Naïve Women & Mad Men: Sunday musings on addiction

bottle

 


Driving at night
Sunlight in the early morning hours
Smells never noticed
Colors never noticed
Writing without rambling (work in progress)
Incessant (renewed) need to draw, paint, create
Sleeping calmly
Waking without shaking
Retaining memories
Remembering the endings of movies
Eating spicy, new foods
Eating a meal instantly, without needing to drink first
Much less argumentative
Introspection
Appreciating the love and support in my life
Keeping the house clean
Showering/hygiene in general

All things that I’m newly appreciating with my recently extended life.  A life where I don’t wake up trying to balance drinking alcohol first thing in the morning to stave off my withdraw in between throwing up because nothing will stay down from my looming liver, kidney, pancreas, spleen problems and constant severe acid reflux.  Between all of that it would take me on average 2-3 hours in the morning to get enough alcohol in me to function and act as a temporary buffer for my health problems and allow me to get to be a semi-functional member of society.  Most of the time it was the routine of throwing up, then taking a shot to try to find the balance of being buzzed enough to make my stomach pain and vomiting stop.

I never drank growing up except a few times in high school to try to appear cooler than I was the few times the “cool” kids allowed me near them or at dances senior year with my significant other.  But still each time was an effort to try to prove I belonged somewhere I didn’t.  Which, on a funny note ended with me being dumped the day after prom for doing exactly that haha – best story ever.  C’est la vie…life goes on.  In college it began to be a problem that laid the foundation for my adulthood Olympic gold medal career drinking.  I’m not making excuses and I take full responsibility for my choices and actions.  I’m just backtracking and reminiscing where exactly I slipped off the edge of social/socially appropriate drinking in order to make friends to becoming a full blown, day drinking addict.

I know in adulthood it still was a buffer socially for me.  People just seemed to like me better when I was drinking…I was more outgoing and confident.  There was also a part of me that had romanticized it in my head from movies and Tv.  There were countless shows where people are writing or working late in their offices doing something amazing, dramatic…possibly life changing and they always seemed to have a drink with them.  (Thus the Mad Men reference in the blog title) Yet it was that very thought that I got carried away with.  And I wish I could put a finger on the moment alcohol changed for me.  I remember a doctor I saw in Austin for vague stomach issues that asked if I drank daily.  My reply was yes, but only a few glasses of wine.  And I’ll never forget that this Doctor looked at me and said prophetically that even if I just drink a little daily it will eventually become a dependence.

Turns out the doctor was right.  Social buffer drinking turned into angry, can’t stop even if I wanted to drinking.  Hangovers turned into morning drinking because in my failed logic, why deal with a hangover when I can drink it away and feel better.  As it grew, each swallow made me cry because I hated it and I couldn’t stop no matter how hard I tried before last Fall.  Never once did it occur to me that what I was doing could hurt me permanently.  Yea, I could drive and hurt someone or hurt myself mildly like the time I fell during Mardi Gras a few years ago and broke part of my face outside my building…. But I figured I never REALLY hurt myself.  I was wrong…It’s pretty humbling to admit something has that kind of hold over you as an adult.  Something that I put as more important than anything or person in my life.  The world could slide into the ocean and as long as I had a bottle and a floatie I’d watch it all sink away with a smile back then.  It’s also humbling when you realize that you have been judging the very people you have become most of your life.  When you realize that, you realize how truly awful of a person you have let a substance turn you into.

(disclaimer: my thoughts about writing this letter to my donor family has me being more reminiscent than usual regarding my life choices, and what brought me to need a lifesaving organ from a member of this family born out of their own tragedy)

Advertisements

Donor family letter…phase 1

bench-edit

So I got an email the other day from my transplant coordinator about writing a letter to my donor’s family.  This is something they tell you from day one that you have the option of doing when your one-year anniversary of the transplant is approaching.  It’s crazy to think that it’s almost been a year…that last year this time I had just entered UTMB hospital and had no idea what was about to happen.  I thought I was fine.  Heh, “I thought I was fine” …that phrase never follows anything good. 

My coordinator sent me a “sample letter” to help base mine off of.  It begins with thanking the family for my “gift of life” and saying you are “sorry for the loss of your loved one.”  I know a letter is a start, but it seems so very insignificant of a gesture to represent what truly happened this year.  My one-year transplant anniversary is their one-year anniversary of the loss of their loved one.  My extra year of life was their first year without their loved one.  The first birthday without them, the first holidays without them.  And that is something I can relate to since mom’s death was the year prior to my transplant and it was only 17 days apart from her death anniversary. 

What to say, what to say…

What would you say if you had to thank someone specifically for granting you an extra year of life and you had to defend your actions/choices for this year and account for what you had done with that year.  Seems very “parable-esque”.  I feel like I should have done more this year.  I know that I should be aware that some families would not be too happy about losing their loved one to help an addict, who put themselves in the situation to need a liver in the first place.  It’s a lot of pressure if you think about it.  From here on out, I’m alive specifically because someone died (again very Christian metaphorical I’m aware).  Most people don’t naturally think that way.  They think of it as “I’m here because someone created me and gave birth to me and raised me” …not died. 

As some of you might not know I was adopted.  My mother was a teenager who gave birth to me at the Methodist Mission Home in San Antonio and then a few days later was killed in a car accident according to the records I was allowed to look at by the lovely State of Texas.  My entire existence has hinged on people being in the right place at the right time and having something life changing happen.  My birth mother gave me up then died…either way she never would have raised me.  My parents were at the right place at the right time to adopt me, raise me and allow me to meet all you wonderful people.  Then this…someone else left this world so I can continue to be here, exactly where I am.  No idea what God is thinking because I’m definitely not that important lol…

So back to my letter.  What to write…what to say…what would you say to defend your actions and choices this year as a flawed human?

(P.S. The picture up top is of a bench at the Transplant Outpatient Clinic at Methodist that we all have to go to twice a week.  The tiles are painted by donor families and recipients courtesy of Nora’s Home – http://www.norashome.org/)

Simple Sunday

just-breathe

            Today is simple.  No over thinking, no over writing…just silence in my head.  For me it is a rare feeling and when i do feel the simpleness of the day wash over me I try to linger in it as long as possible.  My life seems to go 200 mph every day for the last several years.  I feel anxious a lot like most of you know.  But today, there is just something in the air that just makes me pause and smile.  I like it.  I wish I could pause everything and look around, taking as long as I want.  Also, I dreamed about flying fish that popped into bubbles when you touched them last night, so maybe that is it…

______________________________________________________________

After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string. 

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

 

 

Beeps or Barking…

1

        Hello again all…If you hadn’t guessed or read my posts I was in the hospital again from Aug 31 to Sept 13.  Official complication diagnosis: acute inflammation of the pancreas, decreased white blood cell count, anemia of chronic disease, decreased platelet count, and electrolyte imbalance.  My liver counts were off as well and my new liver is already showing signs of fatty liver disease…good times.  I’ve had pancreatitis bouts before and they are wicked painful.  I don’t know if ya’ll remember, but a few weeks ago I posted that I had been taken off one medication and was excited about it.  Turns out, taking me off of that medication was what caused all of this because my bile was too thick for my body to process without it….so I’m back on it.  C’est la vie.  On a good note, most of my “stuff” is now back to stable or where it was before this last stay, so that’s awesome.  This stay was a little too close to home, though, so to speak.  My team said this was the sickest they had seen me since the transplant.  I got put on TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) via a PICC line (central line/catheter) and they fed me via my veins basically and bypassed my entire digestive system – pretty cool actually.  Though on another hand because of the immense pain I was in they ended up over medicating me with dilaudid for a few days and for those days my mind was upside down in a jello bowl full of rainbows and monkeys singing kumbaya.  It was madness lol…especially if you were one of the lucky few that I attempted to text while in this state.  If so, apologies… 

     On a more serious note though, I did get scared that everything was happening all over again like last fall when I first got sick.  It really started to mess with my mind and the last few days there before I was released.  Every time any nurse spoke to me I said I wanted to go home and just burst into tears. 

     See what made this stay so different, like I said, was the fear.  The fear of being stuck in the hospital for months again.  The fear that this was the time I don’t get to go home, because like it or not that will happen one day.  As opposed to when I was in ICU when I felt calm, warm and at peace…. this time I was panicking and frantic to just see my dogs, Sean, my family just one more time.  Just to sleep in my own bed one more time.  And yes, I understand what I was feeling was a bit irrational you could say, but the feeling was so overwhelming and so real it just consumed me.  The last few days I was there I ended up sleeping with my door open because I was directly across from the nurse’s station and it made me feel even more safe. 

     Fear makes you do crazy things, even when you are praying for God to be merciful on your soul and pleading for just an ounce of peace.  Because in all honesty, just because you pray for it doesn’t mean it will come and sometimes the fear even gets worse after.

     When I felt sick sometimes, even before the transplant I would go to the ER immediately and instantly feel better just because I was surrounded by people whose job it was to keep me alive.  When I felt sick and stayed at home and tried to tough it out, even though I was surrounded by my dogs and Sean, I felt panicky, unsafe…afraid.

     So why was it different this time…. why was it different than when I was in the ICU, despite the obvious difference in critical conditions at both times.  That answer I don’t know to be frank.  This time in the hospital I also became very aware of sounds around me.  Beeping, alarms, the patient next door yelling “help”, nurses talking quietly, etc.  It made me think of the differences between my dogs barking and waking me up in the middle of the night versus my IV beeping or alarms going off waking me up in the middle of the night.  Depending on which time of this last year you asked me which I would prefer my answer would be different.  Dogs barking would mean I was safe in the comfort of my own bed…Beeping would mean I was in the hospital, possibly ICU.  Why does my fear make one place preferable to another at different times.  Either way, no matter what I do or try the beeping will one day stop…the barking one day will stop.  Is one choice more selfish than the other for where I feel more comfortable and safe?  I know most of our gut reactions would say, “of course I’d rather be with family at home, instead of at the hospital where someone is actively trying to extend my life and have my family there by your side.”  But I’d be willing to bet that if anyone reading this spent some time alone and contemplated this, their answer might be different or much, much more complicated.

     Food for thought…either way I am happy to be home, alive, stable and lucky to have so many people that send thoughts and prayers my direction this time.  Also, some of you that asked about my room number or wanting to visit – you have my sincerest apologies for not responding, my brain was eaten by dilaudid and if I had responded anyways it would have looked something like this, “vvvvmvmmmm  Halloween why….why is smdmf…..f…..tomorrrrwrww goatttts.”  For real.  Cheers.

Open thoughts to Mom on her birthday…

Grief-Web-Pic

(disclaimer – this might be hard for some of you to read that were close to mom)

I miss you

Why aren’t you here

Why did you leave – what was so unbearable that choosing to leave us was the best option

Why weren’t you ever honest with us

I thought I was the only one you opened up to but turns out no one was…now we’re left with just your only close family piecing bits together to make sense of this all

I’ll never forget Debby, Angie, Walt, Tommy walking into the house

I’ll never forget walking in and sitting on dad’s lap like I did when I was a little girl – I’ll never forget watching you being rolled out of the house on the stretcher and that dark, black bag.

I’ll never forget Dad looking for his slippers in his room the first night and being mad he didn’t think to pack them

I’ll never forget Dad and I staring at the breakfast menu for what seemed like an hour because we couldn’t fathom something as simple as breakfast after what had happened

I’ll never forget begging Howard to get on a flight here

I’ll never forget Dad determined to “get in there” (to their bedroom) and “start cleaning up after Jerry is done” (jerry town cleaned the room himself the next day….i can’t ‘imagine what that must have been like)

I’ll never forget no one wanting to go into the room initially with dad

I’ll never forget my family there going in and being with me helping dad clean off the blood that was missed

I’ll never forget the furtive apologetic looks I would glance at the ceiling above where she died and then back at my relative that entered the room wanting to say over and over I’m sorry naturally…

I’ll never forget Jenn and I grabbing things to clean blood off before dad saw them

I’ll never forget the shock – the haunting scream – how time stopped utterly – how I instantly thought of where I was when she did it because I knew exactly what she had done because of the day and how long I had spent with her before on her prior attempts – she made sure there was no way out

I’ll never forget running up the stairs screaming to Sean who was asleep about what happened – I’ll never forget Sean screaming and then throwing up…

I’ll never forget the kindness of Jamie and Paige coming to get me to take me to Dad’s because he was worried about me driving in such a state from Galveston to Houston…

I’ll never forget me and Aunt Nancy seeing her casket in perfect 60’s avocado green and going ….”that’s perfect”

I’ll never forget the way she said “helllooooooo” after you said “hello hello hello” on the answering machine at the house – yes they still kept one and then she’d pick up so telemarketers didn’t pester her

I’ll never forget how happy she was all the time at Christmas and the 4th of July – her favorite music seasons – I’ll never forget how music moved mom and made her genuinely smile and lose herself

I’ll never forget how fiercely mom protected my brother and I from the world….something I used to fault her on, but now I am grateful for it

I’ll never forget how she stomped her feet when she was joking …. Usually becs my father cracked a joke about her height – me, Howard and him were the only ones allowed to joke about it in her mind – otherwise, no matter what she said, her feeling were hurt and she talked about it at home…usually to me…sorry

I’ll never forget how it feels to still have you here – something I’m terrified of losing, the sound of your voice, the smell of your perfume

I’ll never forget cursing at you that you left, the main, main year I needed you and your crazy insane focused love when I got sick

I’ll never forget every time I go into the hospital and don’t know if I’m leaving and I picture you there and wonder how you would chose to sleep in my room because I know you would not leave – yet you chose to leave – so how much worse must have what you were going through have been compared to the little pain physical pain I’ve experienced…

I’ll never forget how at least, at least, multiple times a week I forget you aren’t here….even now

I have no idea how I am going to face my life going forward without you

I’ll never forget how I stared with a purpose while your coffin was lowered….i refused to let myself look away…like you were still there, yet you were there, I know that now – you never leave me.

                “you – you alone will have the stars as no one else has them…In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing.  And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you can look at the sky at night..You – only you – will have stars that can laugh.”  – El Principito

I miss you mom…

Sunday musings from a better mind than mine…

-font-b-Stained-b-font-font-b-Glass-b-font-Deceptions-oil-painting-on-canvas

      “The bad psychological material is not a sin but a disease. It does not need to be repented of, but to be cured. And by the way, that is very important. Human beings judge one another by their external actions. God judges them by their moral choices. When a neurotic who has a pathological horror of cats forces himself to pick up a cat for some good reason, it is quite possible that in God’s eyes he has shown more courage than a healthy man may have shown in winning the V.C. When a man who has been perverted from his youth and taught that cruelty is the right thing does dome tiny little kindness, or refrains from some cruelty he might have committed, and thereby, perhaps, risks being sneered at by his companions, he may, in God’s eyes, be doing more than you and I would do if we gave up life itself for a friend.

It is as well to put this the other way round. Some of us who seem quite nice people may, in fact, have made so little use of a good heredity and good upbringing that we are really worse than those whom we regard as fiends. Can we be quite certain how we should have behaved if we had been saddled with the psychological outfit, and then with the bad upbringing, and then with the power, say, of Himmler? That is why Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it. Most of the man’s psychological makeup is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or worst out of this material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things which we thought our own, but which were really due to a good digestion, will fall off some of us: all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was. There will be surprises.”

― C.S. LewisMere Christianity

My Pseudo AMA…(ask me anything #reddit)

ama bunny.jpg

So these are the top 10 recent questions that have been messaged to me….and subsequent answers.  My very own brief AMA (ask me anything re: Reddit)

  1. How did you sleep with all the tubes in you?

    1. Very very uncomfortably, with about 6 pillows around me and with my head cocked to the left. When I got most of my tubes out I had to relearn/retrain my muscles to hold my head upright because it just kind of leaned to the left constantly.

  2. Was it hard learning to walk again?

    1. Pretty hard. My legs remembered how to move moreless, but I had no muscles to go with the movement.  I went from using a walker with help during PT in the hospital, to a half walker/half wheel chair at home until around March.  I still haven’t figured out how to run yet though lol.  But to me that’s a good thing J

  3. What was it like when you could talk again or how does that work with a trach?

    1. So they give you a speech valve you can put over your trach. It lets you talk quietly but it’s really hard to breathe with one on so I tended to not use it until they had decreased the size of my trach.  By then they showed me that I can just stick my finger over the hole and talk just the same as with the speech valve.

  4. What did you do on medical leave?

    1. Slept a lot and binge watched tv shows! But about a month before I was to start work again I started getting pretty stir-crazy and bored.

  5. Do you get to know who your donor was?

    1. Yes, on the one year anniversary of my transplant.

  6. Do IVs hurt?

    1. They do at first, but you get used to them. Now I don’t even flinch or stop talking to someone when they put them in.

  7. Did you have a stuffed animal with you?

    1. Yes, I was brought a stuffed Kermit the frog randomly and I slept with that. When the nurses would change my sheets they got to where they tucked Kermit back into my bad for me.

  8. Did they celebrate holidays while you were there?

    1. Yes actually. The day I got into ICU at Methodist it was Halloween so all the nurses were in costumes.  On thanksgiving they had a special thanksgiving meal for everyone.  On Christmas they also had a special meal and volunteers came around and gave everyone on the ward stockings with gifts in them.

  9. What did you watch on tv?

    1. Oddly enough, the weather channel or the ambient noise channel where they have waves crashing and forest sounds rotating.

  10. You find humor in what happened to you, what was one of the funniest times you had that you haven’t written about yet?

    1. When I was finally able to take a shower I was able to stand on my own for a bit if I was holding on to things. So I showered and when I was done I was reaching for my hair rubber band on the sink and because I was so shaky I dropped it on the floor.  I bent down to grab it out of a basic reaction and then realized I could not get up because I had no muscles.  So I was stuck on the floor and I couldn’t get up for a bit.  I eventually figured out a way to pull myself up with my arms and made my way back to the safety of my bed lol.