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December 10, 2010 my son, Cpl. Justin Mcloud was blown up by an IED while on foot patrol in Helmeth Providence, Sangin Valley Afghanistan. His injuries were extreme and cost him both legs above the knee and his left arm above the elbow. While recovering from his injuries the amount of opioids given to him were large amounts, I believe the doctors didn't think he would survive and wanted to keep him comfortable. I watched the birth of his addiction.
Over the past 9 years I watched him go in and out of rehabs to dry out only to end up on pain pills once again over and over. As a nurse I knew what was happening, but he denied having any problems. Many times accusing me of being a terrible mother for even thinking he was an addict. His pain was real and unbearable, he would say, and me mentioning that due to the amount of narcotics it was his brain that was firing his pain receptors wanting more and more of the opioid.
February 19, 2020 my son called and said he needed help. His wife had left him, he said after she took the last of his pain medications and he was all alone with no transportation and he was in so much pain. I went to bring him my house to help him get the help he needed, his wife told me the following day that they had been using heroin regularly. I could have been knocked over by a feather to discover this fact.
A few days after bringing Justin home, he lost visitation with his son because current wife told his ex wife of their use. I can't blame his ex-wife, she had to do what was right to protect her son. Justin was devastated with losing custody, but that made him want to make changes.
I pulled many strings and had the support of 3 case managers to assist getting Justin into a top rehab that specializes in veterans. While waiting to get through all the hoops I took control of his pain medication because I suspected he was still abusing them. Many times I would find him slumped in his chair. I later found out his dealer was delivering drugs to him after I had gone to bed. Who knew that drugs are delivered like a pizza, I sure didn't?
March 5th, 2020 I boarded a plane with Justin to fly to Tampa, Florida for rehab. I'm going out on a limb and pretty certain he had gotten drugs the night before because he was semi conscious not long after we took flight. I had to wedge him with my body to prevent him from falling out of his seat. All the time wondering why he was so messed up, I controlled his medication. Needless to say I was thankful to turn him over to the rehab center and fly home that same day. I admit I cried all the way home, relief that he was getting help and relief from stress of trying to keep him alive, but also full of hope.
April 2nd, 2020 I picked Justin up from the airport, it was the first real face to face conversation we had on the way home. No slurring words, he was so clear headed I wanted to cry with happiness. My hope increased tenfold that I had my son back finally since 2010.
April 7th, 2020 That morning Justin was served divorce papers, and I later found out that his wife was harassing him to sign immediately. At 1 pm my grandson watched Justin 'falling asleep in his chair' out in the garage. Within a few minutes my grandson ran into the house because Justin was falling out of his chair. My daughter and I went running, found Justin not breathing and pulled him out of his chair and laid him on the garage floor and began CPR, someone grabbed the Narcan, my younger son called 911 and by time EMS arrived we had Justin back and awake. He claimed he had a seizure and was taken to the ER for safety. I spoke with his nurse several times on the phone, COVID precautions wouldn't allow me to be at bedside. His toxicology screen showed narcotics and I was furious. When I went to pick him up I blasted him, and of course I was a bad mother who wouldn't believe that he had a medical event and not an overdose. I reminded him several times of the years I spent working in the ER and numerous times I had pushed Narcan.
April 10th Justin insisted that he went home so I moved Justin home along with his youngest brother to assist him as needed. Justin also had to check in with me daily.
My last conversation with Justin was him telling me that he was enrolling in Webster and was expecting call from his advisor. He sounded so optimistic and excited. My last words to him 'I am so proud of you and I love you. However, sometime on April 15th Justin had heroin and Xanax bars delivered, my youngest son has no idea when. It was just after midnight on the 16th my youngest son called with Code RED, he found Justin unresponsive and EMS was attempting to save him. My youngest son administered 4 doses of Narcan and did CPR until they arrived. I was half way there when my youngest son called again to tell me that Justin was gone. He had been found to late to save.
After talking to the officers that night while going through Justin's phone, one of the text was the dealer asking if 'he tried any' Justin had answered back no. The dealer was attempting to get my youngest son as a new customer.
Justin died on his nephews birthday, the one who saved him just a week earlier. He left his 10 year old son who has last memories of his dad doped up, he left his 2 brothers and sister lost without him. His death devastated both myself and his father.