Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Waiting for Mr Brownstone

To receive methadone, I have to attend two doctor's appointments each and every week. My appointments fall on Tuesday and Friday, and the "clinic" that they are a part of is held between the hours of 7am and 8:30am on both of these days. There are twenty-three other patients that also attend this clinic. This particular one is designed primarily for those on methadone that also work full time. During my clinic's available hours, you are looked at on a first come first serve basis, but as all of us have to follow a schedule of some sort, we almost always arrive at the same time which means we're all pretty much seen at the same time, as well as never really having much of a waiting period before we are seen.

This clinic is pretty much the only one like this that is offered at the Clinic - with a capital C - that I go to, even though there are now almost 1200 patients attending, and perhaps even more than this amount now as our numbers are still literally growing in leaps and bounds. As well, almost all of the patients from my clinic are exceptionally well behaved and well mannered, which can differ greatly with the average patient of the Clinic. As much as I am loathe to generalize I can't help it when I say that the average methadone patient ends up giving junkies a bad name!

I remember one of the doctors who was doing my assessment prior to starting methadone asking me how serious I was about getting clean. When I told him that I was very serious he asked if he could offer me some advice. He warned me that this was not the place to try to make new friends, not if I really was serious about my recovery. He told me to bring a book or magazine with me each time I came so that I would have something to occupy myself while waiting my turn. He said if I looked busy then it was less likely that anyone would bother me. He cautioned me from giving anyone there absolutely anything at all - not change for the pay phone or money for the bus, nothing at all.

For the most part, I've done my best to keep to myself and its worked out fairly well. I mean, I was trying to remove myself from the ongoing drama of an addict's life, so why would I want to add any more? To this day, I continue to bring something to read to each doctor's appointment even though I no longer really need its protection - again because of the type of addict that happens to attend the same clinic I do.

It is easy to marvel at the difference between our lives and the majority of the others. The others tend to be loud and demanding and impatient and intolerant for the most part. Every visit, there are always a few patients from the other clinics that attempt to be seen by the doctor that runs my clinic, and each and every time, the nurses sitting at the counter have to explain that this clinic will only see the patients that have been registered and approved for it, and if they happened to have missed their normally scheduled clinic that they would have to attend another one. Generally their response is never remotely polite. They usually carry on about some injustice done to them, but eventually have to leave with their tail between their legs as the nurses never, ever budge or make exceptions. I mean what were you doing that was so bloody important anyway that you had to miss your original appointment? It wasn't as if their job was keeping them from attending that's for sure!!!

This is one more thing that I constantly find myself marveling about - the number of addicts in the program that are incapable of working at the same time. Most of them that I've talked to or listened to while sitting quietly seem to express similar reasons for not holding down a job while receiving treatment. Most of their excuses seem pretty lame to me also, but then, even at my absolute worst, I always held down a full time job. The more I did, the more hours I generally ended up working so that I could pay for this ridiculous sickness. I've discovered that most of them never even had a job before they started treatment, so I guess this is a strange and unknown area for them regardless of whether they're using or not. Sad. Wish treatment offered some sort of guidance for them so that ultimately they would become contibuting members of society but there is nothing at all available. Again, sad.

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