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.

Depression

It has been almost a month since I wrote about being gloomy, well that gloomy turned in to full blown depression.   The definition of depression “feelings of severe despondency and dejection” …. I can’t explain why or how, but that self-doubt is ever present. Feelings of misery, unhappiness, melancholy, loss of joy and energy is just the tip of the iceberg.    I can minimize the symptoms and act as if all is well …. usually, but that takes a lot of energy and that energy is hard to come by.     

I have seen my doctor who doubled the dose of my antidepressant and have been talking often to my therapist.   I have clued few others in on my despair and even fewer on the darkness.   I had to take a leave from the gym, even though I know work-outs help with the endorphins and is a good thing,    I haven’t been to my volunteer “job” in weeks or really gone out with friends since last time I wrote.   I have no desire.

The one thing I am doing consistently is going to AA meetings.   I have realized to drink or use would only make this thing much worse than it is.   I am reaching out to my sponsor who has been very helpful with little kind words, advice and love.     I have tried working with my sponsees to get out of myself, it works maybe a little bit, but it is mostly annoying.  I am doing what I can in that area.    The AA club is where I feel the most comfortable right now, being with my peeps whether I participate in the meeting or not is just where I feel most secure and can just be.

My husband is trying to be understanding and comforting, but he doesn’t really understand the tremendous amount of energy it takes to just exist.  He tries, but also worries because last time I went down this path it was really ugly.   I get it and am trying to be understanding of where he is coming from.  I have forced myself to go out more than once if just out to dinner or the grocery store.

I don’t know if it is hormones, the gloomy weather or just my mood cycling around in a bad way, but whatever the case depression is no joke.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

It’s a God thing

Well I must admit, I have been a little gloomy lately and for no apparent reason or maybe a lot of reasons.  My life is good and for some reason I was getting a bad case of the F-its and that is fuck everything including my recovery.    I was just sick and tired of it all including my AA meetings and the club which I usually love and just bored with my life in general.  So what does one do … I was starting to skimp on my meetings and reaching out.   I preferred to just sit home on my pity pot.  I cancelled my workout trainer, I did not go to volunteer and blew off friends.   To begin to isolate is never a good sign, at least for me.

I spent a Saturday night last week with some (non alcoholic) friends.   We sat at a bar at a wine restaurant for 3 hours, it seemed harmless at the time, but in reality it might have been a trigger for the desire to take a drink and a bout on that pity pot.   Watching the bartender sling drink after drink especially lots of wines was difficult, but at this point in my sobriety should have been harmless as it usually does not bother me.    My state of mind was not spiritually fit at the time and it probably was not a good choice.

Thank God, I have a strong recovery and that I am connected to the program and the club even when I don’t want to be.   It saved me.    It has been a difficult week.   My God always has my back though and is consistently doing for me what I can not do for myself.    I begrudgingly went to a meeting and lo and behold I got a new sponsee.   Just the thing I needed to get out of myself.    Service work always keeps me sober!   Starting to the work the steps from the beginning with a newcomer and getting back into the big book will be good for me.    My other sponsees ….. well lets see;  One is currently out drinking, and one doesn’t go to many meetings,  another has been procrastinating on step 3, and one is working a program.   None call me.    So getting a new girl to start fresh puts some life back into my program.    I will be picking up my meetings again to see her, be accountable and to set a good example to my new sponsee and for my own sanity.   I really do know what I need and what I need to do.

Saturday night this week, I had a group of sober girlfriends over for a game night while my husband was out of town.   At first I was a little put out that I had planned this and just wasn’t feeling it, I just wanted to sit home alone.  But again, it was just what I needed when I needed it.    There were about 10 of us and we laughed until we peed our pants,  ate, drank (no alcohol of course) and were merry.   Hanging with my peeps was just what my soul needed.

I am going to shake this gloominess off and get on with my life and listen to my God’s will for me.   I don’t always know what God’s will is, but I do know it is to be sober, be of service and to be happy, joyous and free!

I thank God for my sobriety and for doing for me what I sometimes can not do for myself.

5 Years Sober

I made it!!!!  A few days ago I got to celebrate 5 years of continuous sobriety.   It is by no small miracle that I can make this claim.   I came into recovery in 2007, with a lot of unwillingness to take the actions required to remain sober.   By the Grace of God, I kept coming back to the program of AA after each relapse.    I had to continue to pray for the willingness to be willing.   After 7 years of half measures, the willingness finally came.

One of the things that changed for me was finally getting honest with myself about my addiction issues, getting my side of the street cleaned up, following direction as well as being of service.   After my last relapse …. my sponsor told me to stop the “keep coming back” and just “stay!”    Just staying in the program, WOW, what a concept.   That one word had a great impact on my current progress in recovery.

I am truly blessed and grateful for the life I have to today and the people in it.    The fellowship of AA is my lifeline.    I have a wonderful group of women who are my biggest cheerleaders and best friends along with my loving husband.

I got my token last night at my favorite women’s meeting with a lot of my special friends in attendance.   That support, friendship and love is what it is all about.    The kind words from my sponsor were inspiring, the congratulations from friends, gifts and cards all made me feel good and like I am finally embracing this thing called sober living.  There were a few tears from those who have been with me since the beginning.  Everyone was truly happy for me and in my corner.   I was overwhelmed and humbled by all the celebration for sober me.     I do not necessarily like being the center of attention, but it was a wonderful evening with the meeting and a celebratory dinner with 12 close friends from my tribe.

On this day I am happy and grateful to be able to say I am in recovery.     Life is good, I hope and pray I can continue on this path.