I do not like the feeling. Like I am drowning, but I am not in the ocean. It feels like someone is standing on my chest, as if I had pneumonia. I have had pneumonia twice before in my life, once when I had been drunk for about a month, living at bike rallies for nearly the whole time.

We had ridden to Daytona for Bike Week, and then to Key West, and from there to Myrtle Beach, finally stopping in Winston-Salem North Carolina where I wound up in an Emergency room. They put on the report that I presented as a “disheveled biker”, and boy, it was true. A friend let me stay at her house while I recovered, my ex-husband left me there alone while he kept on partying.

The next time I contracted pneumonia I was in the Bahamas’ for “The Great Bahama Shootout”, and I was so sick after I got off the plane that I nearly passed out. We had to start playing even before we checked into our hotel room, and the tourney lasted about four hours. By the time I got to my hotel room I was covered with sweat and freezing at the same time! I came in second after going “hill-hill” with the friend I flew in with, by my scratching on the eight ball (we were playing APA 8-ball), and I was so angry at myself that I cried, alone in the hotel room , for the entire night. The next day I went to the local casino, sick as a dog, and spent all my winnings playing blackjack. I played so badly that the guy next to me begged me to leave the table. By the time we flew back to Fort Lauderdale and drove up the coast to our town it was all I could do to make it to the hospital. I passed out on the stretcher in the ER, and woke up 2 days later in a hospital room. It turns out that the strains of bacterial pneumonia in the Islands are very bad, dangerous, in fact.

When they discharged me, I came home to an empty house, my parents had gone to Pittsburgh for a funeral. I was still hurting so bad in my chest area that I slathered myself with a substance made from hot peppers (Capazin or something) that was supposed to be “soothing”. I thought it was like the “Vicks Vapo-Rub” of my youth that Mother used to apply when I was sick. Let me tell you: it was NOTHING like Vicks. When the folks came in from the airport they found me crying and my chest nearly burnt from that salve. I avoid any topical concoction that has any remotely hot-pepper-like substance in it’s ingredients!


So, here we are. Me with this breathing issue, and you? Well, you, hopefully without a breathing issue. I mean, I always wondered what smoking cocaine was doing to my lungs; at the time I started smoking rock it was a brand new phenomenon, and it hit south Florida and Chicago first, so I was on the “cutting edge” of the trend. (ooh, big shot me….) In fact, I was living in a county where the Sheriff had his own airstrip where the coke was being delivered from Columbia, and it was cheap, and it was plentiful, and it was good. Really good. Like 80% good. But the rock, well it was bad. Really bad, in that if you had a tendency to get addicted to snorty-coke, you would be out-of-your-bloomin’ mind jones-ing for more of this stuff.

The fella that introduced me to it, about a month after I had moved to the Treasure Coast, had no idea what havoc he hath wrought on the Family Tree of Kiko. Tens of thousands , if not hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of that amazing substance fed the habits of this girl’s friends, self and even total strangers. I wiped out retirement accounts, savings accounts, checking accounts, pawned televisions, stereos, jewelry, musical instruments, stocks, antiques, sold stolen goods, stole stolen goods, stole cash registers, robbed clothing stores, rode in stolen cars across state lines  on coke smoking sprees while my Fiancee robbed some armed drug dealers, spent time in detox, and two rehabs, wiping out entire inheritances in one fell swoop of a crack binge, and wound up in jail for “dealing in stolen property” for walking out of the Garden Shop of a K-Mart with  a $13.00 Stanley Tape Measure before putting it into a bag and driving to the front of the store and going back in to return it! (The store detective knew me from some prior exploits and decided I needed a lesson. I thanked her years later for saving my life that day.)

Wow, there I go again, off on a tangent! Sorry, a little mania kicking in!

I believe the cowboy that first introduced me to crack is dead, I know my fiance from that time in my life is dead. He died a wasted addict, shooting his father with a shotgun before blowing his own head off back in 1999. I still pray for him, and me, because we first smoked crack together, and I got clean but he never did. he never did. Poor Ricky.

Anyway, what I was trying to get at is that I do not know what the end result of all the drugs I smoked, snorted and shot up is going to be. I know, sitting here right now, that my physical body is tired of all the abuse. And this breathing thing, this blood clot, may be what finishes the game. We all have to face death one day, at least until God does away with it. Even though I believe in something better after death, I still will have to experience it. And it’s the not knowing that is the real kicker. I used to think that we would each die of what we feared the most, and I was afraid of dying in a car accident for a long, long time. I would joke and say that I was not afraid of dying, all the while believing it was true. Listen, when it comes right down to it, it is terrifying.

My Ex stabbed me in my right upper chest with a steak knife once. I had thrown a big can of Hawaiin Punch at him in a drunken brawl, and he turned and threw something at me. I felt it hit me in the shoulder, and I thought it was his butane lighter. I looked down, and there, nice as you please, was the wooden handle of a steak knife. I was curious, there was no blade. So I grabbed the handle and pulled, and all 7 shining inches came out of my chest, along with great gushing streams of blood that shot about a foot. I said, ” Son of a Female Dog, you stabbed me?” more like a question, and then I started to pass out. I had to promise that I would not turn him in for him to take me to the hospital, so I said that I had fallen on the knife while cutting onions. The Detective asked me about 6 more times if I was sure that was what happened?

They took x-rays, got the bleeding to stop, and sent me home, but I was in so much pain I could not sleep except in a fetal position with my head on the bed and my butt in the air, cause I could not breath. I went to work the next day, and the hospital called, asking me to come back. It turned out they had missed the fact that an air pocket was forming around my lung, causing it to partially collapse, so they were a little concerned. For a while after the incident, I kept having panic attacks, thinking I was dying. Especially when I smoked weed.

I smoked weed and cigarettes for 20 years, quitting in 1999. I had hoped it was early enough to keep from suffering any consequences, but maybe not. Who knows? None of us really knows what it will be that kills us, until the job is nearly done. I hope I live a long time, and that I don’t die a slow, agonizing, breathless death, strangling for air. I just hope whatever it is, that God helps me to endure it faithfully.

He helps with the hurty, scary things. I will ask Him for help now. All this effort to stay alive is making me tired…

I did not mean for this to be such a bleak post…just had to share it with someone. Goodnight.more self portraits 028

Author: ST Martin

I am an Artist, Poet and Author. A Survivor of Violent Sexual Abuse and Rape, I have lived thru Severe Domestic Violence, Twenty Three years of Addiction and Alcoholism, Family Dysfunction, Chronic Pain, Dependence on Opioids, and 2 Venomous Snake Bites...I have Been Stabbed, Shot at, Tied to a Tree and Choked Unconscious. A Quarter Horse Rolled on Me, as did a Lawn Tractor. I also Wrecked a Harley into a Tree! I also have PTSD and Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder, and spent my 18th birthday in a Locked Psychiatric Ward. I am so much more than this: I feel like a tiny seed that sprouted in a desert, and now has grown into a Passion Vine. My Art is my Voice, Screaming, Crying, Praying, Loving, Laughing, Healing- all in Riotous Color...

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