A Wrestling Tale 9.11.01: Pain

(The following is very loosely based on a true story. None of the events in this story have ever taken place to my knowledge. Any similarity between actual events and events in this story is purely coincidental.)

Hello! I’m Donald. It’s nice to be able to talk with you all again. I know it’s been awhile since we’ve been able to chat, but, well, you know what happened. Sure, it was unfortunate and I’ll never be able to get into the ring again but I want you to all know that I’m okay now. I’m better then okay. Once I got up here they made me stop doing drugs and popping pills. Well, they didn’t really make me. I didn’t really want to do it anymore anyway. Getting away from the ring and the road has given me a peace I could never find in that business.

I want to tell you all my story. There has been so much speculation on the Internet about it. Cocaine, painkillers, heroine, whatever. The rumors have just become too much for me to be able to continue my silence. I just want to clear the air, and then you can all go back to your lives and I’ll hopefully be able to let of the small amount of resentment I hold towards you all. You know what? Maybe I should just tell you a little bit about what I’m doing now so you can compare and contrast to what I was doing back then.

I sleep until ten o’clock. I wake up, take a half an hour shower, eat a big breakfast, change into my favorite sweats and head down to the park. I usually take my dog along with me and let him chase the Canadian geese. Back home in Long Island we used to have these massive flocks of Canadian geese stop by on their way south for the winter, but those geese defecated all over the park. You couldn’t take two steps without stepping in some of the green turds. I don’t know who does the maintenance at this park, but there are always Canadian geese around and not a single green crap anywhere. I digress. When I get to the park I play football with a bunch of guys I met when I got here. Playing football is all I ever really wanted to do. In the NFL there was this constant pressure that kind of sucked the fun out of the game until I was injured. I’ve rediscovered my passion for the game up here. I’m beginning to move better then I’ve ever remembered myself moving. It’s like I’m 18 all over again. Sometimes my team wins, sometimes we lose, but we always have fun. Once the game is done, I go back to my room and get dressed for sessions. Everybody up here goes to sessions. It’s required. The difference between an ordinary rehab clinic and this place is that you’re not only in session with other addicts. People from all walks of life come in to simply talk about their memories. Last week a brand new mommy came in and talked about how painful the delivery was, but how happy she was to be able to see her son. I can’t do her description justice. After the first session we have lunch, and then I choose another room and enter that session. More memories, some sad, some happy. I see the memories as they describe them. Then I have dinner with Rhoda, a very nice girl I met up here. It’s okay, I’m not cheating. My wife is seeing somebody else so I figure I might as well be able to also. I truly believe that one day we’ll be together again but she can’t be with me up here. We’re not allowed visitors. We make love, Rhoda leaves and I go to sleep. That’s my typical day.

So, now when I tell you my story, maybe you won’t feel too badly for me. Trust me, I don’t feel bad for myself. I’m happy now, happier than I ever imagined myself being. Well, when the Pittsburgh Steelers picked me in the first round of the NFL Draft, I have to admit I was pretty damned happy. As a highly touted wide receiver from Nebraska University, I knew I’d go high in the draft. I had no idea I would go so high. I got up on the podium, shook the commissioner’s hand and put on a Pittsburgh Steelers hat that someone handed to me. I don’t remember who exactly. Man, until me and the other first rounders partied that night the rest of the day was stressful. But I’ll never forget that moment when I heard my name called out as long as I am able to remember such things.

Now, I wasn’t leading the league or anything for my first two years, but I was pretty damned good. The Steelers were an above average team and I had a lot to do with that. I won NFL offensive player of the week once in the November of my second season. Things were really looking great for myself and my future. To quote VH1’s Behind the Music, “That’s when things went horribly wrong.”

My last game of my second season and we’re fighting for a playoff spot. We’re down by four points, we have the ball and we’re on our own forty yard line with three seconds to go in the fourth quarter. It was time for the old Hail Mary. So all the receivers run down into the end zone and our QB gets rid of the ball just as he’s sacked. There are four of us and six of them waiting for the ball to get there. We all jump up at the same time, and my fingers close around ball. Before I hit the ground my own teammate bumps me in the back. I let go of the ball and he falls down right on top of my knee. I had never felt such intense pain in my life, but I would again. The team doctors told me I’d never be able to play football ever again.

I began taking Lorab for the pain.

After about six months of recovering I began to look for a job. The doctors once again suggested that I wait a month or two or three, but I had a wife to feed. Maybe if we had won that game the city and the team would have been there for me, but instead I was on my own. While most of the citizens of Pittsburgh did feeling sympathy for me there was still an underlying, unspoken anger they had towards the man who killed the playoff drive. Although it was me, I understood. I would have been unreasonably angry also. Nobody really wanted to hire me in Pittsburgh. I had worn out my welcome. I had a rich cousin in Atlanta who offered me a job as a manger of one of his boss’ warehouses. I accepted and Susan, my wife, and me packed up our things and headed down south.

The pain had pretty much stopped, but I was still taking Lorab.

Now, I’m going to begin talking about the wrestling aspect of my career, and I need you to understand that I can’t name any names. The bad people will be judged, don’t you worry about that, but some of the good people who did bad things were also involved. If I blame the bad people, I also have to blame the good people. The good people don’t deserve to have their names plastered across the Internet. I don’t think that I did. Anyway, I apologize for not giving you ALL the juicy details about everyone else, but this is about me anyway. So if you wanted to know how often Hulk Hogan took steroids, well, this is not the place to go.

During my flight to Atlanta I met many fans of mine. It happened everywhere that I went. I’d be eating a cheeseburger in McDonald’s and some kid would come up to me and ask for an autograph and then his dad would make a face at me. I signed a few napkins and one or two autograph books before I met, well, let’s call him Charles. The name Charles has no significance. Don’t try to figure out who I’m talking about, it’ll drive you nuts. Charles told me he was a very big fan of mine and that I had been one of his first picks during the fantasy football poll. I smiled politely and said thank you. He said it was a real shame about what happened to me, and I said, yeah, well, what’re you going to do? He gave me an intrigued look and asked, yes, what are you going to do? I told him that I was moving down to Atlanta for a job with my family. He nodded his head and informed me that he worked for WCW. They had a training facility in Atlanta and if I was ever interested to give him a call. He said I had a good look for the business. I thanked him, he gave me his card and went back to his seat. I gave Susan a look that suggested that the guy was nuts and let out a small laugh. I then fell asleep.

I woke up about twenty minutes later. I badly needed a Lorab.

After we finished moving into our new apartment I called up my cousin to see if he could meet us for dinner. Nope. He could not. He was dead. A bus had hit him ten minutes before our flight landed. He was young, only 28, and had no will. I loved my cousin but I didn’t really know him that well. I hate to admit this but I was a little more upset over losing my job then losing my cousin. I mean, we had just moved about a thousand miles to come here and now I had no job, almost no money and a wife to feed. After calling up my aunt and sending my condolences I went out and bought a newspaper. I scoured the want ads for about an hour with nothing appealing to me. Nothing that I had experience for. Football had been my entire life. I really didn’t have too many other skills. I talked about it with my wife and then called Charles. I was to meet with him the next day.

I woke up at 4 a.m. in dire need of a Lorab. I was beginning to believe I had a problem.

Charles welcomed me in to his office and laid out what the schedule was. Man, it was tough. The money was all right, not great but good, but the schedule was almost impossible. I’d be in the Power Plant ten hours a day, and I’d be waking up every morning at 6 a.m. The commute was a killer from my apartment. Also, I had to sign a waiver in case of injury that would end the company’s obligation for payment. No health insurance. No real benefits. Charles asked me if I had any prescription medications because that they would take care of. I told him I took Lorab for my knee. I asked him if that would be a problem and Charles laughed. He said no, getting me some Lorab would not be a problem. Well, the man had access to Lorab and plenty of it. I shook his hand and told him that it would be a pleasure working with him. He accepted the compliment and replied that it would be a pleasure working with me. We were all going to be feeling pleasure.

After my first month at the Power Plant the Lorab wasn’t doing it for me any more. It wasn’t just my knee that hurt, it was everywhere that hurt. I thought this would be easier then playing football. I mean, this stuff is fake. Tell that to my back and neck. Tell that to my elbow which had swollen up to the size of a grapefruit. I was in some serious pain, and the Lorabs were not helping me at all. I couldn’t sleep at night. I was getting sloppy in the ring. One of the trainers reported my problems to Charles, and he asked me what was wrong. I told him that I was in tremendous pain. He asked me if I was getting my Lorab. I told him I was, but I was still in so much pain. He nodded his head and asked me if I would like to try something stronger. I told him I would definitely like to try something stronger if he had anything. He did, and he called up his ‘doctor’ and ordered a bottle of Percocet. I had the bottle in my hand by that afternoon.

I slept like a baby that night.

Ten months into my training and they believed I was ready to go out on the road. If they had told me this nine months before, I would have been devastated. Going out on the road meant losing my wife for around 21 days of the month on average. It meant leaving my house and my new friends and my dog for a bunch of sweaty men who were going to beat on me night in and night out. But in the last nine months I had learned about the business and began to love it. It was something that I was not only ready for, but something I wanted to be a part of. Despite my knee problem, I had aerial skills most wrestlers only dream of having. I was a great student of ring psychology and Charles himself called my drop-kick the best in the business. I was going to become a star. So it was with few tears that I packed my bag, kissed my wife good-bye and headed for the airport to catch my flight to Alabama.

During the flight, there was a little turbulence and my knee hit the back of chair in front of me. It caused only a little pain, so I only used a Lorab. I was saving the Percocet for after my matches.

The locker room was incredible. I had only been watching wrestling for ten months but these people had become heroes to me. They were all there. I hope you can understand why I don’t use any of their real names as I explained above. I went around and shook everyone’s hand as Charles had instructed me to do. That’s how I met Mike. Mike liked Percocet also. Well, he didn’t just like Percocet. In fact, he kind of considered Percocet as about as effective as aspirin. He also enjoyed OxyContin, a new super strength painkiller they got from a dealer, Morphine, heroine and cocaine. He told me that if I ever needed anything to come see him. I was a little confused. Didn’t they do random drug tests? Five people around me heard this and laughed. Then one of them, Thomas, approached me and told me that yes, there were random drug tests. However, they only occurred when they wanted to fire someone they knew to be a drug user. They’d pull in the same three guys they knew were clean and the druggie. So long, Sir Coke-a-lot. He laughed at his joke and then asked me what I was on. I told him I was only using Percocet. He nodded his head and informed me that he had only used Percocet at first. He warned me that the pain was going to get worse. When it did, I shouldn’t start taking my pills more frequently. Rather, I should just wash my regular dose down with a glass of scotch. Eventually I’d want something stronger and when that happened to come to either Charles or Mike. I asked him what he was on. He told me not much, just Valium, Xanax and Vicodin. He was thinking of trying out that new OxyContin stuff, but right now a Valium and a martini got him feeling fine.

Almost everyone backstage was taking some kind of painkiller. A lot of people backstage were taking steroids or growth enhancement products. After my fifth month on the road I upgraded to Percodan. It was no problem. There were so many drugs available to the wrestlers. All you had to do was ask and you received. I was getting over as a star, but that doesn’t matter. That doesn’t make a damn of a difference in this story. In my seventh month I upgraded again to OxyContin. This, I was warned, was harder to get and was incredibly dangerous. I was to only take half a pill at a time, one at the most. Charles told me to use them sparingly and if I could to use my other painkillers instead. I told him I’d try. I didn’t. Within five weeks they were all gone and Charles said it would be a month before he could get me more. I begged Mike for a pill, even told him I’d put him over in Pittsburgh but he still said no. He then took a needle out of his bag and offered me a shot of Morphine.

I’d never felt so peaceful before. I was hooked after my first shot.

Charles was not happy to hear that I was hooked on Morphine. He asked me if I had been hanging out with Mike and Thomas. I told him this was something I did for myself, and asked how long would it take to get a bag of Morphine to me. He told me it would only be a week, and Mike was happy to share what he had with me. He never used it much anyway. He loved it, but the side effects scared the hell out of him. He lectured me about the harmful blah blahs. It was his stuff! Yeah, but he told me he used it only when he needed it. Well, I needed it. I needed it badly.

When I came home during one of our breaks in my eighth month on the road my wife was pregnant. I was so happy and so high on Morphine that I lifted her up and carried her around the room, twirling in circles. She laughed at first, then asked me to stop, then began trying to squirm out of my grip, then seriously told me to stop, then started yelling at me to stop, then started crying and begging for me to stop, then started slapping my face and hitting me, demanding I stop. I was just so happy! Finally, she kicked me in the balls and I dropped her. I asked her why she did that, and she was crying and telling me to get away from her, but she was having my baby! I wanted to give her another hug! She tried running away from me but I was faster and I caught her and lifted her up again. She immediately kicked me in the balls again, but I held on. I started twirling again but she kicked me in the balls yet again and I let her go. That really hurt! She started running again, but I caught her. I told her she hurt me. She kept asking me what was wrong with me but nothing was wrong with me. I was so happy. I was just so happy I couldn’t even begin to tell her how happy I was. Life was absolutely amazing. She was having a baby. I wanted to give her another hug. She screamed and scratched my face! That was my face! I needed that face! How would she feel if her face had marks all over it? I bet she wouldn’t like it so much. So I hit her in the face three times and she stopped struggling. I forgave her for kicking me and scratching me, picked her up and twirled her around the room until I collapsed on the floor.

I woke in such pain. Such incredible pain. I needed Morphine. I needed an OxyContin. I needed something! I called for Susan to help me and got no response. Suddenly the events of the night before came rushing back to me. Jesus no. I had hit her in the face three times and then dropped her on the floor. She was having my baby and I had hit her in the face and dropped her on the floor. I was a professional wrestler. I was strong. She could be dead. I struggled to my feet, each step racking my body with more pain then the previous one. I made my way to the bedroom and saw some of my clothes on the floor. The closet was open and all of her clothes were missing. There was a note on the center of the bed that basically told me to choose between the drugs and her. She did not tell me where she was. She said she’d be in touch with me. The drugs or her. I struggled over to my gym bag and opened it to find only my gym clothes. She had taken everything, even the Lorab. I screamed in agony and laid down on the bed. This was it. I was going to die right here, right in this room, right here on this bed. I closed my eyes and waited for death, but it was not forthcoming. I laid there for three hours while my skin burned and my heart tried to break free from my chest. Finally, the pain seemed to subside. It still hurt like hell, but I was not in agony. I gingerly raised myself up and walked over to the phone. I had made my decision, and I would choose her. No more Morphine! As soon as she called, I’d tell her that I was finished with the stuff for good.

Painkillers weren’t Morphine though, were they? I dialed Charles’ number and begged him to come over to my place with a bottle of Vicodin. I was in agony.

Epilogue

My child was three years old when it happened. Susan picked me up without saying a word to me. She had heard this all before. She listened to me swear up and down that I was finished with the painkillers and the cocaine and the Morphine. This rehab center was better then all of the other ones. They had really gotten through to me here. Some of the stories those people told touched me in ways I could never have imagined. One thing that really stuck with me was when we had to raise a horse’s leg. All you needed was for the horse to trust you. Man, I had not been able to do it at first, but then I did it! The horse raised its leg! Everyone in the group had cheered and while I couldn’t be sure, I thought I saw the horse wink at me. I was just kidding about the horse winking at me, but she didn’t laugh.

It was going to be different in the WWF. In the WCW, drugs ran rampant. I couldn’t go three feet without temptation. In ECW one of the wrestler’s gimmick was based on how much pot he smoked. Drugs were everywhere there also. In the WWF they gave random drug tests and the locker room was a place of business. If anybody did do drugs there, they’d do it in the sanctity of their own hotel rooms. I promised I would not be one of those people. I told her I loved her and Donald Jr. too much. I promised I would be straight as an arrow this time around. I was able to raise the horse’s leg. That had to mean something.

Susan looked at me like she wanted to believe me and then continued driving us back to our apartment. She parked the car and told me that she had scoured the apartment for drugs. She hadn’t found any. If I had hidden any from her she was going to give me fifteen minutes to go up to the apartment and flush them down the toilet. When she entered the apartment, if she ever found any pills ever again, it was over. She’d go to her mother’s place. She swore to God. Did I understand?

Yes, I understood.

I pretty much ran up the stairs to our apartment. I had stashed the drugs in three places. First I opened the closet where we kept our camping stuff. I took the canteen into which I had poured the Morphine and emptied it into the sink. Now came the tricky part. I got my screwdriver from my bedroom and removed the covering from the hard drive of my computer. I had two bottles of Percocet and two vials of cocaine in there. All of it went into the toilet. Finally, although it was summer, I went to where I was most afraid she would find the stuff. I went to the bedroom closet and took out my summer jacket. In the pocket were five OxyContins. I moved quickly to the toilet when one of them told me to swallow them. My last hit. The other four agreed with the first one. That’s just bull. I’m sorry. The pills didn’t make me do anything I didn’t want to. I’m trying to make excuses when I don’t have to anymore. Such a stupid excuse! I don’t know what went through my mind when instead of throwing them into the toilet I swallowed them. Maybe I knew what would happen. Maybe I didn’t want to live without the drugs. I was sure I didn’t want to wrestle without the drugs.

My wife came upstairs and found me dead on the floor. Classic OD. Considering all of the crap I’ve put in my body over the years, I’m shocked five pills killed me that quickly. Still, I was warned by Charles to never take more then one OxyContin at a time. I never did. It always did the job for me. She was so sad, but the beautiful thing is that my friends put together a little memorial show with the proceeds going to my wife and Donald Jr. and the child that I did not know was inside of her. She was going to surprise me. I wonder if I would have done things any differently if I had known.

Well, here I am up here. I was pretty sure that I was headed down there but to my surprise there is no down there. There are only different levels of up here. Do I miss anyone? No, I don’t. I’ve met all kinds of new people and I know that the ones still in the middle will meet me any day now. I took myself away from my wife and my child, and I cannot wait to make it up to them when they arrive. I believe that is what the sessions are preparing me for. Their arrival.

All right, I didn’t tell you bastards everything, but I hope that I explained enough that you could stop spreading rumors about me on the net. Really, there’s not much more to say about me. I was a football player, a pro wrestler, a husband and a father but it was all secondary to my job as a drug addict. Was I so evil because I had an addiction? Was I so wrong for trying to ease my pain? Well, if you think so, let me tell you something. I’m happy up here. My dog gets to chase the Canadian Geese without goose crap all over the place. I get to wake up at 10 a.m. every morning. I get to play football without any pressure or pain. I’m making love to a beautiful woman who is waiting for her husband as I wait for my wife. I was invited to join a kind of wrestling club. They don’t perform for anybody, they just do it for the fun of it. It was Mike who asked me to join. I turned him down. I’m content to just go to the sessions and talk about my matches, relive them through words. Everybody has a memory to share that’s poignant or funny or horrible and I remember every single one of them. Those people are becoming a part of me just as I am becoming a part of them. Do drugs, don’t do drugs, wrestle, don’t wrestle, we all become a part of each other.

I don’t regret what I did in my life. I don’t regret overdosing. I regret hurting her that night when she told me she was pregnant. I regret making fun of nerds in high school. I regret the pain that I’ve caused others. Everyone regrets the hurt they’ve caused up here. No one judges you but you, and the more pain you’ve caused to yourself and others, the more pain you feel. But the pain goes away as you share the memories. You learn from it and become a new person. Your painful memories, your good memories, they combine with the painful and good memories of the others and make us all equal and make us all better. They cure you. I’m cured. Stop spreading rumors.