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Debra's Story

Growing up in my family was anything but unique. My mother was
chronically ill from complete kidney failure and under went surgery in
about 1971 for a transplant. She received a donated kidney from one of
her many siblings. I was about 7 yrs. old then.

She had great success with the kidney, however at the time everything
was new. She started having trouble with abscesses coming up all over
on the inside of her body. She went through more surgeries in one year
that there wasn't a calendar long enough to keep track of them all. So
overall illness, medicine, doctors, hospitals, surgeries were just all a
part of our growing up.

We children were never, never at the doctors office for anything because
we were all so healthy. It wasn't a matter of money because my father
was in the military so our health care was free.

As we all grew up and started moving in our own directions we started
noticing that what went on in our childhood was anything but normal.

My sister closest in age and myself started using drugs in high school
to hide and escape some of our past. Not only were things going on with
our mother, but we had a brother who was raping all of us girls (3). He
was caught twice, however it was never his fault, always ours. Our
oldest sister totally refuses to admit that anything ever happened.

I was the third out of four to leave home and within 13 months was
married and 4 weeks pregnant. I had quit using drugs and moved away
within 2 weeks after our daughter was born. I stayed clean was mother,
wife, working mom, housekeeper, and cook. My husband was a great man, and still is. He helped around the house, helped with the baby and
worked himself. We were building a good life for ourselves. My husband
is a recovering alcoholic/drug addict with now about 20 years clean and
sober. I am so proud of him. Especially after all the hell I put him
through. And still can. Our daughter is 17. We live about 3 minutes
apart and talk on the phone at least once a day. Sometimes I go over
there and he cooks; while sometimes I go over there and I cook. It's a
pretty unique relationship. We have been divorced for almost 7 years.

Remember in high school how my sister and I would get high to hide and
forget what was going on at home. Well I couldn't and didn't want to do
drugs now hide and forget. Instead I started becoming self-destructive.
I would take overdoses, wreck cars, cut on myself, and once I even
stabbed myself in the stomach with a knife. And there is still so much
that I did that I don't remember. This was taking it's toll on our
marriage. We were divorced in '95. After our divorce I started using
other drugs on top of what my doctors had me on.

When I was in like grade school the state troopers would come with their
little brief cases to educate us on drugs and drug abuse. The more they
showed, the more I wanted to try.

So after my divorce I finally in the position to try some of these
things. One of which was shooting-up. I had the needles because I am
diabetic. A neighbor had the drugs. I had a girl staying with me for
a couple of weeks. She herself was a drug user and had even lost jobs
drawing blood for shooting-up. I have to say that after all this time
of using, seeing, hearing, reading I was still somewhat naive. We were
shooting ms contin. She was hard to hit, but they could do me
blindfolded. When they had a needle that they couldn't get in her I
volunteered to take it. I asked her if there was anything I needed to
know about and she assured me that there wasn't. BAM!!!!!

We must have caught her in an active state because it didn't take long
for me to start showing signs. For about a year we followed it as
acute. Then I was up graded to chronic active.

I have so much medically and mentally wrong with me I take about
fourteen prescriptions now and on waiting list for more. I have
emphysema associated with COPD, diabetic, stomach, thyroid, chronic pain lower back and knees and even my toes. Right now I am fighting an
infection in my lower left leg. I am just now able to walk without
crutches and the swelling is down so much that you can al least tell
it's a leg and foot instead of just a swollen mass hanging there. I have had about 14 operations. And I used to thing that my mother was
just having the time of her life with all the attention and stuff. I have a new found respect for my mother although she has been gone for 13 years.

Thank you for your time and interest in my story. I hope to read more
of what you have to learn more about this disease and the things that go
along with it.




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    Page last updated: March 7, 2003

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