Daily Archives: February 18, 2016

Family’s obituary for son reveals a drawn-out, losing battle against heroin

MACKSo incredibly tragic, don’t even know what to say as tears stream down my face. Decidedly not one of those “Unconditional love triumphs yet again!” stories. What could the parents have done differently? How could this young man have been saved? My husband and I dealt with some similar issues, but thank god, my son pulled himself up by the bootstraps, and thank god, it never came to anywhere near this tragedy. I so commend my son’s strength in being able to do this! I gave him my unconditional love and was rooting for him every step of the way!

Death due to drug addiction, death due to mental illness, commonly known as suicide, these are deaths due to defective genes, just like a death from cancer is. The loss of my brother, my beautiful, loving brother, well, the tragedy never lessens its hold upon you. I am happy that MacKenzie’s parents were so open and honest in his obituary. Openness, and honesty, that may well be what is needed to stop these beautiful people’s deaths. Rest in peace, MacKenzie.

Like many other addicts, MacKenzie J. Weisbeck was no match for heroin and other opioids, his parents said.

The obituary that a Rochester family placed in The Buffalo News on Sunday and Monday was startling in its grief and honesty.

“Our dearest son, MacKenzie John Weisbeck, entered into eternal peace due to a heroin overdose after a courageous struggle with addiction,” the obituary read.

Not often does a family share the heartbreak of a loss with such candor. Why the family paid to place that notice in the newspaper says a lot about the Weisbeck’s loved ones, as well as the epidemic that has claimed hundreds of young lives throughout the area.

The 29-year-old Iraq War veteran’s family wants the community to know that their son and brother suffered, but that he wanted to live a drug-free life. Like many other addicts, he was no match for heroin and other opioids.

“The struggle for us was always trying to make other people understand. It was the stigma,” said Alison Weisbeck, MacKenzie’s mother, in explaining why the obituary was posted in Buffalo and Rochester.

She grew up on Grand Island; her husband, John, grew up in North Buffalo. They raised their family on Grand Island for several years before moving to the Rochester area. Along with MacKenzie’s lone sibling, 26-year-old Kirsten, they walked through the fires of addiction with unconditional love, willing to support him no matter what.

Yet after five known overdoses, 10 stays at drug detoxification units and rehabilitation facilities, the parents finally had enough and told him last December he could no longer live in their home. That tough love was not enough. He died last week in his friend’s apartment.

When Alison Weisbeck saw her son’s body in his bedroom at the apartment, the anger she once felt toward the doctors and institutions whom she sometimes begged to help MacKenzie was suddenly gone.

“In the end, we realized that the only person who could save MacKenzie was MacKenzie,” she said.

Yet the Weisbecks still believe monumental changes are necessary if society is to win the war against the opiate epidemic that has so many mothers and fathers burying their children.

Road to addiction
MacKenzie started with marijuana at Penfield High School, in a Rochester suburb, where the family relocated after moving from Grand Island because of John Weisbeck’s employment.

“When he was 16, he was smoking pot. He was so ossified, I thought we were going to lose him to pot,” Alison Weisbeck said.

She and her husband withdrew $30,000 from their retirement fund to pay for their son’s admission to a private drug rehabilitation facility in the Albany area.

“At the time, our health insurance carrier did not believe it was an issue. We borrowed the money from our 401K and brought him to Albany. In less than 24 hours, he was out on the streets. At age 16, he had legal rights and we had none. He had refused to stay. He would be homeless in Albany, and we went and got him. A big part of his story was that he was the hardest person to get through to,” Alison Weisbeck said.

As his progression into drugs continued, he quit high school in February of his senior year in 2005. A couple years later, his sister, Kirsten, cajoled him into earning his GED diploma by promising him her Christmas gift money. It worked.

With a GED in hand, he gave up drugs and joined the Army in 2007.

“That was the most proud he was in his whole life. He was GI Joe for four years. When an Army medical board told him he couldn’t go to Iraq because his hearing had been damaged by gunfire, he begged. He told them, ‘I need to do this.’ They let him go, and he was a gunner on top of an MRAP,” the mother said of the mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle.

At 6-feet tall, the lean 185-pound soldier with chiseled good looks, brown hair and bright blue eyes often volunteered for extra patrols, living up to the motto of his Scottish ancestral name, MacKenzie: “Luceo non uro,” which translated means, “I shine, not burn.” He had the Latin version of the motto tattooed onto the center of his chest.

But MacKenzie’s addiction to drugs pursued him into the service, and he managed to get opiates prescribed to him for a lower back injury he suffered while playing soccer in high school. He left the military with an “under honorable” discharge, though it later was upgraded to an honorable discharge.

“He was such a contradiction. In his military file, there was the concern about the drugs. Then you read things about how he was such a soldier and how he got all these commendations,” Alison Weisbeck said.

John Weisbeck marveled at his son’s bravery, volunteering to go out on night patrols and provide protection for fellow soldiers as they disposed of improvised explosive devices.

Back home on America’s streets, another enemy awaited him.

Civilian life
After the Army, his addiction worsened.

In one instance, MacKenzie secretly brought heroin to a treatment facility in Canandaigua and overdosed in his room. For two minutes, his heart stopped before the medical staff revived him. He was transferred to a hospital, where he threatened to commit suicide. Two hours later, he signed himself out and made his way back to Penfield, his parents said.

The next day, his parents found him in his bedroom unconscious from an overdose.

John Weisbeck recalled his son telling him that he had often asked for methadone to help him through withdrawals while in treatment facilities, but was denied.

“They thought he wanted to abuse methadone and get high from it,” the father said. “Ironically enough, one of the staff doctors told us that if he doesn’t get on methadone, he will die.”

In another overdose incident, MacKenzie was taken to a Rochester hospital, where a psychiatrist suggested his parents attend an instructional class on how to administer Narcan, an opiate antidote. Her son was at constant risk of fatally overdosing. A doctor in the emergency room, Timothy Wiegand, had, in fact, advised them not to leave the hospital without Narcan.

“I went to Dr. Wiegand and told him they wanted us to take the class. He said, ‘You’re not leaving this hospital without Narcan.’ He showed me and my husband how to give a shot and wrote a prescription,” the mother said.

Wiegand, who was thanked in the paid obituary, recalled the incident and added that stories like MacKenzie’s occur all too often. Drugs such as Suboxone and others, he said, can reduce the craving for opiates and block overdoses, if taken appropriately.

“If it hadn’t been for Dr. Wiegand giving us the Narcan kit, we wouldn’t have had nine more months with our son,” Alison Weisbeck said, explaining that she and her husband had revived MacKenzie with the Narcan. “We each gave MacKenzie a shot.”

The final weeks
Following yet another overdose in December, Kirsten Weisbeck, who resides in New York City, sent a text to her parents: “I love you guys so much. Tell Mac I love him when he’s conscious and that nobody’s gonna give up on him and that I want to see him.”

Alison Weisbeck said, “MacKenzie was so proud of her plans to go to medical school and become a doctor.”

MacKenzie was again admitted to rehab, this time in Buffalo, but he left just before Dec. 25. When he returned home, his parents said he could stay only if he agreed to enter long-term treatment.

MacKenzie left.

A friend in Penfield opened up his apartment to MacKenzie, who remained in daily contact with his parents. In fact, at 7 p.m. a week ago Wednesday, MacKenzie and his father had a phone conversation about taking a martial arts class together.

“As soon as you get healthy, we’ll take the class,” he told his son. “When you get up tomorrow, call, and I’ll come over and get you and you can do your laundry.”

And then he added: “I love you.”

That’s how they always ended their conversations, John Weisbeck said.

When MacKenzie failed to answer repeated phone calls the next day, his parents contacted his roommate, who found him dead in the apartment.

“John and I thought maybe we could help MacKenzie one more time. We grabbed our Narcan kit and drove five minutes to the apartment. Joe fell into my arms. The thing I remember was getting to the door and saying, ‘Look, we have Narcan,’ Alison Weisbeck said.

On Sunday afternoon, the Weisbecks opened their home for a funeral service.

“We gathered to say goodbye, all our family and friends who had unconditional love for MacKenzie,” Alison Weisbeck said.

His parents have also found comfort in the dozens of online condolences from friends and strangers praising them for publicly telling of MacKenzie’s addiction and fatal overdose in the paid obituary.


So I had my first conference with my professor today.  We wound up on the phone because she couldn’t get the teleconference tool to work today. WE had a good chat about my writing and what kinds of things I needed to work on. I came away with a  good feeling about it.  I think she gets where I’m coming from and what I’m trying to do with my bipolar story.a So we will see what happens in the next assignment.

WEnt to put in  new contact lenses this morning and shortly realized that I had never gone to the vision center I ordered them from and picked them up!  I had to call and make sure they still had them there for me and drive back while my older daughter slept in. She is still sick and I have an appointment to take her back to the doctor tomorrow.  Hopefully she is just having a hard time shaking this and it hasn’t developed into anything more interesting.

So morbid feeling.   I actually wondered if I could ask God to just let me sleep and not wake up this morning.   A coma, a heart attack, a stroke, an aneurysm,. whatever it took. I hate feeling this way. If it keeps up, I’m going to have to go to the hospital. ANd I don’t want that.


Searching For Must Read Bipolar Blogs

Back when I first started this blog eight years ago, there weren’t many of us. Just a relatively small group of bloggers sharing our experiences. We all supported each other through difficult times. Circumstances changed in my life and I was forced to shut down this blog for awhile. When I returned to blogging about […]

The post Searching For Must Read Bipolar Blogs appeared first on Insights From A Bipolar Bear.

Put Your Sane Mask On

(Yeah, that title sounds way more badass put to the tune of Wednesday 13’s “Put your Death Mask On.)

The spawn is deposited at school, I am pilled up and waiting for the results of the lithium lottery, and my pretzel gut is twisting because…I get to serve time in the petri dish today. Yay. And by yay, I mean, I still haven’t recovered from last Friday’s panic inducing four hours in the dish, heeeeellllp.

But it’s a trade off. I need minutes on my cell phone. R needs a monkey to fetch his lunch and keep him company. The barter system, 2016 style. I must wonder if I wouldn’t have fared better sixty years ago when I could have traded for eggs. Damn, when did a dozen eggs get so expensive? Yes, my warped little brain thinks of these things.

I digress. I truly am feeling…well, that anxiety you feel when you know you have to repeat something that previously triggered you and left you overwhelmed for days. Hopefully it won’t happen again. I should load up on Xanax. Cos the first six pills weren’t enough, let’s toss in two more. Pfft. Whatever moron thinks mental illness is made up and we take these pills for fun is a cockweasel.

I accomplished something yesterday that I’ve pondered doing for weeks. Yesterday it came together. I moved the laptop with the shattered screen and the monitor over by the kitchen shelves. Now the cats won’t fuck with it too much, my MagicJack works again, and if I get desperate I can put the spawn on neopets or youtube and let them babysit while mom has a meltdown or how dare I, want to go to the bathroom for three minutes of peace.

I TV binged yesterday. As always, “Lucifer” was awesome. It’s such a funny quirky show. The title alone probably has puritans hiding in their basements but it’s a good show. The Flash blew me away. Saving Hope’s finale blew me away and has left me in suspense. I watched “How To Get Away With Murder”, which has become a big bucket of what the fuck and I still like it.

Blah blah, this is just one of those inane posts which reeks of my anxiety for today’s outing and tomorrow’s jaunt to the courthouse where I will have to be in the presence of true sociopathy.

Mom had her biopsy yesterday but they told her it will take a week for the results to come back.

(I am watching a documentary on Jack The Ripper and apparently, back in that time in England, “she was a gay woman” had nothing to do with sexual orientation, it meant “nymphomaniac. Interesting.)

I guess mom went off on dad the other day, screaming about how that car is still in her name and she was ranting how the donor is going to take Spook away cos he has a better address and stuff. She’s freaking out more than I am. The donor doesn’t really wanna fuck with me or I will dredge up every sore psychological issue he ever confided in me. He would do the same to me. I may not be well off and I may have my issues, but nowhere on my record will you find a forcible commitment for slitting one’s own wrists. And that is not mocking those who attempt suicide or succeed, I am just saying…if a fancy address makes one a fit parent, then I think an attempt on your own life counter balances it because not once in my miserable existence have I tried to off myself.

Okay. I am gonna watch Arrow, chainsmoke a few more, then force myself to get dressed and go play monkey in the dish. Hope my enthusiasm and optimism aren’t overwhelming you.

For fun…This is what my mom got me for V’tines. Sasquatch and I are planning a fall wedding.




And Today. . .

 I went down for an afternoon nap.  So I’m not sure what that means.  I had to take my youngest daughter to the doctor today and keep the older one at home also.  So it’s been a long day.  At least the youngest isn’t as sick as the older one is.  I think the older one will be out tomorrow, too.  But we will see.

I am getting good feedback on my piece I wrote about the summer of 2005, the year my youngest was .  I had to keep it short because of the word count, so I am getting some comments that it’s rushed and not enough context.  So I will work more on that.  I have a teleconference with the professor tomorrow to discuss it.  I’m still waiting on some commentary to weigh in, so that total feedback isn’t yet complete.

I’m hoping to get some advice on how I can work on the whole manuscript.  I’m still vacillating between whether I’m writing a memoir or a series of essays about bipolar disorder.   Hopefully I can get some advice on that, too.  ANd talk to this professor about being on my thesis committee.  I think I will contact the department head on how that process works.

Hope everyone had a good Wednesday.  And have a good rest of the week.


Dy’s Fave Blogger Blahpolar’s Bipolar Linkdump.

Originally posted on blahpolar:
It was fair to call it depression. She felt like shit, all the time. If that was depression, she had it. It must have been contagious. She’d caught it from the world. Lev Grossman – The Magician’s Land (Just a note about the quote – the Magicians trilogy has some interesting…