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!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trials and Tribulations

April 25, 1992, 28 years ago I married my best friend and for life partner.   I don’t feel this old and that I could actually be married to someone and the same person for over half of my life.   We have been through so many trials and tribulation and the fact that we are still together and love each other is no small miracle …. there is a force greater than us, we belong together.

We met in 1988 at Ohio University and for me it was love from the start.

We have been through illness, addiction, accidents, deaths, raising children, sibling issues, moves, separation, some things I just don’t want to write about and this quarantine.

I never would have survived my Ulcerative Colitis, colon removal surgeries and recovery with out my faith and the encouragement and care of my husband.   It was rough and life altering to say the least.  We got through it together. Addiction was also my problem.  I hid it very well from everyone including Steve, but when the shit hit the fan and I needed help, he was my biggest supporter.    He definitely knows now when I need a meeting or to be with my sober people.  He can’t totally understand the issues of addiction, but he does his best.

The death of my Father, 10 years ago, was a major blow for all of us as it was a sudden, with no warring death.   Steve and my Dad were very close.   My Dad was a Father figure to Steve and he was my biggest cheerleader.   We were able to weather that storm together.   We all still miss him terribly.

Life hasn’t always been a bowl of cherries.    At once point we were very close to divorce, but by the grace of God, we over came.    The separation from a job 1.5 hours away came at the time we needed the space from each other.   He got an apartment and came home on the weekends for the kids.    It was rough one, but we both had a chance to use this as a growing experience and to learn more about ourselves and each other.    With the help of therapist we gave it another try and for that I am grateful.

This quarantine has us together almost constantly and it has been good.   We genuinely enjoy each others company and doing things together.   I will admit though time apart is also good  😊  But for the most part we are surviving this time at home together.

Life happens and life happens to all of us.    I am so grateful that there was a force that kept bringing Steve and I together.   April 25,1992 was a day that changed me to a Mrs. and guided my life to be what it is today and for that I am eternally grateful.

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.

April 19th

Today is the anniversary of my first surgery to create my JPouch due to the disease of Ulcerative Colitis.    It was April 19, 2005 … 14 years ago.   It is hard to believe how sick I was in 2003-2005.   I couldn’t eat, I definitely couldn’t drink alcohol.   I was tired, irritable, very thin (says the now fat girl) and always in pain and in the bathroom.    I look back on those days and it was complete misery.

I was anxious, I was clinically depressed.   I was on so medication to treat the UC that nothing worked to help the depression and anxiety.   That is really when my love affair with Xanax started that I eventually would be come addicted to.    I was on high doses of prednisone which made my mental symptoms worse, but it was the only thing that would remotely control the pain and bleeding from the UC.   At the time it was a pitiful existence.

I had my surgery at the Cleveland Clinic which was tops in treating bowel disease.    I was so apprehensive to have this surgery.   It scared the hell out of me, in fact I was pretty sure I was going to die having this surgery or die if I didn’t.    If you don’t know what a JPouch is look it up, it is complicated, but in a nutshell they remove your diseased colon – which was all of it and create an internal pouch for waste from you small intestine.    In 2005 it was an open surgery where the cut you open to remove the large intestine, today it is way less invasive.   I had an illeostomy bag for 3 months and another surgery in July to remove that and connect everything.

It is the most painful and traumatic thing I have every been through.   With both surgeries I would say it took about a year to fully recover to my new normal.

During this time I became very spiritual.   Praying the Rosary, Novenas and just talking to God.    I felt very close to my higher power during this time and probably would not have survived with out my faith.   I even had the anointing of the sick before the surgery.   It helped me cope.

Even after I recovered the anxiety and depression lingered.    The Xanax usage continued to increase and the drinking was a problem, because internally my make up was now different and I had the brain of an addict.

Today, 14 years later, I am healthy, I am sober and I can eat just about anything (and obviously I did to make up for lost time).    I am grateful for the healing this surgery has brought me.   They say you are not cured after you have the surgery.   Problems still can arise, but they are few and far between.   I thank God for the miracle of medicine and all the people who took care of me and my family during that time.

I always remember April 19th.