“I hate to have to ask but can I have another dose of Dilaudid?” Stevie asked as he slithered into the darkened living room of our house about 8:30 in the evening, in November of 2008.
We had been living in the house after putting our newly built house in Loveland, Colorado up for sale earlier that year.
Jenna, our daughter had already moved out, finished college and married her sweetheart. In fact Nadine and I stayed with Jenna and her husband a short time just after quit making payments on our house.
“I can’t give you any more pain meds until 11:00PM Stevie,” I told him. “If we do, you will run out before morning,” I added.
Nadine and I kept his meds in a cheap lock box we bought at Office Depot, just as Stevie’s family physician had recommended. We had hidden the lock box behind my sweaters within a cubby in our bedroom.
By now we were on to him.
Stevie had been addicted to pain meds for chronic pancreatitis for several years.
The last three years, Stevie always seemed to run out of medications too soon to get them refilled. We were all stressed already but this added pressure turned the screws a little more.
Stevie had been abusing his prescriptions and doing anything to get them for as long as we could remember. But because of his illness and surgeries, we didn’t want to believe what had become obvious to the medical professionals that we approached for his pain medications: he had been numbing his body and mind since the age of seven.
Tonight, at our little rented house in Fort Collins, was going to be a night neither Nadine, Stevie or myself would ever forget.
The next time we checked the box containing the pills, right before we turned in around 11:00 pm, we saw the lock had been broken. Things had really gotten bad for Stevie, apparently, and he had taken what he needed.
But he was now completely out of meds and there would be no way to get them until morning. Even then we would have to beg the pharmacist to accept a prescription that said it was not time to refill.
Nadine and I slept between Stevie’s doses of Dilaudid or Demerol in those days and since, we had nothing to give him, we knew that night would be a long one.
At 22 years of age, Stevie was about 6 feet 1 inches tall, with light brown hair, like Nadine’s and blue eyes, like mine. Meat was sparsely distributed on his slender frame in those days, mostly from years of abusing any oral pain medications he could talk the doctors into prescribing for him. Stevie didn’t talk much. Highly intelligent, with a well-developed (although sometimes cynical) sense of humor, we had seen glimpses of his potential every now and then since the age of 7.
He had earned his black belt in martial arts at an early age when we lived back east and had tested nearly off the charts in mathematics.
But these days he spent most of his life watching tv or playing video in his room.
Tonight Stevie was very focused, like Nadine and I were, on just making it through the night, until we could find a way to get more pills in the morning.
From our bed, we noticed the flicker of light under our bedroom door; the same light we saw every night. The one we knew came from Stevie’s room about 14 feet down the hallway.
An hour passed as we set ourselves to the task of falling asleep under the whir of our dusty, wooden ceiling fan.
Occasionally, in the middle of the night, when Stevie became so anxious about his lack of pills he could no longer stay in his room, he would walk back and forth across the living room in total darkness.
This was creepy, but his wanderings no longer surprised us. Tonight would be one of those nights.
We heard his bedroom door open slowly as not to wake us, and his steps down the hallway. But instead of the sounds of the wooden floors in the living room creaking, he must have walked into the kitchen.
Another few minutes passed, as we anticipated that he would go back to bed.
Instead, I heard Stevie open my toolbox. I recognized the noises as those of someone who was sorting through the tools and moving several of them around as to find just the right one.
Next – Final Solution