Life of Life

Well. Shit. Things just never go the way we plan, do they? I know in my life NOTHING goes as planned. I haven’t really added much the last few weeks but I had very little to offer in the way of encouragement or discouragement. I don’t have much to add. Period. We have entered a part of addiction I hoped we would never know. JoDee is living in purgatory; not really dead and not really living either. She calls once in a while, touches base sometimes and sometimes I go days even a week without talking to her. How do I live this way? Well, what choice do I have? I never was asked if I wanted to be dragged into the world of addiction so I certainly don’t think my opinion is wanted now. I mean, really no one has much say on the major events of their life. The most tragic things that happen are usually not planned. So, you know, things are what they are. It doesn’t mean that life doesn’t go on because sadly it does. Here is an example of some of the things that have been going on here:

  1. Our oil tank burst causing an environemental disaster in and around the foundation of our house. Now, if anyone has been paying attention, I didn’t want to move to begin with. I had it in my head that JoDee would eventually rejoin life and we would all move happily together, to a new home that would home filled with peace and no issues and we would all sing kombaya together while braiding each others hair. Basically, we would all drink the kool-aid. And no, that did not happen. We have had one issue after another with this house. The house that EVERYONE loves. But me. AC, he who is as superstitious as me, says that all this bad stuff happens because I put it in the universe every time I say I hate the house. Now the Department of Environmental Protection is my new best friend and we are living in a house in New England with no heating system until we can get the tank replaced which requires …ugh…just a bunch of shit not even worth getting into. So, to that end, I have I told you how much I LOVE MY HOUSE. It is perfect for us. Large, and warm, and homey. Just the best thing I could possibly ask for and I am so grateful and humbled by our fortune.
  2. Our cat, Blu, had terrible mats on his back. He has really long hair and this summer was so wet that when he would come home (he is an outside cat most of the summer but stays indoors in the winter) he wouldn’t let me brush it. Being the good fur-mommy that I am I found a groomer to take care of that. Jay J is away with my car, so I am driving The Beast, aka, his old Tahoe. Jared and I get in the car to drop Blu off at the groomer and while I am plugging in the address in my GPS, Mr. Speedy Pants Jared throws it in reverse and begins to back up. WHAMMO. BAMMO. Big bang. Backs right up into AC new Honda. Blu’s grooming trip quickly became a very expensive trip.

Lastly, I have a secret. This is a secret AC and I told very, very few people. Very few. Because I am supersticious. In fact, I believe JoDee will be finding out by reading this blog because we kept it very tight lipped, and given how it turned out, I was going to tell anyone but then I decided- fuck it.  Due to a strange set of circumstances and coincidences I had an opportunity to try out for the reality TV show Masterchef. We told everyone we were going to New York to visit some of AC family but that was a fat ol’ lie. I sort of agonized even going because I thought there would be so, so many people show up, like why bother but AC convinced me that the opportunity presented for a reason and anyone who follows me on Instagram knows how much I like to cook so I agreed to go. Three days before my audition I received a confirmation call confirming I was attending- that was when shit got real. This took DAYS of planning. Days. Because you have to bring something already made. Trying to figure out what to make, how to bring it, what to wear was so stressful. In the end, I did really well. I made it to the final 14 people in a group of I don’t know how many (last I saw 297) of which they took 4 people from that group and I wasn’t one of them. However, it was such an awesome experience, and my plating was really appreciated. It was taken away and photographed in different ways, and then I was interviewed for the promo screaming I am representing Boston like a jack-ass (a lot of others were too but not everyone-maybe 20). We met an awesome couple from Boston who we spent the day with ranking everyone else’s meal, looks, general appearance to satisfy our own humor.  I’m so glad I did it, and I was asked to start a food blog (or use my current blog for that) which I will think about but I am not sure I would do it again. Idk…maybe I would.  I got to see myself on film and I was HORRIFIED at what I looked at so the good thing that came from it is that I joined OrangeTheoryFitness with my friend Lorrey, and I have to tell you, it is seriously kicking my ass! The day after my first session I text her and said I certainly hope I have no need to pass gas because I am fairly sure I have no strength to hold it in!!!!!  And that was no shit. Pun intended!!

Oil Tank Spill:

My Baby Blu

AC and Me in NY

Me after being a loser       This is right when we pulled up by our hotel   The audition was here            AC being a goober

Things That Make You Go Huh?

Recently I have felt like I am living in the twilight zone. Here are some reasons why:

 

Who in the world found my blog by using this as search terms:

Chinese. com xxx pre-teen

I literally can’t….. I’m ridiculously disturbed for so many reasons….

I joined snapchat. Actually, that’s not true- I have been on snapchat a long time but never really used it. I decided to broaden my friends so I would see more snappers. Somehow I realized I wasn’t friends with JoDee on snapchat so I sent her a friend request. The following is a true story:

Snapchat received- who is this

Me- your mother you dink

Snapchat- really? wtf

Hours later I sent JoDee a snapchat of me saying “What’s up bitches???”  using the video feature while pulling the phone up close and then far away from my face.

Snapchat- Um,. I don’t know who you think this is but you are definitely not my mother. My name is William but I keeping you added for the entertainment.

Me- Omg I’m sorry I called you a dink. I just sent you a crazy snap, please please do not open it.

Snapchat- Too late. lol

Me- I am dying. I have died. I am crying from blind humiliation and laughter.

Who am I? Who does this? HOW did I do this? My snapchatting days are effectively over.

While banned from driving when I was sick- trying take an Uber home from work:

Uber requested, and accepted. Ten minutes away. Five minutes away. Two minutes away. Five minutes away. Wait what? Ten minutes away. Hello? Where are you going? Fourteen minutes away. What the hell? Your Uber ride has been cancelled.  Did I just get blown off by Uber?  Second request sent and accepted. Ten minutes away. Phone rings “I can’t pick you up so can you please cancel that ride?” It’s a real ego boost when two Uber drivers abandon you within five minutes apart. Isn’t it there job to give me a ride????? I wasn’t looking for a free ride!

Young man at Dunkin Donuts:

Have you lost weight? You look different.

Me:

Do I come here to much for you to ask me that? And no, I haven’t. It’s because I am in my pajamas but Thank you for drawing attention to it.

I decide to step on the scale, which is never a good idea. But this time, it’s on the heals of breaking my friends lawn chair when the leg folded in, so I’m looking for a confidence booster. Naked, with just enough courage to take the leap, I step on the scale and immediately jump off. That can’t be right. Timidly I step back on. The numbers flashing are taunting me, and rude, quiet frankly. 798.8 is staring back at me. Ok- I know I have suffered from Over Active Fork this summer, but that is just uncalled for. 798.8? Wow. That cured me of my desire to ever do that again.  (Side note: apparently the battery was dying but I still find it to be particularly unforgiveable. The next day it read 78.89 so all was forgiven. Also I notified Guinness Book of World Records about the largest weight loss in the shortest amount of time.)

I had a psychic party at my house. A psychic came over to read 8 of my closest friends and families futures. It was fun and funny and a little scary in some instances. Everyone that got a private reading came out of a little bit shook. I went last. This lady, (who had to call me for directions and was nonplussed when I seemed surprised that she didn’t just KNOW where to go) writes down everything she is “seeing, thinking, psychic-ing” as she talks to you. On mine she said I sleep little and think to much, and a bunch of stuff about my sons but then she wrote “Jody, early twenties, ? sick?” I nearly shit. Then I thought maybe she saw my blog but who knows. In the end she told me that I shouldn’t give up hope and right before she walked out the door she told me that JoDee should stay on suboxone. I did shit. Actually, I was speechless and if you know me at all you would know that NEVER HAPPENS.

The reason that I found that so shocking is that JoDee has talked about suboxone many, many times and each time I have talked her out of it. I believe it works. And I believe it is important to some addicts, but I always thought it was a bad idea for her. Alright all you judgy, critical people. I know it isn’t my business, and I should stay out of it, but I’m a mother and I am human and I am naturally a buttinsky. When I called JoDee to tell her about that last comment, she swore at me, and said some other choice things and then pointed out that I need a psychic to tell me what’s what to let her make her own decisions. Wait, what? C’mon. That’s a little dramatic. Let us don’t get carried away, people.

 

 

 

 

 

Did You Just Hear Yourself?

Recently, my beautiful and wicked smaht niece graduated from college. Her and JoDee are sixteen days apart. They started kindergarten together (separate schools but same day). They started middle school together (same school) and high school together (also same school) and eventually they graduated high school together. While they ran in relatively opposite groups they still remained close enough. Sunday dinners, family vacations and the like kept them involved in each other. After high school their lives took extremely different turns. JoDee, as we know, as struggled with drug addiction, while my niece has gone on to school and met a nice young man and got a job as a preschool teacher. No one compares them, but I’m sure JoDee does. Or maybe others do, but I certainly don’t. They have been decidedly different people since birth, so I never expected them to follow each other down the same path through life.

The reason I am giving you all this background is that my niece had her graduation party this weekend. I have had some health things going on, so I wasn’t sure if I would make it but my parents had flown in from South Carolina so we made a plan for them to meet us for breakfast on Saturday morning at our house. This was killing two birds with one stone: getting to see them and them seeing the new house. It also meant we would see my aunt and uncle, who came with them. The reason I am telling you all this is because we had an interesting conversation. One of which was that sometimes my blog posts get to be too long and the reader might lose interest. This was a valid and appreciated comment, so I will remember to keep them informative without being boring.

The other conversation was about why someone was of a certain age and still single. I said he wasn’t really a catch from a woman’s perspective. My dad respond that he was good looking. My idea that he was not catch had nothing to do with his looks. It had more to do with him being an addict. Now, I know that may sound, well, asshole-ish but I meant it. And my aunt was very quick to call me out. She said “Did you hear yourself?”

Yes, I heard myself. I know exactly what I said. Years ago I would have said everyone deserves a chance. And years ago when a friend of mine began dating someone with an addiction, I supported that. He was a wonderful guy. Fathered his daughters, and his stepsons and eventually drugs took his life. Maybe not in the normal way via overdose, but it certainly shortened his life. Knowing what I know now, I would have said run away. Run far, far away. Why? Because a normal lived person cannot understand, comprehend, or appreciate the struggles of an addicted person. I’m not saying that addicted people do not deserve mates, because I don’t think that at all. Some of the best couples I know have come through addiction together. But they have that in common. It’s hard for someone who is not an addict to truly understand the struggle. Or the commitment to going to meetings. Or the need to have a routine, or avoid certain situations.

When my aunt asked me if I heard myself I told her not only did I know what I said, but I meant it wholeheartedly. JoDee, and several people she has dated, can attest to the fact that on more than one occasion I have asked her at-the-time-partner if they were effed in the head for being with her because she was a one woman wrecking ball when she is in active addiction. I have said many times she isn’t a catch. Not like she is, or was, or is during active addiction. No one is. And no addict is a catch within the first year or so of recovery. At what point in the dating process does someone tell a person they are an addict? Meeting partners in detox/meetings is frowned upon but where else is one to meet a fellow addict? The program is called Narcotics Anonymous so I don’t think where a sticker that says Hello My Name is JoDee and I am an Addict would be acceptable. So on goes the struggle…. But addicts are really horrible pimps in the armpit of America anyway, dating should be the least of their worries?

Nurse Jackie

Hello, my name is Melanie and I am Netflix addict. If you know me, you know this is true to a ridiculous extent. Including watching the The Walking Dead or Greys Anatomy from the beginning for the millionth time while on the treadmill.  I have watched them all: The Following, The Fall, Weed, Charmed, Bloodline, Glitch, The Killing, Prison Break, SuperNatural, House of Cards,  Lost, Lie to Me, Longmire, Stranger Things, Marcella, West Wing (hated it, btw), should I continue or have I humiliated myself enough? Anyway, you get the point. The one show I have not watched is Nurse Jackie. I was going to watch it but then I asked someone about it and I learned it was about a nurse with a drug addiction. Normally any show that depicts someone with an addiction is so far off track it is either offensive or laughable. For example, the Soprano’s had a lot of drugs which was pretty accurate but then Christopher (Anthony Soprano’s nephew) developed a drug problem to heroin. His addiction was so bad that he sat on his girlfriend’s dog while he was high and killed it. After that and a few other incidents the family staged an intervention with an actual interventionist and that was somewhat accurate. But then he went to a 30 day rehab once and hallelujah! found recovery. Just like that. Boom. Hail Jesus. That was offensive. Who the hell goes to rehab once (not to mention no real detox) to find a super life? Oh and when he left rehab he went back to a thug life, working around drugs and booze, with really no relapse, until much, much later.

I was actually relieved to see him finally relapse because the whole thing was insulting. Insulting? No,farcical. So, when I saw the trailer for Nurse Jackie, and I heard what it was about, I decided to skip it. And watched everything else (including shit on Amazon and Hulu) but I kept seeing it pop up as something I might like to watch. I finally decided to give it a chance. Mostly because I had the flu and was so dead in bed, I had really no other option. I was surprised. The story is not really parallel to mine as the mother is the addict and her kid hates her for it. Obviously mine is the opposite, but I don’t hate my addict. But, it is interesting to see the progression of the disease from a different perspective. I mean, come on, it’s still fiction. It’s still drama made for TV but it’s not that far off. This woman has a wonderful (and sexy as hell) husband and two great kids and life which she ruins because of her drug addiction. The whole story sort of roped me in because she is an awesome nurse, and a mom, and basically living a double life to feed her addiction.  But, the one thing that seemed so realistic to me was the impulsivity.

SPOILER ALERT:

I am going to talk about the show which will probably give away important facts. If you read on you do so at your own risk.

This woman is a very successful addict for many years. I know that sounds like an oxy-moron but it’s true. She is a fantastic nurse, and mother, and wife who happens to screw the pharmacist at the hospital she works to feed her drug addiction. She uses the excuse that she hurt her back as a means to get him to supply the drugs which he does because he has no idea she has an entire family. Of course, the facade is ruined one day, and everything begins to crumble around her.  She has several seasons of drug horror before she finally finds her way to rehab. She white knuckles it through the first year of sobriety. One the  anniversary she just nonchalantly pops a pill in her mouth. For no obvious reason. For no purpose. Just because. And that, that is so true. I know for a fact that JoDee has rewarded herself for a 30, 60, 90, 120 day sobriety with getting high. That is the fucked up, irrational, diseased thinking that addicts have. They believe that since they made it a year they can control it now. It’s really not much different from someone with bipolar disease believing they no longer need meds to keep them stable. It’s all part of the disease progression.

It’s not long before she is a wrecking ball in her life, that ends with her being arrested. Blah, Blah, Blah, nursing diversion program, suspended nursing license, once again working hard to gain back everyone’s trust, blah, blah, blah, nursing board reinstate her licence earning her job back. Immediately she puts her nursing scrubs on throwing a pill in her mouth at the same time. Bam. And it seems so ridiculous. You will want to beat her. And shame her. And yell at her. And you will want to think she deserves her family abandoning her, and her boyfriend going to jail, and losing her license again, and possibly her life, and all those feelings are fair enough. Only that is part of the problem. Drug addiction goes so far beyond the actual drug use. It’s the mentality. It’s the mental regression. It is not being able to think about family, or life, or  self. It’s not because the Nurse Jackie’s of the world don’t love their children or spouse or jobs, but because they are not equipped to face those responsibilities. They truly believe that no one knows they are using, and that they can handle it, and that their life is manageable.

Once, at the very beginning of this nightmare, when I thought accompanying JoDee to every N/A meeting would somehow control her using I had my first experience with this kind of relapse. We went to a meeting on a Wednesday night. At that meeting a young man was receiving his 60 day chip. He spoke about his struggles, and that his family finally sent him away to rehab and that was the magic ticket. That rehab was the salvation and he was ready to embrace life drug-free. The very next day we went to a different meeting and the same young man stood up to receive his 24 hour chip, signifying that he had relapsed the night before. I was stunned. And horrified. No one else in the room was. I was so shocked, I almost couldn’t contain myself. Fast forward all these years later, and I am rarely shocked. I am a little embarrassed for myself that I was such a dingus.

Since then JoDee has pulled this exact thing. I can’t tell you how many times I went to see her pick up a milestone chip only to pick her up off the floor the next day. She discharged from detox to an IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program). The first night I picked her up from the program, she was high. She didn’t even make it 12 hours. And another time she discharged from WATC with a handful of narcan because she blatantly told the staff she had ever intention of using the minute she stepped foot outside the fence. So I guess what I am trying to say is that not all addicts look like the homeless people on the street. Sometimes they are seemingly rational, hard-working, and productive members of society. All addicts have one and only one thing in common regardless of station in life, financial income, sexuality or religion and that is unpredictability.  You will never know when they will use. You will never know if their sobriety is long term. You will never know if they will put drugs over self, family, job or safety. And you will never, ever know what made them pick up again because often they don’t even know. The conundrum is real and painful because as a loved one of an addict I can tell you that I want to trust my addict, I want to believe she is really not using, but historically that isn’t the case. History has told me that if I think she is using, she probably is. And my gut tells me if I think something isn’t right, it probably is wrong. But how do we reconcile that? When the addict is standing in front of us looking earnest and honest pleading their case about not using and doing well, how does someone know when to trust them? The answer is we don’t. We will never know.

Recently, once again, I was tasked with collecting JoDee’s belongings from a place that she left them behind. This is her typical MO. It smelled bad, made my car stink like smoke, and I did not want to search her stuff for drugs or needles.  I know I probably should have but I’m sick of doing that. I’m tired of doing this especially because she doesn’t stay clean. This morning I had to leave all those belongings on my porch for someone to pick them up for her. As I pulled out of the drive way I was struck with the ridiculousness and depressing realization that this is where we are. We are at a place were all of my kids shit is on my porch waiting to get picked up like donations to a charity, or the weekly trash. Everything she is, or was, or has been is packed in one box, one laundry basket and a suitcase so heavy I was slightly concerned there may have been a body inside. I didn’t look inside because if there was a body in it I’m pretty sure she would have asked me to bury it. That is what I have become, the cleaner, the problem solver, the only when- I- need -you person. All symptoms of addiction.

What You Say vs What I Hear

What you say:

You are strong.

You are brave.

You are a good mother.

You have done everything you can.

She might recover.

Think about yourself.

 

What I hear:

I have everyone fooled.

I am so numb I don’t feel anything anymore.

You know I’m not, but you don’t know what else to say.

I pity you.

She won’t.

You look like shit so do something nice for yourself.

 

What you say:

How is JoDee?

I don’t know how you do it.

I can’t imagine how painful this must be.

Don’t give up hope.

What can I do for you?

 

What I hear:

Is she alive?

I’m so glad that isn’t me.

I don’t want to imagine your pain because it makes me think it might happen to me.

I don’t know what else to say to you.

I feel helpless because there is nothing I can do. I love you and I want to do something for you.

 

What I feel about what I hear:

I wish everyone could see how weak I really am.

I wish everyone could see my cowardice.

I wish everyone could see that I tried to be a good mother, but I don’t think I did it right.

I wish I could keep up hope.

I don’t want to think about myself.

I have no idea how JoDee is. Even if I was in touch with her, I never really know how she is.

I’m glad it isn’t you too. I wish it wasn’t me. I wish no one had to go through this.

No, you don’t. You don’t want to imagine the pain, or try to imagine your own pain if you were in my shoes because it is crippling to think about.

You don’t have to say anything because there is nothing to say. Nothing anyone can say. Nothing to be said. Except for this is total bullshit. And being honest, I don’t want to talk about it anyway.

I feel hopeless too and I appreciate you offering to send me food, or a house cleaner, or take me to dinner but it just isn’t necessary because tomorrow will be the same as today as tomorrow as a month and a year from now. But thank you for being a friend.

Progression of S

Stroke

Seizure

Scary

Scarier

Scarred

Silent

Suffering

Stupid

Sacrifice

Sympathy

Sympathetic

Sad

Sadness

Sadly

Stunned

Shocked

Surprised

Seething

Stay

Statistic

Score

Scorn

Screaming

Screamed

Scream

Screwed

Search

Secret

Section

Self-centered

Self-absorbed

Self-harming

Self-hating

Secret

Secretive

Severe

Solo

So long

Shake

Shallow

Shame

Shout

Shut up

Shut out

Shut down

Shit

Lucky Luck

Recently, the girl scrammed again. One minute in treatment and one minute in the wind. Earlier that day she was asking me to give her a ride to a friends wake and hours later, bam-gone. Gone in the wind. It would be a lie if I said I was shocked. I think I have said this before. Nothing really shocks me anymore. I think it’s sad, and dangerous, and I worry about her, but she doesn’t shock me. At the time I received the call I was in the emergency room with AC and AC the Original because he was having a small complication from his recent surgery. I hung up from that call and I told AC the nature of the call. He was shocked. And he was made because he was shocked. He told me that he always believes this is the time. This is the time that she will really stay on the right track and every time she derails she surprises him.  My only true thought was will her luck run out?

She has been so lucky. I can’t count with both hands how many times she overdosed. And I can think of the near death experiences she has had and I believe it takes up one whole hand, including the palm. But she always lives. Homeless, shiftless, left on the street, nearly paralyzed, has not stopped her from her drug addiction. She has been able to come back from the depths of the worst possible places. How long can that go on? Cats only have nine lives. I don’t believe people have that same amount. If we do, she definitely is getting to the end of that number. I mean, doesn’t the death by overdose really come down to luck? The lucky ones put a needle in their arm and live, and the unlucky ones put a needle in their arm and die. It is sheer luck that a person doesn’t get a bag of something other than heroin or something that is heroin but not enough to kill them. Someone can do the same thing day in and day out and one day it’s over. No excuse. No reason. No understanding.  Also, some people can be addicts until they are in their forties or longer and live to tell about it and others  die at twenty-three. Isn’t that luck? Well, bad luck?

When we got home from the hospital I sent her a text that said I hope your safe because you don’t have to many lives left, kiddo. She did not respond though, if I am being honest, I didn’t expect her too. She hasn’t reached out, and I’m not sure I should reach out to her, so I’m not going too. I just hope that the last conversation we had wasn’t about the logistics of picking her up for someone elses funeral.  That would be terrible, horrible, traumatizingly unluck.

Helpful Hints, Tips, and Miscellany

The heroin crisis is only getting worse. People are dying everywhere. This is not just an East Coast thing, or a young person thing, or an ethnic thing. I know that when one group of people is targeted for something those not effected don’t pay attention. In fact, 30 years ago heroin was the leading illegal drug killer for black men ages 44-64. It wasn’t until it crept into the suburbs that anyone started paying attention. That alone pisses me off.  But, I am not going to get into that today.  Today I am going to spread the wealth of knowledge I have collected over the course of many years dealing with addiction.

Programs:

Nar-Non and Al-Anon are both good groups. Clearly Nar-Non offers more support and education with drug addiction then Al-Anon. To Nar-Non alcohol is a drug, in some Al-Anon programs they only talk about alcoholics. The Al-Anon groups I went to were very supportive of families dealing with drug addiction. Nar-Non groups are harder to come by, especially at convenient times.

Learn to Cope is mostly a Massachusetts program but it is a group worth looking into because they do offer an amazing on-line community. The support groups are for loved ones who have an addict suffering from opiod use. I have found that to be beneficial because I heard so many stories like mine that it helped me realize that JoDee wasn’t possessed by the devil (well, she is but that devil is heroin). This is more than just a support group. They offer resources and education about other programs and typically have an industry professional as a guest speaker.

There are multiple blogs (like mine) that offer different perspectives. And there are a number of on-line communities such as In the Room, PAL, and the drug addiction hotline Hazelton Betty Ford Clinic has a website that I have found helpful and informative.

Rules:

The things I didn’t do, but should have are listed below:

  1. Do not be trusting. Addicts will say things like they can’t believe we don’t trust them, or that we know them, and they wouldn’t lie to us but every single addict lies. If your child hasn’t stolen from you or hasn’t lied about where they are, it doesn’t mean they won’t or that you just haven’t caught them. No matter what, trust that everything they are saying is no true. If you are seeing changes in your child or loved one and they deny anything is wrong, don’t believe it. Addicts will have a lot of excuses but it’s important to see through them.
  2. Research programs. Just because a detox or rehab is near you, does not mean that it is the program for them. Educate yourself on methadone and suboxone and other drug replacement therapies to determine if that is the way your family should go. Some detox’s are better than others. Sometimes there is a way for them to find more drugs inside than outside. Find a program that has an after care, and potential parent groups too.
  3. Do not believe that detox is the miracle cure. It isn’t. No matter how good the program is there has to be willingness for the addict to get better or they won’t. Be ready for the unexpected.
  4. Find your own recovery. Just because an addict is going to stay in active addiction does not mean that you have too. Those meetings and support groups are clutch when things seem at their worst. Going to a support group does not mean you have to air your dirty laundry. If it doesn’t feel right, say nothing. AC and I went to so many meetings and I don’t think I ever really talked about JoDee or our situation. But sitting there listening to other peoples struggles gave me comfort. And hearing that their children did find recovery gave me hope. I won’t lie, sometimes they are depressing. No one says you have to go every day. Do what feels right.
  5. Don’t lose hope. It they are alive there is a chance they will find recovery. No matter how terrible things seem, they could change in an instant. No one knows when that ah-ha moment is going to strike an addict. Maybe it never does, but maybe it does.
  6. Don’t enable them. Balancing our own recovery, keeping hope and holding our bottom lines are very delicate. Try not to set yourself up for failure. There is no way to stay positive all the tie, or keep hope alive everyday or hold your bottom line when the addict asks you so many times and no is hard to say the first time, never mind 200 times. Be ready to give yourself a break and know that if you cave in and give them money, or a place to sleep for the night, or allow them to get their clothes out of your house when you said you wouldn’t, forgive yourself. No one can be strong all the time. I can’t be strong a fraction of the time. At the end of the day you have to be able to look in the mirror and see your own face, not the face of regret. So do what is best for you.
  7. Reject the lies and manipulation. Our addicts have lost their mind, literally, and with it their moral compass. They will be mean and angry and ugly and hateful. Do your best to not take this personally. It is so hard to do and sometimes you may just want to punch their face in but don’t bother, I have tried that and it doesn’t work. It’s best to just ignore them.
  8. Look around, and recognize that you are not in this by yourself. Even if you have a spouse or a best friend or a person, it doesn’t mean they will always feel the same way you do, and that can be extremely lonely. You aren’t alone. You are not alone. You. Are. Not. Alone. And more importantly, this is not your fault. So don’t isolate. Call a friend, go to a movie, and take a cake decorating class. Learn from my mistakes, I basically hermit-ed myself in my house for a few years but that is no good. Do something that isn’t drug related. Stay connected to the people with normal lives. You know non-drug addict lives. It’s refreshing to socialize so to forget, even for a little while, that life is worth living.
  9. Don’t be afraid to do the thing you said you would never do. I once told myself I would never have JoDee sectioned and now I have done it four times. I said that I would never put myself in compromising situations as a result of her drug addiction and I have had encounters with drug dealers that involved my having a golf club (I am not suggesting anyone else should do that) . There are no limits a person will go to try to save their loved one, but that also means saying no. Don’t be afraid to say no. Even if it’s painful. Not being afraid to do the thing you said you would never do may be leaving your kid stranded somewhere because you simply can’t help anymore.
  10. Eat dinner together. Even if you never did the whole family at the table for dinner routine before, do it now. Or make everyone have breakfast together one day a week. Find a way for all of you to stay connected. It is so easy to push aside the family members that are not addicts. Addicts demand so much attention even though they don’t really deserve it. Ignoring my other duties and family members is something that haunts me now, but I make an effort to connect with all the other kids on a regular basis. And connecting means talking to them about them, not about what JoDee did or where she is or what she is going to do. It means letting them know I am listening and interested in their lives. I am present. And listening. It used to be hard. I would always be so invested in JoDee’s recovery that it felt like I lost interest in parenting anyone else. It was work to bring my focus back, but it can be done, and I did it.

 

 

A Day In the Hospital

Recently, my father-in-law had to have an invasive but not emergent surgery that required both my husband and me to spend two days in various parts of the hospital with him to translate English as he speaks primarily spanish. The particular hospital that the surgery was done in was one I used to work in. It has been so long since I have worked there, I didn’t expect to see anyone I knew, especially because I typically worked the second shift back in those good ol’ days. You know, the days of black and white television and horse drawn wagons? Anyway, it also happens to be a hospital that we had taken JoDee to on many occasions.  As soon as we walked in AC said this looks familiar, and that looks familiar. I figured he would process it eventually but I think it was the wee hours of the morning and the lack of coffee he had in solidarity of his Dad who was surgery starved, but I finally had to tell him. The first few hours were a little bit entertaining as my father-in-law  didn’t want to use the interpreter the hospital offered choosing instead to use his son, my husband, to interrupt for him. This was a problem because the hospital policy requires that it be a third party so there is no chance of skewing the interpretation or having the patient withhold information he wouldn’t want his son to know (not a problem in our family).  There was a lot of scurrying around, and forms to sign, and blah blah blah. All very boring.

When he finally got underway, or under the knife as it were, AC and I decided to go to the cafeteria for breakfast, which as a side note- was the first date like meal we have had together since Jesus was a small child. This is where we first began people watching. The two maintenance men drinking coffee at the table in front of us were talking about their ex-wives. One was bashing her, pays her two much, never sees his kids, seemed sort of like a dink and the other was saying nice things. They still had a good relationship, she was a good mother, she drove him batty sometimes but he couldn’t complain. The poor Guy B spoke nicely of Ex-Wife B, Guy A spewed venom about Ex-Wife A. Finally, B told A that maybe she was nasty because she had married and divorced the devil, and that comment went over like a lead balloon.  By the time we had reached the waiting room again, there were more people waiting. An older woman, a middle-aged woman, a family of folks all speaking Russian and one young girl, maybe early twenties, bleach blonde and face buried in her phone.  We all were making ourselves busy minding our own business, when the trilogy of people watching strolled in with their mother. These three were tall. No, not just tall, looming. Just looking at them it was easy to tell they were three brothers. One brother was the tallest and the most unkempt while appearing put together. It was fascinating. His hair looked like one of those signs in a crossroad with arrows pointing in all directions. His clothes were business casual but so rumpled and disorganized, it came off looking business confused instead. A large face, with octopus like lips, full cheek bones, and wide eyes, finished him off. I can only assume he was the oldest, because they all had the same look but each one shorter than the other. The last one, the youngest presumably, was the shortest at six feet tall, and had a limp. The had many of the same characteristics but one of them that not only caught my eye but grossed me the hell out was the uncomfortably large amount of white spittle dried in both corners of all three of their mouths. They were like a circus side show. AC elbowed me in the ribs on more than one occasion but then finally, he was taken in also.

The waiting room was large. Larger than large. Ample enough for all of us to fit without having to sit very close to each other. Until the stooges showed up. Within minutes they had spread out so intrusively the had stuff on every chair. Jackets, bags, laptops and tablets, and one even took off his shoes. And that was before the mother was even called in for her case. When it was time for to go to the pre-op area, the nurse asked if the sons wanted to join their mother and one of them wanted to know if there was any food on offer in the back. I think you are getting the picture. My father-in-law was in surgery longer than anyone else in the waiting room so we saw most people come and go. When the surgeon came out to see the men after their mother’s procedure was complete, the first thing the tall doofus asked was if the DNR (for those that don’t know Do Not Resuscitate) was necessary. Who the hell asks that? Who? In front of people? In a waiting room? I couldn’t help myself. I could not. Could. Not. Help it. Couldn’t. I didn’t even realize I was speaking out loud until someone answered. I said “Who the hell says that?” The lady across from me said that she was thinking the same thing and that she was embarrassed for them. At that exact moment, sounds of yelling and screaming and some pretty explosive swearing erupted from the floor below us. The waiting room was above the ER and Main entrance lobby and it was an open air layout. We could hear everything clearly.  A woman was yelling that she didn’t feel like she should have to leave. Several male voices in lower voices were telling her that no one here could help her. The older woman next to me muttered something about a drug addict. The middle-aged woman across from me mumbled something about the world going crazy. The young blonde finally looked up from her phone, turned around in her chair and was staring over the balcony.

“There a bunch of cops down there.”

“It’s a lady. I think she has a kid.”

“No, she said she has a kid in there but the cop said she doesn’t.”

“No, the cop said she can’t see the kid.”

This kind of commentary carried on for about ten minutes. The stooges really didn’t give a shit but the other women did. They pretended not to listen, but they were. We all were. Several cops dragging one slight woman who clearly hadn’t had a good meal in years, or a shower for that matter, out of the hospital on to the sidewalk. None of us know why. Mental illness, drugs maybe, bad parenting. Maybe she beat her kid to a pulp and brought him there, but I doubt it because she wasn’t arrested. I don’t really care what was happening. The moral of this story, to me, was that misery sells. That entire waiting room was pretty much minding their own business, not paying attention to each other except for the three big dinguses, but when that lady was being humiliated, and drawn out of the hospital, she got an audience. The blonde hopped up to check it out, and the older women didn’t tell her to stop giving the blow by blow. No one, not even me, told her to stop. We liked it. We hate to admit it, but it’s true. When we hear a story of someone missing or murdered or beat or overdosing, we call that news. When we see a feel good story we are less likely to believe it’s true or real. Our society has gotten to be one that feeds off of zombie apocalypse and mass murder and Identification Discovery Channel which is really a death station. Another way I can tell is that when JoDee is using and missing and I am suffering and I post blogs, the stats are shooting off the roof. But lately she has not been outrageous, other than hating my guts, or I have been refusing to write about her terrible behavior, so that stats are low. This is not really concerning to me because I now that my blog would be short lived and eventually come to an end (not that I am doing that now) but rather a point of interest. Fascination. Proof positive that misery is a big hit. Very weird.

That really provoked my own thoughts about our situation. Did people stare at us like that? Did people watch us in the ER waiting room, or see us in a trauma room and find our behavior fascinating? Or her lack of behavior fascinating? At what point did we go from spectators to the spectacle? And do I care? No. Not really. I know that at the time that things are in a really bad way I don’t give two shits if people are staring. I am too busy trying to see if she is going to live to really notice. It never really dawned on me to be embarrassed to bring her to that hospital because I use to work there but I know that her father was worried about it (he works in the same hospital occasionally) and there were times she saw someone she recognized and would become embarrassed. I can’t remember if there was a time when I was conscious of it. I know the very first time she overdosed, I immediately brought her there without a second thought. I can’t remember a moment, even fleeting, of embarrassment. Now, looking back, we both must have looked a mess. More than a mess, but the truth is we were. We were absolutely a mess. Truth be told we are still a mess. However, I do have a little satisfaction knowing that I was someone else’s people-watching captivation. Eat your heart out people because some day, I will be character assassinating you right back.

Surgically Removed

I love the practice of medicine. I find it absolutely fascinating the way the body and mind work. Some of the best scientists believe that everything we need to know or learn about the body is tangible. The heart pumps blood, the lungs push oxygen, the muscles along with ligaments and tendons help move the body, the bones are the source of strength and our skin keeps it all together. The brain sends a signal to a foot to wiggle a toe, this involves many different actions under the skin, in the brain, down the leg to the foot for one small wiggle, and it all happens in seconds, or less.  The brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves system together create a complex integrated information-processing and management system also called the central nervous system. Together they regulate all of our conscious and unconscious facets of our life.  Imagine that.  The brain is the beginning and end of all things life. It controls body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. It accepts and process all of our senses; seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching.  It manages our physical movement and allows us to think, dream, reason and experience emotions.

The Neurons in the brain have the remarkable ability to gather and transmit electrochemical signals, like a TV or IPad moving information. There many different types of neurons: motor, sensory, interneurons and associative neurons. I could continue to educate everyone on the billions of neurons or the way they move, but the part I am most fascinated by are the changes when they are damaged.  It wasn’t until circa 1972 that the full effect of opiate use was clear. A group of scientist from Johns Hopkins University revealed that the brain has specific protein receptor sites for opiates. It wasn’t long before they identified that the body produces its own endogenous opioids. When synthetic opiods, like heroin, are introduced the body’s perception of pain lessens and elevate mood by increasing the levels of dopamine.  There is a process where the opioid is converted back into morphine which triggers sensations of euphoria (and pain relief) much greater than the body is able to develop on its own.  There is evidence that a single use can change the receptors in the brain so significantly that the body begins to feel higher levels of pain and discomfort while not using, occurring in the need to use more and more.

Long term use has even more dire consequences. So even if a person is to detox from the drug physically, the other side effects will continue to be a problem like poor ability to regulate one’s own behavior, impaired emotional processing, impaired memory, diminished flexibility with completing tasks, decreased capacity for making decisions and decreased ability to imagine future events and interactions. In short, the user becomes a poor decision maker with radical mood instability and no ability to see or plan for a brighter future.  And many think that solving this problem is to just not use. Just not use. Just like that. Many people have a notion that addicts are lazy and ignorant, classless and untrustworthy.  Often society only sees the result of the addiction and not the addict. If this was a surgical case, if there was a part of the brain causing the problem, like an aneurysm or a brain tumor, a well trained physician could open the brain to remove the anomaly.  If this was an appendices that was hot and inflamed, a general surgeon would either open the abdomen via a laparotomy incision or a laparoscopic procedure to remove it before it infected the whole body resulting in death.  There is no such treatment for addiction.

Doctors, nurses, social workers, psychiatrist, psychologist have spent decades studying and learning and yearning to find a cure but there isn’t one to be had. There is no fix. There is no surgical procedure, or medical intervention of standard practice. I cannot simply make a phone call or make an appointment for her to show up to help her. There are alternative methods.  And I would love for her to try them, but at the moment, I can’t reach her. Not emotionally. I could pick up the phone and call her. I could send her a message on Facebook but anything I would have to say would not be received. It would not register in her head and it certainly wouldn’t mean anything. I have become the enemy. I have become the thing she hates the most.  I don’t know why that is. Maybe it is because she has nothing left to hate. Maybe it’s because I remind her of her. Maybe it is because I have done something wrong as a parent. Maybe it is because I don’t know what else to do.  The mixed messages I receive from her are confusing and frustrating. I know she is not using, but that is not the same as being clean. Being clean is about a lifestyle change, a reckoning with her own psyche, attitude. The things I see, and hear, isn’t giving me the warm and fuzzies.  She is feeling sorry for herself, and wrapped up in some kind of thing I don’t recognize. Separating from her family is never a good sign. We want her to be well and we want her to be part of the family but the negative, angry, blaming, spiteful, and poor-me girl that has taken her place is not something we can be part of. When she tells me one day that she can’t be part of us, that we are not good for her recovery, but calls the next day to say I love you, oh and I have no money in my account sounds an awful lot like I want to do what I want, without answering to you or anyone else but I want you to financially support that.

I don’t want to make her pain worse, but I don’t think she cares about our pain at all. I think she is so tied up feeling sorry for herself she doesn’t have time to understand the effect of her actions on us. I spend and have spent so much time worrying about her physical health and emotional health that I often forget about my own. Or the other kids. She doesn’t see it that way, which was a problem for me because I would want to pay attention to the other kids while convincing her she is important too. There is no way to be with her and be in my own present. I can’t divide myself. And I don’t think there is a single thing left that I could possibly do to help her. Anything else I do is hurting her, I think. I keep thinking that when I was her age I had two children, pregnant with my third and Daddy-O and I owned a house. We both worked, grocery shopped, mowed the lawn or washed the car. We were adults. Adulting. Daily.  I want her to adult her own life and she can’t. Or won’t. I don’t know. Her brain is so fucked up, I know she doesn’t see life in real terms. Somehow her addiction has become my problem to solve but I want a life. I want to spend the day with kids, and my grandmother, and my friends without feeling guilty because she is wasting her life. I gave her that life. I did the best I could with it. I can do nothing at this point to encourage her to live it differently. And I know I run the risk of losing her for good but she was gone a long time ago.

It is time for me to accept that I cannot make her be something she isn’t. Or someone she can’t be or won’t be. I cannot put her in an operating theatre, open her brain, excise the thing that makes her this way, close her up and monitor her for post operative complications.  I know there are ways via neuropath ways, for her to be better, but she would have to want that. I won’t give up on her, I won’t forget her or cast her aside as worthless, because she isn’t. She is far from that. She was destine for greatness which she is capable of if she can make it there.  Her brain and her body need healing. They need to rejuvenate and regenerate to become whole again.  I don’t think there is enough medical practice in the world to do that right now.