Today I Read

12 10 2012
So shalt thou rest: and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny.
~ William Cullen Bryant
 

This afternoon I read on Facebook that a friend’s sister died, and I was sad. 18-year-olds shouldn’t die, but life isn’t fair.

This evening I had dinner with a friend who has cancer. People shouldn’t have cancer, but life isn’t fair.

After dinner I was skimming the past month of obituaries as I occasionally do. It’s a morbid occupational hazard, you know—checking to see if any of my pharmacy customers have died.

Tonight I read your obituary.

I assume you overdosed, though it’s also possible your heart simply gave out after years of drug abuse. There’s no way to know for sure.

It’s pouring rain outside as I write this.

I don’t know how to feel.

The thing is, I felt an abnormal closeness to you but I didn’t particularly like you. You talked about yourself too much. You made references that felt vaguely like come-ons. Hell, I stopped going to a support group that you attended simply because I wasn’t comfortable with you.

I think I feel melancholy, but I’m just not sure. How do I feel melancholy when I didn’t even like you?

I remember once you told me that before drug tests, you would stop at a gas station and cath yourself with urine from a clean donor. It was so clear to me you had a serious problem, and I couldn’t understand how you didn’t see that. You felt clever because you were able to outsmart the system.

Clever, clever.

Dead.

You were an incredibly bright man to do such incredibly dumb things, but you loved the thrill of outsmarting the system.

Now I see it. I recognize myself in you. I see the awful, shameful truth: I want to be smarter than everyone around me. I want to prove that I’m better.

Because that will make me worthy.

Oh, Mike. I’m sorry I disliked you because we were too similar.

I’m so sad for you.

I’m so sad for me.

Today I read your obituary and I want you to know that I feel the aching loss of you.

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Don’t Go Away Mad

7 03 2011

Girl, just go away.
~ Mötley Crüe

Dear rehab buddy,

You’ve called me several times in the last few weeks, and I won’t lie—I’m screening your calls. Every time your number pops up on caller ID I feel sick to my stomach and a little bit guilty.

I know you need help. I’m sorry for that. I’d answer the phone and tell you the myriad reasons why I can’t help you right now, but I don’t need to hear your lies or excuses. I don’t want to hear your sob story.

Here’s what I know: You tried to pass a forged prescription at the pharmacy where I work. I wasn’t working at the time, and I’m not even sure you know that’s where I’m employed, but it doesn’t matter.

You aren’t well. You’re using.

Perhaps the day will come when I can help you. Perhaps not. All I know is right now, I’m putting myself first.

I’m well. I’m not using.

Good luck.

Please stop calling.

Sincerely,

Me





Playing with Fire

23 11 2010

My friend guided me to this amazing recipe for chocolate pecan pie. (Yes, Meredith. You are that friend. Consider yourself credited.) It has chocolate. It has pecans. It has pastry. It has corn syrup. Seriously, how could I possibly go wrong?

I’ll tell you how: two tablespoons of bourbon.

I know what you’re thinking. “Just substitute vanilla. Nobody will know the difference.” While that may be true, I’m a purist (*cough*OCD*cough*). I make recipes as they’re written. Hey, it works. You never know which substitution will be the one that ruins a perfectly good recipe.

But that’s okay. I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a drug addict. So I’ll just get a bottle of bourbon to use for cooking, and it’ll be fine, right?

That’s what I keep trying to tell myself. In fact, I’ve been trying so hard to convince myself that’s the case that I completely forgot I have a bourbon bottle in my pantry.

Behold:

If you’re reading carefully, you noticed I said I have a bourbon bottle. Not a bottle of bourbon—a bourbon bottle. “But Jenny,” you’re wondering, “isn’t there bourbon in there? I’m pretty sure I see liquid.” Ah, sweet readers. You’re so trusting. That’s not bourbon. That’s water. Water with a touch of vanilla to give it a  warm amber color.

But I can totally just buy a bottle of bourbon for cooking. I’m not an alcoholic.

Yeah. I’m not an idiot either.

Just so you know, I’ll be using vanilla in the pecan pie.





Since I Met the Devil

14 11 2010

You see I met a devil named Buena Buena
And since I met the devil I ain’t been the same, oh no
And I feel alright now, I have to tell ya
I think it’s time for me to finally introduce you to the
buena buena buena buena good good good
~ Morphine

I often write posts in my head. I lay down to take a nap, and my mind starts racing and the words flow and I’m full of poetry and genius and I know as soon as I wake up I’ll write the post that will change everything.

Then I wake up. I start to write, and wonder if the whole thing was a dream—not the post itself; rather, the feeling that I can write a thing of beauty.

I know what you’re thinking. “Why don’t you just get up and write when the inspiration hits?”

That would make sense, wouldn’t it? But I’m afraid. Afraid that if I do that, I’ll discover that I should never have put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as it were) in the first place.

Today is one of those posts. I started writing it in my head at the beginning of my Sunday nap, and now I’m fairly certain it makes no sense. Lucky for you, I’ve never let that stop me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about drugs lately. There’s a certain amount of mourning involved in accepting I’ll never feel that rush again. Sounds odd, right? How can I miss something that would ruin my family and probably even end my life? I’ve been trying find a relatable way to express that, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

Sex.

No, I’m not just trying to attract spammers. There’s a definite parallel that can be drawn. After all, sex feels good. (If it doesn’t, you’re not doing it right.)

Stick with me. I know it’s hard {that’s what she said}, since I meander a fair amount.

Imagine you’ve been having really great, mind-blowing, life-altering sex on a regular basis for two years. Or five. Or ten. I know! Awesome, right? Now imagine that one day someone says, “Hey, that sex is really bad for you. You can never, ever do it again.”

Suddenly, you’re faced with a future devoid of sex. Logically you understand why you can’t have it, but you remember every glorious moment of it. And sure, there were bad times, but it’s totally worth it because it was fantastic.

But no. Never again. You will remain celibate, and it will be good for you. You’ll learn to live without sex, and you’ll find joy in other things, but still…you won’t forget. It’ll be there in the back of your mind. And when life is difficult, that little devil on your shoulder will whisper, “Hey, remember how amazing you felt back when you were having sex?”

Does it make a little more sense now?

I’m depressed. I’m stressed. And I really, really want a hit of something. Anything. A chemically-induced state of oblivion would be so lovely.

I don’t do that anymore. I’ve learned to live without it, and I find joy in other things.

But I still remember.





Takes My Pain Away

5 08 2010

Anyone can say they’re above this all.
It takes my pain away.
~ Jimmy Eat World

Back in June, I wrote about my struggle with addiction and the path I took, and I left you hanging. I’m sorry for that. The final chapters in the cycle are the most difficult to write. I started writing it many times, but it never came out right. If you’re just joining us and need to do a little catching up, I suggest reading these posts in order:

Don’t Like The Drugs

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

Broken Promises

Cure for Pain

When last I wrote, “I was a recreational drug user and I didn’t even realize it. It’s not like I was having a lot of fun.”

That went on for a while. I got pregnant and  actually had a live baby (I never used anything but necessary meds during my pregnancy, FYI). That beautiful, awesome miracle child completely messed up my back. He’s almost five years old now and my SI joint still won’t stay where it’s supposed to be. Babies are kind of jerks like that.

Anyway, I had a lot of back pain. My family doctor prescribed Percocet. I used it judiciously, because I never knew if or when my supply would dry out. Don’t assume that means I used it precisely as directed. As previously stated, narcotics no longer assuaged my physical pain–they simply made me care less.

I popped out another kid. I now had two miracle boys to adore! (Sometime I’ll share birth stories so you can understand just how blessed I am to have them. I’m sure you’re practically peeing yourself in anticipation!)

Life was good, but I was miserable. I’ve been depressed for years, but I think at that point I was hit by a terrible combination of major depression, postpartum depression, and PTSD. I felt like I was just going through the motions, but I couldn’t talk to anybody about it, because how ungrateful would that be? I pray and pray for children, but when I have them I complain about how sad I am? I don’t think so.

One day at work I noticed a basket of expired drugs that were waiting to be shipped off to wherever drugs go to die. The basket was loaded with bottles of lorazepam (generic Ativan).

You see where this is going, right? I mean, it’s not really stealing if the drugs were just going to be thrown out. After a few days of ogling, I became the ashamed owner of a 500-count bottle of lorazepam. I’d pop a few if my day was going poorly or if I just felt like floating for a while.

I developed a case of shingles. Best part of the article I linked: “Shingles is most common in people over the age of 50.” Have I mentioned I have the health issues of an 80-year-old woman? Laugh it up, jerks. You’re next.

Shingles hurt. Like, really hurt. The doctor prescribed lidocaine patches to numb the rash, but guess what? I was allergic to the adhesive in the patches. You know, the patches I placed on my very painful rash. Gah. I went back to the doctor, thinking I would be able to at least score a prescription for Lortab.

He wrote me a prescription for 45 MS Contin tablets.

If you don’t feel like clicking on the link, I’ll tell you this much: MS Contin is a time-released morphine tablet. The usual dosage is one tablet every 12 hours. I took two or three of the tablets for legitimate shingles-related pain.

One day I had a brilliant (to me) idea: If I crushed the pill, I could get all that morphine at once. I chewed up a tablet and it definitely didn’t suck. But oral absorption isn’t as good as other methods, so I ventured into the realms of insufflation. I like the word insufflation–it sounds much nicer than “I snorted my morphine tablets.”

Right now some of you are thinking, “But pills taste gross! How could you stand to chew them, much less snort them?” Easy answer: I learned to love the taste because it was accompanied by happy, floaty feelings.

It became my escape from reality. I restricted my use to times when Car was home or the boys were with someone else, because obviously only bad people use drugs when they’re alone with their kids. I usually only snorted one tablet, but if I still felt something after one, I’d occasionally add a second tablet. Still not working? Hey, add in a handful of lorazepam and watch the world disappear!

I’m sure my recounting of this is completely muddled. Please know I’m telling this the best I can since narcotics and benzodiazepines tend to blur the edges of reality.

It wasn’t enough. I still felt things, and feelings hurt, which was bad and wrong and exactly what I did not want.

I hit my all-time low. I don’t want to tell you what that was, but I think it’s an important part of my story.

I knew there was a way to achieve better absorption. Snorting was great, but injecting had to be better. I researched, read everything I could about how to prep my pills for injection. I gathered all the necessary supplies, and one day, while my boys sat watching TV, I locked myself in the bathroom with a spoon, a syringe, and a lighter.

To this day, I am overwhelmingly grateful for two things:

  1. My boys realized I was gone and started crying.
  2. I was too impatient to figure out how to make it work by myself right that minute. After all, I was hurting and the crying from the other room was just making it worse and I needed a fix right that second.

I licked the spoon clean and attended to my boys.

There are a few things I want to point out about this part of my story:

  • I attended church throughout most of my drug use. When I started snorting morphine, I was teaching the 14-17 year-old girls.
  • I held down a stable job.
  • I did not doctor-shop. I didn’t need to. I didn’t even have overt drug-seeking behaviors. I knew that I had to make my pills last, because if I ran out, I might not be able to get any more.
  • The people around me made excuses for me. A few of them knew exactly what was going on, others had an inkling, and many had no clue.
  • At this point I admitted to myself I was a recreational drug user, but could not admit I was an addict.

So how did I realize I had a problem? Why did I seek help? For answers to those questions, you’ll just have to come back. I know. It’s mean, but I’m tired and it’s late. I can’t even promise to post the answers tomorrow night since I’m going to the Rush concert (squeeee!) but I’ll write it as soon as I can.

Thanks for sticking with me through all of this. You guys are the best minions ever.





Open to Interpretation

8 07 2010

Please be gentle with me. This post was difficult for me to write.

You remember I’m Mormon, right?

Before I dive into this post, my non-Mormon readers need a crash course on the Word of Wisdom. I’m sure you’ve all heard of it in vague terms (“You don’t drink coffee?!”), but a bit more in-depth knowledge is required before my rant will make any sense.

So. Here’s the basic list from mormon.org:

“In addition to emphasizing the benefits of proper eating and physical and spiritual health, God has spoken against the use of:

  • Tobacco.
  • Alcohol.
  • Coffee and tea.
  • Harmful, habit-forming drugs.”

Stick with me, here. Yes, I’ve tried everything on that list. I’ve even enjoyed the hell out of some of it. Obviously I’m not bringing this up so I can try to convince y’all of the error of your ways. I just need you aware of the principle, and now that you are, I can move onto the real reason for this post.

As my faithful readers know, I went to Las Vegas to attend a community pharmacy conference. All our meals were included, and dinner the first night featured an open bar. Sometimes it’s like God is messing with me. “Hey, you down there, I know you have issues with substances and all, and you’re trying to be good, but hey–check out that free liquor!” [Please don’t send me a message about how God really isn’t saying that and it’s totally Satan unless you want to be mocked.]

Anyway, I’m at this conference with free booze 10 feet away from me and…I didn’t drink. I know, right? I’m pretty frickin’ awesome. But it wasn’t just my supreme willpower and desire to do good that kept me from drinking (Did you giggle a little just then? I bet you did!)–it was my fear of judgement. I was at the conference with my boss and two coworkers, all of whom are also Mormon. I knew if I broke down and had a drink, there would be gossip and censuring looks and all sorts of irritating things that make me want to drink even more.

The next day our free lunch came with iced tea. Fortunately, I wasn’t at all tempted. Iced tea is wrong. Argue with me all you want, but I know the truth. Iced tea is icky. I went off to find water, and when I came back, my coworker was sprinkling sugar in her iced tea.

I think I did a double take. It was the very last thing I expected to see. Like, ever. And because I can never keep my mouth shut (That’s endearing, right? RIGHT?!), here’s the conversation that followed:

Me: “So…I’m just curious. How is drinking iced tea any different from if I’d had alcohol last night?”
Her: “Well, tea doesn’t have the same effect as alcohol.”
Me: “I must’ve missed that part in the Word of Wisdom where it talks about how something affects you.”
Her: “It’s my only vice.” [I don’t think she meant that like it sounds. I believe she meant her only vice pertaining to the Word of Wisdom.]

It went on for a bit, but you get the idea.

In light of this new information, I’ve come up with a handy sliding scale for Word of Wisdom offenses:

Level One
You drink caffeinated beverages on a daily basis. Shame on you!

Level Two
You drink coffee or tea. You’re on a slippery slide, my friend.

Level Three
You smoke cigarettes and/or drink alcohol. You’re totally screwed. You will now die of lung cancer and/or cirrhosis.

Level Four
Crack whore.

There, now. Doesn’t that clear things up nicely?

I’ve spent some time trying to figure out why I’m so bitter about this whole encounter, and all I can come up with is that I felt like I’d been judged and found lacking by someone who has problems with the exact same commandment.

What makes me angriest is the knowledge that I’ve done the same thing. I made snide comments about the addicts who came into our pharmacy and then I went home and popped a handful of Lortab. I shook my head in dismay at the people doing sobriety tests at the side of the road, but then deemed myself perfectly capable of driving home after a night of drinking.

One of my biggest pet peeves is hypocrisy, yet I’m one of the worst hypocrites I know.

I’ve become my own pet peeve. Weird. Also, uncomfortable. Someone hurry and do something really annoying so I can focus on something else, okay?





Why Bother?

2 07 2010

While we were in Vegas, my coworkers and I got frozen slushy-type drinks. You could order them with or without alcohol. I ordered mine virgin (I even have the receipt to prove it!), since I’m good and pure and always try to do the right thing. Well, mostly the last one. Without “always.” But I am trying.

On Tuesday I had this lovely conversation with my boss (who went to Vegas with us):

Hal: “I have to ask–you had alcohol in your frozen drink, didn’t you?”
Me: “Um…no. Why?”
Hal: “I just assumed you did.”

What the hell? I made a concerted effort to do the right thing (because believe me, I did consider having the bartender toss in a little something extra) and he just figures I gave right in?

I asked Hal on Thursday why he assumed I drank. He said, “Well, you talk about it all the time.”

I do talk about it a lot. I think about it a lot. Like I said to Hal, “You know how often you think about sex? That’s about how often I think about being high or drunk.” Okay, maybe not quite that much, but you get the idea. Here’s the thing, though: if I’m talking about it, odds are I’m not doing it. It’s not a fool-proof formula but it’s pretty close to the truth.

When I’m in relapse mode, I shut down. I stop talking to people. I make a definitive effort to prove to everyone that I’m doing well and everything in my life is fantastic. If you ever catch me doing that on my blog, please call me on it, because there’s a high possibility I’m doing very, very poorly. (Exception: Mundane Mondays, which are designed to help me focus on the positive things in my life. Please don’t see that as relapse mode.)

Hopefully someday that will change and when I say things are fantastic and everything is great it’ll be the truth, but for now, I hope you can bear with me. I’m going to talk about drinking. I’m going to talk about getting high. I have a rich fantasy life, and it’s not about hot cabana boys–it’s about chemically altered forms of consciousness. Oh, and lots of naps. That’s how I cope.

Tonight I’m sad. I’ll tell you very honestly that I’d like to take a pill and feel mellow and happy, or have a drink and slide through the night. It’s a big step for me to admit even that much weakness. After all, I wouldn’t want you to know I’m, say, human or anything. That’d just be embarrassing.

Feelings kinda suck.

Oh, one last thing–If you follow me on Twitter, please be aware that I’m taking a hiatus. It might be a weekend, or it might be until I’m feeling a little more emotionally stable. If you want to know the specific reasons, email me. I’m not going into them here because I’ve gotten enough crap about the whole situation.

*Oh, WordPress Proofreader. Just when I’m ready to call things off between us, you sense my desolation and tell me how fantastic I am. “No writing errors were found,” indeed. You are the wind beneath my wings.

**I take it back. Yes, I meant “sense” instead of “since.” Jackhole.

***Stop criticizing my choice of insults. You’re not doing yourself any favors, although I must admit I’m amused by your suggestion that I meant “backhoe.”