I have blogged sporadically during the past year regarding my tenuous journey in the depths of recovery. Nothing, and I mean nothing has come easily or without immense pain and suffering.
On March 18th, 2K18, I celebrated one year of being completely clean and sober. After years of ingesting 10 mg of Xanax and 120 mg of Adderall daily, I somehow found my way to the world of recovery after a mere, short four month stint on Opioids. I never could have imagined that getting put on pain pills would somehow be the impedes for getting me on a journey of well that would eventually unfold into a new lease on life and a life in which I finally find myself living again.
I used to spend so much time writing and romanticizing about my use of prescription drugs. I marveled about “refill” days which were the absolute jackpot lottery days of the month when I would go to the pharmacy and pick up my seemingly pounds of pills and feel no less than a million bucks and the luckiest person alive. Nobody ever rained on my refill days-it was impossible to wreck my moods on such days as I was once again armed and fortified with over four hundred uppers and downers for the next thirty days. Even now as I write about it, I can’t help but smile a wry smile of days I will never forget but that have now long since passed by. I also wrote daily about ingesting what I coined the “golden elixit” which was when I take an Adderall and chase it with an extra large coffee….Corey’s Maniacal Musings were once alive and well!
However last January 16, 2K17, I begin to peel away the muting pharmaceuticals which dulled me and eroded my personality until there was nothing left but a shell of myself that shuffled about and didn’t really participate in conversations or the world around me. First to go were the Opioids, with a cold-turkey detox, I thought would nearly kill me. Through the Opioids I made my fateful journey to a recovery center and my life as I had come to barely live it, was altered forever in ways I still am coming to realize.
I deleriously thought after I got off the Opioids I was clean and sober. I didn’t realize by ingesting mind-altering psychtropic drugs I had become so dependent on, I was so far from the sobriety I yearned for. Finally on March 6th, 2K17 I voluntrily entered the hospital to somehow free myself, my body, and my mind from the last of the pharmaceautical haze I lived under. I had no idea how I could ever live without Xanax and Adderall and oh yeah ambien and valium too. I didn’t think I could last beyond two hours without Xanax but knew on a very Universal level, as long as I showed up to give everything up, the doctors I still didn’t know would find a way to save me from a death in which I breathed, ate and slept but did not live beyond that.
On the 6th of March, I took my last 2 mg of Xanax at 5:00pm and then at 6:00 pm I started what would be a 12 day Phenobarbital taper. It was twice as long as the standard 6 day taper but given the number of years and the high dosages I was on, the doctors and pharmacists were having to wing it and hope that I wouldn’t experience a fatal seizure or heart attack in the process.
I lasted two days on the thus far uneventful taper before my body and systems began to revolt and my blood pressure would rise to stroke like levels that no amount of blood pressure medication could control. This turn of bodily events landed me on a Cardiac Unit where I would go on to experience 11 cardiac incidents over the next 12 days. Once I got to the Cardiac Unit I soon started to hit the skids: panic over-came my body and mind and I began to experience a torture that would not leave me for many months thereafter.
The doctors ran every test and imaging scan possible looking for a better reason to my stroke level blood pressure than just detox and panic. The ensuing days in the hospital were a combination of severe discomfort and uncontrollable bodily reactions which affected every facet of my body and mind. Peace as I knew it on any level, left me and it would be many long, dark and demonized months before I ever experienced even a moment of Peace again.
I surprisingly recall vividly the days in the hospital as I decompensated right before the doctors eyes. I would find no medical relief, as I soon realized the system that had come to save me did not care or was not in the least humane regarding the suffering I would experience during the onset of my recovery. Everyday I called my family crying in despair from the physical and mental anguish I was experiencing daily, With all the medications in the world, Western medication failed me mightily as I had entrusted them to heal me and make me better, The medical profession had the bottom line solution but it ignored the solutions to getting from point A to point Z and basically deferred my excruciating discomfort to me as my problem to deal with which meant nothing more than to suffer it out without any sign of relief in store.
I haven’t thought of it until now, just about 13 months into recovery, but I now understand really well why so many people fail at recovery and revert back to their choice of substance(s). Basically, recovery hurts too much, and therefore people give up if they have any sanity. I don’t know anything other than the Universe as my answer, why I stuck it out and truly suffered unbearable feelings and pain that no one should ever have to bear. I now get why people give up their lives to drugs and don’t ever return. It has never hit me that I was certifiably insane to endure the craziness I did for so many months. I guess the rest of this conversation fits neatly somewhere else in my story, so forgive me for thinking out loud as I recant my story drenched in gobs of pain and suffering.
After being tested systemically for every and any underlying reason for my epic blood presure, it was determined that it was just the stress of detox on my system causing the need for me to ingest four blood pressure medications a day. This is a perfectly imperfect representation of the underestimation and dimishment of recovery by the medical establishment. The minimization of the effects of recovery on the body and mind desperately need to be researched and studied so that the gravity of recovery can be understood and the treatments going forward are more comfortable and tolerable so the efficacy of recovery treatements can improve and the all so important therapeutic alliance between the patient and the medical team can be perserved for desperately needed positive and efficacious outcomes.
Okay back to MY recovery story….one of the most fucked up moments in the hospital happened to me during my first weekend in the hospital. A covering psychiatrist named Dr.Cates,who practices at Chestnut Hill Counseling in Dover, NH (yes this is his real name and contact information) came to see me for my daily psych check-in. He was a bloated, beet-red,past middle aged man, with serious problems. Pretty much what you would expect by someone who practices psychiatry. He came into my private hospital room, which just consisted of myself and him, sat down in a chair, put his feet up, and proceeded to ask me what was I doing there? I blindly went on to tell him the short version of my story and he proceeded to tell me I deserved to be where I was, that I was responsible for my condition, that I asked for my high dosages of medications that had been prescribed by at least three board certified psychiatrists, and oh yeah by the way was there anything he could smugly do for me that day? I was in tears, told him to leave, and called my nurse immediately. My nurse took my blood pressure and he had upset me so much I required an emergency blood pressure medication in my IV and once I could explain what had happened with the twisted Dr. Cates, they forbid me to see him or anyone else in psychiatry without a nurse in the room. He was so fucked up, he didn’t follow standard hospital protocol and check-in at the nurses station like all other consulting doctors do when they come to the floor. The next day Sunday he returned, and as he went to enter my room I screamed at him to stop, called my nurse and she came running into my room. He was completely uncomfortable and asked what was going on. I said, “It might have to do with you blaming me for my high medication dosages.” He said, “I said a lot of things yesterday but I didn’t say that.” He fucking lied! I had no reason to lie about a damn thing given my predicament and the staff knew it. Human Rights even came to see me to file a report but after that I didn’t have the energy to fight him or anyone else.
I left the hospital on March 18th, 2K18, which is my recovery date. I had a last psych consult with a really great doctor, who told me what I had been through and what I would go through was like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat and was a serious brain injury. He said there had been a chance I would have experienced a condition that would have left me permanently psychotic but that I had come through the hard medical detox as well as could be expected. This is where the rubber hits the road for me: I came through detox as well as could be expected? My detox was nothing short of a shit show and now you tell me I could have been permanently psychotic? Okay doctor, if you think all this shit is okay and good medicine, I will certainly get back to you and your fellow colleagues. For the more I write my story, the more I re-live the pain and intolerable` suffering I lived through beyond that which is okay and humane.
I left the hospital and returned home for the next part of my arduous recovery. I do tell my story to empower people but I realize I must be truthful and my Truth is very complicated and not linear. I do not tell my story to dissuade anyone from the crazy magical world of recovery I now am blessed to experience, but as a lesson for medical professionals and researchers, that this process of Big Brave can and must be made better and more humane for the patient.
I save the next part of my recovery and the magic that envelops me now for tomorrow when I have the bandwidth to tell the pain and miraculous journey to well I have traversed over these last 13 months…..
BORN THIS WAY-2K18