News and Tribune

February 15, 2014

DODD: Going under the knife

By LINDON DODD
Local columnist

— Recovering from surgery is a tough week. I am not sure if me or the painkillers are writing this column. At least I have an excuse.

When I got a sinus infection the second week of October last year the problem never went away. This past Tuesday I had surgery on my sinuses and to fix a deviated septum. It has been an unpleasant five months and a bear of a week this week.

In fact, at 58, the last eight years have been quite an experience. I think that 50 is the age at which the human body becomes like a used car, except you can’t buy another one. Mine seemingly has been in the shop too many times since turning the Big 5-0.

It’s not been an overhaul yet but there has been quite a bit of tinkering. The plumbing has had issues. There was an intestinal blockage, diverticulitis, kidney stones and now the sinus issue. I am not sure what happened to that athletic young healthy person I was for half a century. However, I will tell you from personal experience that the art of breathing is not overrated.

I guess I am lucky in that there have not been heart, lung or cancer issues for me. In fact, most of what I have dealt with are more routine healthy issues. Perhaps that what mid-life is for most of us; a chance to tune-up and repair the first half of our life’s damage.

My friend Bobby tells me he read that if we make it through the decade of the 50s then there is a good chance to make it well into the 70s and beyond. That would leave another year-and-a-half to survive. I guess there are only so many minor things to fix. Perhaps all this tinkering will tune me up for a few more good years.



DRUG COURT OR BUST

If you have a son or daughter that decides to get busted for felony drug charges, their life can be altered in a very negative way for many years to come. A felony charge against one’s personal record is very limiting for a young person’s future.

In many cases, such charges will result in a prison sentence. There are few alternatives once a young person enters the legal system.

The Drug Court Program is one of those alternatives. It involves a strict regimen of rehabilitation and control. It is a program that if properly ran can and has saved not only some young people’s futures; rather for some it has saved their lives. I think from anyone reading the news lately there is almost total acknowledgment of some problems with the Drug Court Program.

I have had the privilege of working very closely with some of the young people who have been allowed entry into the drug court program. I have witnessed some miraculous success stories coming from the program. Unfortunately, It is only some alleged failings of the program that have gotten all of the attention recently.

What I hope to do in the future is to sit down with one or two of the success stories and let everyone see what the very best outcome can be. When your first encounter with a person was someone whose arm was attached to a needle and looked like walking death, you understand the need for help.

When a couple of years later that young person is clean, sober and employed as a productive member of society, you have witnessed nothing short of a miracle before your eyes. I have personally witnessed that miracle on multiple occasions.

I very much wish to see a drug court program survive and thrive. It can only do so if all parties can agree on how the program should be structured and operated. It will require a coalition of defense attorneys, public defenders, prosecutors, judges and staff. As for the current state now, it might take some divine intervention.

The undertaking of running the drug court program is a massive one of human resources and capital. The hours and effort are great. There are no guarantees in the program. Like almost any good rehab program, a 50 percent success rate would be pretty successful.

I guess for me in the end it all comes down to the value of a human life. Young people in our community are slowly killing themselves every day with drugs. They are mostly an under 30 crowd.

Anyone who has had a family member or loved one affected is well aware of the lack of resources or rehabilitation facilities. Most of the time people are left to deal with the destruction on their own.

I know of at least a half dozen young people now who are clean and functioning because of their time in Drug Court. I first met all of them in jail as part of my job there. I am talking hard core heroin users and people who resorted to illegal activities to support their habit. Once clean and sober, they are the same good people they used to be.

I heard retired Judge Cile Blau speak last week and she mentioned that first you have the addict and the criminal. Once you take away the addict, you often don’t have a criminal. It’s really as simple as you can state it.

Nobody has to have a drug court program in Clark County. It is not mandated. It is a labor of love and social responsibility. It is a chance for some who won’t have any other. And it’s simply up to all of the parties that must work together and to the community if it is a worthwhile program.

For me it is. I have seen it save and change some very good people who once were lost. In some cases, I have every reason to believe they would have been dead today.

— Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at lindon.dodd@hotmail.com