A Little Bit About Me

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I'm sorry for the commotion I caused on my last post. It has never been my intention to set a bad, bad example, especially to my fellow recovery friends. I'm going to tell a little bit about myself. Things that even my friends over here don't know about. Before I proceed any further, I would like to thank Dr. Linda Freedman, PhD who invited to submit a story about alcohol and relationships to this blog carnival she is hosting on March 30, 2007. I am honoured to be invited and I dedicated this post to her.

I was born forty seven years ago, on February 22nd, 1960. February 22nd is also my beloved Mum's birthday. That's why each year my dear, dear sisters will held a grand birthday gathering, Malaysian style for both of us as you can see in the pics here and here.

I was born in a little peaceful town Lenggeng in the state of Negeri Sembilan. The house my parent are staying now used to be my Grand Ma's resident. After her death (God bless her soul) my parent took over the house. It was a typical kampung (village to you) house. Since my parent took over it has gone through many changes. Finally my sweet sister, Noor Azlinda and her husband Wan Nazri decided to demolish the old house and built a grand house for my parent back in the year 2003.

I am the eldest and only son in a family of four. All three sisters of mine are working in a family business lead by my second youngest sister, Noor Azlinda. She may be the favourite who brings in the bread but I'm still, Mamma's boy!
But I'm lucky to have a very closed knit family, a very rare commodities in any family. For that, I am grateful. I've never felt like an outcast even though I'm an addict!

I received my primary school education in 1967 at King George Primary School till standard three. I don't know about your school system to compare it with but please bear with me. Following my father who was posted in Tampin, I finished primary school from standard four to standard six at Tunku Besar Tampin Primary School. Ironically, the place where my father was posted has become a Rehabilitation Center till now!

When I was in standard five at Tunku Besar Tampin Primary School, I passed Valuation Examination with flying colours. For that I was offered a place in an elite boarding school somewhere in Negeri Sembilan. During the long term holidays before the start of secondary school, I went to Penang to celebrate myself. Thus begin my story as an addict when I was twelve years old in the late 1971.

That was the year of the flower child, the hippies, Haight Ashbury, Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison of the Door. I was fascinated with their culture. Back then, I never mixed up with my peers. All my friends are very much older than me. I love to be called their pet brother and I would do anything to be in their circle. I don't mind to run to the nearest shop to buy for their cigarettes or cans of beer as long I can be with them.

While on the train on the way to Penang, I befriended a smart looking young man. I am always the friendlies and the noisiest one in our group. Somehow he took a liking to me and invited my friends too to stay in his bachelor pad while we were holidaying in Penang. We need no second offer to accept. It save us a lot of money if we were to stay in a hotel.

Let his new friend of mine and his friends be nameless coz all of them are holding important posts in the private sector nowadays. Those days, they're the young and upcoming geek. I love their lifestyle. All of them are working, wear expensive attires, and smart. Those were the days when the brand Arrow are very much sought after when you want to shirts and Amco Conduroy for trousers. Every night they held drinking session and drugging. I still kept the photos for those night as a reminder.

I knew about drug especially heroin and took my first puff of spiked cigarette with heroin when I was in Penang. I hated it at first. I felt dizzy and vomited several times.

Living in a boarding school was the best days of my life. I was doing well in academics and sport. My main sport was rugby. A gentleman's game I called it. It may looked rough but it is the most friendly game ever played. You received a few knocked, stumbling down, tackling or being tackled is all part of the game. I felt very much alive when I was on the field getting ready to played against a neighbouring school.

I was quite popular (if I can say so to myself) among my schoolmates. Early during my school days I was learning to become a skilled copywriter. My English was good and I became the most sought after among the boys. Mostly, I was to write their love letters to any girls they fancied. Those were the days when you want to impress your girl, a letter in English will score top points. For every letters that I wrote, I was paid a few Ringgit. I can tell who was the desperate ones. For these category, I demanded more and usually they're willing to pay coz they knew they will get good results.

My services doesn't end there. I would become their postman, sending the letters that I wrote on their behalf. I don't know what causes it, it just that I'm friendly. I can be with anyone. Like I told you, I can adapt myself to any situation. If they're a rock and roll type, I'm the rockest and rollest boy around. Same thing if they sing the blues, I shall sing the blues till you shed tears! I no joke, joke one. Tell you all true story.

That was how we Malaysian speak English. I think from now onward, I gonna change my mode of writing. It is called, MalaEng. My version of Malaysia + English. I hope you do understand what I'm saying. OK, where did we stopped? Ahh, the blues. Better continue my story on the next episode, next post lah. Tired already. Furthermore, no idea what to write some more. OK lah, see you in next post. Bye, bye now.

p/s usually in every sentence there will be a word "lah" in it.

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POSTED ON 17/03/07

Corktown: The panic in needle park
When a methadone clinic moved into the historic area east of downtown last year, the locals didn't exactly roll out the Welcome Wagon. Residents don't feel safe. Patients report intimidation. It's one heck of a thorny issue to resolve, writes MELISSA WHETSTONE


When Suzanne Edmonds envisioned the revitalization of Sackville Park -- children playing on a new swing set, families picnicking amid lush greenery -- methadone patients were not part of the pretty picture. Neither were vomit on the sidewalk, needles in the grass or groups of drug users.

But since a methadone clinic opened its doors across the street from the park last July, the past president of the Corktown Residents and Business Association says this is what she and other residents have been witnessing.

"Several of us were [in the park] one day setting up for a community event . . . and there were people using the water fountain to wash their unmentionables," Ms. Edmonds says. "People were using the children's wading pool as a bathtub."

Emotions are running high in Corktown. The methadone clinic sits next door to the Little Trinity Anglican Church, built in 1843, the oldest standing church in Toronto. The area bounded by Shuter Street, the Don River, Lake Shore Boulevard and Berkeley Street is home to a mix of single, young professionals attracted to the convenient downtown location and affordable housing, and older families that have called Corktown home for years.

Right now, the small neighbourhood has just a few low-rise lofts and a couple hundred houses, many of which date back to the 1800s -- but development is nibbling around the edges. It's an area rich in history, and the CRBA, for one, feels a methadone clinic doesn't belong.

"We are absolutely outraged that a heritage community -- a heritage building in a heritage community -- could have this use," Ms. Edmonds says.

Outside the Corktown clinic near King and Trinity Streets on a recent Saturday morning, the silence surrounding the brown brick building is broken by a passing streetcar. There is nothing to indicate this is an addiction treatment clinic. Inside is no different. Friendly chatter fills the waiting room, a woman taps her foot to the Bryan Adams song playing in the background, and a pile of flyers advertising a monthly support group sits on the counter.

Kumar Gupta, a doctor at the clinic who has been practising addiction medicine since 1997, says residents are overreacting and that the patients are the ones who feel threatened.

"Many of my patients reported to me name-calling and many had their pictures taken by members of the community as an intimidation tactic to scare them away," he says.

"Two weeks ago, a patient of mine came back to my office teary-eyed after a community member told him to go back where he belongs and to get out of the community. . . . The resident told the patient: 'You know, you're ruining our community,' " Dr. Gupta says.

Before coming to Corktown, the clinic made its home for 15 years a short distance away on Front Street, just east of Jarvis, until the number of patients outgrew the small facility. Because the majority of patients live in the downtown area and walk or take public transit, it was important to maintain an accessible site, Dr. Gupta says. The Corktown location meant an easier transition.

Methadone, consumed orally as a liquid, is used to treat people addicted to heroin and opiate-based narcotics. It helps prevent patients' withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. But, as Dr. Gupta explains, writing methadone prescriptions isn't the clinic's only activity.

"We have peer support workers here who are counselling them. We have a liver specialist here who helps with their hepatitis C. We have nurse practitioners here as well. We have a pain specialist here if they have underlying pain issues," Dr. Gupta says. "We're dealing with a multi-comprehensive medical discipline."

Ms. Edmonds and the CRBA delivered a community impact statement in January to the province's Methadone Maintenance Treatment Practices Task Force and Health Minister George Smitherman. The task force's mandate is to advise the Health Ministry of the best approaches to treatment.

The CRBA's impact statement says that "residents no longer feel safe" and "community members are openly threatened and intimidated" by patients of the clinic.

Steve Behal, who owns a photography business across from the clinic and walks his dog daily, says he is shocked by what he has seen.

"I have been in the park where someone has walked down the street from the methadone clinic and is writhing in pain in the grass while his friend is pacing back and forth," he says.

When the wading pool was empty, "I have been there when a man gets off a bicycle, takes off his clothes, strips down to his underwear, takes out a bar of soap and washes in the drips from the pipe," says Mr. Behal.

Local police say it's not clear that safety has declined. Community Affairs Staff Sergeant Frank Bergen of 51 Division has compared crime patterns from a year prior to the clinic's arrival to those of the period after the clinic opened in July 2006. He says the clinic has had "no measurable effect on the community."

Police monitor the area daily, Staff Sgt. Bergen adds, and he has been inside the clinic several times. He describes the facility as clean, inside and out, but he has "seen remnants of vomit [the residents] speak of . . . outside the clinic."

Staff Sgt. Bergen, who attended January's meeting, believes progress between the residents and members of the clinic "is going well in that there is communication going back and forth."

Dr. Gupta, who is also a member of the task force, wants to continue that process, stressing he is not trying to paint the community negatively and is sympathetic to its fears.

"When we came, obviously there was fear, and I think the fear turned into hostility, and that's understandable because everyone is afraid of the unknown."

Ms. Edmonds, too, says residents feel compassion for the patients and that the CRBA's recommendations stem from the residents' desire to see patients get the best possible treatment.

"I believe we are our brother's keeper. I believe that deeply," Ms. Edmonds says.

Recommendations include mandatory community consultation, bylaws to dictate where such facilities can be placed, a cap on the number of patients that can use each facility and measures to ensure patients have full access to counselling.

One of the CRBA's main concerns is that there is no clear authority over methadone clinics.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons is in charge of administering the methadone program in co-operation with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the College of Pharmacists, and on behalf of the Ministry of Health, says Kathryn Clarke, a spokesperson for the College.

According to the College, there are 157 physicians certified to provide methadone treatment in Toronto and 3,300 patients.

Doctors who want to prescribe methadone must be granted an exemption and pass the College's screening process. Doctors are then assessed within a year, Ms. Clarke says.

Dr. Gupta, who sits on the College's methadone committee, believes that the task force, which is expected to issue its report by the end of the month, is adding to the College's remarkable work.

"One of the positive things the task force is doing is helping any new clinic specializing in addiction medicine . . . [determine] how to communicate well with the community before they move in . . . and what steps a clinic can take to ensure that the community will be safe and work well with the clinic."

In the meantime, Corktown residents will continue to share their neighbourhood's streets and park with patients from the clinic and, although the past year has been marred by accusations and anger, Dr. Gupta remains optimistic.

"Time does heal," he says, "and I think the community is realizing this clinic is not creating a problem."

Copied and pasted from The Globe and Mail Dot Com.


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17 Comments thus far...

lushgurl said...

Well Noor, I am feeling honoured that you are sharing your story here! The more stories I hear the more I realize just how much we have in common...keep up the good work!
HUGS

Gwen said...

Glad to know more about you Noor.

Have a great week~
Gwen

SCoUt said...

...anxiously awaiting the next chapter of your story....
Love,
Scout

Grace said...

Thankyou for sharing and also for calling in on me :-)

Michael said...

Waiting for chapter 2 after the cliff hanger Noor, all addicts have something in common they all somewhere take the decision to put their head in the sand and hide away.

Scott W said...

Thanks for sharing.

An Irish Friend of Bill said...

Thats a FASCINATING life chapter Noor!
Thanks for giving us the opportunity to get to know you better.
I LOVE the bit about you writing letters for the other guys! sounds like a great screenplay to me!

Michael said...

Hey noor,
Just doing my dinnertime visit and noticed you have got a new clock.
I am feeling a bit down today and I dont know why, maybe I feel my lovelife aint going anywhere like it has been for the last ten years.
I still get like this every so often, I went to AA last night and I really didnt want to do, I had to force myself and when I got there I hardly talked to anyone and rushed back off home once I had finished.
I fell asleep last night talking to Squeaky Chair on MSN and woke this morning feeling like sh*t, just been sick in toilets still I am 932 days without alcohol & 11 days without a cig on my 13800th day alive

Shadow said...

hey! thanx for your story... i feel prviledged to have read it. you are a shining example. thanx for being here..

Shadow said...

...why all of a sudden it become silent at 3.03 PM?

...and then silence...
a lull, a perfect silence...
then approaches from a distance the sound of a car, of it driving past and it gets progressively more quiet. a dog starts barking, is joined by another one. i hear garage doors, car doors opening and closing, the mumble of conversations as people arrive at home, workers leave. a child laughing, a door opening, a tv being switched on. that perfect, brief lull... is over...

Lex-Sunshine said...

Nice back ground on your life! sounds like one hell of a ride! : ) Just in the beginning too!

sharonsjourney said...

Can't wait for part two. I'm glad to get to know you better. I like people's stories, sometimes, they're part of mine. I don't find it hard to believe you were the friendliest, or the popular one, you seem like a sweetheart, to me. Thanks for stopping by my place.

Love, Sharon

Sober @ Sundown said...

Thanks for sharing part one of your story.

Shannon said...

I am glad too. I think its good for us to do this, it helps us get to know ourselves better and others relate.
Hope your day is going great
have a good one and see ya soon Noor

Michael said...

Feeling a bit better today noor, last night I couldnt stop being sick, even Squeaky Chair was getting worried.
I really like her but she always seems busy and lives 58 miles from me, as u probably know we talk nearly every night on MSN but still we have not yet met.
She was gonna go camping with us but now she dont know if she can get time off work.
I dont know what to do Agony Aunt Noor?

Miss Independent said...

I stop by every now and again to read your posts. Until now I have not commented. Its great to read the first chapter and I am looking forward to the rest. Thank you for sharing :)

Anonymous said...

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