Category Archives: sobriety

Sometimes life is just plain hard. Just keep swimming.

I’m having a really difficult time staying in the center of the roof. Not as far as my sobriety goes, that is the only thing in my life I have complete choice in, so that’s stable, but the rest of life stuff? I’ve been teetering on the edge for awhile now, struggling to cope, taking it all a day at a time, talking to my closest friends, but I still lost my balance and fell today. I suppose it’s good when something pushes you in to a complete emotional breakdown when you’ve been unknowingly keeping it from happening.

I haven’t even wanted to blog about what’s been going on, but today I feel the need. In early February, Gamma took a spill and broke her hip. They had a hard time getting her heart to stabilize for surgery, but they finally accomplished with medication so they could repair the bone. The surgery was successful and they put in a pacemaker to keep her heart stabilized.

She was in the hospital longer than expected because of the heart complications and finally moved to the rehab facility for physical therapy about a month ago.

I was able to talk to her every day and she kept telling me how much she just wanted to go home after rehab, her friend offered to move in and help etc. My dad and uncle were looking at assisted living facilities which upset Gamma. Eventually they agreed to try her at home and see how it went when she was done with physical therapy and everything was looking up. Or so I thought.

Dad called one day to tell me that Gamma started having episodes of dementia at night. I won’t go into details, but they were so severe that the rehab place took her phone. I have not been able to speak with her for nearly two weeks now, except for one time when she agreed to talk to me on Dad’s cell phone.

Next week she will be moving to an assisted living facility equipped to help her with everything. I’ll be relieved when she moves, because she’ll have her own room which she’ll be glad about, but she’s not going to like living in the single room. She has claustrophobia and doesn’t like being confined in one room for long, so I’m not sure how this is going to work. When she found out about her dementia episodes, she said if she had known that would happen, she wouldn’t have gotten the pacemaker. I understand, because now the pacemaker will keep her going even as her brain betrays her.

I haven’t been able to help with any of this. I’ve been struggling with my feelings of uselessness, knowing this isn’t bout me, but also acknowledging that this effects me too. Gamma is my second mom. This has been such a huge change for both of us, not just in her health and living situation but our relationship. I feel like I’ve just been wandering through life since all this happened. I’m starting to worry about my dad since he’s had to handle this assisted living thing on his own while my uncle is out of town for work. I feel so damn useless since I can’t jump in the car and go sit in on these things with him.

There’s so much more, but the rest of it is very personal and not to be written for the public eye. I guess I decided to write this all out so my friends know what’s going on with me. My life is so online these days that I guess this is the way to reach out and explain why I might fly off the handle over things that other people might not see as stressful.

It’s funny the things that let me know I need to do some work to stay sane. One of my red flags is now when I shut Twitter down for the day. When I can’t handle Twitter, that’s when I know it’s time for reflection on my spirituality. Luckily that hasn’t wavered, and while everything is very uncertain, in ways not expressed here, I somehow know I’ll be ok. Twitter has been an incredible support in many ways and I almost didn’t write this because one of my friends lost her own grandma last night. I know she’ll understand if she reads this though and I know we’ll keep swimming together.

Jayden just began dream barking on the couch beside me as I was finishing this post. I’ve said it a million times but I really truly don’t think I could manage to keep a smile on my face if I didn’t have Jayden. Baseball isn’t even helping at the moment. It’s only spring training, something I’m getting so sick of saying, but things aren’t pretty. I’ve got the Rays/Pirates game on in the background as I write and it’s not helping my mood. I know a Pirates fan who will like it though, so that’s a silver lining.

*Edit. James Shields just picked a guy off third base. That made me smile.

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Filed under baseball, faith, family, fellowship, Gamma, gratitude, Jayden, misty eyes, sobriety, twitter me this

Book Seven in 2012 – “Stories I Only Tell My Friends”

I finished “Stories I Only Tell My Friends” on the sixth but life went a little crazy and I haven’t managed to write about this incredible autobiography. I don’t think I’ll do it justice as I sit here on a Saturday morning after a very difficult week, a little sick, a little dazed, a little close to tears.

One thing I can say with absolute certainty is that when Rob Lowe’s name has come up on Twitter this week, I have felt comfort just from hearing it, knowing he is someone who things like I do. I don’t have much of a fellowship of like minded sober people in my life today, so I take anything I can get.

Rob Lowe narrates the audio book himself and since he is an actor, it worked. Most times when authors narrate their own audio book, I can’t stand it haha! However I couldn’t get enough of Lowe’s voice as I listened to his memories.

The book follows his journey into acting, from a kid in Ohio to a teen in Southern California, meeting Liza Minnelli and adventures with the Sheen clan. He writes openly about his experiences and the names he drops brought back my own memories of movies I had seen starring different actors from when I was a kid. Although Rob Lowe was before my time, that era of teen movies still had its influence on me. While he wasn’t in The Breakfast Club, that movie introduced me to that famous group of young actors, The Brat Pack, of which he was a huge part.

Really the only movies I think about when I hear Rob Lowe’s name are The Hotel New Hampshire and The Stand. I never saw his other movies. I had forgotten he was in movies later like Wayne’s World and Austin Powers, but those movies are so blurry to me because of my own alcohol use in my early twenties. Those movies might have come out before I was a drunk, but as we like to say, that was a lot of beers ago.

I had no idea how far down the spiral Lowe had gone. The story of his hitting bottom reminded me of mine, and the story of his getting sober made me smile, from one alcoholic to another.

Aside from adventures in movies and sobriety, Lowe discusses his life in television and there is one story in particular, actually more than one, around his telling of his time on The West Wing, that gave me goosebumps and brought me to tears.

I love this book and I’m so glad I have it to read again in the future. I would definitely recommend whether you’re a fan of Rob Lowe or not. I’m a little bit in love with him now!

2012 Audio Book List:

1. “IT” – Stephen King – Began end of 2011, finished 1/4/12

2. “The Concrete Blonde” – Michael Connelly – Finished 1/9/12

3. “Under the Dome” – Stephen King – Finished 1/22/12

4. “The Black Echo” (Bosch #1) – Michael Connelly – Finished 1/24/12

5. “The Black Ice” (Bosch #2) – Michael Connelly – Finished 1/27/12

6.* “The Concrete Blonde” (Bosch #3) – Michael Connelly – Finished 2/2/12

7. “Stories I Only Tell My Friends” – Rob Lowe – Finished 2/6/12

*Audio book previously listened to.

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Filed under 2012 Book List, Audio books, gratitude, sobriety, twitter me this

Thoughts on pain management and how scared I am of it

Pain management has always been something in the back of my mind, something I’ve known I’ll need to look into eventually but I really didn’t think eventually would come so soon.

The neurologist I saw when I was first diagnosed with MS in 2006 said there’s no pain with MS. I realize now that I have a huge resentment at that man. I believed him. I wish I could have videotaped myself this morning to show him. No pain with MS? Here, watch this. Watch the sobbing and the bending over in pain, watch as I just try to get my dog fed and relieved, watch as I sobbed just wanting to get to the couch, watch as I lay there unable to move but needing to since no position was comfortable and tell me there’s no pain with MS.

It feels like an exposed nerve on a tooth. Everywhere. It feels like daggers are being shoved into my knees and then bolts of pain radiate down my shins and up my thighs. It feels like a school of little pain children was just released on the last day of the semester and they’re running along my bones and muscles and nerves.

Four Advil eventual took the very edge of the pain off and canceling my doctor’s appointment eased the sobbing, knowing I wouldn’t need to leave the house. I’m grateful they were understanding and rescheduled me for next week. Always find a silver lining, always. Or go insane with it all.

I do what I can to ease the pain. I exercise and get regular massages. I stretch. I do yoga. I soak in the bath. But those things don’t help the flairs of acute pain like what attacked me this morning upon awakening.

I knew rain was in the forecast. I felt it Friday while I was on the phone with Carol. “I suddenly feel rain pain,” I said.

“Is rain coming?” Carol asked.

“I don’t know, let’s check.” I hopped on my weather page. Yep, fifty percent chance of rain Monday night. It’s Monday morning and already raining. Add that to the early arrival of Aunt Flo for her monthly visit yesterday and you have a recipe for disaster.

I wanted pot this morning. Just the thought of it brought tears of longing for the relief I knew it would bring. I never enjoyed pot recreationally even in my drinking days but I did smoke it if it was available when I had a migraine or cramps and it worked like nothing else ever did. When I have moments of acute pain, it’s all I think about.

Today I finally accepted that it’s time to discuss pain management with my doc next week and that terrifies me. Just thinking about it makes the tears well up again. I’m afraid of pills. I’m afraid of getting hooked on pills. I’m afraid my strength in sobriety will ebb one day when emotions have my bases loaded and I’ll talk myself into pain I don’t have so I can take a pill. I’m terrified of what drugs do to organs. I love the fact that I don’t abuse my liver with booze anymore. I don’t want to make it process anything else. But four Advil isn’t good either. I see that now.

This is another turning point in life with MS. I’ve talked with Carol before about how the blindness made the MS real for the government and for many people in my life. I didn’t look sick before I couldn’t see. It took the loss of my eyes to show how severe my disease is. I don’t mind the blindness. Too much awesome stuff has happened as a result of going blind, like Jayden and the Rays. I hate the MS though. I hate that my blindness is seen as my primary disability. I hate the people see me as so capable. Why don’t you work? Why don’t you go back to school? Those questions had all stopped when I went blind but they creep up again from time to time. You’re so adjusted. Yeah, until rain happens while Aunt Flo is in town or even when she isn’t. Today was just a powder keg exploding finally letting me know I need to have a backup plan for severe pain days such as this.

I’m just scared. I had to write it out that I’m scared. There are others like me out there. You’ve been scared too. Maybe you’ll google something about being scared of pain management and read this and know you’re not alone.

Here’s another silver lining. The couch came in the most perfect of times. I don’t see me getting up off this couch for any length of time today. It’s perfect and comfy cozy for bad pain days. Thank you, Carol!

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Filed under doc, fellowship, gratitude, Jayden, sobriety, spoons, weather, yoga

Fitness Update

I didn’t really know what to write again today and while I had good news at the gym, I didn’t want to brag about the workouts again. However…haha! That’s exactly what I’m going to do. I think a conversation on Twitter inspired the urge to brag.

My target weight since beginning to work out in September of 2009 was 150 because of my height, frame and the muscle weight I would be putting on. At my first weigh in, I was 179.

During my drinking days, my heaviest weight was 225 on my 5’7″ frame. I always carried weight well, but I most definitely showed that weight everywhere. When I sobered up in April of 2005 I dropped down to 180 within a few months. Alcohol is incredibly fattening, especially when you’re a beer drinker like I was and I hated lite beer. The carbs I ingested daily, wow!

I had never been fit. Even when I weighed around 160, I was pudgy and not at all strong, though I looked good at that weight. I was never athletic or in to exercise.

Throughout these last two or so years, I’ve seen moments of weight loss followed my months of holding steady. For the last few months, I’ve held steady at 156.

Today I weighed in at 154!!! I can’t believe I’m now only four pounds away from my target. It’s so exciting! I’ve mentioned countless times here that aside from the weight loss and looking good, I’m amazed at my strength and stamina on good physical days. I’m still plagued by MS fatigue, but exercise has improved my energy levels drastically.

The benefit of taking the weight off as slowly as I have is that I’ve trained my metabolism so even when I go through periods of no exercise, the weight doesn’t come back. I have plenty of muscle for fat burning.

I figured it would be a good idea to blog this milestone so I can keep track, and also maybe to inspire anyone looking to resolve to get fit. My suggestion though? Don’t make it a resolution. I don’t make those. Resolutions are made to be broken. Why not just start today. Set a goal, a target weight and remind yourself that it takes time. Go on, what’s your target weight? Start now. Don’t wait until January first. I started in September two years ago, so December sounds like a good month as well. Make it a Christmas present to yourself. The benefits are far too numerous to list.

I’m so proud of myself I could eat some chocolate. Oh wait, I did that earlier today. I don’t eliminate anything I can have in moderation. I eliminated Cheetos because I found I couldn’t stop eating them hahaha!

Ah, speaking of food, B is making cajun pasta and garlic bread. Yummmmmm!

Oh PS – I must add that I kicked a paralympian’s butt on the TRX. She tried doing the plank/crunch I was doing and it nearly killed her hehehe! And she couldn’t hold the plank as long as I could. Talk about an ego boost!

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Filed under accomplishment, sobriety, twitter me this, workouts

That time I had a cyst removed

If you have a weak stomach around medical stuff, don’t read past the asterisks. I tweeted something about my afternoon including paramedics, lidocaine, iodine and sutures but it wasn’t dramatic and I got some DMs asking if I was ok. I didn’t mean to alarm anyone. It was really nothing. I had a simple medical procedure done and it’s nothing serious, but I’m going to go into detail.

***

When I had my physical last year, I had my doctor look at a bump on my head. It had begun to freak me out because it felt sort of like how they describe a bad lump in the breast. It wasn’t pea shaped however, more of an oval shape. At first it was squishy but it began to harden. I told Georgie about it and she said she had had those before and they were benign cysts, but it would be good to have it checked. My doc confirmed that it was nothing to be concerned with but if it bothered me, she could remove it.

I went the last year without it changing much, but it began to feel like a dull toothache and I was wondering if it might even begin to be noticeable, so I decided to have it removed. Unfortunately she couldn’t do both the procedure and the physical on the same day, so I have to go back for my physical. It’s actually rather good timing since she can remove the sutures then.

B took the afternoon off work to drive me which was nice because the ride I had scheduled with paratransit would have made it an incredibly long experience. After we signed me in, I handed over six scrub tops I had found while cleaning and washed. When I schedule my appointments, I asked if any of the women in the office might be able to use them. It was a little misty eyes making when I folded them up after washing, remembering buying them with Gamma and thinking about the adventures I had when I worked in medicine, but I was glad they’ll go to someone who can use them.

As B and I were sitting, someone came out of the office and let us know the paramedics would be arriving shortly and would be backing up the doctors’ schedules.

I didn’t wait much longer than the norm and really, my doc’s office is rarely a nightmare. They called me back and I cracked up as Jayden took me straight to the scale. I also love their scale! It always has me about three pounds lighter than the gym. I’m thinking the doc’s scale is more accurate…haha!

I only waited in the exam room about ten minutes when my doc came in. I just love my doc. She’s like hanging out with a friend. We constantly joke around and tease each other which puts me at ease right away. She injected my head with some lidocaine and that was the only painful part of the whole thing.

It was totally bizarre feeling my head go numb. She had to snip some hair and I asked her if she expected a tip. There was a student observing, doing her medical assistant externship for the same school I got my phlebotomy certificate from.

I began asking my doc how she was going to get the cyst out and she explained it would be a small incision and then she’d use curved forceps to work the cyst out from under the skin. I asked her what causes them and she said basically it’s a sweat gland gone bad. Ew!

It was so weird to feel pressure on my head and feel her pulling and prodding, but not feeling any pain. We talked about those people who have that disease that kills their pain receptors and ow odd that would be, insurance issues for people who need this sort of thing. She had a patient with a cyst like mine that had gotten to be the size of a golf ball before she had insurance!

Eventually she exclaimed, “I got your cyst out and I got it all in one piece. That rarely happens!” I remember back when she took some moles off, she told me she enjoyed those procedures, so I knew she’d be enjoying digging into my head. The extern said she was glad she could watch and I said I wished I could watch and my doc said, “wanna feel it?”

Heck yeah I did! I held out my hand and she put the cyst in my palm. Ew!! Hahaha! It felt like one of those landscape pebbles you might have in your yard, but like it was covered in silicone or something. I marveled that that was under my scalp and then was like, ok take it hahaha! The extern gave me a paper towel. The cyst didn’t leave much residue and doc said it wasn’t bloody. The lidocaine she used was infused with an agent that decreases blood flow. I was curious if I’d bleed a lot since head wounds bleed like crazy.

She sewed three sutures in and I was done. It was slightly woozy making, so I sat there a minute to make sure I wouldn’t get faint. I said I’d see her soon for my physical. Remember that professional crush I mentioned? Yeah it’s applicable to women. I just love her!

Oh the extern had also asked me if I thought it was worse going blind later in life or being blind since birth and I told her I just didn’t know. I love the fact that I remember what my doc looks like and my doc was like, “yeah I’m forever young. You can’t see the grey I have now.” I also said I had been talking with a friend about Monet and I was grateful I had been able to see Monet. So, there’s no good answer to that question.

B and i left and were assaulted by freezing air. The temperature must have dropped twenty degrees while we were in the office. I stayed in the car while he ran into the store and it started pouring.

I started feeling incredibly loopy. I wondered if lidocaine could make you feel stoned? I called Carol when I got home and she reminded me that I haven’t had any mind altering drugs in how long? Yeah. I then remembered when I had a tooth extracted when I was about a year sober, I freaked out because I felt the lidocaine and had to call my sponsor.

This time it was just fun and I called it a freelapse. That is until my head started hurting and I felt a bit queezy. Food helped the queezy feeling, but my head is really starting to hurt. My hair is matted with iodine and I can feel the sutures. Weird! And it’s flat again! Whoa!

So that was my afternoon. I got to feel a foreign body after it had been extracted from my scalp. Guess you can’t really call it foreign since my body manufactured it, but it was cool nonetheless!

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Filed under doc, Jayden, proud geek, silly girl, sobriety

#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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Filed under faith, family, fellowship, Gamma, gratitude, mom, My story, NaBloPoMo 2011, sobriety, spoons

#NaBloPoMo – My favorite pain reliever is Yoga

Yesterday I told myself not to talk myself out of going to the gym. I did just that this morning, but out of necessity. There was no way, with the amount of pain I was in, that I could get myself and Jayden ready, wait for paratransit, add more pain even though it would have been good pain. I knew exercise would be good, but it was Yoga I craved, not cardio and lifting weights.

I’ve only taken three Yoga classes in my life. Two at GDB on Tuesday nights and one here at Saavi. The classes at GDB were wonderful. Deep stretches with controlled breathing in silence with a few other people in the room. The one at Saavi was intense muscle toning Yoga with music and moving from one pose to the other with no regard for breath and it smelled like feet. Taking paratransit home afterwards killed any relaxing the stretches might have invoked.

I bought a CD of the Yoga class from the instructor at GDB and this is perfect for pain relief at home. It’s quiet in the house and Jayden insists on laying on the floor with me, which makes me smile.

I knew I needed this today. The level of my pain had reached a point last night that had me wishing I had a script for pot. I never enjoyed recreational pot back in my drinking days, but I sured loved it for migraines or cramps. So when my pain reaches critical mass, I start wishing for it.

Luckily, Yoga has the same effect. When I’m through with my hour long session, my pain is all but gone and my mind is relaxed. I feel so much better right now; it’s like night and day!

I had a neurologist tell me once there’s no pain with MS. Really? Do you have it? Yeah didn’t think so. I can’t even fully describe it, I don’t think. There’s muscle pain that just comes from being tense but there’s also nerve pain. Everywhere. Like when ice touches a nerve on a tooth, everywhere. Even touching a cat will hurt. It’s gotta be like fibromyalgia. I think the muscle pain is intensified because I’m blind now, being on high alert constantly, aware of my surroundings, moving about slowly especially when the pain is bad. There’s also of course just normal life stress that adds to that. My bones even hurt. I’m going to talk to my doc next month about the possibility of arthritis. Cold weather is better for the MS since it helps the nerves from inflaming, but cold adds to my physical pain since it tenses the muscles, so there’s really no win win, except that I’m in much less danger of a bad flair during cold weather.

When I first begin the Yoga, sitting on the chair hurts. I’m only on the chair briefly and as soon as the stretching and breathing begins, the pain begins to ebb. It’s rather miraculous, to be in that much pain and feel it start to dwindle away. Oh thank you Yoga, thank you!

I don’t rule out medical pot for my future, if it gets to the point where Yoga and massage don’t cut it anymore. I hope it never has to come to that, with my addictive nature. However I’d rather get hooked on medical pot than narcotics, so I’ll turn to the weed before the pill if it ever comes to that. For now though, Yoga is incredible and I need to do more of it, instead of just waiting until the pain gets this bad. It’s also free, doing it in my house, and there’s no travel afterwards, which is fantastic.

You know what else? After a massage or Yoga, I have a slight improvement in my vision. It’s not like I can see anything, but shadows are more apparent, the slats on my closet door become sharp. It’s like contrasts become more prevalent when I’m that relaxed. Weird, huh?

I highly recommend Yoga for chronic pain. I’m grateful I had two classes though, because I still remember things she told me about my form which is really good to know.

I’m so relaxed and pain free right now, so happy making.

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Filed under GDB, gratitude, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2011, sobriety, spoons, weather, yoga

#NaBloPoMo – The Empty Bottle

This morning when I beeped Timmy so I could put him in the spare room and go outside, it sounded like he was inside the white couch. I couldn’t figure it out; there was no room for him to be inside the couch and he’s never been under it before. I thought maybe the receiver had come off and fallen between the cushions so I started feeling around.

I’ve vacuumed out that couch I don’t know how many times. I use the hose extension even. How I had never vacuumed the right side of the couch by the arm before, I have no idea.

My fingers felt the grime there and an old milk ring Spinelli used to play with. I could feel that I hadn’t ever vacuumed that side before. I was cursing my past self when I felt something hard. Upon further investigation, I discovered it was a bottle. Hmmm. I left it there for B to look at.

When I told him about Timmy beeping from the couch, oh yeah, he had been under it, B looked where I told him I had felt a bottle. He jokes with me a lot so when he exclaimed that it was an empty bottle of Jim Beam, I didn’t believe him. He was laughing and I reached out for it.

I unscrewed the cap and sniffed and my stomach curdled oh gross oh gross it smells like whiskey oh ick oh ick oh no ewwwwwwww!

I was shrieking all this as I capped and held the bottle in front of me like a dead rat and dumped it in the trash. It was one of those smaller bottles, a pint maybe? It’s been over six and a half years since a liquor bottle has been in a place I call home. I think my reaction was the funniest part of it. It might as well have been a severed head, with how I freaked out. Hahaha!

Jayden thought this was funny too and began running all over the house as B and I laughed at him and the discovery of the bottle.

It must have been there since before the previous owner gave it to me. Heck, the couch had been someone else’s before it was hers, so who knows how long it’s been there? I just can’t believe I had never vacuumed that spot before.

If anyone is thinking maybe it was B’s, no way. He’s over fourteen years sober and if any alcohol had been drunk here, I would have smelled it. I can smell it on a person if they pass me in the store, that’s how sensitive I am to it these days. So no, you bet your bum it wasn’t him.

Nothing like an empty bottle of whiskey in your couch to keep it green. I actually like the reaction I had to it. I literally recoiled as if from a hot flame, or a severed head.

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Filed under gratitude, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2011, sobriety, Spinelli, Timmy

#NaBloPoMo – But for the grace of God go I? Hmmm.

The definition of grace that most relates to God found here states:

8. a. Divine love and protection bestowed freely on people.

b. The state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God.

c. An excellence or power granted by God.

I looked this up after I wrote the following post, just to be sure my thoughts made sense. One of the definitions not yet listed applies to the later thoughts, so I will include it where appropriate.

One of the sayings in some forms of addiction recovery is, “But for the grace of God go I”. We often say it when someone relapses or dies from their addiction, as a way of reminding ourselves that death is waiting for us too, if we pick up a drink or a drug. I am certain I would die, if not physically, the person I am today would die. The spirits would kill the spirit, so to speak.

I’ve said it countless times. I said it after Amy Winehouse died. I thought, how tragic, but for the grace of God go I. For some reason I thought about that phrase today and realized how much I dislike it.

When I got sober, it was suggested I put my trust in something bigger than myself and my addiction to make it through each day. What I’ve come to understand about this is that, left to my own mind or what I perceive to be my own mind, I will fail. For all I know my higher power is just my good conscience, but there are days that that belief can get me into trouble. It’s just easier trusting something else, something I can’t define. For a lot of people new to recovery, this concept is daunting because of the name God. A lot of us come into sobriety with resentments at God, whether it be because of our pasts or because religion had made us uncomfortable. For me it was the latter. I don’t ever remember having a resentment at God, perhaps I did but I’m sure I quickly realized, through step work, the resentment was actually at myself.

Religion had always been a sore spot for me. Don’t tell me what to believe. Don’t tell me I couldn’t have been in love with a woman if that’s who I had been, don’t tell me I have to frown upon one who loves a person of the same sex, don’t tell me I can’t make decisions about my own body, the list goes on and on. These days I don’t deny you those beliefs if they contribute to your faith and make you happy, but that doesn’t mean I agree with them. Knowing I don’t have to agree with them has made it possible for me to trust God. That is my decision; not everyone recovers with a higher power. Plenty recover with their own will power or their religions.

Luckily when I got sober, it was suggested I turn my life over to the higher power of my understanding. My understanding? You’re not going to tell me what to believe? Sweet! The word God on the walls freaked me out at first, but I soon understood that I could do away with all the things I had heard about hellfire and damnation and come to believe in the God of my own understanding. What a huge relief! I had always been seeking for something to believe in that didn’t make me sick and finally I was free to truly begin my seeking, and seeking I never stop doing. Which is probably why the thought came into my head today that I don’t like the phrase, “But for the grace of God go I”.

If I’m to believe fully in this statement, am I therefore to believe that God chose me to have grace because I grasped recovery? Maybe I’m thinking too much about the statement, the way so many of us do when it comes to words. However I think this is exactly why I had such strong “survivor’s guilt” when I really began to recover and be happy when countless others continued to suffer. I felt like I had been chosen and that just didn’t sit right with me, because my God loves everyone.

I call my higher power God because I got sick of saying higher power all the time. I also don’t share the true name I have for my higher power. That is a deeply personal story. It’s really just that simple. I don’t know what God is, but that’s a universal name for an individual’s higher power. I capitalize the name because it’s a name but I don’t capitalize him because the intellectual in me says you don’t capitalize he unless the word begins a sentence. I know a lot of people do and that’s totally fine.

Fortunately, I’ve become so much less judgmental of religion and every so often, don’t mind reading about it. I’ll read something religious, leave what I dislike like, hate the sin, love the sinner. Ouch, really? That means I have to believe in sin and believe in a condemning God, which I don’t. I know right from wrong, my opinions of right from wrong rather. For example, murder is wrong, but even that has degrees. What about self defense? I can now ignore religious statements that make my heart hurt and smile at the religious teachings I find comforting.

My God is a loving God who’s will for me is to be happy, joyous and free. To treat others as I would be treated. That’s about it. Be who you are and I’ll love you anyway because that’s how my God is. (That doesn’t mean I like everyone haha!) Keeping it nice and simple like that keeps me from manipulating it. I can’t find a loophole in that simplicity. Happy, joyous, free, treat others kindly because that’s what I want for myself. That’s it. I can’t manipulate that to suit my will when I’m not aligned with that of my higher power. The addict in me will find any loophole, any manipulation and run with it, dragging me down and that can’t happen. I love who I am too much today to let that happen.

So, for me to say I’m sober and alive because of God’s grace makes me feel like I’m saying the next person won’t get God’s grace and that makes me ill. Here is where I’m adding that other definition:

6. A temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve.

This definition suits me better (see how I manipulated to suit my own beliefs? See why I have to keep my concept of God simple?) because my sobriety is simply a daily reprieve, a “reprieve contingent on the maintenance of my spiritual condition”. Perhaps Grace of God is just a simpler way of saying that. My recovery is held steady by my conscious contact with God, something I must maintain, something I have chosen to maintain. I don’t believe God booms down vengeance and I also don’t believe God bestows just certain individuals with sobriety, leaving others to suffer. Those of us graced with recovery, one day at a time, have made the decision to trust something other than ourselves to give power to. The power most certainly was not bestowed upon me.

I suppose for me it’s now, “but for the grace of my trust in God go I”, for it’s when I stop trusting in a higher power, that I’m in danger of walking near the edge of the roof and falling.

PS – I wrote the majority of this post Saturday to post Sunday. That’s just a coincidence haha! Sunday is not a day of worship for me. I don’t worship, but trust and that trust happens daily. Just a trust that I’ll be ok no matter what happens, a trust that I don’t have to pick up a drink to be ok.

PPS – Recovered atheist amaze me. Truly. That is not a judgement, I just don’t know how they do it haha!

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Filed under faith, NaBloPoMo 2011, sobriety

A minor emotional blow before I’d had enough coffee

Most of the people I know, myself included, start their days in the morning by jumping on the computer and going through their reading rituals. I always start with email because for the last couple of years, I’ve been subscribed to a service that brought me daily messages reminding me to stay grounded in my sobriety.

Before I went blind, I had these messages in the form of a little print book I bought. The first morning in the hospital, when I woke up to total darkness, my friend came to my room armed with her copy of the book. I missed that book terribly until I discovered I could have the messages delivered to my email and have my computer read them to me.

This morning, instead of my inspiring message, I received a message from the people running the service explaining they were being shut down to to copyright law. The email mentioned getting the book in print. Ugh. I replied, thanking them for their service and explaining how sad this made me and why.

I then went on to Twitter. This is where a dangerous combination of a minor emotional blow and low caffeine levels should be met with restraint of keyboard.

Naturally, a tweet hit a nerve and instead of shaking my head and moving on, I replied. I wasn’t nasty, but I really shouldn’t have said anything. The tweeter later explained what he meant and of course, I had taken it the wrong way.

I need to watch what I type before caffeine levels are therapeutic. Luckily, I waited awhile before sending a concerned email to the party responsible for taking the email messages down. I couldn’t sit idly by and lament the loss of my accessible inspirational messages. I was kind in my email and perhaps something can be done.

This is indeed a minor blow. However for me, it’s quite depressing, since the solution is, go buy the book I can’t read. Hopefully something can be done; only time will tell.

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Filed under Adjustment to blindness, coffeeholic, humor as coping skill, sobriety, twitter me this