Diabetes, Kidney Stone and a Crooked Finger

Happy Fall. The weather has definitely changed and Halloween is right around the corner. We have our annual Halloween party coming up at the recovery club. I have once again delegated a lot of the details and it is still hard to let go of the control of the event. Being on the board and in charge of social events I feel it is also my responsibility to let others get involved and be part of the process.

My mood has been all over the place as of late. Some depression, some happiness and a lot of whatever. I have had many needed conversations with my therapist. I have been too out of sorts to even write.

I found out at my physical in September that I am pretty close to being diabetic. I have started monitoring my sugar and it has been all over the place. I have been taking better care of diet and exercise and really working it, but it gets discouraging when it really doesn’t seem to change anything. My weight is also up and down but for the most part the scale is moving in the right direction. I am really being careful with my carbs and sugar intake. I have been working with my trainer and walking and working out at home in between. I have met with the diabetic nurse and have an appointment scheduled with the dietitian, which I hope can help me even out this sugar issue. My dr. has given me 6 months to get things under control. With the fluctuation in my sugar readings …… I don’t know.

At that same physical, blood was found in my urine. That lead to an appointment with the urologist, which lead to the discovery of a kidney stone. It was causing pressure, but no pain. Surgery was scheduled, but it thankfully passed before the scheduled surgery …. that was painful!

To top it all off, my pointer finger that I had surgery on in July is still slow to heal. The tendon was weak and healed and now my finger is crooked for good, unless I want another surgery ……. not!

It was a few weeks of so many dr. appointments and not great news and many ups and downs with my psyche.

Steve and I also had our annual babysitting stint with niece Caroline.during all that. She added a light to a dismal mood. She is now 5 and we thoroughly enjoy having her with us. We had her for 5 days and she kept us on our toes. She is a very busy, creative, sweet girl.

So I guess this is my new normal. I will just keep trying to live life on life’s terms.

Weight

Well ….. I am currently doing not so great with my weight loss. I have been stagnant. I lose a couple pounds and gain a couple pounds. This has been my lifelong struggle. I should be happy in that overall I am down 15 pounds (if I am on the right side of the scale) since March/April. It is just that I am not consistent in my efforts. I am doing really well with my trainer 2X’s a week (she is really pushing me) plus 1 workout on my own over the weekend and I am supposed to be walking on days off – that is hit or miss, but I am trying to get it in …. it is just so dang hot right now!

I think I have gained approximately 100 lbs since I was deathly ill with the Ulcerative Colitis. I had the surgery to have my colon removed in 2005 and I weighed close to 100 lbs. Everything I ate before that surgery went right through me. It wasn’t even worth the effort to actually eat. I practically lived in the bathroom. I had to drink protein and calories to sustain. After the surgery it was still difficult to eat as my internal JPouch needed a lot of time to heal and start functioning properly. I was forced to eat a little something every couple of hours. My friends brought my family dinners and brought me the highest caloric foods they could find. But still I could eat very little. I think because I was close to starvation mode at this time in my life, my body and metabolism are wonky ….. still! There were a few years before I was really really sick and a few years after when I was healing that I was at a good skinny weight and I liked it. But alas, it was hard to maintain! The weight kept piling on as the years went by.

In high school, looking back I was a good average weight. I thought I was super fat (I would love to be that “fat” again)! I was a member of the drill/dance team. We were well known around the area and it was a very strict and disciplined activity. We had to weigh-in every week. If we were not in the range we would get a tik – too many tiks and you get a demerit, too many demerits and you are off the team. I always struggled. I was right on the edge of my weight range. Before weigh-ins I would not eat day of and very little the day before. I took laxatives before weigh-ins and diet pills to maintain. The day after I would chow. A vicious cycle. I did not have a healthy relationship with food.

Today, I am trying just to be healthy, but I want to look good too. I was going to try a new weight loss program, it was based somewhat on meal replacements. As soon as they realized I don’t have a colon, I was told that the program would not work for me as I do not have the same absorption as others … it is always something! When I was sick, I was barely functional. I had severe clinical depression and an anxiety disorder (hence my love of benzodiazepines) along with the Ulcerative Colitis. I should be grateful that even though I am fat, I am somewhat healthy and I am much happier than I used to be. Of course I am still on a cocktail of antidepressants but hey, whatever takes. I will keep working with my trainer and keep using her as a coach. She keeps me accountable, I just have to willing to be willing to do what it takes. But sometimes you just have to eat!

Damn …. Just Damn

It has been a busy summer so far …. The days are long and warm, It has been good. Damn it is going by too quick. We will be shoveling snow before we know it.

I had a mucous cyst removed from my right index finger last week. Damn did it hurt. It is still sore, but the major pain has gone. You don’t realize how important each finger is, especially on your dominant hand, It has been a rough week. Just typing this is to some extent difficult.

With the cyst removal and the pain …. all I can say is Damn pain pills. I am over 6.5 years sober and once again I am obsessed with the pills. I didn’t think much about them when I truly needed them the first couple days post op. I have stopped the day time medicating as I like to run around too much to be stuck at home in a stupor unable to drive, I have been taking it only at night for a few nights. The sleep is soooooo good! But I think the time has come to be done, You just know when you no longer need them. It is now not a need, but a want. The thing is …. I am a pill addict and I am obsessed with the little amount of pills I have left. I can usually had over the pills to my husband for safe keeping, but it is always a hard act. I like the control of being in charge of my own destiny, even if it is torture. As a relatively sane person this makes no sense. So tonight, if I can, with a moment of clarity, I will relinquish the bottle of pills and wipe my hands of the whole messy obsession. Just Damn!

I have been continuing my diet …. sometimes wholeheartedly sometimes half-ass. I feel like I am making better food choices a majority of the time, but I do still like to eat. I haven’t walked since the finger surgery and it is just hot and muggy, but I have continued my workouts with my trainer for an hour 2X a week. I know that isn’t enough, but it is sure better than doing nothing like before. But that Damn scale is at a standstill. I lose a pound or two and gain a pound or two. I can’t break the cycle and it is really starting to get me down. I know Rome wasn’t built in a day, but come on!

On both accounts I just need to be willing to be willing and focus on my wellness.

So my goal is to walk and get rid of the pills, both of which I know I can do. I just might need a little nudge that is all. And one more Damn ….. it is about to storm and dinner is supposed to be on the grill. Glad I watered all the flowers.

Life and Death

Breast biopsy can back normal ….. what a great relief that was!!! My family Dr. was awesome and got the news to me bright and early via MyChart so it was great news to wake up to after a somewhat sleepless night.

I have to admit the procedure was not as bad as my imagination let me to believe it would be. The Dr and the tech who took the biopsy etc, were very kind and wonderful. I was a little sore, but really had no side effects. I am thinking that the procedure was more tolerable because of the drugs – I didn’t get my favorite (Xanax), but did get a prescription for Valium. 10 mg before the procedure and all was well. I still have one 5 mg tablet riding around in purse. What I will do with it, not sure. I am an addict – it is very difficult for me to just throw it out. But one pill will do nothing for me except ignite my craving. I am too far along in my sobriety journey to do something stupid.

I didn’t tell many, but didn’t really keep it a secret … I just don’t like people to worry about me (especially when it turns out to be nothing). But the prayers, care and concern by those who did know somewhat helped to calm my anxieties. Talking with my sponsor and my therapist were a tremendous help

It is crazy were your mind can go. Mine went to; I am not ready to die. This is interesting coming from someone who at one time wanted nothing more than to die. In my prayers, I found comfort and was ready for whatever the results of the test may be. I knew in my heart that I am not done here yet.

One the subject of addiction and death, one of the younger girls that has been attending our women’s meeting for the last month or so O’D on heroin. It is really sad. One of my dear friends was her sponsor and she is beside herself. Molly, was her name and she was supposed to get her 6 month token on the day she died. Addiction and alcoholism can be a fatal disease (as can breast cancer). It is cunning, baffling and powerful. I have been thinking of my own mortality with the biopsy and the death of Molly.

Life is fragile and I have learned we should not take it for granted and I hope that I never do.

Living Life on Life’s Terms

Life sure has gotten busy and interesting.

Most pressing in this thing called life is that I have to have a breast biopsy. I had a diagnostic mammogram that showed changes in a small area that they want a closer look at. It is so small I am amazed they detected it. Not looking forward to this procedure to say the least, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I go on Tuesday next week. What I am most concerned with is laying on my stomach for an hour + with my left breast hanging out. The nurse that scheduled this said I might need to talk to my Dr. about something for stress and anxiety for the procedure. My ears sure did perk up. Here is the possible chance for my favorite drug …. Xanax! You can be sure that I will call the Dr. tomorrow to see what they can do. As a side note I have taken Xanax as prescribed for procedures since my addiction issues. I am not going to lie, the idea of the possibility of getting to take Xanax excites me. I am a pill addict after all. Of course I will talk to my sponsor and do what I am supposed to do if the situation arises. My sponsor, Ann, has been through this and breast cancer so I know she is someone I can count on. She has already sweetly offered to go with me for the biopsy. I really don’t know what to think about this whole thing. I do think about the what ifs, but I also try to remember that it could be nothing. I also know that I can handle just about anything with my support system.

We have decided to put our current house on the market to sell. We have found some land nearby to build on, but it is going to be a long process. The development has not been started yet. We decided to strike while the housing market was hot and go ahead and list the house now. We have lived in this house for 19 years. Saying we have a lot of stuff is an understatement. Each day we have been busy getting this house in order. I think we have everything just about scheduled that needs to be done. We hope to be market ready in the next two weeks. Now if we could just get the painter to call us back we will be in good shape. It feels good to go through everything and purge. It has also been heartwarming to go down memory lane as we box things up. We have taken many trips to Goodwill and have ordered a dumpster to dispose of a lot of things. We are looking at buying a condo for the interim. It will be at least a year if not longer. I can’t believe we are actually doing this, we have been talking about it for a long while.

My writing course has started off well. I have gotten some great feedback. I feel like I am getting a little bit behind with all this house and health stuff. I really want to make sure I do this course right and get something out of it.

Last but not least the sponsees are keeping me busy. One went out on a drinking binge, but is now back at wanting to be sober. Thing is she doesn’t have “time” for meetings. Two of my girls are really working the program and I see them often. The other has been having some health issues so our step work was put on hold, but I think she is ready to get back to it. Then there is the lady who only reaches out every once in a blue moon, I have not idea how she is doing at the moment.

I definitely can’t say I am bored. Health, house, writing and recovery seems to be all I have time for. Sometimes I don’t know whether I am coming or going. All I can do is just take a deep breath and live the best life I can live ….. one day at a time.

The Pain Meds

I love being sober.   I love the life I have created, the friends that I have made and the people I may help by being sober.   The gifts of sobriety are too numerous to count.

The disease of addiction though, is cunning, baffling and powerful.   It wants to see me use, it wants to see me dead.    My diseases recently reared its ugly head that made me questions everything I know and love.

It started about 10 days ago, with a medical procedure.     I had my no colon version of the colonoscopy, a pouchoscopy.   A test to take a look at my Jpouch that is sort of the same monster of the colonoscopy.   In the past when I had my check ups at the Cleveland Clinic with my surgeon no anesthesia was used.   New hospital and new surgeon, a lot closer to home and the use of anesthesia.   Yay!!!  because the other way in my opinion was barbaric.  I am an addict.   I like anesthesia.    My drug of choice was a sedative.   The all day sleep I got after the procedure and that kinda groggy feeling was all too familiar.  Ok, so it really was no big deal.

That was a Friday,  fast forward to the following Monday and I had my hand surgery for carpal tunnel.   I just had a local for that one – numb hand and fully aware and awake.    But that one came with pain pills, though it is not my drug of choice it is still a good drug!  I took one as soon as I could with the still numb hand as directed by the doctor and took a nice nap.   Took another one for the next 3 nights.  Good sleep.    Ok, so no problem, I am taking them as directed.   It is when the pain isn’t enough to warrant the pain meds that the problems begin.

When do you stop, how do you know the pain is really over?   I believe you know, I knew.    But those damn pills where still there and they wanted me to take them.   They never stopped singing that sweet song as my sponsor said.    Spoiler alert:   I did not take the pills.   I struggled, I fought with myself, I obsessed, I stressed.   I held the pills, I counted the pills, I even tried to smell the pills.   All this and I was just a little bit stronger than the disease …. this time.    I talked to my therapist and I emailed with my sponsor.  They both told me to do what I knew to do – hand over the pills to Steve to get rid of for me.    God knows I could not throw them out.   But I did not want to.    Why I felt the need to hang on to them and torture myself with their presence is beyond me.   I finally caved and slightly mentioned it and before I knew it they were gone.   I had so many mixed emotions, relief and anger both.

Later I come home to an empty house and searched high and low for those meds.   I have had a moment of the fuck-its. Steve is good at hiding things … too good and I am angry and grateful.    This disease plays you …. the you that is sober and the you that is still an addict.   It can be very confusing and all consuming.   It is exhausting.

I know the pitfalls of addiction.  I know the benefits of being sober.   The disease of addiction will rear its ugly head whenever and however it can.    I know I could easily fall for it.  It is cunning, baffling and powerful as it showed it self to be this past week.

I am still not sure if I am over it yet.  Yikes!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Overdose

Some people can drink alcohol and others can not.    Those who have crossed that invisible line will never be able to drink like a normal person.   We have an allergy.   A disease of the mind, body and soul.    The obsession that only an addict / alcoholic knows.  We were once spiritually empty and now we are full.   Recovery is a beautiful thing.

I have a dear friend in my 12 step program who lost his son this week to an overdose.  He lost his daughter 10 years ago to a motorcycle accident.    Sometimes life just doesn’t seem fair.  Why do some of us make it to recovery while others do not?  There are so many people out in the world who do not know how great a sober and clean life can be.

My friend is not the first one I know to loose a child in this program.   A few I know have lost children to this disease and another to murder.   Brothers, Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Friends have all been lost,.  Despite these heartbreaks losing a child has to be the toughest (though I can not be the judge of that).    Amazingly, these friends of mine have been able to remain sober and lean on the fellowship, their higher power and the 12 steps to see them through.    I have the upmost respect and awe for those who can remain sober and steady in the face of tragedy.     I don’t know if I would have as much grace, I can only pray that I would.

We feel the pain of the death of another addict / alcoholic.    We know the struggle, the pull, the obsession.   We think of ourselves and but for the grace of God it could have been us, it could have been me.

We went over Step one and powerlessness at the meeting today.    The deceased young mans best family friend was there (along with my friend, the Dad)   She realizes now how close death can actually be if she does not get clean.  It was heart wrenching.    We or I must never forget how close death actually was and can be if I choose to go back to pills and alcohol.    We, the alcoholic / addict are powerless over  people, places and things.   We must change everything in order to survive.

I am at a place in my life where I can be around alcohol and people who drink moderately.   When friends and family get drunk and silly and stupid, well that is where my tolerance ends.   I know for me what I can and can not handle with others and the drinking …. its all about the people, place and things.   Some we can handle others we can not.

For my friend, I am really sad.   His son had been to meetings at out club.   My friend tried tirelessly to save his son from those demons.  In the end though he had to save himself …. both my friend and his son.

Quarantined

It is official:  The state of Ohio has issued a “Stay at Home” order.   Only essential services are open.   You can go out to work if you are essential or one can go out to get food … that is about it.

Today is officially the first day of the order.   I started yesterday, so today is day #2 of full stay at home mode for me.   We had been staying home quite a bit before the order so it does seem like it has been going on longer.   We are to be at home at least until April 6th.  which is about 2 weeks.

With my Ulcerative Colitis, even though I no longer have my diseased colon, I am considered an auto-immune patient.   With this coronavirus that is one of the population that should be more careful and may have worse systems of the virus if you should get it.

One of the things that I had continued doing was my 12 step meetings.  Now that the virus is starting to spike in Ohio and we are asked to stay home …. I am going to have to join the virtual meeting crowd.   Our club is still open for those who choose to go in person.   I personally think we should not be open, but I understand those who need the in person aspect.  We have spoken to our local police department and they are aware of who we are and what we are doing and why we are still open and they are ok with it.  Being on the board, I feel like I am abandoning the club and the people, but I also have to look out for myself.    I had a really hard time coming to terms with the fact that I shouldn’t be going to in person meetings.    This is another good lesson for me in giving up some control of my responsibilities.    I am not the only person in the program that can do what I do.

Our business is still open and Steve is still occasionally going into to the office to help navigate this new normal for the company.   I hope and pray he does not bring any of the virus home and that our employees stay well.   They are taking a lot of measures to keep everyone safe and well.

So day #2 of me being home, I am doing what I can to keep myself busy and entertained. It will be interesting to see how this whole thing plays out.   We all hope it will be quick with a low number of deaths and those affected, but only time will tell.   If everyone would heed the words of the government and stay home we could get over this a lot sooner.   I am trying my best to keep taking it one day at a time, but it is still scary!!!

 

 

 

My Corona

With the whole world in an uproar with the coronavirus – everyone is trying to find their new normal while staying home in quarantine and/or social distancing.   It hasn’t been easy for anyone and everyone has had to sacrifice something.

I think this is a good lesson in common human decency.  Some people have it and many don’t.   Who are those people who are hoarding all the goods, being rude to store employees doing their best and selfishly going about life possibly spreading the virus?  I can’t say I have totally stayed home.   I have gone to the grocery, AA meetings, restaurants for carry-out and of course I have been out to get my daily chai tea latte from the local coffee shop.    I don’t think those activities are too hateful and we are being mindful of others and ourselves while doing these activities.

My girls both are at a pivotal time in their lives.   Both are in limbo.   Graduation is postponed until August.   Jobs will be hard to find and moving may be impossible.  We are all having to sacrifice, this is just how it is affecting my family.   It is a small inconvenience when you look at the rest of the world and what people are going through.   We are lucky that we have what we need and that we have the means to help our children through this should they need it, for that I am truly grateful.

I know it is going to get worse before it gets better.   We all have to be prepared and be willing to hunker down at home as much as possible.

AA has been a challenge.   Our club is still currently open.  I am sure it is only a matter of time before we are mandated to close.   Recovery fellowship and meetings are so important to the recovering addict / alcoholic.   It is amazing how this recovery community from across the country and the world have come together putting meetings online in different forms.      We have set up virtual meetings at our club.   I think we finally have it set up and ready to go.   Some people are still going to meetings in person while others are opting for the virtual type.   I feel it is a personal decision.   I somehow got “elected” to put together the virtual meetings for our club.   With the help of a couple others, we did it!   It was a lot of trial and error.  But I am proud that I figured it out as I am the least technical person I know.   I think I am ready to go to virtual meetings, but being one of the point people for the virtual, I also feel I have an obligation to be at the meetings in person to “broadcast” via my computer to those at home.  The state has asked that no more than 10 people gather, our meetings have had more lately.   We have a board meeting tomorrow and I believe we are going to need to set some parameters to limit numbers of people in the meetings in the midst of this virus outbreak.   We too need to be careful of not spreading the coronavirus among us and to others.

Our family restaurant and manufacturing business is still open – we are mainly delivery and carry-out so we are allowed to still operate.   I pray for the wellbeing of our employees and am grateful that our doors are still open and that we can provide jobs to many.   As a company we are doing what we need to to keep everyone safe.

These are very scary and uncertain times for everyone across the world.   I mostly anxious about the economy and what is going to happen.    My mental state has been surprising better, but the anxiety is real.

All we can currently do is take one day at a time and practice love and tolerance … and Pray!

Original Care Team

I had a wonderful care team made up of my primary care doctor, my psychologist and my chiropractor.   Each one of these people were essential in helping me deal with my Ulcerative Colitis, depression/anxiety and in helping me to get sober.  They were an important part of my life and making sure I continued to live.

My primary doctor worked really hard in trying to control my Xanax intake and my obsession with self harm.   He referred my to my GI doctor who in return referred me to the Cleveland Clinic for colon removal surgery.   He took good care of me after that surgery and took my phone calls at all hours.  This physician really cared about me, was a family friend and went the extra mile to ensure my safety and health. He retired (2015)

My therapist worked with my doctor.   It was her who called him and said I needed treatment for the addiction to benzo drugs.   My therapist helped with so many mental challenges including my diagnosed clinical depression and general anxiety disorder as well as the addiction / alcoholism and the self harm.    She knew me most times better than I knew myself.    I always told her I would never let her retire because I needed her in so many ways.   She retired (2018).

My chiropractor who became a friend was a great help during my illness.  When I could not eat due to the effects of the Ulcerative Colitis she delivered supplements to my home.  When my mental health started getting wacky she referred me to the local psychologist who became my therapist for 15 years.   She has helped me through thick and thin.   It was my friend and chiropractor who I went to when I was told I had an addiction issue from my therapist to ask her thoughts and what I should do regarding going to treatment.  It was her who took me to my first AA meeting.  She helped me heal from my car accident.   She has taken care of me and my girls and has been a great asset to our health.   Today was our last appointment …. she is retiring.

The above care team was the best and they all went far above the call of duty to care for me.    I don’t know what I would have done or where I would be without them.   Probably not alive.   Even though I have grown and have a handle on my mental health for the most part and little problems with the no colon / Jpouch I feel like I am now left to my own devices.   I don’t do well with change and things have changed greatly and life continues to move on.

I have a new therapist who I can really connect with who I saw on occasion in past.  It is a good fit and she is very helpful to me.    She is always there to return a phone call at all hours and to talk me down no matter what the problem.   I have a new physician, I like her, but she doesn’t know me like my original doctor or my (real) history.  Medicine has changed and it is almost impossible to get an appointment when needed.  I will try the new chiropractor at the office, but it won’t be the same.    I retired so I can not complain when others do the same especially since they are older than I.

So really I have to put my big girl pants back on and embrace the change.   I do miss those from my original care team but it has been years since my surgery, my mental health diagnosis, and addiction.  They have all moved on and maybe I need to do the same.