Recovery Weeps

I traveled alone-empty from friends who could not relate

Nobody wanted to listen at 2 AM

Lostt in a new haze

A body revolting for just one more pill

Nothing to escape

No way back

Crying no one listening

Everyone pretending they cared but not really,

just as long as they had their own secret fix

“Stay strong” they said from their own messy lives

I know clean-it hurts; bleeds real blood

My tears don’t stop-how did I get here?

I changed my mind but nobody will listen

Please another refill day? Plentiful without a worry or a feeling..

LEFTT, too excruciating to go just one more night….

Deep Breaths

Today, almost 14 months into my recovery. I am no longer surviving, I am truly living. I still attend recovery meetings almost daily but now I want to, I no longer have to. My life is slowly returning to normal and I am more grateful with each passing day that I went through the living hell of medical detox and an extremely hard year of debilitating recovery.

I have now added another type of recovery to my weekly meetings-I attend a Refuge Recovery meeting which is Buddhist based and truly focuses on the breath which is so energizing and expansive. I have wanted to attend Refuge Recovery but in my first year I wasn’t quite there yet, as I wasn’t able to sit still with myself or my breath….

Now I augment my recovery with this delightful recovery practice and attend it on Saturday mornings as a new addition to my more traditional approach to recovery during the week. I am growing as a person, a parent, a friend, and a partner in ways I never imagined were possible. My limits are once again limitless; only restricted by my own expectations I impose on myself. I try to refrain from such restrictive behavior and live each day I am blessed to live to my fullest and to the best of my abilities.

I am once again filled with hope and inspired by many who already walk this path of recovery and live more completely than I am capable of doing so at this point in my short recovery. I try not to impose limits on my dreams because one year ago I couldn’t have dreamt that I would be where I am today. Life is still filled with lots of lessons I need to learn, but it no longer hurts like it did a year ago.

I know I have written that my early days in medical detox and recovery were simply inhumane, and that is true, however, with that being said I write today from a new place of understanding for the suffering I endured in those early days and months.

Suffering when one is experiencing it seems senseless and meaningless. I will never say it is okay but it is OKAY today as I have created a bit of distance from it in my daily life. Was it necessary, no. Was it avoidable, no it wasn’t either. How do I say and mean both? The answer as I understand is not simple or linear…

I certainly didn’t have to suffer in order to get to well and reap the multitude of benefits of recovery. However, is my lived experience richer for the suffering I endured and is my recovery THAT much more rewarding and lush due to the suffering? Absolutely YES. Yes I say as a person who could never tolerate such suffering ever again, no matter what the circumstances….simply-absolutely not at all!

I don’t equate suffering with a richer, more robust recovery but from where I started this journey I have traversed it not possible without the suffering my medical detox dictated. Do I believe the healthcare profession has a lot of growing to do to catch up the recovery experience with other facets of healthcare-a big YES, most definitely! I hope to be part of the many conversations going forward in the field of recovery, both physically and mentally.

The pain addicts are forced to endure to get to well is completely out of control and obviously not a priority of the healthcare profession at this point. I believe recovery reform is imperative to getting more and more addicts to well, as right now there is too much pain required for many addicts to get to well so they stay using and never getting a life worth living. This is the prohibitory truth we must face as people who care about the next addict’s chance at sobriety. This is also a truth much of healthcare is ill-prepared to face as they need to look inside themselves and realize that just abstinence from chemicals is not the only requirement for physical and mental wellness.

The all too important therapeutic alliance is gravely over-looked in the current recovery experience for my addicts. This must change in the fields of recovery and medical detox! There are too many addicts suffering from chronic addiction that can not fathom the only road to well that much of the healthcare profession currently offers.

Unit there are political voices for those suffering from addictions not much will change, countless lives will be senselessly lost, and countless more will continue to be sick and suffer from one day to the next.

I realize I am not the norm, as I had access to first-rate healthcare to get to well, and even my care was not without limitation and I experienced unthinkable suffering I can not even entertain a year plus out in my own recovery journey.

I hope my “story” which will be entitled the Illness of My Discontent will serve a purpose of hope and some inspiration that if this addict can get to well in this imperfect healthcare scenario then so can you if you truly want to change your life- for a life worth living.

Corey

BORN TH\IS WAY-2K18

Exhaling…….

In July 2K17 I began to turn the corner in my recovery. Slowly I started getting better both physically as well as mentally. I began to notice small improvements in my face for starters. My droopy mouth  as well as my crooked smile began to slightly improve in a way that I was so very grateful.

I was slowly beginning to regain a clear mind in modest proportions, Nothing happened significantly overnight by any means. Every improvement was ever so slight and one day built on another. I was still completely OFF and not right and my improvements back in July and in the rest of the summer were not noticable to anyone else besides myself. It was a truly lonely time where all I had was my budding Faith to get me from one day to the next.

Life was truly lonely as I had long since lost my signature confidence and isolated socially as a result of not feeling comfortable around other people. Besides a recovery meeting in the early morning for an hour, I spent the rest of my time alone with my puglet, Julie Bleu, or with Stephanie and my immediate family members. The always social Corey had long disappeared and well, still hasn’t fully returned even now.

Beginning in September something drastic changed, and I as well as the few people I allowed around me began to notice big gains in my physical as well as mental being. I started talking better, and had more mornings where I didn’t wake up hard with a disfigured look about my face that would take until late morning to resolve itself. With these gains, a tiny bit of confidence returned as did the beginning of hope and my Faith in a power greater than myself.

I know mentioning a power greater than myself will turn people off, but it isn’t to be judged -nor am I trying to push any sort of this idea on you. It is truly a personal experience that I couldn’t impose on anyone even if I wanted to…

So hope began to return to my life after a long and empty absence. I started stringing more and more good or better days together, and I stopped looking at everything that had changed with my looks forever, and started trying to get somewhat comfortable with what was now, going forward. At some point, I accepted that how I looked before was gone and now what was left, was still improving but would never return to how it was prior to recovery. I an not sure when that great realization took place but it did during the Fall and that was truly the beginning of my REAL recovery to well.

I continued to attend my weekday recovery meetings everyday and started planning for my annual Thanksgiving vacation on a barrier island off of Florida where my parents reside in the winter months. My entire family gets together so this was a big trip, and the most significant part was I had never gone on this trip without pills and alcohol. Of course I wasn’t bringing the pills, but what I found the most difficult was the idea of no alcohol….I had of course abstained from alcohol since before my first day in detox but the thought of being around my parents, at their house without alcohol seemed like something I wouldn’t be able to do.

In the middle of November I headed to Florida and I participated in the festivities, visiting with my sister and her family, yes staying at my parents and yes doing the entire four week vacation without a recovery meeting or any alcohol.

I can back home the first week in December, feeling so energized by my family’s love, or more specifically the love of my sister and her family. My walk and gait were still off ,but I was feeling so good by mid-December I dusted off my resume and began to apply for finance positions. I hadn’t  worked as I had been in school for years, but now I felt a strong internal urge to return to the real-world and get back to working.

By late December I had interviews lined up, put on my big brave, afraid of how I would present to employers, but went and interviewed anyway. I began to get offers and turned them down for awhile as I didn’t feel confident to go to work for an entire day and make it through successfully. With the start of the new year, I turned the last corner that was holding me back, as I realized I WAS walking correctly and my gait was no longer off. I accepted a position at a start-up company, and pushed my start date out until February 5th, 2K18-less than a year from my detox and spiral into a living hell.

I still am in disbelief that the body and mind regenerate like they did and continue to do in my instance. I began work on February 5th, and started out working 14 hour days which was not what I signed up for. I did it-I successfully returned to work, and I did the job, but I was just surviving. I proved to myself, to people in recovery, and my family that I was capable of returning to work after less than a year out of medical detox. After five weeks, and many long, self-questioning conversations with Stephanie and my family, I decided that leaving that position was not failure. but rather doing the right thing for myself and well-being. I left after the first week in March, and went immediately back to my weekday recovery meetings. There I concentrated on what was right in front of me: my impending one year recovery anniversary.

I was so happy to have proven to myself I could return to work given the right situation, but decided to put my work aspirations on hold and concentrate on my recovery that had taken a back seat the entire time I was working. I learnt I had had no balance in my life when I went to work and that was something I needed to definitely improve upon.

My sister and brother-n-law gave me the best gift of my first year recovery anniversary-they planned a trip to spend with me the weekend of my anniversary for March 18th,2K18. I was still noticing improvements in my physical and mental conditions. Of all the gifts of recovery, one of the most remarkable is how incredible the body and mind are in their healing abilities.

The weekend of my one year recovery anniversary, my sister and brother-n-law flew in from NC. We had an amazing weekend, and of course I celebrated with my beloved Stephanie. I didn’t pick up my year medallion on my anniversary-I waited until the Monday after my anniversary to get it with the people in recovery who had supported and passed no judgement on me while I struggled and flopped my way to well.

People who knew me in early recovery spoke of what a true miracle  I was given how very sick and physically twisted I was in the beginning. I celebrated my year and reflected on the fucking epic journey recovery really is-no, I couldn’t do it again if I had to, and no if I knew the amount of pain and suffering I would endure, I wouldn’t be able to do it either; but I don’t have to.

Now I bask in the Sacred of the Ordinary and work once again on applying to positions and preparing myself to start my own business at the top of the new year. So many gifts of recovery and yet I am reminded daily of the people who don’t make it back and don’t have the life I do today. I am completely humbled in my ultimate gratitude……..

Corey

BLOGS FROM THE ILLNESS OF MY DISCONTENT-2K18

The Hardest Breath….

Once I got home from the hospital real hell began to settle in, I was overcome with entire body withdrawals. I flopped, twitched, and tremored from every facial muscle to the tips of my toes. My face took on a new disfigured look I am still recovering from which will sadly never been entirely normal again. My symmetric face which I took for granted is long gone as are my bright blue eyes which have been replaced with sometimes faint  blue but mostly hazy gray eyes I do not recognize in the mirror.

The mirror which I once spent so much happy time in front of is no longer my friend and the same can be said for the camera which I usually avoid at all costs.

The first weeks or more exactly the first couple of long, never ending months were consumed with the full body withdrawals  I just mentioned along with daily deeper and more facial disfigurement that I thought would never stop.

I was initially under the care of visiting nurses, and the only thing I did every day was crawl out of bed for my early morning weekday recovery meeting less than a mile down the road from my house. Of course I was unable to walk to the meeting so I took a cab every day back and forth. Once the meeting was over I staggered outside and took a cab the mile back to my house,  Then I would get into bed for the rest of the day and night and writhe in pain and uncontrollable convulsions that began  each day around 10:30 am and continued until I found a few hours of sleep in the early evening.. The visiting nurses arrived daily around 3:00 pm and checked my blood pressure and managed my medication but did nothing else to help me and my excruciating discomfort,

This scenario continued for a good four months without an ounce of relief. The only aspect that changed were my physical disabilities, which just continued to escalate and worsen. Everyday I spent hours on my shaking legs in the mirror, stating in horror as I watched myself morph daily with age and disfigurement. I still have acute PTSD over this time in my life as I was lead to believe I was on the road to well as my body and mind hung on by mere thread that only gained reprieve  with my daily early morning  recovery meetings. If it wasn’t for  these meetings I NEVER would have made it to see this very day

At about my fourth month of recovery I was able, miraculously, to take my first real half-breath. I found myself as July marked the calendar, able to make a plan and a promise to myself, to give myself an entire year from July 1st, to continue to recover and work on my recovery. It was the first time I could feel progress in the right direction in my recovery and acknowledge both physically and mentally the slightest bit of improvement since I entered the hospital and embarked on my medical detox.

It was a LONG stretch of time from the muddle of March to the  first of July to suffer as badly as I did. I read my words in front of me and they do not do justice to the pain and suffering I endured. I pray the more I write about this time in my life the more the words will began to match my lived experience.

With the beginning of July I started my slow ascent back to what has become my new normal. No, my new normal isn’t very close to my old normal I so took for granted, even disrespected with my inability to embrace “gifts” that now just live in memories and in pictures. What has been the  greatest gift in my recovery is my spiritual condition and my clear mindedness, which allows me a life worth living I never realized was possible or that I wanted to actively participate in prior to all this mayhem of my epic recovery “speedsplatt” MOMENT. .

Corey

BLOGS FROM THE ILLNESS OF MY DISCONTENT-2K18

Trying To Catch A Breath…….

My road to well is marred with lots of pits of pain and maladies to which I can not truly speak to now that I am thirteen months into my recovery, but I will do my best to recall the acute pain I endured and  suffered on my road to someplace I know chose to call WELL.

I left the hospital on Match 18th, 2K17 on day after I swallowed my last phenobarbital dose to relieve me of fatal seizures I would have died from coming off of 10 mg of Xanax a day. That last pill I swallowed was extremely monumental in my short stint into my recovery from severe pharmaceutical use over the past twelve years of my life. I remember not swallowing the last “pheno\” pill and instead putting it on my tray table and staring at it intently, knowing full well once I ingested it, it would be the last of the mind-altering pills I had so gleefully consumed for the last twelve years with knowledge my gig was up as I chose this unknowing path of a new life that would no longer include refill days of the likes I don’t think most hardcore users were used to seeing: at the height of refill days just weeks before  my decision to get clean, I was picking up upwards of 510 mini-mental mndfuckers at the pharmacy.  This was a combination of 150 2 mg Xanax, 120 30 mg Adderall, 120 10 mg Hydrocodone, 60 10 mg Valium, and 30 10 mg Ambien-how I was allowed to legally walk out of the pharmacy with such a stockpile is still a mystery I should probably dial back and figure out when I am a bit more well than I am now.

So you can imagine why I lingered and did not hastily swallow that last “pheno” pill. The nurse was so happy to be done with me she remarked, “Here is your last pill!” Not exactly the thing you say to an addict just embarking on the path of recovery…..but hey it was just another faux pas to be added to the long list of lunacies I experienced in my stay in the hospital…….

I finally swallowed that last pill which is captured on my phone as a lonely image of a tiny white pill against a stainless steel background, No, I don’t have any pictures of the pile of 510 pills I received on refill day. Boy, what I wouldn’t do to have a picture of that heap of irresponsible healthcare I experienced as an end user…

So back to March 18th, 2K17, I finally had reached the end of the medical detox line and was deemed medically fit to leave the hospital and embark on the harrowing next stage of my life that would forever alter me in all ways possible; mentally, physically and spiritually.

Before I left I met with a psychiatrist who spoke to me at length about my detox and how serious my recovery would be. He put it best by telling me my detox was a brain injury like one experiences when they get hit in the head with a baseball bat. He told me I was seriously sick and the next year would be long and hard. I was already dazed and confused so it would be a long time before his words would mean anything to me.

I left the hospital and  went  with Stephanie right to the pharmacy to get four blood pressure medications filled and a couple other medications including a pile of 800 mg Neurontin-yes the medication addict’s are now turning to for a new high, yes that medication… seriously Neurontin is not even a controlled substance yet but if you Google it the first thing that bops up is “Neurontin high.” Whatever healthcare profession, you still can’t get anything right! So I left with another new bag of pills on my first day in recovery.

I finally got home and had all I could do to get right into bed and start flopping around from the withdrawals that were just settling in. Hell I had no fucking idea what I was about to go through for the next year of my life…….

Corey

BORN THIS WAY-2K18

One Year and Breathing……..

I have blogged sporadically during the past year regarding my tenuous journey in the depths of recovery. Nothing, and I mean nothing has come easily or without immense pain and suffering.

On March 18th, 2K18, I celebrated one year of being completely clean and sober. After years of ingesting 10 mg of Xanax and 120 mg of Adderall daily, I somehow found my way to the world of recovery after a mere, short four month stint on Opioids. I never could have imagined that getting put on pain pills would somehow be the impedes for getting me on a journey of well that would eventually unfold into a new lease on life and a life in which I finally find myself living again.

I used to spend so much time writing and romanticizing about my use of prescription drugs. I marveled about “refill” days which were the absolute jackpot lottery days of the month when I would go to the pharmacy and pick up my seemingly pounds of pills and feel no less than a million bucks and the luckiest person alive. Nobody ever rained on my refill days-it was impossible to wreck my moods on such days as I was once again armed and fortified with over four hundred uppers and downers for the next thirty days. Even now as I write about it, I can’t help but smile a wry smile of days I will never forget but that have now long since passed by. I also wrote daily about ingesting what I coined the “golden elixit” which was when I take an Adderall and chase it with an extra large coffee….Corey’s Maniacal Musings were once alive and well!

However last January 16, 2K17, I begin to peel away the muting pharmaceuticals which dulled me and eroded my personality until there was nothing left but a shell of myself that shuffled about and didn’t really participate in conversations or the world around me. First to go were the Opioids, with a cold-turkey detox, I thought would nearly kill me. Through the Opioids I made my fateful journey to a recovery center and my life as I had come to barely live it, was altered forever in ways I still am coming to realize.

I deleriously thought after I got off the Opioids I was clean and sober. I didn’t realize by ingesting mind-altering psychtropic drugs I had become so dependent on, I was so far from the sobriety I yearned for. Finally on March 6th, 2K17 I voluntrily entered the hospital to somehow free myself, my body, and my mind from the last of the pharmaceautical haze I lived under. I had no idea how I could ever live without Xanax and Adderall and oh yeah ambien and valium too. I didn’t think I could last beyond two hours without Xanax but knew on a very Universal level, as long as I showed up to give everything up, the doctors I still didn’t know would find a way to save me from a death in which I breathed, ate and slept but did not live beyond that.

On the 6th of March, I took my last 2 mg of Xanax at 5:00pm and then at 6:00 pm I started what would be a 12 day Phenobarbital taper. It was twice as long as the standard 6 day taper but given the number of years and the high dosages I was on, the doctors and pharmacists were having to wing it and hope that I wouldn’t experience a fatal seizure or heart attack in the process.

I lasted two days on the thus far uneventful taper before my body and systems began to revolt and my blood pressure would rise to stroke like levels that no amount of blood pressure medication could control. This turn of bodily events landed me on a Cardiac Unit where I would go on to experience 11 cardiac incidents over the next 12 days. Once I got to the Cardiac Unit I soon started to hit the skids: panic over-came my body and mind and I began to experience a torture that would not leave me for many months thereafter.

The doctors ran every test and imaging scan possible looking for a better reason to my stroke level blood pressure than just detox and panic. The ensuing days in the hospital were a combination of severe discomfort and uncontrollable bodily reactions which affected every facet of my body and mind. Peace as I knew it on any level, left me and it would be many long, dark and demonized months before I ever experienced even a moment of Peace again.

I surprisingly recall vividly the days in the hospital as I decompensated right before the doctors eyes. I would find no medical relief, as I soon realized the system that had come to save me did not care or was not in the least humane regarding the suffering I would experience during the onset of my recovery. Everyday I called my family crying in despair from the physical and mental anguish I was experiencing daily, With all the medications in the world, Western medication failed me mightily as I had entrusted them to heal me and make me better, The medical profession had the bottom line solution but it ignored the solutions to getting from point A to point Z and basically deferred my excruciating discomfort to me as my problem to deal with which meant nothing more than to suffer it out without any sign of relief in store.

I haven’t thought of it until now, just about 13 months into recovery, but I now understand really well why so many people fail at recovery and revert back to their choice of substance(s). Basically, recovery hurts too much, and therefore people give up if they have any sanity. I don’t know anything other than the Universe as my answer, why I stuck it out and truly suffered unbearable feelings and pain that no one should ever have to bear. I now get why people give up their lives to drugs and don’t ever return. It has never hit me that I was certifiably insane to endure the craziness I did for so many months. I guess the rest of this conversation fits neatly somewhere else in my story, so forgive me for thinking out loud as I recant my story drenched in gobs of pain and suffering.

After being tested systemically for every and any underlying reason for my epic blood presure, it was determined that it was just the stress of detox on my system causing the need for me to ingest four blood pressure medications a day. This is a perfectly imperfect representation of the underestimation and dimishment of recovery by the medical establishment. The minimization of the effects of recovery on the body and mind desperately need to be researched and studied so that the gravity of recovery can be understood and the treatments going forward are more comfortable and tolerable so the efficacy of recovery treatements can improve and the all so important therapeutic alliance between the patient and the medical team can be perserved for desperately needed positive and efficacious outcomes.

Okay back to MY recovery story….one of the most fucked up moments in the hospital happened to me during my first weekend in the hospital. A covering psychiatrist named Dr.Cates,who practices at Chestnut Hill Counseling in Dover, NH (yes this is his real name and contact information) came to see me for my daily psych check-in. He was a bloated, beet-red,past middle aged man, with serious problems. Pretty much what you would expect by someone who practices psychiatry. He came into my private hospital room, which just consisted of myself and him, sat down in a chair, put his feet up, and proceeded to ask me what was I doing there? I blindly went on to tell him the short version of my story and he proceeded to tell me I deserved to be where I was, that I was responsible for my condition, that I asked for my high dosages of medications that had been prescribed by at least three board certified psychiatrists, and oh yeah by the way was there anything he could smugly do for me that day? I was in tears, told him to leave, and called my nurse immediately. My nurse took my blood pressure and he had upset me so much I required an emergency blood pressure medication in my IV and once I could explain what had happened with the twisted Dr. Cates, they forbid me to see him or anyone else in psychiatry without a nurse in the room. He was so fucked up, he didn’t follow standard hospital protocol and check-in at the nurses station like all other consulting doctors do when they come to the floor. The next day Sunday he returned, and as he went to enter my room I screamed at him to stop, called my nurse and she came running into my room. He was completely uncomfortable and asked what was going on. I said, “It might have to do with you blaming me for my high medication dosages.” He said, “I said a lot of things yesterday but I didn’t say that.” He fucking lied! I had no reason to lie about a damn thing given my predicament and the staff knew it. Human Rights even came to see me to file a report but after that I didn’t have the energy to fight him or anyone else.

I left the hospital on March 18th, 2K18, which is my recovery date. I had a last psych consult with a really great doctor, who told me what I had been through and what I would go through was like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat and was a serious brain injury. He said there had been a chance I would have experienced a condition that would have left me permanently psychotic but that I had come through the hard medical detox as well as could be expected. This is where the rubber hits the road for me: I came through detox as well as could be expected? My detox was nothing short of a shit show and now you tell me I could have been permanently psychotic? Okay doctor, if you think all this shit is okay and good medicine, I will certainly get back to you and your fellow colleagues. For the more I write my story, the more I re-live the pain and intolerable` suffering I lived through beyond that which is okay and humane.

I left the hospital and returned home for the next part of my arduous recovery. I do tell my story to empower people but I realize I must be truthful and my Truth is very complicated and not linear. I do not tell my story to dissuade anyone from the crazy magical world of recovery I now am blessed to experience, but as a lesson for medical professionals and researchers, that this process of Big Brave can and must be made better and more humane for the patient.

I save the next part of my recovery and the magic that envelops me now for tomorrow when I have the bandwidth to tell the pain and miraculous journey to well I have traversed over these last 13 months…..

Corey

BORN THIS WAY-2K18