We won't always feel the thrill of this is the thing I was made to do. When it no longer sparks joy, we will wish we could throw away our calling like the jeans we've been hanging onto for someday. Just because you are called to something doesn't mean it will be easy. In fact, I can say with total confidence that it won't be. If it was, we wouldn't need a power greater than ourselves.
Posts from the ‘Addiction & Recovery’ Category
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HEY! I finally finished a book! And to celebrate me actually finishing a book and Dave's 10th anniversary of freedom, we are giving it away FREE to everyone who subscribes this month.
Dave celebrated 10 years of sobriety this month! Not only that, he passed his ordination exams and will be an officially ordained pastor this coming Sunday, December 31.
It’s been a big month! And there’s more to come.
This fall, Guideposts Magazine asked us to be a part of their 2018 series on addiction recovery. We are so grateful for the opportunity we had to talk with them and for this chance to share our story of hope with their readers. Dave’s story is in the January print issue, it’s featured online, and a video is coming in January.
Click on the image below to go to the story and watch the video on Guideposts’ site.
Take a few minutes to read his story and share it. People need to know there is hope for freedom from addiction.
I keep getting notifications that I haven’t written here in a while… and I’ve had some messages from you over the last six months… so I should probably write a bit and let you know that all is well with my husband — because my last post here was written when we went to the emergency room last spring.
Facing surgery as a former addict
Turns out Dave’s gall bladder was very unhappy, it took many months for doctors to figure it out, treating him instead for severe acid reflux. When they did figure it out, he had surgery. In addition to removing his gall bladder, the surgeon took a liver biopsy. All tests came back negative, and he has recovered well.
If you are very familiar with prescription drug addiction, you probably wonder how post-surgical pain management went. For anyone who’s been addicted to pain pills, major injuries and surgery are minefields — even after years of continuous sobriety. Some people don’t understand that… maybe they have more self-control than I do.
I have a weakness for dark chocolate with almonds and cherries in it. I can’t just have a tiny bite and walk away knowing a whole bar is waiting in the cupboard… And chocolate’s power is nothing and utterly ridiculous to compare to a real drug.
You do what you have to do to keep from going back there again
We learned some good, hard things through this experience, and I will tell that story soon, but I think it’s important to tell you two things: Dave ended up staying overnight in the hospital (it was supposed to be outpatient surgery) so they could manage his pain and avoid sending him home with a bottle of narcotics — and it worked.
Recovery was slower, at first, without the powerful pain meds everyone else in the nation gets as a matter of course — but that was a good thing in the long run.
Prior to surgery, people told us their experiences of pain pills being too effective and jumping back into life before their bodies were ready for them to do so and doing long-term damage to their bodies (I did it myself after my last c-section almost 15 years ago and I still feel it almost every day.)
Refusing pain meds post surgery may not be a good idea, but you probably don’t need as powerful a drug — or as much as is usually prescribed (ask your doctor)
Pain pills mask your healing body’s need for rest and tend to give you a false sense of ability — which means we often do far too much post-surgery than we should.
We are grateful Dave had the option of using paid sick leave in order to recover properly without the stress and worry about how we’d get by. I know this isn’t possible for a whole lot of — maybe most — people. It wasn’t possible for us before now.
But research shows we’d have less of a pain pill problem [which has in turn fueled the heroin problem] in this country if we allowed people time to heal — if adequate paid sick leave post-surgery was mandatory for employers.
The right healer makes all the difference
Speaking of stress, the whole thing — pain, surgery, post-surgery — was terribly stressful. We’ve seen former addicts fall hard because of one outpatient surgery — even after years of sobriety.
I’m grateful for our surgeon’s vigilance, for all the friends who prayed specifically about pain management, and for the hospital staff who took care of him (though we had to tell our life story a dozen times because so many aren’t educated on the addictive properties of Tramadol, Dave’s former drug of choice & unfortunately our hospital’s go-to for pain). It was rough.
I’ve learned how important it is to find the right people when you’re seeking healing. They are the ones who listen well, treat your concerns seriously, and don’t turn immediately to the easiest, cheapest, most common course of action. This is why decent affordable care and patient rights are critical to curbing the epidemic of drug addiction in our country, but that’s for another post. Lock ’em up, as a strategy, has failed.
It’s hard to find the right people. When I was sick myself a few years back, I went to more than a dozen doctors over a couple of years before getting the right diagnosis.
I knew I’d found the right doctor when the first question out of her mouth was “Has anyone done an ultrasound of ___?” No one had even suggested it, but after the ultrasound, we had the answer.
Dave persisted over and over with one doctor who sent him out to specialists and eventually put the puzzle pieces together for his gall bladder diagnosis.
Be ready to push back
Some of us are prone to settling.
It goes against our nature to push back, ask questions, to insist, or to press for a different way. We’d rather not go at all than try again and again until we find the right fit. Plus, it costs money. We’re forced to choose what is both inexpensive and most expedient.
A wise friend told me recently that it’s important to remember medicine is a practice. But it’s also important to find the right healer.
Last week, The New England Journal of Medicine published an article about a study done on Opioid-Prescribing Patterns of Emergency Physicians and Risk of Long-Term Use.
Get answers, or get a second opinion
Researchers discovered that even within the same hospital, doctors prescribe differently. Some immediately go to pain medication, some don’t. They learned that “the intensity of a physician’s opioid prescribing was positively associated with the probability that a patient would become a long-term opioid user over the subsequent 12 months.”
What this says to me is that it’s more important than ever to be aware of your options for pain management. Find a doctor who wants to find answers for your pain, not just treat your pain with a bottle of pills. You have options.
Sometimes, when your love has endured through terrible things, you are amazed to find that you could ever bicker over something as trivial as pancakes.
But suddenly, there you are irrationally irritated, both of you. And off you go to the bedroom to “discuss” in loud whispers behind closed doors, leaving the kids in buttery, syrupy wonderment.
Soon a “you always” and a “you never” and a “you are” invade the conversation and someone just needs to end it, because it’s heading to absurdity, so when a boy knocks to ask about chores, you do. No resolution, just full stop.
But the mood is set. And so, she scrubs the shower with the guilty determination of Lady Macbeth, and he cuts down every offensive overgrown shock of grass, and the boys snap-to without complaint because none of them wants that directed at them, and it’s not til much later that you realize the why of it.
The why? She had too much coffee — maybe — before eating anything of substance, consumed by a story and a wish to see the world again. He started the day too early, to watch a soccer game with his boy who is spending a season on the sidelines, broken, and as much as they love to watch together it’s not the same as watching him, and disappointment permeates as his team loses just the very minute she is pouring the pancakes. And so, a simple, “Is this egg for me?” receives a sharp “I just made them. They’re not for anyone in particular.” And he wonders aloud at her rather than quietly conversing in vague metaphors. Things must be sorted out, hashed out, resolved — now.
But the why remains dormant as the flurry of words takes on tone and expectation and below the flurry lies an unseen, unsaid ache.
These troublesome talking overs and unders and not hearing, knowing, loving perfectly, these are bits of rock and weed that surface no matter how many rocks, weeds you sift from your soil. No matter how well you till your garden, no matter how many rocks have been removed. Remnants of a curse. By the sweat of your brow. Two who are one and yet not — and at times it feels like the ground is opening between you.
But knocking has pulled you away from the abyss. And the work is gift. Here is something that can be made right. Soap scum is no mystery, grass does not ask to be understood.
And yet, there is romance. Even in a Saturday morning spat. Because your love has weathered so much more than pancakes and eggs. Rocks, weeds and thorns are momentary light afflictions, and you will laugh soon — later, over lunch — surprised how sometimes a game and a book can stir sensitive souls. And you know your longing for perfect understanding, perfect peace is merely deep desire to re-enter The Garden where she was once bone of your bones and flesh of your flesh, she, once so perfectly known he had no need for words.
We have laughter. And we have smart, sharp children who interrupt the absurd and are beautiful and daily reminders that our faults, our many grievous faults, can somehow be redeemed and blessed. And we know the silly, selfish spats will come again because we are not in The Garden. We are he and she in imperfection. And she drives the car til the tank is empty, and he breaks a sweat when it dips below half. And he likes to be there early, and she wishes people still determined time by the sun. She’ll snap, he’ll be too lenient, she’ll spend too much, he’ll punish the wrong kid, she’ll be needlessly strict because he suddenly seems to have no boundaries, she’ll swear, and he may even put a hole in the wall. Or she will.
And the truth, the romance, is that we are always learning to make allowance for each other’s faults…and it is glorious to overlook them.
“No long-term marriage is made easily, and there have been times when I’ve been so angry or so hurt that I thought my love would never recover. And then, in the midst of near despair, something has happened beneath the surface. A bright little flashing fish of hope has flicked silver fins and the water is bright and suddenly I am returned to a state of love again — til next time. I’ve learned that there will always be a next time, and that I will submerge in darkness and misery, but that I won’t stay submerged. And each time something has been learned under the waters; something has been gained; and a new kind of love has grown. The best I can ask for is that this love, which has been built on countless failures, will continue to grow. I can say no more than that this is mystery, and gift, and that somehow or other, through grace, our failures can be redeemed and blessed.”
The Irrational Season
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11
Make allowance for each other’s faults… Colossians 3:13a