Category Archives: My story

Dear Evan Longoria,

Last night I lay in bed contemplating a writing prompt I recently read inviting me to picture the one person I wished was reading my blog and write him or her a letter. You immediately popped into my mind and last night as I thought about writing such a letter, I found myself in tears.

On April 24, 2008, I went blind very quickly and unexpectedly. I wish I knew the exact date I heard your name for the first time but it must have been nearing the end of the 2008 season. I heard Down and Out, a song I loved, and asked my boyfriend why it was playing. He explained all about you and your amazing rookie season and the Rays and how Joe Maddon had taken you guys out of the cellar and it looked like you might just make the playoffs.

I was not a baseball fan. I wasn’t a sports fan period, unless the Arizona Wildcats were playing. I thought baseball was the most boring game in the world but as I listened to the game on TV, unable to see it, relying on the broadcasters and my boyfriend, I was riveted by you and your team’s story. At the beginning of the season, before I went blind, my boyfriend got the MLB Extra Innings package and I rolled my eyes at the cost. He had said he would pay it don’t worry, unless he caught me in the bedroom with baseball on. Little did we know that would be exactly what he would discover several months later.

When I found out how much better baseball was on the radio and that the playoff games were broadcast locally, that cinched it. My little radio went with me as I listened to you and the Rays make it all the way to the World Series. I cried and cried when it was over.

I wasn’t just sad the baseball season was done. I was saddened to lose this newfound passion I had had so briefly. Evan you gave me something incredible that year and I’ve wanted you to know it ever since. You gave me something to look forward to! You opened up an interest in me that I was able to feed and dive into when I had nothing else to hold on to. I had no access to technology in those first dark months. I had nothing but books on CD that friends brought me. Until I heard Down and Out that day and found out about you.

It wasn’t long before I had a full blown crush, especially after my girl friend described you. I fantasized about meeting you, most of those fantasies not for public consumption. These days when I think about meeting you the scene always ends up with me in tears trying to tell you what you mean to me. You saved my life!

Not only am I now a rabid Rays fan who looks forward to the season every year but I have so many friends in the Twitterverse because of you and the Rays. You were the second person I followed when I joined and now I have a host of friends, fellow Rays fans, who have become family to me. I am never alone, even on my darkest days they are there. You started this Evan, you did. You were just doing your thing, playing your game, being you and you had no idea you were doing this for me, saving some woman’s life clear across the country! Thank you so much. A thank you is nowhere near enough.

You’ll probably never read this but hey, stranger things have happened right? You tweeted me once, after you were bribed, I wonder if you remember that.

I think that’s all I have. I know the chances of you reading this are rare but the thought that maybe someday you’ll know what you mean to me makes me smile. You also have no idea how much sometimes I wish I was Jaime! You know, because she can see. Right sure uh huh that’s it.

Love,

Ro

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Let’s talk about God, shall we? Don’t be scared.

I haven’t used a lot of the writing prompts suggested by a Twitter account I’m following but I liked this one and decided to see if I could do it with my one and only iBook. The prompt was to grab the nearest book, turn to page eight-two and work the third full sentence into a post. Since going blind, I can never participate in these sorts of things, grabbing a sentence from a certain page, since that isn’t possible with an audio book. Now however, I have an iBook and the ability to choose my page! I am pretty sure page eighty-two of my iBook isn’t the same as the print book, but it works.

When I found the desired sentence, I was torn about whether to do this. This sentence addresses the major controversy about the program that rescued me from the clutches of alcoholism – God.

When I first stumbled into my first meeting and saw God on the walls in the steps I thought, well I’ll do those steps because I don’t want to drink anymore, but don’t talk to me about God. Of course I knew they would talk to me about a higher power. I had known a guy who had made a band his higher power. Before I had ever started drinking, I hung out at a coffee shop with a bunch of young people who were newly sober and they talked about how they could make their higher power anything they wanted. Yet, it was God on the walls everywhere, not a higher power that was a door knob or a band.

I wanted what those people had though, so I trudged forward and decided to deal with the God thing when I came to it. I wanted to be happy like those other people, those people who didn’t drink and still smiled and laughed, genuinely laughed!

“When we became alcoholics,crushed by a self imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else he is nothing.”

I have read that sentence countless times this morning as I copied it down from my iBook word by word. Looking back on those early days over seven and a half years later, I see that I had already noticed that God is everything when I looked at those happy people and decided I would do whatever they had done to be like them. I didn’t know it yet, but it was their faith in something, call it whatever you want, that was pouring out and making me drunk with the desire to be happy with them.

The misconception about this program and God on the wall is that when you walk in the door they start throwing bibles at you and making you believe what they believe. That is so far from the truth I laugh when I hear it. You hear comedians talking about it, you see it online in every social networking group there is, it’s everywhere and it’s sad.

The chapter in the book, (yes there’s a book but it’s not a bible, it’s more a manual) this quote comes from is the chapter called “We Agnostics”. The writers of the book understood that in order for their program to save as many lives as possible, they would need to reach out to people of all faiths. All faiths include no faith. That is where the God of your understanding comes in and that’s what saved my life.

I craved having something to believe in. I needed it. I was frightened off of religion as a child though and never found anything I could believe in. I tried as a young adult. I went to supposed “cool churches” but they still preached hate. When I was told I could borrow my sponsor’s God, I was intrigued.

She asked if I believed she believed in her higher power. Well, yes I did. She asked if I wanted what she had, meaning her sobriety and her happiness. yes I did. So she said I could borrow her God. She called it God because that is a universal name and it’s easy to spell. So when I left her house, I pretended her God came with me. I started talking to her God, just asking for help staying sober, simple stuff in the beginning. I cannot describe the relief!

Whether that God was real or not didn’t matter. The point was I was so sick and broken that believing that her God was watching out for me and helping me stay sober brought me relief and took away some of the fear that I would go weak and buy a drink. It didn’t take long for me to morph that comfort into my own conception of my own God.

That faith that helped me stay sober in the beginning has helped me through so much more than I ever thought possible. Whatever it was that I talked to and begged for help when I was diagnosed with MS, kept me from drinking and got me through that adjustment. Whatever it was that I leaned on and relaxed into when I went blind on my three year sobriety anniversary helped me stay sober through a life altering ordeal and helped me through that adjustment. Whatever I sobbed to on my knees in the kitchen with a destroyed coffee maker and water and coffee grounds all over me, kept me from drinking and guided me towards getting help for my mental health.

So in my life, is God everything? You bet. Is my God a religious God? Not for me, but if that’s what you need, fantastic! Is my God always God? No. I don’t pretend to know what God is and sometimes my higher power is just the part of me that is sane, the part of me that knows what the next right thing is and does it, the part of me that knows right from wrong and cares about others. So you see, sometimes my God is me. If that isn’t everything or nothing, I don’t know what is.

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A Letter to Fifty-Three Year-Old Me

Writing the letter to my fourteen year-old self was fun. The writing prompt I took the idea from said to follow it up the next day with a letter to myself in twenty years. I didn’t give it much thought until it was the next day and the thought of the future was too scary. I think today I am ready to do this since two fictional worlds I’ve dived into recently are more scary (hopefully) than twenty years from now will be.

So, fifty-three year old Ro, I hope you are alive to read this. If you are not fifty- three year-old Ro, meaning you are Ro and not fifty-three yet, don’t read this. You can’t read this until November 11, 1032. Oh wow.

Oh and readers, you should leave a comment. If this blog is still here in twenty years, hopefully it is, your comments will be in a time capsule of sorts haha!

Dear fifty-three year-old Ro,

Wow, so did I make it this long? Mom didn’t make it to fifty-three so if I’m reading this in twenty years I better be grateful. Remember how you thought you’d never see thirty because of how crazy your life was and then you literally didn’t see thirty because you went blind at twenty-nine? Yeah, I still think that’s funny today. Do you still find it funny in twenty years? I hope so, because without humor there’s just no point.

Do you need a refresher of what life was like for you at thirty-three? Well, I’ve been with B for just over five and a half years now. Are we still together in twenty years? If we are, what is he like? Did he ever start eating vegetables? I know, that’s probably a really stupid question. My three best friends are Carol, Chupa and Georgie. How are they? Ok I’m misting up thinking about these people in twenty years. Do you remember being convinced that everyone would die before you and you would be left alone in this scary world? That was only like two months ago, before I started Lexapro. Thinking about the people I love the most and how it will be in twenty years is starting to freak me out. It’s a good thing I’m medicated.

What about Erik? He’s my only friend who’s younger than I am. Only by a few months but still. How is he? I hope you are still in touch with him. We’ve been friends so long and there has always been gaps where we lose touch. Although ever since I went blind and started using my Macbook, we haven’t lost touch, so I hope in twenty years we’re still close.

Ok, so speaking of my Mac, what is technology like? Do people have stuff implanted in them yet? I always imagine little nano chips for phones and stuff. I mean seriously, the technology has to be amazing in twenty years! Or is it scary? Has it gotten out of control? It could go that route too. Right now you have an iPhone 4 running iOS 6.0.1. The latest iPhone is the 5. What is the iPhone in twenty years? Do you have an iPhone? Has any other phone ever rivaled the accessibility of the iPhone? I have a Macbook they don’t even make anymore. I was almost completely out of space on it so I started converting videos to mp3. What do you have in twenty years? Do they even make laptops anymore? Do they use wires at all? I can’t imagine there would be wires anymore. Am I right?

What animals do you have? Right now I have Jayden and Timmy and Spinelli and Fi. I can’t think about the future without them.

Are you still blind? Did they figure out how to give you new optic nerves? If so, did you get them? As of right now, I can’t imagine seeing again. I’m so used to things the way they are, so I don’t know if I would try anything to see again. I remember when I first went blind I wanted more than anything to see again, even just a little bit. I was ready to get on a plane and go to the UK where they were experimenting with a cancer drug that helped MS patients regain lost functions. Now though? I couldn’t imagine testing a drug. It’s a scary thought. So what have you done in twenty years?

I’m afraid to think about what the MS has done to me in twenty years. It’s impossible to think about my future self though without wondering about that. I won’t think about that now. Maybe you’re reading this in twenty years and smiling because nothing horrible has happened. Is that too much to ask for?

There really isn’t much more to write. There isn’t much to say to a future self beyond asking questions. I can say I hope you are as happy as I am today. Though I hope you are happier. I’m happy, but I could be happier. I just hope you aren’t less happy. I hope you’re still sober, though obviously when it comes to that I can’t really think beyond today. If you’re sober and still smoke free and at least as happy as I am now, then you’ve got it good.

Oh hey wait, I have to ask, is there equality? Have people finally quit being so damned uptight about gay marriage? Has racism and bigotry finally really gone away? Do women still have freedom over their own bodies? Has the insanity over birth control gone away? Did people start finally focusing on the real problems? God I hope so. If there isn’t more love an acceptance in twenty years, how are you managing?

I’m reading “The Handmaid’s Tale”, do you remember reading that book? It’s incredibly depressing. It’s what could happen if the crusty old white guys don’t stop wanting to control the female body. It’s terrifying. I hope it’s nothing like this in twenty years because if it’s going to go down that path, I hope the Mayans were right. If they were right, you won’t be reading this in twenty years, no one will.

Ok wow, this turned very doom and gloom. I was afraid this would happen when I thought about writing this letter. Writing to fourteen year-old me was fun because I don’t fear the past and because I knew what happened. This letter is nothing but fear of the unknown and my dwindling hope for a happy future.

I guess my only hope is that there’s just more love in the future. There has to be, or the future is grim grim grim.

I should end this on a happy note. Hmmm, happy. So have the Rays won a World Series or five? Ten? How long did Evan Longoria stay? Please tell me he didn’t end up with Boston or New York. What about David Price? Did I ever meet any of them? How are all my online friends? I don’t want to start naming them all because that’s a lot and I’m sure I’d end up leaving someone out.

One last question, what kind of voice are you listening to on your Mac? I can only assume you still use a screen reader and a Mac. Is it still Alex or have they made new voices that are just as good? Knowing Apple, they probably use human speech in twenty years haha. Ok, I just heard my DM ping. I think that’s my cue to wrap this up.

I hope this letter finds you well , my fifty-three year-old self! Oh, happy early birthday!

Love,

Thirty-three year-old Ro

PS – Do they have replicators and/or transporters yet? Did you ever publish anything?

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A Letter to Fourteen Year-Old Me

I follow a Twitter account that is posting daily writing prompts to assist people with NaBloPoMo ideas. Part of me really wants to come up with my own ideas but I think that’s the stubborn part. I found one of the ideas really intriguing so I saved the tweet. For today’s post, I’ll write a letter to my fourteen year-old self. Whoa. I’m imagining it being November 4, 1993. Tomorrow I’ll write a letter to myself in twenty years. I’ve been trying to recall who I was when I was fourteen. This should be interesting!

Dear fourteen year-old Ro,

Did your eyes light up when I referred to you as Ro? I bet they did. I know how much you always wished you could have a cool nickname and how you fantasized that you could be like Ro Laren from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Well guess what? You don’t turn out like Ro, but you’ll be known as Ro in your thirties. How cool is that?

It’s funny that I’m writing this letter to you because just yesterday I played four X-Files episodes so I could convert them to mp3. You have no idea what that means I realize. Oh, the technology that is coming, I won’t even begin to try and explain because I think it might freak you out a little bit. Just…pay attention to a lot of what they use in Star Trek, ok? Because I can tell you from first hand knowledge of the future that some of that is real in my time. Don’t get too excited; they haven’t figured out how to transport things yet. You and your friend Carol will wish for that a lot when you grow up. Transporters and replicators would make life so easy but I guess maybe we won’t see that in our lifetime. Sorry to disappoint, but I don’t want you getting your hopes up. Technology is going to be a huge part of your life in the future. I know right now you’re resistant to it but just trust me, ok? Oh, and try to remember what that little Mac is called when Mom gives it to you.

Congratulations on making it through middle school. I know that was awful and I know you’re still recovering from it and wishing it had never happened. Try and believe me when I say it made you incredibly strong and you have no idea what that hardship prepared you for as you grow up. I won’t go into details but I will tell you that everything you’re going through now is all going to be invaluable as you face challenges in life. There will be challenges. But you overcome them because of your experience. Just keep doing everything you’re doing because I have no regrets. You’re doing it all the right way.

Except, quit being so hard on yourself about Mom and Dad’s marriage, ok? It’s not your fault. No really. It’s not your fault.

On a happier note, you know how much you love cats? Well that doesn’t stop and Combat and Little Kitty are with you for a really long time. You know how you think you’ll never have a dog? Well you’re gonna have the coolest dog ever, take my word for it on that. I’m sitting with him on the couch as I write this and he is the light of my life. You’re probably rolling your eyes at that but it’s the truth!

I want to say I’m very proud of you for waiting with G. Your future self is grateful you didn’t give in to your hormones with him. You really are too young for that and that is totally ok, so just keep waiting. You know that boy C who sits with you in Biology? Can you try to keep closer tabs on him? You’re probably laughing at me right now. I know you don’t think much of him now but you just wait. I lost touch with him and only just recently found him on Facebook but neither of us uses it much so I still don’t know what’s up with him. I’m sure the word Facebook is confusing you. There is so much in the realm of technology you’ll experience! I wish I could watch. Oh and Wesley Crusher? Yeah, I follow him on Twitter. Wil Wheaton that is. Don’t ask what Twitter is, it’s too hard to explain. I’ve talked to him though. Well not really I mean he hasn’t replied to me but his wife has! Oh sorry, yeah he has a wife and it’s not you. Oh that was harsh? Just helping to toughen that skin!

Oh, I know I said I had no regrets from this time in our life but I do want to make one suggestion. Stay in the girls chorus one year longer ok? If you graduate when I did you’ll be really upset the next year when you find out where the tour is. I know you left chorus to focus on getting ready for college but trust me on this and stay in an extra year. The experience of the trip will be so much better than the time wasted preparing for college. Wait, I’m not saying that college isn’t important, but please, for the love of everything Nirvana, stay in an extra year. I wish I had gotten to go on that trip…

Speaking of trips, wasn’t New York amazing? You’ll be telling stories from that trip for the rest of your life. That was such an incredible experience. Please add to it and stay in choir another year. Ok ok, I’ll drop it.

You’re probably getting bored of this letter and I bet there’s an episode of The X-Files getting ready to start or something. Oh hey thanks for recording all those episodes on the VCR. Those tapes really came in handy when I was about twenty-one or so. Just wait until you see how people record TV shows and movies today!

Keep on being the cool kid you are right now. Yes I said cool. You don’t think you’re cool but you are and you helped me be who I am today. Remember about choir and keep hanging on to those morals of yours; they get you through a lot. Mom is going to talk to you about drinking. Pay attention ok? Don’t change what you do with that information, but it becomes very valuable when you’re twenty-six. Thanks. I think that’s about all I have. I wish I could go back in time and give you a hug. Get ready for the crazy ride the next twenty years will take you on. You’ll be amazed when you sit here and write this letter to yourself, amazed at what you’ve been through and survived. Enjoy it, none of your books could have written it any better!

Love,

Thirty-three year-old Ro

PS – I still refuse to step foot inside The Gap. Oh, and I love baseball. No seriously. Ok, you’ll believe it in about seventeen years or so.

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#NaBloPoMo – My Story: Right Eye Blind and MS

Yesterday Carol came over to begin helping be go through the storage containers in the spare room and organize the memories stored within. We threw out some more stuff that had no business being kept and she read things I had written before losing my sight. The most valuable things were letters I had written in my drinking days. What a reminder of why I don’t drink! One line read, “I’m soooo hungover. I know a beer would help but I’m scared.” That pretty much summed up the end of my drinking days.

She also looked through a CD full of pictures from my partying days. It was really good to reflect and remember but it also left me rather exhausted and numb. There were also many reminders of Mom and my childhood. We did this for about five hours. This morning I felt the urge to continue writing my story here. I haven’t written anything in the my story label since 2009. Wow.

In case you are interested and want to read the other posts in order, here’s the school days, college, mom and alcoholism, deciding to get sober and first year of sobriety.

So when last I left off, I had been sober a year. Everything was pretty great. I had a host of amazing friends, a good job, a nice car and an apartment I had never drank in and loved. Life was just pretty spectacular. I was very involved with a fellowship of young sober people. I was twenty-seven. Life was great! I loved being sober!

There was a young people’s conference in Prescott, AZ in May of 2006. I was thirteen months sober and hadn’t planned on going. I didn’t want to spend the money since I had just spent a lot going to a conference in California. Then I decided it would be fun to make a day trip out of it and just go up for the Saturday night main speaker meeting.

My friends had already all driven up and I didn’t want to make the drive alone so I called my friend G, my ex-boyfriend who had become a great friend, and asked if he wanted an adventure. He wasn’t in the program, but agreed at once to take the trip with me.

A couple days before that Saturday, I felt like I had an annoying migraine behind my right eye, which was odd, because I had always had migraines behind my left one. Then the vision started getting weird, kinda like looking through TV fuzz. I had had a week long migraine like this once, but in the left eye, so while it was strange I wasn’t concerned.

The morning of the trip, it was as if a curtain were slowly being lowered over my right eye. It started like a black shadow just on the top of my vision, and the migraine-like pain was still there. It ached when my eye moved. I was excited about the trip though, so put it aside, figuring I’d go to the doc on Tuesday if things were still weird.

Things got worse by the time we arrived in Prescott. I could hardly see out of the right eye. The entire top of my vision was obscured. The pain was getting really bad. I made it through the meeting and even managed to dance for awhile afterwards and then on the drive back I could no longer ignore it. Moving my eyes to check my mirrors or glance behind me to change lanes was becoming excruciating. Headlights were like daggers into my brain. We were driving back in the middle of the night.

We stopped at an IHOP and while we ate, we discussed my eye. I thought it must be a detached retina or something. We talked about the ER but I was trying not to go that route. As we stood in the parking lot after eating, I looked at a street light. I closed my left eye and the light vanished. The right eye couldn’t see the light. I decided the ER was indeed absolutely necessary. G drove the car back into town and straight to the hospital. It must have been four or five in the morning on Sunday.

The ER was blissfully empty and I was in good spirits. I was very sleep deprived and goofy and had had a great time with G on our little trip. I didn’t wait long before the triage nurse called me back. G went with and my vitals were checked. I was asked to read the eye chart, which I could do until they asked me to close my left eye. I still was in good spirits. Whatever it was, they’d fix it.

They took us to an exam room and the doc came in. He was completely confused. Nothing looked detached or torn but my pupil was doing something strange. He had G look too. When light was shined into my right eye, the pupil would dilate and then bounce. Literally bounce. He showed me in a mirror. The brown strands of color around the black pupil bounced in and out lazily. The doc brought in other docs to have a look.

Finally they wanted me to see the ophthalmologist on call. I would need to go to his office. They told us where to go and I knew the place. I had taken my Gamma there. It was the same doc.

We met him at his office at six or seven on a Sunday morning. It was strange to be let in by the doc and have no staff or patients around. It was just the doc and G and me. He examined both my eyes and I told him he had done surgery on my Gamma’s eyes. He recognized the name.

Suddenly he backed away and said he wanted me to go back to the hospital and have an MRI. He would call and arrange it as we drove. He wanted it immediately. My stomach began doing cartwheels. This did not sound good.

“I’m worried about MS,” he said. “This looks like optic neuritis, which often presents in multiple sclerosis. I want you to have an MRI immediately.”

I stared at him. I had an eye problem and this man was telling me something was wrong with my brain? I knew what MS was, sorta. I loved this movie called Hillary and Jackie, about a cellist who had MS. It was a true story.

I peppered the doc with questions. Couldn’t it be something else? You’re sure the retina is ok? Anything but MS. Please! He was very matter-of-fact with me. He hadn’t seen optic neuritis in a patient without MS. The condition is usually temporary, with vision being restored, but MS is not temporary.

G drove me back to the hospital. They whisked us back into a room and I was prepped for the MRI. I had never had one before. G and I sat in a daze, sleep deprived and scared. He and I went all the way back to when I was a freshman in high school. I was so grateful he was there. I didn’t call anyone; I didn’t have time. That ophthalmologist must have made it very clear that I was to have an MRI STAT.

All I could think about was my lack of insurance. I had just started a new job in the cytology department of a lab, preparing specimens for testing. My benefits wouldn’t be active for another ten days. Luckily they enrolled me in Arizona’s version of Medicaid. A hospital visit is the easiest way to get that accomplished.

I actually slept in the MRI machine. I was all bundled up in blankets with country music coming through the headphones clamped to my ears. I found that machine comforting. When they pulled me out however, my right eye was completely blind. I thought it wouldn’t open. It was open, just not seeing.

G and I waited what seemed an eternity for the results. The doc assigned to me looked like Detective EAmes from Law and Order: Criminal Intent. She was very nice. I remember laying on the gurney, cotton ball taped to my arm where the MRI IV had been. G was sitting in a chair next to the bed, leaning his head against the wall. We discussed all my strange ailments I had experienced while we had dated in my drinking days. Could MS have been the cause of all that? I had been through heart tests and blood work but nothing had ever shown a thing. After I got sober, my doc and I thought it had all been my alcoholism. It made sense. It could have been.

When Dr. Eames finally came back and delivered the news, brain lesions, definitely MS, need to give you steroids, should admit you, all I could do was cry and scream at her, “what the F*ck did I bother getting sober for!!!!” she placed her hand on my arm and told me staying sober was the best thing I could do for MS.

They hooked me up to another IV and I questioned what they were giving me. No narcotics, I’m sober, no narcotics. Steroids, that’s all. Why steroids? It’s what we do with the onset of MS. Why? Questions. Everything a blur. A gram of Solu-Medrol began pumping into my arm. A gram? Will I get addicted? Will I have super human strength? It’s not the stuff the athletes take. Oh. But you need to have someone with you. You could go a little crazy. I’ll stay with her. G would stay with me. Watch her for any drastic mood changes. I wasn’t being admitted. Another doc wanted me admitted. I’m chairing a meeting on Tuesday, I need to go to meetings, don’t admit me. Ok but come back for the next three days for steroids. Three days? Three days. Outpatient, come back. Call your doctor. You need a neurologist. Steroids dripping through the rubber tubing. I can’t see out of my right eye. It’ll come back, the vision would come back. What else will happen to me? Will I be paralyzed? We don’t know. It’s different in everyone. Multiple Sclerosis. Thirteen months sober. New job. Love my life. MS. Right eye can’t see. Steroids.

I remember calling my sponsor. I remember G driving us back to my apartment. I remember we had stopped and gotten fast food. It was a Sunday. Monday was a holiday. G would need some things from home. I went with him. We told his parents. It is all such a blur. We came back to my apartment and my back hurt. My body hurt. I wanted to sit in the sun. The sun helped. We were so tired but we couldn’t sleep. We had known each other so long. We had been in love. We had lived together until my alcoholism drove him away but he was there, supporting me. Georgie was having a barbecue the next day. I wanted to go. What if I got so sick I could never go again. I had to go.

I went, after my steroid treatment the next day. I crawled into Georgie’s bed and we cried and cried. She had just been through something huge, too. At the barbecue people asked what was wrong. Other sober people. I told them. I cried. I told others and cried. Georgie told others and we cried. I hadn’t told my family. I couldn’t see out of my right eye. My balance was completely crazy. I was hyper from the steroids but depressed and exhausted. I still managed to laugh. I remember still finding my humor, the day after it all happened. I remember laughing through my tears.

G stayed with me while I was still on the high dose steroids. He went to work during the day when I could be around other people. I didn’t go crazy from the steroids. After the IV doses were done, I had to take pills to taper off at home. The heartburn was terrible. I was hyper and didn’t sleep well. I got bloated and I couldn’t cool off. I hated those stupid little white pills.

I shared everything at the meeting I chaired on Tuesday. I was surrounded by love and support. The timing really couldn’t have been any better. Getting the diagnosis at thirteen months sober, when I had my feet under me and a host of friends, the trust in my higher power, it really was perfect timing. Dr. Eames had been right. Staying sober was the best thing I could do.

I left the job, because with the onset of the MS came shaking hands that couldn’t accurately pour. The sudden loss of vision in my right eye killed my depth perception and accuracy was out. I ran into walls because I couldn’t see on the right side. My left leg had gone heavy, almost dragging at times.

My doc found me a neurologist she loved. She almost felt bad she hadn’t diagnosed the MS before, instead blaming my drinking. I assured her it was good, because if I had been diagnosed when I was drinking, who knows what would have happened? I doubted I would have gotten sober. Things would have been very different.

My neurologist told me not to go online. Don’t go read about MS. Don’t do it. He said most of his patients with MS were “a depressed lot”. He said don’t let the depression get me. Don’t read, don’t look into what might happen to you. MS is different in everyone. He assured me the vision would come back in my right eye, though colors would be muted. I wish he had been right, sometimes.

Ok, I’m going to leave off hear. I didn’t expect to write what I just wrote. I suppose that’s what happens when the memory and the fingers team up, huh? It’s quite therapeutic to write about my past. I don’t know why but it is. Hopefully I won’t wait another two years to continue.

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Some more of my story

Last night I got to hear Kevin’s story all in one meeting, instead of the bits and pieces I’ve gotten over the years, and it was incredible. So it inspired me to continue with mine.

When last I left off, I talked about my first day sober, and about getting my 24 hour chip. I said I was still friends with the man who gave it to me, and that man is the Kevin I’ve been talking about. We’ve been realizing how there’s so few of us left from our “class of 2005”. Its sad and scary to think about how many decided they couldn’t be sober. Some we’ve lost track of, some have probably died, some we get snatches of info about and they’re using.

Those first few months sober are quite a blur. At first it was all about learning how to get through each day without taking a drink. The man I came in with stuck around, but only because he wanted to be with me. He wasn’t serious about recovery. I got a sponsor after about a week, another woman who had worked the steps, who was going to guide me through the process. He got a sponsor to say he had one, but he never called him or worked the steps.

I met my sponsor once a week and we did a step a week. Life was all about going to work, going to a meeting, going out to eat and then going to bed and doing it all over. Looking back, it was awesome! My first friend in sobriety was Georgie. She’s still my best friend today. She got the nickname because Kevin could never remember her real name, so she told him to call her George. We had exchanged numbers one night after a group of us went to eat after a meeting. I was at work one day and checked my voicemail, and she had called and I was sooo excited haha! I called her back that night, and she was in Blockbuster. She walked around the store talking to me for 45 minutes. She had gotten sober about a month before me, Kevin about a month before her.

One night Georgie and I were out to eat with some people after a meeting, and we had gone to this place that was a sports bar kind of place and where I was sitting I was facing row upon row of beer taps. I didn’t have enough money to eat, so I was just nibbling from people’s plates. I couldn’t handle it. I went outside to smoke, and Georgie came out, and she was having a hard time too and we plopped down on the concrete. She noticed we were sitting in a large square on the concrete, and we called it our “square of despair”. My how times have changed.

The man I came in with stuck around until we got our thirty days, and then he called me one night saying he accidentally picked up a 6 pack of beer. Right. Accidentally. And alcoholics rarely buy 6 packs. Whats the point? I told him to call his sponsor and hung up. I remember it so well because I had stopped at the CBS and was looking at make-up after a meeting. He never made it back. I look at him like the wave that carried me to shore and then went back out to sea. I still keep track of him, and he’s drinking worse than ever.

Life went on in this way, working, meetings, fellowshipping. I was doing a step a week and starting to feel so much better. I had accepted that there was a power greater than myself, though I didn’t understand it. I trusted it. It worked for all those other people, it worked for my sponsor.

There were bbq’s, pool parties, picnics and potlucks, all sober people having parties, we spent the 4th of July in the pool and then downtown to watch the fireworks. Me and Georgie were inseperable. We would sit at Denny’s until well past midnight telling stories.

One day I was having a crisis of some sort and needed to vent to my sponsor. She took me to McDonald’s and bought me a salad but she didn’t want to hear my whining. She tried telling me about this group of sober young people who were putting on a conference, and how I should get involved. I wanted no part in it. I was doing my 4th step, the searching and fearless moral inventory, and I was swamped. I didn’t want to hear solution. She got out a piece of paper, wrote a list of things for me to do, gave me the paper, and walked out. She left me crying over my salad at McDonald’s. Best thing she could have done for me. I ran to my other sober friend’s apartment and whined and moaned and she co-signed my bs being a newcomer too. She’s now back in Chicago smoking crack. Man.

One day, a new guy was in the meeting. A new interesting guy, who moved here from California. He was hot. He sounded like Jesse James from Monster Garage. I liked him. He said he hoped we had a good young people’s group here. He ended up joining that committee my sponsor wanted me to join, and when he told me I should join it, I did hehe. We put on this crazy young people’s conference and I was on the host committee. It was then that I started to fall in love with the program. It was then that I saw I could still have fun. I sang karaoke for the first time sober at that conference, and I remember Lish running up to me after. Lish had been about 6 months ahead of me in sobriety, and we’re still great friends today.

We ended up forming a standing service committee of young people, and I was elected secretary. It was awesome to feel like such an important part of something. We did a road trip to northern California for a young people’s conference, and that was so amazing. I stayed up for 44 hours straight at one point, because there were just too many people to meet, too many guys to flirt with. The conference was at a really nice hotel, and there were just people everywhere all the time. It was incredible. One of the guys who went with us was a guy I had hated. He ended up becoming my co-secretary after he was trying to get a position and not getting one. Out of nowhere I nominated him to be my co, and then wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into. We ended up making amends to each other, and he was the one who kept me sane on that road trip. He’s still sober today, I only hear tidbits about him since he moved away.

I still ran into Kevin at meetings, but we didn’t really hang out anymore. He was a bit older than me, and didn’t do all the crazy stuff I was doing. I had had such a crush on him when I was new, and I remember my sponsor telling me that men were like drinks on legs for me at that time. She advised I not date for the first year. Man. I remember hanging out with hot sober guys at the coffee shop years before my drinking took off, and now I understood why none of them could date lol.

I stayed single that first year, not by my choice. I was such a flirt. But nothing ever happened, and for that I ‘m grateful.

I moved into a much nicer apartment, one I thought I’d never be able to afford, right by work. I loved the complex and checked it out on a whim. I got approved and moved into a one bedroom. I think I was like, oh, 8 or9 months sober. It was so nice, being in a new place I had never drank in. I fed birds, it was so quiet and safe. I spent my first Christmas sober in that apartment, I had gotten to decorate it, and I stayed in all day just by myself, and happy with my own company, truly happy, for the first time in years.

That sponsor had moved away and I had gotten another, and we continued on the steps with vigor and I started making amends, repairing relationships with friends and family. My Grandma insisted on buying me a better car, so I upgraded from the beater Impala to a cute little used Honda. I had a nice apartment, a nice car, still had my job, had a host of friends, a faith in something bigger than me, all was so incredible in that first year.

I was kinda having a fling with a guy at 11 months sober. It wasn’t sexual but we confessed our undying love for one another haha!! Yeah, not. My ex-boyfriend, I’ll call him G, from the old drinking days and I were still really good friends, having known each other since I was a freshman in high school, and having dated off and on through the years. He came to the meeting where I picked up my one year chip, to support me. A bunch of us went out to eat after. A whole year sober. Wow!

I’m going to leave off here, because it starts getting really interesting after this point. Life really started happening, and it was either pick up the tools, turn to God, or turn to the bottle, which I almost did.

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My Story Part Three

Ok so when I left off last, I said I would talk about April 24, 2005 next.

It actually really started on April 23, but I don’t count that day because I was wasted, as usual. It was a Saturday, and I had settled in for my usual Saturday night in those days. A fridge full of beer, plenty of smokes and the computer. I filled my little cooler with beers so I wouldn’t have to walk to the kitchen from my bedroom. I had pretty much turned my bedroom into a cave. I had my computer in there and my large TV, putting the smaller TV in the living room. I felt safe in there, closed in, everything within reach. I was going to hang out in the chatroom and get drunk. The married man I was having the affair with called though, and said he had a gift certificate to Chuy’s and why don’t we go have dinner.

I had reluctantly agreed. He liked to drink too, so at least I knew there would still be beer. We went to eat and started ordering the beers. It was karaoke that night so of course I put my name in. Before we knew it we were on I think the sixth pitcher of beer or so. At one point, I looked at him and slurred, “You know, we should quit drinking and go to a meeting.” He said we’d talk about it in the morning, and we kept drinking.

We left the truck at the restaurant, got a cab, stopped at the Circle K for beer, went back to my place, I crawled into bed, he brought me a beer, I took one sip, it was Miller Lite, and I passed out.

The next day was Sunday April 24, 2005. We woke up, hungover. It wasn’t noon yet, so I couldn’t have a beer. I never let myself drink before noon. We were laying in bed when he asked if I still wanted to go to a meeting. I had forgotten I had said that. We got online and looked up the meetings and there was one at 1pm. We decided to go and began talking about how much money we spent on booze. I thought maybe the people at these meetings could teach me how to control my drinking.

The friend I mentioned in my last post about my story, the one who had died, I went to a few meetings with him and his sister. His sister had gotten a DUI and was court ordered to go, and I went as support. She eventually drank and could control it, so I thought that was what the meetings were all about.

The guy and I went to the meeting at 1. I stank. I hadn’t showered. I was shaking, not having drank a beer at noon to relieve the hangover. We walked in and sat down. It was a smoking meeting so we sat and smoked.

The meeting started and a woman shared and I heard my pain in hers. She was crying, she was miserable and I knew she was just like me, or rather, I like her. I knew I was home. I don’t know how I knew, but I knew.

After the meeting a girl was giving me books and telling me to keep coming back. I was still a little weirded out by the fact that everyone held hands and prayed after the meeting, and the word God was on the wall in several locations. I liked these people, I understood them, but don’t talk to me about God.

After the meeting we went back to my place and I walked all the liquor to the dumpster. It was like 2 unopened 12 packs and the 12 pack we had bought the night before. Some random bottles of hard stuff and it all went clank boom shatter, in the dumpster. I felt liberated. Ok, I was really gonna do this!

After an hour or so, the magic from the meeting had faded. We decided to go to a 5:30 meeting too. We went to eat before the meeting, and laughed about how much cheaper the meal was with just iced teas.

We went to the 5:30 meeting and it was packed. They asked if there were new people and I found myself saying my name, and that I was an alcoholic. I cried afterwards.

We stayed for the 7pm meeting too. Then it was night and he was gone and I was alone.

Alone. No bottles. Sober. Not escaping. Feeling. Frightened. Alone.

I took the book the girl had given me and tried to read it. I put the TV on and tried to sleep. I put the book on the pillow next to me. I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t know how. I knew how to pass out. I didn’t know how to fall asleep.

I drifted in and out of fitfull sleep and then it was time to go to work. I was the lead phlebotomist at a small draw station, and I had 2 temp phlebotomists drawing the blood, while I did all the paperwork. Those first 4 hours were fine, since we were really busy, and I never drank at work.

Lunch time came and the girls left, and I was alone. Alone, alone alone. That prayer, the one we said at the beginning of the meetings, what was that prayer? I had brought my book with me to work and I furiously looked for the prayer. I couldn’t find it! I called the guy and he knew it. He had been to the meetings before. He told me and I wrote it down with tremblind hands.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I still have that piece of paper in my book. The prayer written with shaking hands.

We had planned to go to a 7:30 meeting that night at the same place, but I couldn’t wait that long. What was I going to do between work and the meeting? So we went to a 5:30pm meeting just up the street from my job, and clear across town from my apartment.

We walked in and sat down and I cried. On the wall were the same sayings as the other place. I was home again.

I took a 24-hour chip. On the back was the Serenity Prayer. I am still friends today with the man who gave me that chip.

I think I’ll leave off here for now. april 24, 2005 is the anniversary of my first day sober, and I have not had a drink since.

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More of my story

So I inadvertantly started writing about my story in another post, and thought I’d continue. If you’re so inclined, click the “my story” label to find the other post.

I left off after graduating high school with a tuition waiver to the University It had been my dream to go to college and become a doctor. My mom was going through chemotherapy treatments and was quite sick. I tried college anyway. When I met with the guidance counceler, I told her I was going to need help with math, because I wasn’t very good at it. She told me maybe I should consider a psychology major, because it was still a medical degree, without so much math. I was pretty upset. Just try and dash the hopes and dreams of a freshman. I continued with pre-med, majoring in biochemistry and minoring in computer science. I had to keep a 3.5 GPA to keep my scholarship. I had made it into the honors program and the only thing different about honors classes were a few extra assignments.

I went from August until October, when it became so hard to keep up the grades. The only thing saving me was my essay writing skills, because I could knock out a good paper under pressure. But the rest of the homework was so daunting. My high school had not prepared me for how to study, how to take notes, how to get through difficult exams.

In October, my mom and I took a trip to Nebraska to visit her cousins, knowing it would be her last chance. When we were waiting on a layover, I told her I just couldn’t keep up with school and wanted to withdraw. She was very understanding, knowing that things were so hard. I was watching her die.

We enjoyed our trip, encountered a blizzard, and came home. I took a medical withdrawl from school. That meant I could try and come back and keep my scholarship. I think I went back the following fall, but it might have been spring, I really don’t remember. 18 to 20 is so hazy.

One thing I do remember was over spring break, I smuggled alcohol into a boy’s dorm room while his roommate was away. Just like in high school, I woke up with this guy, but nothing had happened. We were both too drunk. That was really the only time I did anything like that in college. I remember nursing the hangover at the Circle K and then going home and trying to hide it.

I think I managed 2 full semesters, but lost my scholarship. My mom passed away in September of 1999. I’m not really going to get into that here, because that is all still very painful, and I’ve worked through it in therapy, but don’t really want to share on it to the world.

I knew I was going to be getting insurance money, and I had planned to buy a new computer, and take a trip to Maryland, to meet my internet friend. He and I had met by chance one day when I was 18, and was friends with his roommate on ICQ. One day though, the other guy wasn’t there, and I met my friend. We quickly started an internet relationship, and talked on the phone and sent letters. So I bought my tickets to go stay with him and his roommates for 2 weeks. At the last minute I chickened out. It suddenly didn’t seem like such a smart idea, a girl going to stay with guys for 2 weeks, only one of which I sort of knew.

He and I are still friends today though! We lose contact and then always find each other on the IM.

After mom died, I suddenly didn’t have curfew, I didn’t have anyone to be held accountable too, the bubble had burst and I was free. I burned through that insurance money, didn’t work, hung out at the coffee shop and made a bunch of new friends. When I was 21, I moved out, into a house with 3 other girls. This is where this phase of my life started. I break down my life into phases. Before mom was sick, after mom and the crazy times. I’ll get to the other phases when I talk about them.

It was great at first, living in this house. I worked at a call center and made the most money, so I rented the master bedroom. I had my own bathroom, it was all wonderful. Of course we had to have a party to show off our new place. Pretty soon we were having parties a lot. I would get totally wasted and go pass out, sometimes with a guy, sometimes alone. Oh, I had lost my virginity at 21, to another virgin. Its one experience I don’t regret, and I am still very proud of how long I waited, and who I chose to give it to.

Why is she talking about losing her virginity on a public blog? Well, I’m not giving details. 😉 But its important to my story. I had been so careful with my body, had strong morals, didn’t get into trouble, my whole life. When mom died, I went nuts. I don’t use her death as an excuse for my behavior over the next few years. Its like taking a dog off a leash, what does it do? It goes nuts! Same with me.

So in that house began my life of men and booze. I lost the call center job and started working at a video store. I remember taking a bottle of wine home after a family dinner, and I remember thinking I’d have a glass to help me sleep one night. This quickly became habit, and before I knew it, I was drinking every night, finding excuses to party with people or just drink in my room.

It went on like this for 5 years. I bounced from place to place, house to house, man to man, job to job. Somehow I managed to go to phlebotomy school and learn to draw blood. I talk about some of the places I lived in my post about Combat.

I’m not going to go into details of those 5 years, except to mention that I lost a friend to a cocaine/alcohol interaction. One line of coke after a night of drinking and he was dead. I think it was partly him that helped me never to touch drugs aside from pot. Those 5 years were all about drinking, playing pool, using men, letting men use me, treating my body like a trash dump.

In April of 2005 I was living in this fashion, alone now, in my own apartment, that was always a mess, with beer bottles everywhere, cigarette butts, cat mess. I had found a mental health website online for my depression, and I spent my nights in the chatroom there, drinking with the other depressed people. I had remembered hearing in school so many years ago, that if you drink alone, you’re an alcoholic. So I made sure to chat a lot, so I wouldn’t be alone.

Soon I found myself having an affair with a married man. I had hit lows, I had been miserable, but this was beyond anything I had done. this was another woman’s man. I had broken the girl code.

I had been slowly climbing towards bottom before this, and now I was done. I was spiritually and emotionally bankrupt.

When next I write, I’ll pick up at April 24, 2005, my absolute favorite date, the day after my moment of clarity.

Shoot, before I end this part of my story, I need to backtrack and little and just mention that during my entire life, I had been seeking some sort of higher power. I never took to church when I was a kid, but I was seeking something in which to put my faith. After mom died, I quit seeking. She had found faith while she was dying, but I just couldn’t. I was a staunch athiest after that. I ran my own show.

I also was having very strange medical stuff here and there, that no one could put their finger on. After a very odd attack at one of my jobs, (cocktail server at a pool hall), I got hooked up with the doctor I have today. That day at work, I couldn’t catch my breath, my heart was racing, my legs didn’t want to hold me, and my hands were clawing. I couldn’t control the thumb trying to claw with my fingers. I had gone to the hospital and they didn’t know what was wrong. My new doctor sent me to a cardiologist, I had an echocardiogram and wore aheart monitor for 24 hours. They said to do my normal activities, so I drank, shot pool, sang karaoke and fought with the boyfriend. Everything was normal with my heart. My doc tested me for HIV and Hepatitis, which were negative, even with my crazy lifestyle.

I just had to mention the seeking thing and the medical thing, because both are quite important to the rest of my story, when I get to it.

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Obsessing, and this post led to part of my story

Most of the time after a social setting, I am just in a good mood and happy about the outing. But sometimes, I say something and then the next day it haunts me, like, man I shouldn’t have said that, that was stupid, what will they think, they hate me. Its not often that I feel this way, but thats how I’m feeling this morning. Its probably just fine, but I can’t help but wonder. I think I’ll say something next time I see the girls.
I’m a pretty confident woman. I think I’m likeable and funny and I think I would enjoy my own company, in fact I do enjoy my own company. I’ve always been pretty confident, but there have been times in my life where I’ve felt less than confident.

Growing up on the south side of town was fine until I got to sixth grade. Suddenly I was not liked, and people I had been friends with in elementary school were no longer my friends. In sixth grade, it was all about wearing Guess jeans and tons of gold. My family was ok money wise, but we didn’t buy that stuff. I wore Prowings from Payless and the kids would say “Prowing power!” and make fun of my non namebrand clothes.That was the least of it. I got made fun of in gym because I didn’t shave my legs yet. Geez, I was in sixth grade. I still played with Barbies. It got so bad, that my mom spoke with the principal to find out if I was making all this up just so I could shave. After having my story confirmed, I was allowed to shave my legs. I still got made fun of for my clothes, but the worst was being called “effing white b*tch” at ever turn. By seventh grade I was depressed and hated school. A girl was taunting me during lunch, and I finally asked her why she hated me. She said, “Because of what your ancestors did to mine!” Were these kids being taught this? Taught to hate white kids because of the distant past? Yikes. I just focused on my studies and contemplated suicide. I don’t really remember eight grade.

When I got to high school I was prepared this time. I knew I’d pretty much be hated so I wasn’t surprised. Grunge rock was in full force and I took to wearing ripped jeans, flannel shirts around the waist and rock tshirts. I found the other “freaks” and we banded together and played guitars in front of the library and crowd surfed each other haha! I was one of the few smart freaks, well they were all smart, but I was one of the few who applied myself, because I wanted to go to medical school.

In my junior year I really focused on school. I had left the choir I had belonged to since 4th grade, where I had really belonged, to focus on college applications. I joined the Academic Decathlon, just like it sounds, a decathlon, but not for athletes, for geeks 😉 I really found my place there, and in my AP classes. I excelled in writing and biology.

Finally I made it to senior year, and my team made it to the state competition. We smuggled up some Jack Daniels and Southern comfort and got drunk in the hotel room. That was my first experience waking up with a guy. I totally freaked out, not remembering what had happened, and he assured me nothing did. I can’t be certain, because I had blacked out, but I’m pretty sure he was telling the truth. I was still a virgin, so I think I would have “felt” if anything had happened.

I should backtrack a little at this point and explain that I was part of an atypical family. I say atypical, because my parents were still married. I was an only child, and therefor had everything I needed. (minus the rediculously expensive clothes my peers thought I should have, which led me never to step into a Gap, to this day). I never resented the life I had until I started feeling like I was the reason for my parents’ unhappiness. I know now that they did the right thing in staying married, because it gave me stability,and they scrificed for their child. I’m glad they did now, but at the time, I carried the heavy burden of feeling responsible for the fact that they weren’t the happiest couple. But, I had a good childhood, aside from the racism I had to live with. I was a huge X-Files fan and Star Trek TNG geek. Nirvana saved my life and got me out of hip hop 😉

My mom and I were very close. She kept me on a tight leash, which of course at the time I wasn’t too thrilled about, but understood. I had good morals and values, was a good kid and student, and remained a virgin until I was 21, a fact I am very proud of.

During my senior year, my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She was given 2 years with treatment. I was devestated. I jumped even more into my studies, to make her proud. I won a bronze medal in interview, and placed 4th in the essay competition, the one I had really hoped to medal in. We didn’t do anything at state, but have a good time.

I graduated high school with a regents waiver to the university, and I was premed. So bittersweet, knowing my mom wouldn’t be around to see me graduate college. She got to be at my high school graduation though, and lived until I was twenty.

I’ll get into my college years in another post. I wasn’t expecting to share part of my story in this post, but I guess starting off talking about obsessing over a stupid comment I made, led mt to it. I managed to regain the confidence I had lost in school, but at times like these, maybe that girl comes back out.

I learned in group yesterday that trauma is “anything that has a lasting effect”. I can see how this is true even of my school years. But, I am a survivor as long as I don’t still play victim. For the most part I don’t, but sometimes I do regress, like worrying about the impression I made with that comment. I sure hope I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings…

Anywa, enough about me for now. I was half tempted to write about my cats, after reading puppy blogs all weekend. Maybe later =)

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Why the blog, why I have a story to tell

On April 24, 2008, I went blind. I used to always joke that I wouldn’t see 30, mostly because of the way I lived my life up until April 24, 2005, hard and fast, drinking every day, treating my body like a dumpster etc. How fitting that my prediction should come true, 3 years to the day that I cleaned up my life.

Multiple Sclerosis, My Mess, MS. This disease often presents with Optic Neuritis, the inflammation of the optic nerve, and my case was no different. On May 28, 2006, my right eye went blind, and after an MRI, I was diagnosed with MS. I remember that MRI as though it were yesterday. I actually slept in the machine, having driven back from Prescott in the middle of the night, straight to the hospital. The MRI machine was like a mother’s womb, all warm and cozy, wrapped in a blanket and locked in, with country music coming through the speakers locked on my ears. I’m sure when I was in my mother’s womb, there was country music too, so this idea is not far fetched…The knocking and banging of the machine, like her heart. When I woke up, and they were pulling me out, I kept trying to pry my right eye open before realizing it was open, it just couldn’t see.

I was told the vision would come back. I was told it was temporary. When it didn’t, I was assured my left eye would not suffer the same fate. Wrong again. The vision went slowly that day, first going gray, then getting dark. The last thing I saw was that hospital and the shadows of my boyfriend and friends who came to visit. The doctors were flumoxed; they couldn’t fathom that MS had made me blind. I was tested for every other possibility, and in the end, was given the dx of atypical MS. My boyfriend and I left the hospital with no instruction, no advice. We walked through the store to the prescription counter, arm in arm, like lovers who must touch and while it was loving, it was the only way we knew to do it. I was blind, and he had to guide me, how else was there?

Over the coming months, we saw specialists and discovered audio books. I managed to find the country music station on the tv. I remembered where the buttons were. I was able to call people on the cell phone. But man did I miss texting. And technology was suddenly gone. I couldn’t Google something when a thought struck me, I couldn’t email, I couldn’t journal.

After my boyfriend went back to work, I must have just listened to audio books and talked on the phone. Looking back, I wonder how I stayed sane. I couldn’t accept that I was blind. I couldn’t accept that I would never see myself at 30. I couldn’t accept that I would never see the sun set, never see the monsoons rolling in. Deep depression followed. We found a therapist for me, one who was great at grief and loss. That was when my life started to return.

I started seeing her every Saturday, and before I knew it, we were not only working on my grief and loss from the loss of vision, but on the death of my mom when I was 20, the issues I felt in my relationship, the loss of identity, my limitations. What was at first meant to help me get through the loss of vision, soon became a healing process I had never imagined. I had taken steps to gain sobriety, I had worked through past issues so as not to need to drink, but the therapy finally really released me. It took going blind to achieve this? Like Amazing Grace, once was blind, but now could see. Slowly I was beginning to see, not my face, or my cats, or my boyfriend, or flowers or children, not seeing images and pictures. I was beginning to see who I was, who I could be…

Not long after, my friend called and told me she had ordered me a white cane and a braille book. Harry Potter. The third one. She said throw it in the closet if you want. I knew though, it was time. Start accepting one day at a time, or die. Or stay miserable. Those were my options.

The next day I called Saavi, Southern AZ Association for the Visually Impaired. I had heard about them from a woman who had lost some vision due to a stroke. I called and went to a support group there. My Grandma had bought me a talking watch from there. One of the worst things about going blind was not knowing the time. Not long after my first visit there, my boyfriend’s family offered to fly us out to West Virginia for Christmas. Of course I would go. Of course I would be scared. And that was when I met Dave.

Dave was sent to me for a quick kamikaze lesson on how to be blind “out there”. He taught me how to be properly guided, holding on to a person’s elbow, rather then their shoulder, as I had instinctively done. He taught me how to find chairs, how to trail walls without jamming fingers. How to hold the cane just for identification purposes. How to use the cane to walk around, to learn my surroundings. I thought, when we got to the airport, the cane would be seen and we would be showered with assistance. Ha ha ha ha! They didn’t make a reality show about airports for nothin…

No offered help. We got to the airport and my boyfriend had to juggle his luggage, my luggage, and guide me through holiday travelers. Only when we were standing in line at security, when I was burning up with my winter clothes, when there was no time to take off my coat, did I lose it. Instant tears, rattling sobs, and security was coming. Was I a terrorist? The sobbing blind chic? Well, it got us attention, and I finally got help. A wonderful lady helped me through security. She helped me take off my boots, and they kind of did this relay to get me through the metal detectors. She led me to a bench and then we were on our way.

The ladies room was a problem. I was trying to wait until we got on the plane. One stall bathrooms are so much easier. Dave had told me to stick my cane out and go, but I couldn’t. Women were racing in as though their lives depended on it. Finally I started swearing and a woman stopped and asked if she could help. She whisked me in, waited for me, took me to the sink, took me to my boyfriend, and then was gone. Thank you, kind lady.

The cane helped me learn my boyfriends parent’s house, and after a day, I didn’t need it anymore. The trip was lovely, and I got a huge box full of audio books, which they had to ship to us later.

We came home, and life returned to some semblance of normalcy. I was happy to see the cats and my new kitten, who my boyfriend had given to me before the trip for Christmas. I turned 30 and was just happy I had made it.

I continued lessons with the white cane, called Orientation and Mobility, or O&M. I discovered talk radio, and because of Ed Shultz doing a town hall meeting here, CCR was formed. 3 of us girls, united at that meeting and then hanging out once a week. CCR…wow how time flies.

I guess I felt inclined to tell a little of the story, and its only a little, because that is the reason I am writing now. Everyone thought for sure I’d get a guide dog, but when I found out it means going away for 28 days, I immediately said, no way, no how, not gonna do it, not going. But now, almost a year and a half later, I’m looking into it. I was joking with Chupa that I was going to start a “doggy diary” to document this process, and she said I should, and the blog was started. So…I’ll get to the doggy diaries shortly, and write about my daily adventures as a recently blind woman. Its not only therapy to write, but maybe it will help another. I think its all a pretty good story, and while trying to stay humble, its a story I long to tell.

The strength of the human spirit, the love of friends and family, the trust in something greater than myself, all leading me to come out ok, that is the story. The fact that anything is possible, no matter what, that is the story. And kittens and doggies and books and computers and phones and braille and Saavi and whatever else comes to mind, is part of that story, the adversity, the perseverance, the not giving up. That is the story I want to tell. And lets face it, blogging is easier than writing a book 😉

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Filed under accessibility, Adjustment to blindness, Audio books, braille, cats, faith, fellowship, gratitude, guide dogs, My story, Orientation and Mobility, sobriety, spoons, white cane