September 26, 1995 was a Tuesday. As I was showering for work that morning, I was replaying portions of an episode of “Murphy Brown” we watched the night before. I dressed in a long-sleeved beige and black tunic and black pants. It was cool already that late September.
My fiancé and I had had sex the night before and he was already showered and dressed, making coffee in the kitchen. He wore a forest green shirt and beige and green tie that was a gift from a coworker the previous Christmas.
Not only was he my fiancé, but he was also my employer. At the time he was also my dealer. We were both addicted to fentanyl; actually any opiate would do. He was a doctor and had IV fentanyl and a litany of other opiates at his office in addition to a cabinet full of Tylenol #3 with codeine and Darvocet, an oral opiate pain reliever banned by the FDA in late 2010 due to risk of cardiac events in otherwise healthy patients.
This day began as any other. There was no reason to suspect the day wouldn’t be like all the other days we’d strung together, stashing away meds during the course of a workday to use ourselves. Our thinking was so delusional we thought no body in the office knew a thing about our diversion of narcotics. This, despite a new work policy that only he could reconcile the narc count at the end of the day whereas until February of 1995, any staff person could complete that task, as long as another coworker was watching, counting along, and also signed the log indicating the count was correct: amounts of each drug we started with in the morning minus what was documented as administered that day equaled the total amounts left. That was the case until our addictions became so overwhelming and ravenous at the start of ‘95 that a few doses stashed away here and there was no longer sufficient. We were using amounts that would register as “toxic” on urine drug screens and there was no hiding it by manipulating the narc count. So the new policy of the doc completing the narc count was established and he would go through the motions of counting, subtracting and establishing an accurate drug count each afternoon.
All of it was fake. Made up patient case numbers showed up on the log sheets. After that lie wasn’t expansive enough to cover up what we were using, he stopped tracking the drugs all together, although he continued the ritual of counting and entering false totals each workday.
On our way to work that morning we laughed and chatted. Of course we had shot up on the kitchen counter before leaving, both of us at the point that we needed to use early each morning just to feel normal and functional. We arrived at his office around 6:45am as usual. He began seeing patients at seven.
There was a lull at 10:20 that morning which gave us a desperately needed chance to “feed the beast”; we needed maintenance doses to keep going until mid-afternoon. At 10:30am the receptionist called his office and through the speaker phone said, “Umm, there are people here…legal people from the medical board that want to see you…they want copies of the narcotic logs too.”
Well, shit. Maybe in the deep recesses of our brains we knew this day of reckoning would come, but we had not prepared for it. That’s just one of the things addiction steals from you: your ability to think like a reasonable human being. Drugs made us think we were invincible. The drugs lied.
Being the good co-dependent I was, I walked to the front desk and faced a representative from the state medical board, two U.S. Marshalls, and someone from the Federal Dept of Justice. If he walked out to meet them, they would arrest him instantly, he said. So while I stood across the counter from them and collected business cards, he was shimming out the women’s restroom window down to his Jeep Cherokee and driving to his business attorney’s office. They asked if I was Kristine Porath (my maiden name) and I nodded yes. They asked me to bring them the narcotic logs for the past six months and I told them they were locked in the safe in his office and I didn’t know the combination. Then they asked to speak with him and I said he was unavailable and his attorney would contact them. (All of this I had been prepped with before leaving his office.)
They left en masse as they had arrived. I went to the storage room, grabbed four or five dull-red sharps containers and hid in his office, dumping every pre-filled syringe and vial of whatever controlled substance we had stashed into the sharps boxes and sealing them shut. Ten minutes into this his private line rang. I told him what I was doing and he yelled at me, “Are you fucking crazy!? Get that shit out of those sharps containers and bring it to the house. Someone from (insert attorney’s office name here) will pick you up in ten minutes and drive you home. I will already be there.”
Ok. I knew my thinking was just as impaired as his, until he demanded I bring the drugs we were both accused of using illegally by the Feds, (the Federal fucking government, man!!) to our home to use later that afternoon. My first instinct was to throw the shit out. His was to have me illegally transport it home so we could get fucked up later and forget about all of this? You’d be surprised at how easy it is to open a sealed medical waste container. Maybe it was adrenaline that fueled my power to rip the covers off, or it could’ve been my own addiction that wasn’t ready to give in, but I did it. I did exactly what he and my addiction demanded of me.
In the end our relationship was officially over in September 1996. He went to residential treatment and stayed clean while I was in and out of using. He was serious about getting his medical license re-instated and couldn’t be with a woman who still used. I needed and got a $5,000 check from my parents to put the “second best” defense attorney in Milwaukee on retainer because he of course had “the best” defense attorney representing him. I went into treatment that September and stayed clean for four years. He eventually moved to Michigan and began a family practice residency. It was weird though because for three or four years we still talked on the phone, exchanged Christmas cards with each other’s parents, and my dad went golfing with him on a business trip to Michigan.
I sold the two carat engagement ring and spent a week in France in March of 1997. When I came home there was a message on my answering machine from my attorney telling me the Feds knew our relationship was over and would I now consider coming in to talk with them. It’s creepy to know that the federal government had been watching me, monitoring my personal comings and goings, possibly recording my phone calls, I had no idea. But they were right, I was now willing to come in and tell my story, answer their questions and was provided with immunity testifying to the grand jury and at a criminal trial, should the grand jury indict him.
I was well prepared by my attorney and the day I spent three and a half hours “talking” with the DEA and DOJ was achingly slow. They asked me what the first thing I remembered about that day, September 26, 1995. I said I remember showering. I remember that he and I had made love the night before. I recited what we were wearing on our way to work. I remember talking to whomever it was that showed up at his office that morning. I told them I remember it all.