"Hmm? There doesn't seem to be anyone in room 618 by that name" said the hospital receptionist in response to my request for a visitor pass to see Shaggy. "Let me see if he might be in another room," she continued.
I immediately started thinking to myself, "he's left the hospital to go get dope." From what I had understood, Shaggy needed to stay in the hospital for at least two weeks if he wanted to keep his leg. The receptionist tapped on her keyboard as I anxiously waited to see if Shaggy was still in the hospital. "Aha yes, here he is, room 517" the receptionist finally responded as she handed me a visitor pass.
As I stepped onto the elevator, I started to wonder why Shaggy had been put into a different room. Maybe they switched him to conduct some testing, or maybe his condition had grown worse since the last time I was here - or...
The first thing that I noticed when I stepped into the room, was that Shaggy was wearing a red knit cap that he hadn't had before. That's when I first suspected he'd left the hospital in order to score some dope.
"Hey Shaggy, wake up man, it's me. Chuck." Shaggy rolled over and immediately raised his foot for me to look at. "Hey man, how you doin'? Does my foot look any better since the last time you were here?" asked Shaggy in a drowsy voice.
As I looked, I could see deep down into the hole on the bottom of his foot. I also noticed strange green lines that looked like hiking trails on a forest map, that were spreading along his foot.
"Not really man," I replied. " If you want to know the truth, I'd say it actually looks a bit worse than it did before. Hey, what's with the hat and new clothes, bud? did you leave the hospital again?" Shaggy hesitated for a moment before he answered in an angry tone, "Yeah, I had to take care of some business. These fuckin' idiots keep cutting back on my methadone, but they have me juiced up good now."
I still find it difficult getting my mind around the idea that someone would risk their life in such a way; that the pull of heroin addiction would be so strong as to make its victims seemingly wish for death.
Before I could say anything else, Shaggy reached for his backpack and started to prepare his rig for an injection of heroin. Shaggy had only left the hospital for several hours, but in that time he had managed to acquire enough dope to stave off dope-sickness for several days. But what he was doing now, was simply mixing the methadone the hospital was giving him along with his heroin, in order to get high, rather than to hold off being dopesick.
"You know Shaggy," I began with disappointment in my voice, "at some point they're just going to throw your junkie ass out of here, and you're going to lose your fucking leg, or even worse, you're going to die. I just want to be clear - you do realize this, don't you?"
Against Doctor’s Orders: Heroin Addiction
Without answering, Shaggy immediately changed the topic as he rose out of his bed: "Hey, you wanna hear something cool? Check this out." Shaggy began to push-and-pull his open wound on the tile floor. As he pulled his foot up, it made a long sucking sound, followed by a loud 'pop!' much like that of a plunger releasing its grip from the bottom of a toilet bowl. "Isn't that fucking cool?" Shaggy joked as his attention returned to sticking the syringe into his groin area.
Against Doctor’s Orders: Heroin Addiction
"God damn dude! Do you realize how many germs are on this hospital floor? Man, you must have some sort of death wish. Not only that, just think about all the nasty germs you're adding to the mix. You're like a walking bio-hazard, Shaggy."
I couldn't believe his blatant disregard for his own health, nor the casualness in which he prepared, and then injected, heroin right in the hospital room. Shaggy has got to be one of the most self-destructive people that I've ever known.
"You're right man, I need to stop doing that. I don't want to lose my foot, I really don't," Shaggy sheepishly replied. "I'm ready to stick it out this time and stay in the hospital until this is taken care of."
This all started about a year ago when Shaggy overdosed, but didn't die. He laid on the concrete floor unconscious for so long, that he ended up incurring permanent nerve damage. He has scars from that original surgery all up his leg, his back, and his left arm. But, this near-death experience didn't slow Shaggy down in the least when it comes to shooting dope.
Over time, the splint that he was wearing due to the surgery, produced an open sore on his foot. Because Shaggy had no feeling in his leg, he didn't realize that he had an infection.
None of this has hindered his addiction. Now he's in the hospital not only with a serious infection in his leg, but with a blood infection as well. Even though Shaggy knows full well that he could lose his leg without proper treatment, his addiction takes precedence over all else - even his life.
I agreed to come back in two days to see him again. "Can you bring me another Mountain Dew?" Shaggy requested. "Sure thing man, no problem," I replied as I headed towards the door. As I was leaving, I turned one last time to say goodbye, but Shaggy was already busy with his next injection.
The next day I received a text message from Shaggy. It simply read:
"They're throwing me out of the hospital. They're giving me some antibiotics, and throwing me out..."
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