“Behind the Badge” Hidden Tragedy
By Joseph Pangaro
The room was dark. The sound of pumps and meters and all kinds of medical equipment hummed and clicked in the background. In the hallways the sound of muffled voices mixed with buzzing alarms and the occasional crash of a dropped tray added to the overall feel of confusion.
The pain raced through her, overwhelming her. The shaking and the tremors came without warning. A wave of heat washed over her from head to toe, her stomach turned. Crying without end until she fell asleep, only to dream of more pain, alone and scared.
Occasionally, usually after she finally managed to drift off for a few minutes, a nurse would come in and check her over again. The feeling of being too hot was replaced with intense freezing, then the heat would come again. The sick stomach never went away.
Her arms and legs contracted on their own timetable, often twitching uncontrollably. The medicine was forced into her mouth and down her throat, she gagged and did not like the taste. She had no understanding or comprehension of any of this or the endless agony that never let up. She is an innocent Angel racked with pain and living through hell.
Lost in her own world she is alone in her hospital bed, but across the country this 3 day old infant is one of thousands of babies born, suffering, and addicted to illicit and prescription drugs.
The picture of this tiny child clinging to life as she goes through withdrawal is heartbreaking and one that is almost too hard to bear. Knowing children like the one in this column are actually going through this horror at all of our hospitals, even now as you read this is enough to shake me to my core.
We all know that people make bad choices and many suffer the consequences of those decisions, sometimes for a very long time. It is one thing to feel sorry for a young person that knowingly gets themselves involved in drugs and the lifestyle of drug use and finds themselves in very bad shape. Common decency demands that we, as good people, try to find some compassion for these misguided kids.
Finding that compassion is no easy task when these misguided kids start stealing, robbing, and destroying everything around them because of their addictions. But somehow we know we must be ready to reach out and help them whenever the moment of clarity comes and the chance to save them presents itself. This is the burden of good people. To do otherwise is to throw away our humanity as they have thrown their lives away. To anyone who knows a young person that has become addicted, you know you pray everyday for a chance to help them. Unfortunately that chance doesn’t always come and all too often you are left with broken hearts and an emptiness that cannot be filled; this is the suffering of the family and friends of the addicted. In time there is a numbness that overtakes them, it’s a survival mechanism. It’s acceptance.
It’s another thing altogether to see these most innocent of all God’s creatures, fighting for their lives from the addiction passed onto them by their mothers who are addicted to drugs. We cannot accept the suffering of babies who had no choice in their misery. They may be someone else’s baby, but they are all our children.
In a recent study the number of babies born addicted to heroin, prescription opiates, cocaine and other habit forming drugs has tripled! Babies are being treated with methadone, the withdrawal drug used for adult addicts. Their withdrawal is just as physically terrible as it is for an adult, but a baby cannot comprehend why there is such pain. Nor can I.
If you know someone who is addicted to drugs, try to get them to seek help, especially if they are pregnant. If you are pregnant and addicted act for the babies sake and get help.
The only saving grace I can find in this statistic and abhorrent situation is the knowledge that most of the babies that survive the withdrawal crisis will not remember it. One can only hope that those moments of terror and agony will fade from their lives and be reduced to a ghostly mist, lost forever to time and memory.
I’m sorry to have brought this to your attention, I’m usually much more positive. But I feel I owed it to these brave children to think of them and keep them with me, even if it’s hard to do. In that way maybe they are not as alone as they must feel. If we all keep them in our thoughts and prayers maybe, just maybe we can bring some comfort to those dark rooms as they fight……
Let me know what you think. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and read my blog at www.jpangaro.blogspot.com