and log onto Facebook.
“My son is a monster!””
“I’m kicking him out!”
“How can he do this to me?!!”
My feed is filled with the mom’s support group posts of their person with SUD.
I can’t. I close my Facebook and stare at my sons’ now calm face. His long eyelashes closed over his sweaty face. This boy. This boy who has stolen my heart and encapsulated the last 3 years fully into focused kinetic energy of one goal- recovery.
Would this be IT? Would this be the final straw for him? Almost dying? His future completely dependant on his choices and decisions.
Would my boy love himself enough to care enough? Would he care enough to love himself?
That answer remains hidden. Under the sterile cold hospital room. Amidst the beeping red lights. Under the stark, white, starched bedding that lay over my once vibrant happy son.
All I know is that my son is alive. Here and now, my son is alive. How many times I have prayed for this moment. For him to just be alive.
For now, I will not wonder, or stress, or ruminate. I will not make bets, or promises or excuses. I will not project my fears, insecurities and expectations.
I will sit here and watch my son be alive.