Tag: homelessness

Cracked Up

Carlos Downell ~

They say that to write well, you should write about what you know. I’m a homeless drug addict. This essay is not about me, although I’ll figure in it. It’s about drug abuse among the homeless, a subject I’m very well acquainted with.

I have a dual diagnosis–substance-abuse issues and psychiatric dysfunction. Double trouble. If I can’t get meth, I’ll smoke crack, and if I can’t get crack, I’ll smoke

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Another Night in the ER

 
The November snowstorm is a surprise. The ER will be full of cold and homeless, coming for a meal and a place to rest.
I see the ones who say they are suicidal. That claim guarantees an overnight: a metal bed with a black foam pad, a clean sheet, turkey on white wrapped in cellophane and, if there’s any left, a precious six-pack of Oreos.
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No Place Like Home(less)

Josephine Ensign

Recently I had dinner with a friend of mine who, decades ago, had sat on my doctoral dissertation committee. At one point we touched on my dissertation, which covered the health issues of Baltimore’s homeless teens.

“You always had an uncanny connection with homeless kids,” my friend said. “You really understood them.”

I gazed out the window, seeing the homeless people with their shopping carts in the park across the street.

Then I

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On the Road

Josephine Ensign

As a community health nurse, I work with homeless and street-involved teenagers. In almost thirty years of doing this work on both coasts, and in Thailand and Venezuela, I’ve gotten to know thousands of young people living on the margins of society.

I love working with them; they challenge me to see the world–and myself–in a broader way, one that opens up vistas of hope for positive change and a better future.

And

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A Greater Truth

Nancy Elder

Should someone have to lie to get care? For millions of uninsured Americans, finding a way to receive health care is a challenge. In my practice, I’ve been seeing more and more of the following:

“Where have you been living lately?” I ask my third patient of the morning, a heavy-set, forty-nine-year-old man with dark, weathered skin

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Finding a Way Home

Erin Imler

Preparing to assemble my new bed, I open the wordless instruction manual. The first page shows a picture of a single stick-figure standing there, hands on hips, and sadly regarding a bungled, not-put-together bed; the next image is two happy-looking stick-figures standing with their arms around each others’ shoulders, looking at a successfully constructed bed.
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Washing Feet

Robert Fawcett

Being thorough, I remove a holey sock 
to view a diabetic man’s filthy feet.
I use the time to complete our talk
of what drove him to live on the street
as I wonder how any of this can help.

While he tells me more of his medical past, 
I run warm water into a stainless bowl.

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Recovery Room

Warren Holleman

We’re sitting in a circle: seven women and me. Most are in their thirties and forties, and in their second, third or fourth month of sobriety. They look professional in the suits they’ve assembled from the donations closet of our inner-city recovery center.

I start things off by reminding everyone that this is the last day of the group. The last hour, in fact.

All eyes turn to Dorothy.

Dorothy is a proud

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James and Bob

Paul Rousseau

I think his name was James, but I can’t remember for sure. What I do remember is the day’s heat, the metal cart and a rust-colored dog. 

Like many homeless people, James carried his belongings in a grocery cart–a sort of mobile home for the homeless, but without the protection of a roof, the support of four walls or the security of a front door.

I’d just walked out of the local Safeway

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