Little Tommy’s blog
I've been thinking a lot about my brother's Ray and Frank lately. The work that I've done over the last 4 months and getting the chance to hang out and learn from the people at KUSI News, especially their executive producer, Davida Vanderploeg comes to an end Tuesday night with the airing of OXY: What Your Kids Aren't Telling You. It airs from 8:00 to 10:00pm on KUSI 9 in San Diego. If you live outside of San Diego, log on to http://www.kusi.com and watch it on their LIVE stream.
Ray and Frank have been on my mind a lot because how oxycontin leads to heroin and hearing stories while helping out with the KUSI show. I was just a little boy between 8-10 years old when I saw a lot of stuff going on with my brothers and heroin. I guess my brothers thought of me as a cool kid back then that already knew the street code and I already knew where I came from and I already knew about honor and respect and not being a narc. You never told your parents or any authority what you saw back when I was a kid in the 70's. So, knowing all that at a very young age, I guess, as I look back on it all, it probably messed with my head a little.
I can be mad at Ray and Frank for not having me shielded from all that I saw with heroin. BUT, what good would that do? They're both dead!
What I would see when I was a kid was my brothers and their friends shooting up and belts tied around their arms and shit like that. I shake my head today, but back then, it was something that I just saw all the time and I knew not to be a narc. I just took it in and then asked to play catch with the football in the street and didn't think anything of it until today almost 40 years later. Why all of a sudden now? I think it's a God thing.
My brother's died clean from drugs 7 years apart. Frank died on December 5th, 1997. Ray died on March 18th 2004. Although, they were clean, they died from long term heroin use. It just beat up their body and took away their liver, both of them.
Have you ever been around someone with a bad liver that was dying? I've seen two sides of it. I've seen two different ways it kills you.
In 1997, I saw my brother Frank change on a dime. One day he was fine and getting clean. The next day, I wasn't sure if he was high or messing with me. What I found out later by the doctors was that Frank's liver was all the way done and not functioning and it honestly made him seem high and goofy. I remember taking him to the doctor and he was laughing in the elevator, but honestly he was in pain and it just looked like he was laughing and it just stunned me. I didn't know what to do. I remember walking in to the doctor's office with Frank looking like he was stoned and laughing and then the doctor told me “Frank is not high, this is his liver, this is what happens.” It wasn't a pain that you think of when someone is dying. It was pain that I never knew before. This pain made Frank look loaded, but it was just his body going away and dying.
This is me and Frank. He taught me how to walk.
This morning while waking up early, I was reminded about Ray's death in 2004. I feel guilty about Ray. I feel I didn't do enough for Ray when he was sick. Ray was strong. Ray was stronger than anyone I knew. He could outlift anyone and he was just stronger than anyone, physically and mentally.
What I saw was something on television early this morning that made me remember the last few weeks with Ray. I saw it and I even had to look away because it was exactly Ray. I was watching LOCK UP on MSNBC and it showed an inmate dying because he had a bad liver. He was in a wheelchair because his whole body swelled up and he was going to die. His legs puffed up and his feet swelled up. The inmate was in pain. I felt bad, because in early March of 2004, this is the exact state Ray was in. I would go see him at his place in Chula Vista and he was just sitting there watching television and he was all swollen. He used to kid around and say he looked like a big Samoan, because his thighs and legs were puffy. Ray was tough. He didn't use a wheelchair like the guy on television this morning. Ray just toughed it out. He didn't even look scared. BUT, as I think back, I think he was scared and I just didn't know it, because he didn't look like he wanted anything, but he just had to, I know he did and I am sorry that I didn't get it back then. I am sorry to Ray for not knowing his pain until now.
I was so happy to hear that Ray finally checked in to the hospital the night of March 17th 2004. I was so happy he would rest and get better and come home. I remember visiting him at the hospital and being happy he was getting medicine and being seen by a good doctor. BUT, Ray passed away the next day on March 18, 2004. We were all called in by the hospital, because Ray went in to a coma hours after I said “See you tomorrow!”
After we all hugged Ray and said our goodbyes, it was my job, given to me by my family, to tell the doctor and nurse to let Ray go now. When Ray died in front of us, I walked outside to the hospital lobby and there was a line of about 100 of his friends from NA staring at me as I was walking out and each one of them hugged me and shook my hand as I walked outside. Ray was an inspiration to NA and was 4 years clean when he died.
God works in mysterious ways. I know I didn't just stumble upon this KUSI television special that airs on Tuesday night. I know my work that I am doing with it, comes from my heart and life. As I look back to when I was a kid seeing what I saw and then being there for both my brothers when they died, I honestly think this KUSI special and the last 4 months is a God thing.
Somehow God has given me a way to give all that is in my heart and all that I know about being a little brother with big brother's addicted to heroin back to anyone that needs to hear me or anyone that has a problem with drugs.
I don't think this KUSI special is on the air Tuesday night because I'm on a hiatus from Jeff and Jer. I think the KUSI special is on Tuesday night because God lead me down that path and just knew I would somehow get to KUSI.
Today, as I see the stories on OXYCONTIN in our schools and how it's synthetic heroin and how kids are switching to heroin to save a few bucks is too familiar to me. I hear so many experts talk about signs in your home and look for things missing and look for your things being sold at the nearest pawn shop. I am very familiar with that. I could write a book about that. I have millions of stories of things stolen from my mom and getting it back at the pawn shop for her.
I see kids strung out on heroin TODAY by way of oxycontin and they are young punks that have everything going for them, so it's easy for me to talk to them and give them advice NOT from a text book I read, but from my heart, because it's all I know. My knowledge I have about this can keep up with any doctor or any person who went to college to know this stuff because I lived it. I can out talk a doctor on this subject because I went through all this my whole life. I didn't have to read a book on how drugs mess up your life.
That's why I can relate to so many of these kids strung out on heroin. I see my brothers in them. These kids are the same age as my brothers were. BUT, this time, I'm not a little kid looking up to them. I'm an adult and I can help. I can finally help them and I have my brothers here in spirit reminding me of all that I know.
For some strange reason, I am allowed to talk to JUVENILE HALL kids. I am allowed to talk to kids that go through the jail system. I am allowed to talk to kids at schools that get in trouble. I am allowed to talk to children of listeners and friends that are on drugs, NOT because I have a degree in this shit, it's because somehow I am trusted and I lived it and deep inside my heart is a little boy that saw too much stuff and almost 40 years later, I get to do something about it!
Please watch KUSI 9 in San DiegoTuesday night November 16th from 8 to 10pm.
Outside of San Diego log on to: http://www.kusi.com
OXY: What Your Kids Aren't Telling You!
If you need to talk about this, you can email me at email@example.com