Pubdate: Tue, 24 Apr 2007 Source: Nevada Appeal (Carson City, NV) Copyright: 2007 Nevada Appeal Contact: http://www.nevadaappeal.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/896 Author: Teri Vance Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/find?136 (Methadone) Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/meth.htm (Methamphetamine) Series: Imprisoned By Meth: Mary's Story: (3 Of 5) PART III: MARY'S CHOICE At the hospital, they tell Mary she has an abscess on her spine. She may never walk again Dark moments are punctuated by periods of misery. But the surgery on Oct. 14 is successful. She's expected to make a full recovery. Then infection sets in. She spends nearly two months in the hospital. One day seems just like the day before, and tomorrow holds promise of little else. She starts reading "A Million Little Pieces," the story of one man's battle and eventual triumph over drug addiction. She doesn't finish the book before she's released. After weeks of desperately longing to leave the hospital, it takes only three days home before she's wishing she could go back. "It was so lonely in there," she says. "But it was so peaceful." In addition to the familiar pitfalls of loneliness and boredom, she has a new obstacle: methadone. The pills prescribed to ease her pain, threaten to enslave her to the same captor that nearly killed her twice in the last year. Doctors prescribed 100 pills, with directions to wean herself over time. It's the beginning of December now and should be finished by the middle of the month. "That's a challenge to give a drug addict," she says. While quitting methamphetamine is physically painless, going off methadone isn't. "Your gut wretches, and you have hot and cold sweats," she explains. She worries about what will happen when she runs out of the pain killers, but it's not enough to suppress her enthusiasm for the future. "This is going to be one of my greater chances at life," she says. Her health is improving. She stands on the scale, 130. "I'm still a little sucked up. I'll probably get a little bigger." But she doesn't want to get bigger than a size 10. "I've got to slow down on the sweets - it's all I want to eat on the methadone." More than 60 days has passed since the last time she used meth, and it feels good. "I remember this feeling," she says. "You just forget it when you get high." She hasn't forgotten her dream of finding her own place, and she submits an application for government-subsidized housing. Planning for her new home makes her happy. She and her cousin spend a day at Home Depot looking at paint samples. "I want a pink bathroom," she decides. She wants a "hippie" couch in fluorescent green. "I want everything green." A garden or "anything I can water" would make it perfect. Almost perfect. She doesn't want to move into her new home, start her new life, until she's completely off the methadone. "I will not go into my new house all strung out on pills," she says. "I don't want to be all speed-freaked out, trading my stuff for dope." For the first time in her life, she thinks she's ready. "I don't think I've ever felt this feeling. It's exciting." She's already found successes in smaller things. "I've had $15 in my pocket for three days. It's cool." Life has possibilities it never had before. Maybe she'll take a ballroom dance class. "The dresses are so cute and the dancing is so sexy," she muses. "You definitely have to be sober to remember all those steps." And she's always been interested in photography. "I'll take my kids up to the mountains and let them look for lizards while I take pictures of them." All of her suffering was worth getting to this place. "I have so much to live for," she says. "I think God put me in the hospital to realize that. "I want it maybe this time. Maybe this will be the eye-opener I need." And being in the hospital showed her something else. She's never been able to settle on a career before, but she thinks she might like nursing. She can't be a nurse because she has a felony conviction, but a certified nurse's assistant would be just as good. Western Nevada Community College offers the program. Once she's off the methadone, she'll call. She knows she can't guarantee she'll never use again. "I can't say it'll be forever. All I can say is today I won't," she says. "I'm happy today." But, as Mary has learned, happiness is hard to hold on to. On Christmas Eve, she shows up at the house where the boys are throwing the football across the street to one another, taunting each other with the banter of brothers. The game is interrupted when their mother unexpectedly pulls into the driveway. They rush to greet her and are met with hugs, kisses and Christmas presents. Mary got each boy his own cell phone. She's high. Inside the house, Mary's cell phone rings. "Hello?" Click to Enlarge Mary Reasoner gives her boys cellular phones on Christmas Eve 2005 at her grandmother's Carson City home. Mary, who admitted she was high at the time, said this was the first time in years she'd seen her children on Christmas let alone bought presents for them. Not long afterward, Mary left to get more meth. The boys' faces were blurred to protect their identity. Brad Horn/Nevada Appeal Browse and Buy Nevada Appeal Photos Her eyes light up. It's Jason. He's calling from the living room. "Hi," she answers, then pauses to listen. "I love you, too, babe," she responds. Before Christmas Eve, Mary hadn't spoken to her kids in three weeks. The phones are an apology for lack of communication in the past and a promise to make up for it in the future. She hadn't intended to use again, she just wanted to get out of the house. "I get so bored being sober," she explains. She didn't intend to go so far. "I was just going to do just a little," she says. "But a little bit doesn't happen. I never stopped." She leaves the Christmas Eve celebration early. She says she has to get her friend's car back, that she has an errand to run. Really, she's going to her dealer. "I'm slacking as mama right now, which sucks for my kids. I feel guilty all the time." But there are ways of justifying it. "I just get this 'F--- it' attitude, you know. They're OK. They're with my mom." The justification wanes to confusion. "I don't want to quit, but I do want to quit," she says. "I want to quit for my kids, but I don't because I'm not ready to grow up." Besides, she's not as bad as she was. "In a sense, this time I am controlling it because it doesn't rule my life," she says. "Usually, I have no conscience. I spend my whole day chasing the bag just to get high. Then I get high. "This time, I like to get high then get done what I need to get done. I'm not going to be scandalous like I was before. It's better when I'm just being honest with people, instead of being scandalous and ripping people off. I'm not out running amok." She follows through with her housing application and gets an apartment at the Cherry Creek complex. She's not sober as she had hoped when she moves in. But she's glad to have a place of her own. Over the weeks, a couch, bed, entertainment center and glass dolphins are added to the folding canvas chair she started with. Even though she doesn't watch TV, she gets cable for the weekends the boys visit. And she's not lonely anymore. At any given time of day or night, there is at least one person over. At night, she's usually got a full house. The husband of an old friend, who is serving time in prison, becomes her boyfriend. He's not social, and he walks straight into the bathroom without greeting her guests. After a few minutes, he calls out, "Mare." She follows him in and comes out smiling. "He couldn't hit it," she says, explaining she had to help him find his vein. He says he doesn't believe in rehab. Mary agrees. "I hate rehabs - in-patient, out-patient. It took me four years to complete a one-year program." And support groups are just as bad, she says. "I hate meetings. I cannot get into them," she says. "No one else's story has ever changed my life." Her boyfriend concludes support groups are just another addiction, and he leaves. Mary pours herself a bowl of Cap'n Crunch cereal and turns on her CD player. She chooses Eminem. "This is mine and my boys' song," she says. The music starts, and she falls back on the couch and sings along, barely audible. "Hush little baby don't you cry. May seem a little crazy, baby. But mama's gonna be all right." She hopes it's true. "I can't have both," she admits. "It's either drugs or my kids." She cries when she realizes what she just said, what she's chosen: "I guess drugs." There's silence. Then small talk. She reaches behind the couch where she's stashed a small lock box. Inside is a spoon, baggies of powder, needles, syringes. She carries the syringe, her "rig," into the kitchen where she draws a capful of water into it. She uses the water to mix with the methamphetamine in the spoon. She taps the end of the syringe into the mixture to separate the drug from other substances that may have been used as filler. She draws just less than 1/16 of a teaspoon into the syringe. "I don't like the rush a whole, whole bunch. I just like the wire." She sticks the needle into her arm, through the raised purple scar inside her elbow. "I'd rather only have one mark." It takes a second, then she announces, "I'm high." Here's Mare.