The Pill Mill……….

When I was younger, I was appalled at how many pills my mother took.  She was extremely ill, emphysema, cancer, osteoporosis.  She died at 59, after the doctors mistook an ovarian cyst to be scar tissue.  I wish I had known then what I now know.  Mary Lou had every symptom of Ovarian cancer, the extreme bloating, constipation, pain and upset stomach.  When the doctor came in to the waiting room, I had to be held back by my siblings-the jerk never listened to her, I was there when he did an exam after her complaining: he felt her stomach and abdomen-she was fully clothed, why bother right? I was there when he told her she was “fine, absolutely fine.”

What shocked me, after her death, was the bottles and bottles of Ativan-she took 4 a day, and I thought that to be too much, too addicting, too sedating.  Now?  I take Ativan daily.  As a prn.  Ironically, the first time I ever took one was the day of her funeral.  Surrounded by friends, I fell asleep on the couch-and didn’t wake up until the following morning.  What addict is going to turn that away?  It was easier to let the melodic pull of oblivion take me away, to dreamless sleep and few cares, if any.

Today I take 200 mg. of Zoloft, 2 mg. Suboxyne for opiate addiction (down from 8 mg. and let me tell you, it was rough, really rough to taper) and one Trazadone for sleep.   My husband thinks this appalling, but I have fought hard to maintain an appearance of normality-in an increasingly abnormal world.

I can tell you that as a nurse, EMT and hospice worker, I could not get into the Suboxyne program soon enough.  I was in a dirty city, walking the streets of dilapidated houses, children in various stages of undress, and very scary men, who gathered on street corners to deal their goods, help a friend in “need.”  I asked a few of them, but as white on rice as I look?  They didn’t touch me with a ten foot pole.  Looking back, I think they thought me a cop.

I was working as a private duty nurse, and volunteering at a local hospice.  I was starting to face withdrawal from OxyContin, and I didn’t want to be the girl who steals patient’s pills.  My cousin by marriage (not a normal person in that family) ran a methadone clinic, and rehab.  I had attended that rehab until our fearless leader Tony called me out on missing a class, in front of the entire room.  When you quit drinking you are wired out of your mind, so many emotions coming from one heart-it’s maddening and exciting at the same time.  I told him off, asked why he allowed drinkers and cokeheads to use in our meetings (was this even remotely fair to the others who were serious about recovery?) and slammed out the door.  He wasn’t going to use me as an example when people were slumped in their chairs, or re-dusting the entire room, like the energizer bunny on crack.

Anyway, back to Scott.  I called him from my  locked car that very day.  I told him where I was, and I asked if I could come to the methadone clinic to talk to him.  He shut me down, but two minutes later?  I heard a commercial about Suboxyne: it has served me well, saved my career and, most likely, my life.  My advice to anyone starting the program?  Start at a really low milligram, that way you won’t have to detox every time you take a step down.  I ended up calling my girlfriend one morning, I literally couldn’t move, I was that weak.

“I can’t take it.  Would you please take me to the doctor?”

The good doctor had taken me off, cold turkey.  We had argued about my use of cannabis, and I stormed out-only to return a week later, begging for mercy.  And, thankfully, that is exactly what I was given.

What I would like to say is, don’t let anyone convince you to go off of any medication you may be taking for your mental health, especially if the plan is working.  Do I like having to take meds on a daily basis?  NO.  But one day, perhaps, the stigma will stop.  No  matter, because I have come to the point where I just don’t care what others think.

It’s not their body.  It’s not their mind.  It’s none of their business.

Rally Round the Family…

Life goes along at warp speed until something stops you dead in your tracks: As was the case Sunday morning, after a full weekend of loving and socializing, the enemy came to take his due-you don’t think he isn’t out there trying to devour everything good in your life? Au contraire, mon amies! But here’s the good news-call out to Jesus, and you are free. He can’t hurt you if you are covered in the full armor of God.

But what about those times when evil does strike? Well, Abba will protect you in ways you couldn’t imagine, and that’s why I’m alive and writing this blog-my Lord and Savior sent His angels, and they protected me from a massive head injury and internal bleeding.

Just out of Dwain’s truck, exhausted from a weekend of frivolity, I could barely pick up my feet. I had promised my husband that I would pick up the myriad of dog toys that lay around our yard, at the whim of my golden retriever, who thinks he has to entertain the grasshoppers and blue jays with his cacophony of babies. It’s so sweet, until it isn’t.

I had my purse in one hand, my drink in the other, AND I was carrying six, that’s SIX dog toys to boot. We have concrete stairs, no railing, and the stairs are ridiculously dangerous. It did not escape my mind, while sitting in the ER, that I had traipsed up and down said steps while drunk, high on cocaine, and worse. Never once even tripped. But yesterday was different. My boots caught on Jesse’s blue elephant, and down I went. I had no hands to put out, and I landed on my noggin.

I immediately called for Dwain, who could hear me, but couldn’t find me. Pain so severe I thought I would vomit, I remained perfectly still until my husband arrived on the scene. I am an EMT, and a CNA-I have volunteered in the Emergency Room, with hospice and prison ministries-I have seen it all and maintained my composure. This is the precise reason I am prone to freaking out when I get hurt-I simply know too much.

Head injury? I was out of my mind hysterical. It didn’t help when my husband picked up my head and his eyes bulged out of his-

“My GOD, is it THAT bad?,” I wail. He didn’t answer, he was too busy putting my ample white behind in his truck, grabbing ice and driving like a bat out of hell, towards the ER I had recently walked out of-after calling out the employees no less. As I walked in, I immediately placed my eyes on Dawn, who calmed me as she directed me towards the door. I knew where to go all right. I just didn’t know if they would help me, or hurt me. They had so much power at that moment.

A friend of mine, Katie, was the charge nurse, praise God. She gave me a hug and an ice pack, told me the doctor would soon be in. As Dwain sat on the bed, this came over the PA System:

ATTENTION: SEPSIS ALERT IN THE ER. SEPSIS ALERT IN THE ER.

“Fabulous,” I murmured. And then it hit me, we were the only people there, aside from an 83 year old man with a dizzy spell. What the Harry???? They were talking about me for crying out loud! I couldn’t figure this out as the knot on my head was the size of a peach, but the wound wasn’t bad, it bled very little.

Dr. Ammons didn’t waste any time checking me over. I was told it would hurt like hell for a few days, but that I was extremely fortunate as if I had hit one inch below, I could have had serious eye trauma. If my cranium had hit a few inches lower? I could have knocked out my front teeth. But I knew about head trauma, and I was frightened. I kept what I knew to myself, forgetting that my man is a first responder.

And so it was, that I woke this morning with a shiner the size of Texas, and a headache to beat the band.

And because of His love? I’ll be strutting my stuff, sooner than you can say the words accident prone.

Risky Business

I am about to write about a trauma in my life that almost killed me, and sometimes? Well, on the rare occasion, when I am in the fetal position, in gripping despair? I wish it had.

I have never written about this subject matter. No, I wasn’t ready, willing or prepared to throw my family under the bus. How have things changed? God has given me the courage to bare my soul-and I firmly believe that secrets make us sick.

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The picture above has never been touched-no photo shop, no tricks. It is a picture I took after the Holy Spirit nudged me to step outside and take a picture. All I could see was mist and rain. The camera lens saw more, much, much more. When I brought my Walmart special up to my eyes, I could see them, at least seven-beings of white light attached to white crosses. It hasn’t happened since, but that it occurred at all? This, my dear friends, was a miracle.

This may take some time, and I’ll be honest-it will be much longer than my usual blog, as this story is a part of who I am, who God has molded me to be, and what the faith of the tiniest mustard seed can do.

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Back in 2003, my father was laying in a local ICU, his kidneys failing-his leg, after several surgeries-amputated up to the knee. My husband and I had been taking care of him, since the Spring. Dad had many diabetes related health issues, and the stress of meeting his needs was a growing concern. After finding the Meals on Wheels woman on his front porch (he hadn’t picked up the phone, but used to his ways, I had been determined to get some cleaning done) then subsequently finding daddy in a diabetic coma, his peritoneal dialysis machine screaming in protest; he had blood running from the corner of his mouth, and his moaning was guttural, raw.

Don’t leave me daddy, don’t you leave like this.

The EMTs had arrived, and so had my husband and his best friend. I was out of my mind with worry and grief. I blamed myself. I went after the chubby Paramedic who moved so slowly, I thought my father would perish before she made it to the bedroom. My husband had to pull me off of her; I am not proud of my behavior, but like I said, I had become unhinged and knew that each moment that passed was not in his favor.

We stood outside in the lawn, as they worked on my father in the ambulance. He was revived and taken to the hospital. I got on the phone, called my siblings.

“No more. Please, I am begging you,” I cried to my sister. “Daddy needs to be in a nursing home.”

And so it was that we found my father a room in a skilled nursing facility. Most evenings I would get a call that the nurses couldn’t figure out my father’s equipment, even after I had given a demonstration, twice. I would run over to the home, in my pajamas more times than not, and restore the dialysis machinery. One day, while visiting, my father fell in the hallway. I jumped up from my seat in the dining room, flipped off my heels, and ran towards him as if his life depended on it-turns out the nurses were nowhere to be found, and that was the first “incident.” He was still much safer at StoneRidge, and I had spoken with the home’s director about keeping him there. My siblings went behind my back and spoke to the director as well. Only they insisted that my father was absolutely FINE and could go home whenever he was ready.

I blame them for his death, which happened two days, TWO DAYS, after his release from the nursing facility they claimed he did not need. But it got much worse. Although I was daddy’s POA, they hastily planned his cremation and funeral the next day-at my niece’s birthday party. I was beyond hurt; I was incredulous.

“That’s what dad wanted,” my brother stuttered. NO. In the almost year that I cared for him (in a house up the road, as we could not afford an addition-and dad couldn’t do our steep, farmhouse stairs) nothing was ever said about cremation.

A week after his passing, I received a phone call from my sister, explaining that she and my brother had planned an estate sale, that they would be selling our precious family heirlooms. I did not attend that circus, and my husband spent thirty-eight dollars on a painting I had done in first grade, just so I would have that memory. During that phone call, I was accused of “stealing” my father’s money: over a sixty eight dollar grocery bill.

At the end of the day they had robbed me of everything I held dear. My father, who had lost his home to the IRS after losing his paper company, had very little money-and I wanted no part of it. To this day I believe that the money was the issue that drove them to cremate my father.

The moral of this story?

Love. Love passionately and fully, never taking for granted your beloveds.

Time is too precious. Love too rare.

The Pill Mill……….

When I was younger, I was appalled at how many pills my mother took.  She was extremely ill, emphysema, cancer, osteoporosis.  She died at 59, after the doctors mistook an ovarian cyst to be scar tissue.  I wish I had known then what I now know.  Mary Lou had every symptom of Ovarian cancer, the extreme bloating, constipation, pain and upset stomach.  When the doctor came in to the waiting room, I had to be held back by my siblings-the jerk never listened to her, I was there when he did an exam after her complaining: he felt her stomach and abdomen-she was fully clothed, why bother right? I was there when he told her she was “fine, absolutely fine.”

What shocked me, after her death, was the bottles and bottles of Ativan-she took 4 a day, and I thought that to be too much, too addicting, too sedating.  Now?  I take Ativan daily.  As a prn.  Ironically, the first time I ever took one was the day of her funeral.  Surrounded by friends, I fell asleep on the couch-and didn’t wake up until the following morning.  What addict is going to turn that away?  It was easier to let the melodic pull of oblivion take me away, to dreamless sleep and few cares, if any.

Today I take 200 mg. of Zoloft, 2 mg. Suboxyne for opiate addiction (down from 8 mg. and let me tell you, it was rough, really rough to taper) and one Trazadone for sleep.   My husband thinks this appalling, but I have fought hard to maintain an appearance of normality-in an increasingly abnormal world.

I can tell you that as a nurse, EMT and hospice worker, I could not get into the Suboxyne program soon enough.  I was in a dirty city, walking the streets of dilapidated houses, children in various stages of undress, and very scary men, who gathered on street corners to deal their goods, help a friend in “need.”  I asked a few of them, but as white on rice as I look?  They didn’t touch me with a ten foot pole.  Looking back, I think they thought me a cop.

I was working as a private duty nurse, and volunteering at a local hospice.  I was starting to face withdrawal from OxyContin, and I didn’t want to be the girl who steals patient’s pills.  My cousin by marriage (not a normal person in that family) ran a methadone clinic, and rehab.  I had attended that rehab until our fearless leader Tony called me out on missing a class, in front of the entire room.  When you quit drinking you are wired out of your mind, so many emotions coming from one heart-it’s maddening and exciting at the same time.  I told him off, asked why he allowed drinkers and cokeheads to use in our meetings (was this even remotely fair to the others who were serious about recovery?) and slammed out the door.  He wasn’t going to use me as an example when people were slumped in their chairs, or re-dusting the entire room, like the energizer bunny on crack.

Anyway, back to Scott.  I called him from my  locked car that very day.  I told him where I was, and I asked if I could come to the methadone clinic to talk to him.  He shut me down, but two minutes later?  I heard a commercial about Suboxyne: it has served me well, saved my career and, most likely, my life.  My advice to anyone starting the program?  Start at a really low milligram, that way you won’t have to detox every time you take a step down.  I ended up calling my girlfriend one morning, I literally couldn’t move, I was that weak.

“I can’t take it.  Would you please take me to the doctor?”

The good doctor had taken me off, cold turkey.  We had argued about my use of cannabis, and I stormed out-only to return a week later, begging for mercy.  And, thankfully, that is exactly what I was given.

What I would like to say is, don’t let anyone convince you to go off of any medication you may be taking for your mental health, especially if the plan is working.  Do I like having to take meds on a daily basis?  NO.  But one day, perhaps, the stigma will stop.  No  matter, because I have come to the point where I just don’t care what others think.

It’s not their body.  It’s not their mind.  It’s none of their business.

Under Pressure

Before I go into this topic, I truly want to thank all 274 of my subscribers! When I began blogging a year ago, I was pretty much in the pit of despair. I had no self esteem, but I have always written. In a search for myself, I came upon an article that simply said: IN ORDER TO SUCCEED WE MUST DO WHAT WE LOVE

I found my voice, after 55 years of being silenced: by my mother, society, my sister, my old pastor, my old friends, my alcoholism, and so, so much more. My writing method is so simple that it defies logic. Each morning I hike, each morning I listen for the tiny voice (Holy Spirit) inside that whispers a song, a line of a poem, a topic to delve into. Actually, I could always write-I just never used it in the proper forum.

When I return to my sanctuary, I pull off my boots, my outer wear and go for a big tall glass of seltzer (with ice and lime, please)then head for the couch and my personal computer. I only have the basics, and I am definitely not tech savvy-but I aim to connect with others while enlightening myself about mental health awareness. This community I find myself in is a haven, filled with one blogger after another who not only feels my pain, but publicly and painfully shares their stories in an effort to shine the light on our psychological and physical health (indubitably connected)in order to say, “Hey, you are not alone, I have walked that road, cried those tears, shed those toxic people.”

Today’s topic is anxiety and the methods I find useful in combatting the gnawing at my gut, the underbelly of my emotions, the voice that says: You are not, nor will you ever be relevant. Loved. Heard. Validated. Satan is the author of all lies, and when you hear these words repeat and repeat in your mind, please try to take a second and hear the voice of Jesus. There is no fear or condemnation in Christ, and sadly, he was my last chance, my last choice. Why? Because I found myself at the bottom of a pit that no man could help me out of. My husband, therapists, AA meetings, none of these people could do what I had to do for myself. Handing the entire mess over to God took care of my fruitless endeavors at healing myself. I now know that he is truly in control, and I want you to know that he not only hears you, he will help you, time after time.

So, here is my list of anxiety reducing techniques that help me on a day to day basis. I hope this helps even just one person take it down a notch, ease into a more loving and healthy relationship with themselves.

1. Get into the Word. No matter how distraught I find myself, if I take time to read the scriptures? I am overcome with that peace that is inexplicable. The bible is supernatural, and Jesus walked the earth not only as the Son of God, but as a human being: he knows your despair. He understands your plight.

2. Get out into nature. There is nothing quite like the clear blue skies, the nip in the air, the birds and the bees. In the beginning, when I first quit drinking, I fell into bouts of depression so severe that I was unable to function. I laid in bed for days and days at a time, frightened out of my mind. I took Benadryl or Ativan to sleep, and I slept all of the time. This scenario is nothing new to those who suffer from anxiety and depression. The hardest thing you may ever do is get up and out of that bed, but the goal is to go outside and realize that the birds still fly, the clouds contain some of the most prolific art available, the fresh air will leave you calmed, if not invigorated. There is truly nothing that God can’t handle. Just take his hand and he will lead.

3. MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC If you read my blogs, this coping strategy will not surprise you. 🙂 Music has led me through life, I have a song for each and every highlight (and lowlight)of my story-and the statistics show that, despite the crap out there, good music will soothe your soul, give you a new perspective, pull you out of the grave you have dug, so to speak. Buy a pair of headphones (well worth the expense) if you can-the song is so much better in stereo; any song is better in stereo.

Things that may help your troubled mind in the moment, but hurt you later on include:

Overeating.

Self-medicating.

Isolation.

Drug abuse (I will remain a proponent of cannabis for the rest of my life, God gave us the plant, it cures cancer, trust me-it can help you restore a new normal, despite Jeff Sessions’ rants about its dangers. (He never smoked a blunt, we know that for sure) I don’t need to preach to you about the dangers of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine or bath salts. I know you know.

Self-harming. (yes, I self harm. No, it does not help. This is one of the compulsions that I have had to endure, and I do know that in time my prayers will be answered.) It makes matters much worse and as a health care professional I can tell you that staph and other bacteria could invade your wounds, putting you in dire circumstances-the hospital and possibly the ground.

I’m going to wrap this up with some motherly advice:

Other people’s opinions of you do NOT matter. As long as you have the faith of a mustard seed? You are well on your way to independent thought processes, and if you don’t stand for something, my precious friends, you may fall for anything.

I’m on the Outside…..

Good Sunday morning to you all.   I was unable to attend church today, and I was supposed to be working the Welcome Center.  At this moment I am almost hysterical at the idea of being held hostage by Lyme related complications for the duration of my life.  I keep telling myself that others have it much worse (and they do) but I have a sneaking suspicion that I fucked up my meds, as after the fight with my step son?  Well, let’s just say I wasn’t on top of my game and now I am left with decisions, so many, do I go to a Specialist?  Shouldn’t I just trust God?  I am not going to ask Why Me? because that is a ridiculous supposition, we all suffer in one way or another, right?

I want to rant and rave.  I want to hide in the fetal position, as I am as afraid as I was as a little girl, terrorized by thunderstorms.  As a sufferer from CPTSD, I do not do well with unanswered questions or the unknown.  I loathe going to the doctor, deplore their inadequacies in diagnosing, well, anything.  My doctor is most certainly not on top of this, and I need to move on, and I hate change.  Like poison.  Change sucks.

I feel as if I stand outside the window, looking at the healthy and content, as if they have something I desire, something I need.  They look oh so pleased on the outside, and maybe that’s the secret.

I’ll just fake it ’til I make it……I want someone to hold me and tell me it’s going to be okay.  I want, oh how I desire, to be that ten year old child once more.

The Pill Mill……….

When I was younger, I was appalled at how many pills my mother took.  She was extremely ill, emphysema, cancer, osteoporosis.  She died at 59, after the doctors mistook an ovarian cyst to be scar tissue.  I wish I had known then what I now know.  Mary Lou had every symptom of Ovarian cancer, the extreme bloating, constipation, pain and upset stomach.  When the doctor came in to the waiting room, I had to be held back by my siblings-the jerk never listened to her, I was there when he did an exam after her complaining: he felt her stomach and abdomen-she was fully clothed, why bother right? I was there when he told her she was “fine, absolutely fine.”

What shocked me, after her death, was the bottles and bottles of Ativan-she took 4 a day, and I thought that to be too much, too addicting, too sedating.  Now?  I take Ativan daily.  As a prn.  Ironically, the first time I ever took one was the day of her funeral.  Surrounded by friends, I fell asleep on the couch-and didn’t wake up until the following morning.  What addict is going to turn that away?  It was easier to let the melodic pull of oblivion take me away, to dreamless sleep and few cares, if any.

Today I take 200 mg. of Zoloft, 2 mg. Suboxyne for opiate addiction (down from 8 mg. and let me tell you, it was rough, really rough to taper) and one Trazadone for sleep.   My husband thinks this appalling, but I have fought hard to maintain an appearance of normality-in an increasingly abnormal world.

I can tell you that as a nurse, EMT and hospice worker, I could not get into the Suboxyne program soon enough.  I was in a dirty city, walking the streets of dilapidated houses, children in various stages of undress, and very scary men, who gathered on street corners to deal their goods, help a friend in “need.”  I asked a few of them, but as white on rice as I look?  They didn’t touch me with a ten foot pole.  Looking back, I think they thought me a cop.

I was working as a private duty nurse, and volunteering at a local hospice.  I was starting to face withdrawal from OxyContin, and I didn’t want to be the girl who steals patient’s pills.  My cousin by marriage (not a normal person in that family) ran a methadone clinic, and rehab.  I had attended that rehab until our fearless leader Tony called me out on missing a class, in front of the entire room.  When you quit drinking you are wired out of your mind, so many emotions coming from one heart-it’s maddening and exciting at the same time.  I told him off, asked why he allowed drinkers and cokeheads to use in our meetings (was this even remotely fair to the others who were serious about recovery?) and slammed out the door.  He wasn’t going to use me as an example when people were slumped in their chairs, or re-dusting the entire room, like the energizer bunny on crack.

Anyway, back to Scott.  I called him from my  locked car that very day.  I told him where I was, and I asked if I could come to the methadone clinic to talk to him.  He shut me down, but two minutes later?  I heard a commercial about Suboxyne: it has served me well, saved my career and, most likely, my life.  My advice to anyone starting the program?  Start at a really low milligram, that way you won’t have to detox every time you take a step down.  I ended up calling my girlfriend one morning, I literally couldn’t move, I was that weak.

“I can’t take it.  Would you please take me to the doctor?”

The good doctor had taken me off, cold turkey.  We had argued about my use of cannabis, and I stormed out-only to return a week later, begging for mercy.  And, thankfully, that is exactly what I was given.

What I would like to say is, don’t let anyone convince you to go off of any medication you may be taking for your mental health, especially if the plan is working.  Do I like having to take meds on a daily basis?  NO.  But one day, perhaps, the stigma will stop.  No  matter, because I have come to the point where I just don’t care what others think.

It’s not their body.  It’s not their mind.  It’s none of their business.