A Year After Opioids

My father, Joel Chapin Bertan, died on the morning of Tuesday, February 7th, 2017.

I have a lot of questions about Monday, February 6th, 2017. I know he was in court for a possible drug charge, but I’m not sure about that charge. I do know that he “won” his case, and was not taken into police custody, although in retrospect, I wish they had arrested him. He spent the night presumably drinking alcohol and using heroin. Perhaps, he was feeling some type of allergy, so he took an antihistamine. Lastly, whether he knew it or not, within the heroin there was a high level of fentanyl, so he had some of that, too. A year ago, I didn’t understand these words or drugs, and I didn’t understand the ramifications and gravity of addiction. A year later, I’ve learned a lot.

Here are some definitions:

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Heroin is “an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed pod of the various opium poppy plants grown in Southeast and Southwest Asia, Mexico, and Colombia.” Used as an “upper” drug and to experience a sense of euphoria. An overdose of Heroin causes hypoxia, or in other words, air stops going to your brain. A little thing about your brain, it controls your entire body. If it stops receiving air, it stops functioning and controlling your heart, motor functions and more.
Heroin can cause your heart to stop.

Again, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.” Fentanyl works with Heroin to bind to opioid receptors in the brain, which again, slows breathing rates, and changes emotion to create a sense of euphoria. Fentanyl has been added to Heroin to increase these effects without a determination of how much is fatal. With Heroin sold on the street, there is no way to trust if the product has Fentanyl in it, let alone the amount.

As a common over-the-counter drug, most people are familiar with the effects of antihistamines. They cause drowsiness, and they help to block histamines, treat allergies, inflammation and in other ways. An antihistamine stops blood vessels from swelling and constricts blood vessels. Used with opioids could increase the chance of hypoxia and a slowing of oxygen throughout the body.

Defined here in its most common form, alcohol is an ingredient within spirits, wine, beer and fermented drinks. Alcohol is a drug. At a higher dose, it depresses the central nervous system, and at a lower dose it can cause euphoria, drowsiness and the slowing of breath.  

It was the combination of these four ingredients that slowed my father’s breathing, and ultimately stopped his heart. It wasn’t a heart attack, aneurysm or stroke. It was drug abuse, addiction, possible depression and a drug overdose.  Was my father a saint? No. But he was my father, and I feel responsible to share this story. Perhaps you, or someone you know, plays with these ingredients in a drug cocktail. The only thing I can do is tell you how it impacted mine and my family’s life. I can urge you to stop playing with fire, because you will get burnt, along with your loved ones and your house.

With opioid use on the rise, death rates are increasing at a similar rate. In 2016, Fentanyl has accounted for 540% compared to the previous three years. Additionally, according to The New York Times, approximately 64,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2016. Statistics are currently being calculated for 2017, and my father will be one of the thousands. He turns into a statistic for people to justify strict drug laws and for interventions to cite what could happen if a loved one continues to use; He turns into questions that I cannot answer.

I can know what was in his body when he died. I can know accounts of what people saw and heard the day before his death. But I cannot know if he knew what he was doing. If he knew of the amount of fentanyl. If he knew that mixing antihistamines with opioids is dangerous. I will never know if he knew.

What I know is this:

My biological father, Joel Chapin Bertan, died the morning of Tuesday, February 7th, 2017. I found out when I was walking from Hendricks Chapel to the Setnor School of Music, located on Syracuse University Campus. I had just crossed the street, walking on the sidewalk right before Eggers Hall. I was next to a tree when my younger sister called me. She asked me if I had time to come see her that day, and I remorsefully stated that I needed to go to rehearsal and then go to work. She said it was important. I asked her what was wrong for the second time. I could hear sorrow in her voice when she said, “Daddy’s gone.”

The air escaped my lungs and the People’s Place coffee almost fell from my left hand. Everything I just described in my view disappeared and the world moved. I stopped walking. It’s honestly a moment I’ve tried to forget, but never will. I immediately made plans to meet her as soon as I could so we could tell our grandfather. In a blur, I walked to my professor’s studio so I could tell him that I couldn’t make it to Percussion Ensemble, because I didn’t want him to wonder where I was, and as a musician there are very few acceptable reasons to miss rehearsal. This, obviously, being one of them.
Crying and carrying coffee, I called my husband to call into work, made it home (somehow) and then the day, that was originally planned to be a normal Tuesday, went into scheduling a funeral.

I make a detailed account of this day, because it is real. It is the real, authentic reaction and it initiated the list of questions. The most common of this is what happened?
What happened? What happened? What happened?

Listed as “Next of Kin,” the responsibility felt like it fell to me to handle this truck that just attack our lives. But, I am beyond grateful for my friends and family who helped those closest to my father through this time. I was not the closest to him, and that’s an area that leads to more questions that will never be answered. I will never have the answers to these questions. I will never be able to apologize, or hear an apology, or hug my father again. My sisters won’t, my step-mother won’t and he won’t. He is unfinished.


Joel Chapin Bertan 7/28/1970 – 2/7/17  (top right)

Listen. If you are dealing with addiction, depression or a situation that will end your life, or the lives of others, please get help. If you are suicidal, lost and need someone to guide you through this crazy, awful, beautifully messed up life, reach out. We all need help.Here is a phone number to get help with substance abuse: SAMHSA’s National Helpline,

1-800-662-HELP (4357).

There is assistance out there. You do not need to take all of it, but you can get help.
It’s either that, or you die one Tuesday morning without a say, a last word or a last meal, all because you wanted euphoria, when all you needed was oxygen.        


Written by, Melissa A. Bassett
In loving memory of Joel Bertan.
Written for Michele, Jessica, Jeff, Jocelyne, Jamie, Jennifer, Jocelyn, Paul & Lori.
All rights reserved – Publication upon request – Sharing strongly encouraged.



Please read these following articles for more information on the Opioid epidemic in America, and the link to SAMHSA’s website.

More Information:









A Year After Opioids

Bonus Post: Jocelyne

Tomorrow is my sister’s Birthday! 

Jocelyne starts the round of Spring birthdays my sisters share.
I am the oddball who shares November with my lil’bro, Connor.

Jocelyne: March 26th
Jessica: April 4th
Jamie: May 5th

Melissa: November 2nd
Connor: November 17th

I never know how old Jocelyne is going to be. I probably never will. But that’s okay.
What I know most about Jocelyne is that she is the kindest, warm-hearted and sincere person I know. She cares, sometimes too much, and has the best hugs.

1927675_66063013155_4288065_nGrowing up it was a lot of just her and I. Our parents worked a lot, because they had to and because they are awesome. So poor Jocelyne was stuck with little ol’me ALL OF THE TIME. I would not wish that on my worst enemy, because to this day, I know that I am incredibly annoying, loud and obnoxious. But here she is, five years older than me (?), and taking care of me at every chance she can.

Anyone who knew us back then knows that we would sing and dance to all of the music. 168000_10150166256329942_6032344_nAnywhere from 60’s hits to Disturbed, from 90’s boybands to Ozzy!
We would swing dance, talk about books, make games to make cleaning suck less, watch our 9 channels of T.V. including PBS cooking shows, and keep each other company.
Because I was this parasite in her life, I often followed her to her friends house and feel cool that I had high-school friends!

This lovely lady taught me so much about life, and love, heartache, how to be strong, take care of bullies and how to just stay happy.

I don’t know who I would be without her in my life.

Thank you mom for making Jocelyne. Thank you Jocelyne for being my big sister. You mean the world to me. You are my Gilmore Girl, you are my best friend, you are my sister and you are just so amazing.

Now I can stop talking about myself and say that Jocelyne is also a crazy Hanson fanatic. Why? I honestly don’t know! An obvious lover of music, an amazing friend, a strong woman and a hands down fan-freaking-tastic mother.
Joey is so lucky to have a Mom like her.
John, Jocelyne and Joey make a great team. I love them so much.


Thanks for being born! Thank you for continuing to age so that we can celebrate your existence in this world!

J – Joyus
O – Obnoxious
C – Creative
E – Extremely Amazing
L – Loving
Y – Youthful
N – Noble
E – Enchanting

Happy Birthday! 


Bonus Post: Jocelyne

Two days in a row?

I seriously want to update this more.


I’m not really sure. Probably so I have something to look back on and laugh about. Perhaps so if there is someone out there that regularly reads them, I can give them some advice on how to be a great human and continue on being amazing.

Maybe also, so when I start traveling the world and start doing amazing cool things, I’ll have a fan base that can follow along on the adventure?
A girl can dream, right?

Anyway, So I’m sitting in Panera Bread in Cicero, NY (hometown hollah!), drinking coffee-

I’m out of coffee… Hang on . . . . . .

– 47 seconds later –

Alright, I have coffee again!
So I’m sitting here trying to grade papers for a class I assist with. I’m trying to think how I was as a freshman/sophomore. I know I wasn’t “cool” or “interesting” by any standards. I also know that I had no clue what the future was going to be, because obviously, I am can not tell the future. But I try to everyday. One day I will get closer to predicting the ever changing, ever-mean future. And then when I do, I’m sure everything will change.

What should I talk about? I can talk about a lot of random things, and I sure as hell can complain about everything.

Politics? The state of the union? Music. The state of our healthcare (Don’t get me started with that and the whole tax fee stipulation on all of that . . . ). Foreign Policy or my hopes and fears of the future?

I’ve been in this Panera for 2 hours now. I am surprised that I ran into one familiar face in my hometown. I have seen children, parents, lunch dates, office meetings, family get-togethers and teenagers glued to their mobile devices. I have seen it all. All while TRYING TO GET SOME TYPE OF WORK DONE!
I am the worst type of procrastinator.
But people watching is a nice past time. Minus the screaming babies, it’s a nice atmosphere to faine productivity.

April is going to happen soon.
And we are going to stay positive and get through it!

What are you doing right now?
Now make a list of why it’s important.
Then burn the list and just do the thing!
Stop trying to be productive while procrastinating.
I do that all the time.
Just do the thing.

Good bye. I’m going to finish grading these things.

Two days in a row?

Here we are again . . .

My roommate just repeated something she read online to me . . .

Graduating high school is enlightening and interesting and the sun in shining and there is hope in the air!
But, graduating college is a group of panic attacks.
(or something like that.)
So what is graduating grad-school?                       Panic attacks?
Heart attacks? Or just a slow overwhelming feeling to crawl in a hole and pretend that you are the only person in the world and that you do not need to be a contributing human in society?
Yes.                            That.                         Exactly That. 

Have you noticed blogging is just long creative forms of telling information and complaining?

Instead of complaining I’m just going to ask all of the questions that are in my brain right at this moment:
Feel free to check out whenever you want:

How do I get the job that I want?
What is the job that I want?
Where should I move?
Should I move?
How do I have it all?
What is it all?
Why do I want “it all?”
Why did I go to grad school?
What is the purpose of life?
What am I doing?
Why am I not motivated?
Seriously, what is it ALL?
Where am I going to be in 5 years, 2 years, 1 year next week?
Why is everything so difficult?!
Will I ever making money?
What do I want for dinner?
I don’t want to cook dinner, who is going to cook dinner?
Can beer be dinner?
What is healthy?
Am I healthy?
Do I really have to read this?
Can’t I just read what I want?
Why did someone write this?
Why do I have to write this?
How do I get to that country?
What county do I want to go to?
Can I actually live in another country?
How do I get anywhere?
Where do I want to work?
What do I want to do?
What is my future?
Why is the future so scary?
What do I have to do tomorrow?
Why am I doing this?
Who is going to read this?
Are they going to care?
Who wrote How I Met Your Mother and how are they so amazing?
Why is nothing cooking?
Am I going to be successful?
Why can’t I just be happy?
There are 15 articles I read last week that said I’m fine, why can’t I believe them?
Why did she have a baby?
Why did HE have a baby?
Do I want a baby?
OMG I do not want a baby!
Should I have this new cat?
What should we name the cat we have now?
Seriously though, why do I need to read this?
Have they emailed me back yet?
Did I email you?
I thought I emailed you, but I didn’t?
When is that paycheck coming?
Did I make enough money this week?
Do I need another job?
Why can’t I do anything right?
What really is happening in the world?
So he wasn’t kidding?
Who is voting for Trump?
Seriously, who the hell is voting for this awful “human being?”
Did I do this right?
Beer or Wine?
Did my husband take out the trash?
When did I do laundry last?
Seriously, why does laundry cost so much?
Why does everything cost so much?
Am I a millennial?
What is a millennial?
Why are people so hard on millennials?
Don’t think know that we are trying?!
What is happening?
What is for dinner?
Why is that baby so sticky?
Why does my foot hurt?
What is this tax situation?
I’ve been an adult for a while now, why don’t I understand it?
Why are you so awful?
Who made you the boss?
I’m sorry, when is that due?
Can you say that again?
Why am I so angry?
Why is that happening?
Can we fix that?
How do we fix that?
Who am I?
What is happening?
Who am I?
What is happening?
Where am I going?
What is happening?
What just happened?
Who am I and where the hell am I going?

Am I tired?

Thoughts: It’s going to be okay and I want to go to aerial yoga!

Just keep swimming . . . 

Here we are again . . .

Three (3) Months Later . . .

I should be working on my finals.

Instead I shall update this page.

I wanted to update it once a week, but then, as it happens, life happens.

Forgive my bad grammar, spelling, syntax and other poor writing style characteristics. 

Anyway, the past three months have pretty much been like this:

What am I doing? Okay… Okay I got this. WHAT AM I DOING?! That is a really great idea… I will do that. I’m failing. I’m failing. Nope… wait, nope… I’m good. NETFLIX NETFLIX NETFLIX. Where am I going to work? PHD! Where am I going to live? ANYWHERE BUT HERE! What am I going to do? Things! Are you my friend? No. Are you my friend? Yes? Are we friends?! NOOOOOOOOPE! Ah…. okay? What am I doing? Things. Do things. Do things to feel important. Go. Do things! Sleep? Too much sleep! Not enough sleep! You suck for sleeping so much. WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?! Read. Didn’t read enough.
Write. Read. Write. Synthesis. Analyze. Memorize. Hypnotize.
Focus. Focus. Focus.
WHAT. AM. I. SUPPOSED. TO. DO?! I’m sorry. Okay. I’m sorry. Netflix. Ice Cream. Netflix. Yes! This! I am doing this! This is a thing I am doing . . . . and …. what?
Wait…. what? who? Why? Where? When?
I need more money. I am not making enough money. Grad school. Read this!
Like this! Do this! Love this! This is amazing! Am i doing this right? Netflix. Did I do Laundry?
What is Health insurance?
I think I need to eat food? Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Paper. Work. Paper. Netflix. Coffee.
What am I doing?!

And then Midterms . . .

So as you can see, It’s been a whirlwind.
I feel like I can’t keep my brain on one path before it jumps to the next things. It’s like I have occupational A.D.D. and I don’t think that’s wise.
I love my program. I love where it’s going.
I am very excited for the future.
But also…. TBH…. I do not know what the hell I’m looking for, or going to do when graduation hits. I know what I’m interested in. And i know there are jobs out there. But i’m not sure if those two things line up.

That being said. I’ll just make my own occupation and go from there, work and consult internationally, travel and have a great time. That would be wonderful. O.O

Well, I should really work on my Finals.
I’ll try not to wait another three months for an update.

I might turn this written blog into a vlog. Why not right? I could be Jenna Marbles!
Because I want to be Jenna Marbles… or any famous You Tube person….


-melismatic melisma

Three (3) Months Later . . .

Gold on a Paper Plate

This will be brief
Since I have an entire library to read,
Since I complain too much anyway,
Since no one wants to read this,
Since I don’t want to say it but . . .

I put too much on my plate again.
You would think I would learn?
This is my seventh fall semester (what?!)
and I still haven’t learned?
I made an effort to only take on a few projects,
a few classes,
a few internships . . .
a little put of everything.

. . . But that’s what you’re supposed to do . . .
Learn all of the things!
Read all of the books!
Talk to all of the people!
Be pleasant, and well read, and smart, and funny, and healthy, and clean

Then you get a job and . . .
you learn more
do more
be more
become more
achieve more
are worth more
are more.

That’s a lot of pressure. 

And the fact of the matter is…
I can handle it.
I can do many projects, go to class, learn the material, and be amazing.
But, I didn’t want to juggle everything!
I wanted to be busy.
not the…

I know I can do it.
I know I want to get it done.
I know I will make it.
I know there are other people doing the same thing…
(Which doesn’t make me feel any better.)
I know everything will be okay and I just need to find a groove.

If it was easy, everyone would do it.

So here is to getting it done!

To quote Shia:
“Don’t let your dreams be dreams! Yesterday, you said tomorrow!

I’m hungry. gah! 

Gold on a Paper Plate