GREENVILLE — Most mothers never get over losing a child.
Kathy Hiestand, of Ansonia, cherishes the time spent with her son, Carlos Eugene Trueblood. He died of a drug overdose on Thursday, April 14, 2016. He was 30 years old.
“Carlos had a beautiful smile and he was very funny,” Kathy said. “He was a very gifted artist and writer.”
Cathy’s daughter-in-law, Caitlin Hiestand, who is married to Kathy’s son Tim, said Carlos had a beautiful personality.
“You would never meet anyone like him – ever,” Caitlin said. “He was just one of a kind – just very out there. He could make everybody smile, he was very good at that.”
According to Kathy, Carlos only felt good about himself when he was high. He liked speed and feeling up, she said. She believes his addiction came from a lifetime of taking drugs, starting at age 5 when prescribed medication for Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In addition, Carlos had some other psychological diagnoses, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, Kathy said. As a result, he cut himself a lot.
“The drugs were an escape for him. It was a cycle of pills, coming from using drugs in a normal way, to taking something else and then something else. The older he got, he took stronger meds to keep him in line so he was able to concentrate. He just got used to the life of pills and it was just getting worse.”
For a few dollars a box, Carlos could buy three boxes of Coriciden Cough and Cold (Triple Cs). With an ID, he could buy three boxes at a time. Each box contains 16 pills. Each pill has 30 mg of dextromethorphen, which has dissociative effects. Dissociatives are a class of hallucinogen which distort perceptions of sight and sound to produce feelings of disconnection, detachment, and dissociation from the environment and self. According to Caitlin, it was very normal for Carlos to take 30 Triple Cs at one time.
“I tried contacting the drug company who makes those pills, to let them know, these kids are out here taking these pills,” Kathy said. “He is not the only one. They are getting high and some of them are dying from them. They need to pull them from the market or change the ingredients – something. But they don’t reply.”
According to Kathy, Carlos was released from Darke County Jail on the Monday preceding his death. He was arrested for an old drug abuse warrant, she said. Carlos lived with his husband, Austin Johns, in Kathy and her husband Brien’s home. Brien was Carlos’s father for 25 years. Thursday morning, the day of Carlos’s death, Kathy and Johns took Kathy’s grandchildren to the park.
“Carlos wanted to stay home because he was messing with his hair – he thought he was the fashion model of the whole world,” Kathy said, laughing.
When they returned from the park, Kathy went to lie down. She worked the third shift at McDonald’s. Carlos said he wasn’t feeling well and he also lay down. Brien woke Kathy up for supper, around 5:45 p.m. Brien told Johns, to tell “Little Bit,” which is what they called Carlos, it was time to eat. Johns went up and seconds later, Kathy heard screaming.
“Mom, mom – come up here, he is not responding,” Kathy heard Johns say.
“I went running up there and I could tell he was gone,” Kathy said. “I didn’t know what to do – I couldn’t stay up there. I came running down the steps and grabbed my phone and called the squad right away. My husband ran up and tried CPR on him. Carlos coughed and got sick in my husband’s mouth.
“The squad got there and they just came tearing in my house and up the stairs they went,” Kathy said. “About 15-20 minutes later, the woman from the squad came down and said, ‘We gave him Narcan for heroin’. I said, ‘He wasn’t a heroin addict’. They didn’t ask me, so they treated him for a heroin overdose. The squad worked on him about a half hour. She came back down and said, ‘He’s gone’.”
Kathy said the detective and coroner came to the house and were with Carlos, upstairs, for about five hours, investigating and taking pictures. It was about 11 p.m. when they brought him down.
“They made us all leave while they brought him down the steps,” she said. “They let me come in and see him before they took him. I talked to him a little bit, kissed and hugged him. He was with the coroner for a couple days.”
The coroner said, the reason why he died, was probably because his body was clean from all the toxins of the drugs, from being in jail the past 40 days, Kathy said.
“Then when he shoved all of those drugs back in, that was probably too much for his body – it overloaded it and he passed,” she said.
Carlos was buried, April 19, in Green Mound Cemetery, in New Madison. In addition to having the drugs removed from the store shelves, Kathy would like to see a local group formed for mothers who have lost children to drug addiction. But as far as drug rehabilitation, Kathy said the county mandating it does not help addicts.
“It’s court ordered – they are going to do it -and they get free drugs,” she said. “But, you can’t force someone to stop an addiction. They have to be willing, they have to want to stop. Carlos had been in and out of rehab and jail, and he never submitted himself to say ‘I’m done, I want this to end’. That is the way with a lot of them. We try everything we can for our children, but it is not going to stop until they say, ‘I’m done – I don’t want to do this any more’. It has to be them – it has to be. There is just no other way.
“A lot of people say it’s their choice and it is. They get into that pattern, they get into that lifestyle and they don’t like themselves on the inside. The drug covers it up and makes them feel good about themselves. That is why they do it. When Carlos was high, he loved himself. When he wasn’t high, he was vomiting and sick, he wouldn’t shower and he was depressed.”
Kathy said she tried the tough love approach with Carlos to try to get them to hit rock bottom, but it never worked. He lived homeless a lot, she said.
“He knew he was addicted,” Kathy said. “He would say he was sorry and he wished he could change it, but he couldn’t fight the demons off of him, they were just too strong. His famous words were, ‘Are you mad at me?’”
“He had a huge family – we all loved him,” Caitlin said. “There was plenty of love, but he didn’t see it.”
“I loved him – he was my best friend,” Kathy said. “I just know some day I’m going to be with him, and I just strive for that,” she said.