20 Dec, 2020 When The Pain of Addiction and Death Hits Home
by Angie Camp
I never saw it coming.
We were not that family. We were a Christian family, very involved in church, and spent lots of quality time together. It just wasn’t us. But the sin of addiction will enter wherever it’s invited.
In 1985, I married the love of my life. In 2006, I found myself fighting for my marriage and standing in the gap for my husband and four sons. I never saw it coming. I had interceded for others battling addiction but never dreamed the battle of addiction would be fought in my own home…twice.
It wasn’t always this way.
Bryant was our firstborn. Our toe-headed, royal blue-eyed bundle of energy kept us in stitches with his vibrant personality. His smile was contagious and he never met a stranger. He made his presence known…always. Diagnosed as ADHD at an early age, his impulsiveness was unpredictable and exhausting.
The summer after Bryant’s third-grade year, I felt called by God to homeschool my children. The Lord spoke to my feelings of inadequacy, saying, “You put My word in their hearts and the academics will come.” So, from fourth through eighth grade, Bryant was homeschooled. During those five years, we memorized many Scriptures. The Lord was equipping us for the battles to come.
In ninth grade, we enrolled Bryant at a Christian school. He made friends easily and climbed the popularity chain quickly. He was also very athletic. Although he played several sports, football was hands down his favorite. His dream was to play for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Our lives turned on a dime.
In January 2006, our family faced the unthinkable. Information surfaced. My husband, Frank, was literally living a double life. Multiple strongholds, primarily that of addiction, had taken him captive. My boys and I were devastated and confused. I had questioned things from time to time but could never imagine Frank going down the road of addiction.
At the beginning of Bryant’s sophomore year, our family was very unstable. We went back and forth with Frank’s battle of addiction. Soon, another situation surfaced. It appeared that Bryant was sneaking out at night. Skeptical, I confronted him about it, warned him of the danger he was in, and strongly encouraged him to stop. But, in December 2006, Bryant ignored my warning, sneaked out in my SUV, and was involved in a fiery crash.
Life was about to take a drastic turn.
In a counseling room at the ER, we listened to the news of his horrific injuries. Bryant had a gash in his head and a punctured lung. Then, a bomb was dropped. His legs were terribly burned, even fourth degree in some places. As devastating as the news was, we felt relieved, seeing him alert and talking. Soon, we were swept away by ambulance to the Firefighters Burn Center at The Med in Memphis, TN.
Reality began to set in.
We arrived at The Med and were escorted to the CCU waiting room. My eyes scanned the room, noticing the make-shift living spaces set up by families. It was obvious some had been there a while. Reality began to set in.
Soon, a doctor came in to discuss Bryant’s condition and the immediate plan for his care. The plan was to save Bryant’s legs. if possible, but a double amputation was a huge possibility.
Our family experienced quite a shaking.
For a solid month, the doctors exhausted all possibilities in trying to save my stealth athlete’s legs. But, on January 19, 2017, Bryant received a double amputation. Thankfully, they were able to save the upper portion of his legs and one of his knees. But the burns covered those areas, too, requiring multiple skin-graft surgeries. I felt so helpless as he writhed in pain. My efforts to comfort him seemed useless.
Frank and I chose two different paths in dealing with the pain of our family’s tragic situation. He spiraled down further into drugs, but I ran to Jesus. Frank’s inability to deal with Bryant’s injuries and amputations, as well as the smothering guilt he felt, led to some very destructive behaviors. I had to turn him over to God. Bryant had to be my focus. I also had three other boys back home who were being shifted from home to home while I stayed at the hospital with Bryant. The routine of going back and forth from hospital to home was rigorous, but the strength and grace of God during that time carried me.
The journey continued.
Discharge day finally came. Bryant still had quite a journey ahead, but being released felt glorious! He was allowed to go home for the weekend before starting outpatient occupational therapy… We surprised him with a homecoming party. Bryant was overwhelmed by family, friends, and neighbors who lined our street, holding signs and cheering as they welcomed him home.
Bryant’s visit went by quickly. He rested very little before facing the next phase of his healing process. Therapy was difficult for his thin and frail physique. It took some time for him to regain his strength.
Bryant completed his occupational therapy and our family was finally under our own roof again. He was excited to return to school, yet apprehensive. While life was very different, it felt good to have some normalcy. But it would be short-lived.
“The Pain of Addiction and Death Continued” is part 2 of my story and will be posted tomorrow… Stay tuned.
Angie Camp is an author, speaker, and Christian Counselor. Aside from being a Mother and Grandmother “Peaches,” her primary focus is walking with women and girls along their journey from brokenness to healing, reminding them that the goal is not merely to survive, but to soar.
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