Frieda Squires/The Providence Journal
Michael Szeliga remembers clearly the morning he was awakened by something that would all but ruin his quality of life for the next eight years.
He was 50ish and worked for the Postal Service. His wife, Peggy, taught fourth grade in West Warwick. They had two adult daughters.
Michael woke that day with the worst pain he’d ever experienced. It went from his right shoulder to his hand. Moving the arm, even slightly, was so excruciating he at one point began to cry. His hand had tremors he couldn’t stop. Despite it being on the right side, he feared a heart attack, so Peggy helped him into their Volvo and they drove from their North Kingstown home to Miriam Hospital.
It was early on a Sunday morning in 2005, the start of an ordeal that would take him through nearly a decade of painkillers, including OxyContin and methadone. Ultimately, it led him to a drug he never expected to turn to, especially as a 60-year-old grandfather of three who continued to soldier on with the Postal Service — marijuana.