when medical professionals refuse to take addiction recovery seriously

A couple of weeks back, I sat in an emergency room for nine hours, working on my book, and journaling the day.

There’s a protocol for when you are over 40 and say you have chest pain. We’ve been there before and it’s always been something else, just like it was this time. It’s just what they do.

It was surreal, really. In addition to the number of times Dave was asked if he wanted something for his pain (after repeatedly saying he would not because he was recovering from prescription drug addiction — 8 years clean), we heard the ER doc give the guy next door Dave’s former drug of choice Tramadol (plus Percocet for good measure) for his pain and send him merrily on his way.

I overheard the entire transaction loud and clear and if I was not the reserved, shy person I am, I’d have given him a piece of my mind. I was reading this framed document on the wall of Dave’s room during the exchange and the irony was palpable (you don’t need to read it all, the point is that there are guidelines to provide the “safest, most appropriate pain relief for patients and to prevent the misuse of prescription pain medications”):

PicsArt_1459282915757

 

I get that an ER is a crazy place. I have friends who are ER nurses, friends who’ve been the doctor on duty, family who have worked the desk. I know, too, that the prescription drug epidemic is unreal and there are multiple ideologies out there for treatment. I get that.

But when a recovering addict tells you repeatedly that what you are offering to him might as well be poison, there has to be a way to make sure you don’t hand him a death sentence in a tiny paper cup.

Dave and I discussed for hours afterward what could be done to prevent a recovering addict from being barraged over nine hours with, “I can give you something for your pain” as though they were being tested by Satan in the wilderness. Our answer was, there’s a whiteboard in the room, there’s a chart outside the room: WRITE IT DOWN.

It’s as deadly serious as any allergy or any other underlying condition and for the love of decent medical care, something has to be done to stop the madness.

And believe me, this was NOT the first time we’ve had this experience. When you look like a nice enough person, very few people take “I’m a recovering prescription drug addict” seriously. I have watched this happen over, and over, and over.

Today’s news hits the importance of this message out of the park. So much so, that it prompted Dave to write on Facebook about his recent experience:

************

Heartbreaking and important that you read this.

The Young Woman Whose Addiction Story Touched Obama’s Heart Has Died
As someone in recovery (8+ years clean), this story hits far too close to home. I recently had some health issues that required a trip to the ER. I told everyone at the start that I was in recovery for pain pill addiction and could not have narcotics or pain medication.

I told the triage team, the primary nurse, the tech in the ER and the techs in the nuclear medicine area, and the ER doctor. I told everyone. An in spite of this, I was asked if I needed “something for the pain” on SIX DIFFERENT OCCASIONS. [actually, it was seven]

I know they were attempting to be compassionate and helpful, but it could have been tragic.
Thank goodness I had Deborah Beddoe sitting with me to help keep me accountable, as well as tools from my recovery work to keep me from saying, “yes”. It is an incredible temptation at the best of times and more difficult when vulnerable.

Let’s support any law, best practice or system that helps avoid this and helps someone in recovery who might be just barely hanging on. A color coded card on the door. A bold note in the chart. A software solution. Or maybe just continuing to take recovery seriously.
I’m still clean, alive and thankful for every day. I want that for everyone who struggles with addiction and I believe we have an opportunity to help those who have chosen to address their issue by refusing to add unnecessary temptation.

— Dave Beddoe

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By the way, the ER doc never did quite figure out what was wrong with Dave.  Turns out he may have had some sort of virus…jury is still out on that one.

But I can’t forget the last thing the doc said to him when he released Dave, “You know, the way I’d treat this is to give you something for the pain, but…”

Number 7. Giving him one last chance to say please.

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Friends, please share this message. And if you want to wander over to Facebook and follow Enduring and After or Jackson’s Light (written by a woman in our community who lost her teenage son to a prescription drug and is shouting this message from the rooftops) for news updates you can read share about the prescription drug addiction epidemic, please do.

 

going retro: recklessness and regret

20160209_113445.jpg
Teenager and giant puppy listening to Adele.

So, we’ve discovered our giant puppy loves classic light rock 70’s music. I mean, really loves.

Easy listening soothes the savage beast, Dave says. Her current favorite is The Best of Bread, but only Side A. Side B gets a little too rocky…

(By the way, 70’s teenagers CANNOT talk about how kids these days don’t use good grammar and it’s all because of pop culture. Baby I’m a want you — really? At least in the 80’s we recovered some good old-fashioned dignity.)

Fortunately, we do get some relief from Side A, because Ginny also loves Adele. Who, interestingly enough, reminds me of Stevie Nicks sometimes… so there you go. The dog with her highly sophisticated taste in music agrees.

Actually, I have to think of Adele as Stevie Nicks when I listen to her song When We Were Young. Because when you’re 67, it’s okay to sing about lost youth. But at 25? I’m pretty sure the only thing more audacious than a 25-year-old singing about how she’s getting old is the 13-year-old singing along.

Adele.

[cue Emma Thompson voice]

Dearest, you are young. And I *deep breath* am quite old enough to be your mum.

[end Emma’s voice, or not — choose your own adventure]

But thank you. And I do mean this sincerely. Because you put music and lyrics to all the feels I’ve had all of this 46th year of life.

We were mad at getting old it made us restless.

I’m so mad I’m getting old. It makes me reckless.

I feel this. I’m mad, too. Especially at my feet, which now require special exercises before I even get out of bed…

46, at least my 46, has been a wild transition. Half of our children are adults now. Adults!

…I accidentally got invited to my high school’s Facebook group planning their 30th reunion and I was so offended someone would think I was that old — until I realized it was the class just a year ahead of me. What??

(BTW, if you are older than me and reading this and saying out loud, of course, “Deb, you are so young!” Call me and let’s do lunch. You are my new favorite. And I love you.)

*

So, anyway, I’ve been doing some fairly reckless things in rebellion against the passage of time:

1. I quit my steady job to freelance.
2. I let, nay, encouraged my 18-year-old-senior-in-high-school-planning-to-leave-for-college-in-the-fall son get a puppy. (I know…)
3. I ate In-N-Out burger three times in one weekend. With nary a care for calories or cholesterol.

Oh, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I’m sure there are people who get through this part of life without a blip. But I’m not that kind of girl/woman/lady/whatever I am now. Oh no. In my life, there’s no such thing as a smooth transition.

[see? no transition here…]

I just heard Eugene Cho gently refer to this season as “Midlife Reflection” rather than the old standby of “crisis.”

In which case, I’ve totally #nailedit.

Because I found myself looking back a few times too many over the past year — to years and decades of my life and giving them labels:

An entire year consumed by this… Five years consumed by that… A decade spent on this.. 

It’s only safe to think like that for about ten minutes. And then you have to let it go.

If you look back too long, you end up turning on Adele first thing in the morning, spreading a photo album of your babies on your lap (or just staring at the one picture because only baby #1 actually has a completed Creative Memories album), and dropping chocolate cake crumbs all over your bathrobe… and you’re still sitting there at noon. For days. [Not that I would know. I’m just saying it could happen.]

Because sweet memories are one thing, but regrets are another.

I know you understand this, so I’ll give you a few major regrets from just one decade of my life:

  • I regret not buying the condo offered to us for a ridiculously — ridiculously — low price by a friend who wanted to get the heck out of Dodge after the Northridge earthquake.
  • I regret not changing the oil on time in the Suburban.
  • I regret not getting a dog when the kids were much younger. (They needed one. They really did.)

But, sometimes the stuff we regret is the very stuff that has shaped our lives for good. You live, you learn. Right? For example, I learned what it means for a vehicle to throw a rod…

And then there are other regrets. The regrets that shaped those years and decades and gave them labels. Like these:

  • I regret trying so hard to do everything right by my own astronomically high standard.
  • I regret working overtime (in all senses) to please other people.
  • I regret not reaching out for help when I didn’t know what to do.
  • I regret not stepping out and speaking up — creatively and in relationships.

These are the sorts of regrets you don’t dwell on or they will destroy joy like nothing else…

But reflection to a degree is a very good thing, right? No, you can’t change the past, but you may find a common denominator among your regrets. And maybe it’s something that will change your future.

My common denominator is easy to spot now that I have the advantage of a midlife reflection.

Fear.

The kind of fear that suffocates life, minimizes risk, hides in closets, holds back and says you’re not good enough.

If the most reckless my getting old madness gets is throwing off fear and taking risks, well, that’s a whole lot better than buying a fancy sports car with a rockin’ stereo on which to play soothing seventies tunes.

People often say they’re going to live without regrets, but how do they know? Maybe they’ll disconnect emotion from their life history and maybe they won’t. Every human has a regret. At least one time in their life, they know they chose wrong.

Lucky for us, Adele sings about her regrets.

Hmmm…maybe I’ll sing about mine. Or not. I don’t know…

I suppose living without fear could involve karaoke.

You never know.

* * * * *

five favorite things for February

I just wrote the most depressing post. And then I decided nobody needs to start February that way.

So instead, I went back to a picture I took the other day of all the lovely things I had arranged on my table. And I bring you five favorite things for February — and the reasons why. (Not including the Philodendron.)

Oh, the post got better. It just started out so sad. Like Adele. You don’t need that today, either.

Anyway, here they are:

1. Mintgreen’s 2016 planner

With all of my heart, I want to do a bullet journal. I really do. I may still go there. But I picked up this cute little pink floral 4 by 5 inch planner for under $5 at Walmart and as long as I do my job of writing the actual-for-real-right time down, it’s doing its job.

Also, I’m the sort of person who absolutely loves to organize things on paper but not actually do them myself. So, lists…I have them. But making them cute and artsy won’t make me more productive for longer than a week.*

*things I’ve learned about myself over a span of 46 years

2. Pooch & Sweetheart mini books

I picked these up at Michael’s craft store for $1.50 each. They’re total knock-offs of Katie Daisy’s artwork, though. So while they’re adorable, I wonder… Anyway, you should visit Katie Daisy’s site and watch the video of her painting. My sister and I decided she’s like Beatrix Potter.

Anyway, I use them to write down all the things I write down when I am out and about, which is a lot of things. Ideas, mostly. Bits and phrases that come into my head. And they are the same size as my planner, which is pleasing. And they all fit in my purse.

 

3. 52 Silly Things to do When You are Blue 

We’ve had this deck for a while, but I pulled it out to see if I was doing any of them. Turns out, I already do a lot of the things suggested on the cards. Rearranging furniture and cleaning out a closet has always made me feel better.

But my February favorites are: Feed Somebody and Walk a Dog. The walk a dog part is way harder these days than it sounds because our dog is a 7 month old, 70 pound, ball of crazy who requires two people, a harness, a Cesar Milan leash, and the strength of two horses to keep under control. But at least we get outside, right?
But food… food is fun! I made beef bourguignon for the first time in my life last week — and for a group of friends! If you decide to make this amazing meal, note two things: 1. If your family hates onions (even gloriously carmelized in bacon) or mushrooms, don’t make it for them. 2. The recipe calls for Cognac, which I did not use. And also 1 Tablespoon of salt. Seriously. I’ve never seen a recipe for anything other than pickles that required that much salt. I didn’t want to kill anybody, so I put in about 1/4 tsp and it turned out just fine.

4. Whatever is Lovely: A coloring book for reflection and worship 

Grown up coloring books are all the rage these days. My friend Maggie gave this one to me so we could color together. She has every sort of pen/pencil/crayon available to coloring sorts of persons and we had a great time talking and “arting.” I have crayons. Which aren’t so awesome for coloring small spaces.

I also colored with my daughter and my sister & my niece, during which time we discovered that some of the pictures create more stress than calm — because you have to make color choices and sometimes you regret them. So if you pick up one of these books expecting calm, and you’re even a teeny-weeny bit of a perfectionist, start small.

5. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

This book is not in the picture because I bought it for my Kindle, which I now regret. Some books you just need to have in hardcopy. (I can’t peruse an electronic version during a book club discussion — even the end notes deal didn’t help.)

Anyway, For the Love is where I got the idea to make that crazy Beef Bourguigon thing. She made it sound like so much fun — and for me, it was. I am at a place in life where cooking can be really fun again — it better be because I’ve got three two-legged bottomless pit teenage boys to feed. And also, I love cooking in my kitchen. And also, I’m seriously into carmelized onions. (BTW, there are only maybe three recipes in this book, it’s a collection of essays.)

Among other wonderful essays on everything from running your own race to poverty tourism, I found this a perfect read. Her essay on turning 40 made me want to jump up and down and shout “AMEN, SISTER!” But my 20-something, 30-something, and just a bit older than me friends all agreed: humor + thought provoking + encouraging + Jesus = good stuff.

I pretty much highlighted every word of For the Love, but this bit is particularly inspiring for me today. It’s in the part that’s a letter to her kids:

You’d be surprised how powerful kindness actually is. I am not being dramatic: you can save hearts and lives with grace.

— Jen Hatmaker, For the Love: fighting for grace in a world of impossible standards

* ** * *

I’ve got ten more things I could add to this list, but the sun came out while I was writing, so that means on to other things. Like dog walking.

But I will get back to talking about Adele before Valentine’s Day. I promise.

 

Everyone loves a comeback

The life-changing magic of never giving up…

I can’t believe it’s playoff time again.

I can’t believe I care...

(See what I did there?)

If I’m watching a sport, one of my kids is playing. Or it’s the last 5 minutes of a college basketball game… But I’m talking about football (can you believe it, Dad?). Hang with me though, if you’re a hater. There’s a point.

Up here in Washington, they get a little excited about their Seahawks. And it’s a little contagious. Okay, a lot contagious. And not just because I live with some serious fans.

There are friendships forged in the hardest of times. When we’re together, our conversations are often about the nearest and dearest to our hearts — our families, our faith, our prayers. Football doesn’t fit.

But last January, we talked about the game.

Over tea. Over coffee. Over lunch…

And we might have gotten a little teary about 3:52 and 19 to 7.

If you’re a Seattle Seahawks fan, you know what I mean.

On January 18, 2015, chances are, if you live in Seattle, you listened to the conference playoff game on the radio because your power was out. If you were lucky enough to have TV, you kind of wished you didn’t. Because it was bad. Too many turnovers. Too painful to watch.

Chances are you reminded yourself we’re a second half team and then you got giddy because the guy who’s supposed to hold the ball for the kicker threw it instead to a guy you’d never seen before — a trick play like kids do in pickup games on playgrounds — and it worked. (This is what it sounded like on Seattle radio.) You dared to believe…and then…another interception.

The clock ticked away. Fail after fail.

Chances are, you turned off the radio once Steve Raible began to sound hopeless. Or you changed the TV channel. Or you left the stadium…

win probability 2
graph cred: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/201501180sea.htm

With 5 minutes left in the game, the Seahawks had a .1% chance of winning.

Point One Percent.

The odds were decidedly NOT in their favor.

The Seahawks got the ball again with 3:52 left to play in the game. And they had to get two touchdowns in order to win.

No way.

It seemed impossible. And it was. (see graph for statistical proof)

But when the Seahawks got the ball again, with 3:52 left in the game and the score was 19  to 7, something changed.

Marshawn Lynch moved up the field 14 yards in those golden shoes and suddenly, it was on. And Kam Chancellor was running down the sidelines yelling to Russell Wilson that Doug is open! Throw it to Doug! like he’s 14 years old. And you saw the team light up with him. And then Russell Wilson ran in for the touchdown with 2:13 left in the game.

And the strangely sad, silent crowd — normally infamous for their volume — rallied, too. Even while the commentators were claiming the victory for the Packers. How awesome is it that even though we’re going to lose this game, they’re not giving up? We said to ourselves. What a great example for the children.

And then, my goodness. A rookie gets the ball back in an onside kick. And now you dared to hope, not breathing at all. And holy cow, when those gold-soled feet ran 24 yards to score ANOTHER touchdown with just 95 seconds left in the game and you could hear the whole neighborhood cheer because what is even happening??

And then, a desperation pass as Wilson ran out of time and threw the ball up on his way down but the other Willson miraculously caught it and put the Seahawks ahead by 3 points.

Are you kidding me? (that’s my Steve Raible impression, right there)

But wait. Nope. Way too much time left… funny how that happens…and the Packers wanted it so bad. And now the game is tied and going into overtime and you just. want. it. to. be. over. Because good grief, you DIDN’T EVEN CARE. And now you do. And the tension of overtime is way too much…

But Seattle’s so awake now in overtime. Wilson to Lynch. Wilson to Baldwin. Wilson to Lynch. Wilson to Baldwin. And then a beautiful thing…

Every time Russell Wilson threw to Jermaine Kearse in that game it failed. Every. Time. All four interceptions were intended for Kearse. But both Wilson and Kearse have the guts to try again.

Chances are, if you’re  a Seahawks fan, you maybe cried just a bit when the guy who’d played the worst game of life up til a few minutes before hit his knees and gave God the glory. Because you know he must have prayed that ball into Kearse’s hands for the win. And maybe you cried a little more when he said he wished his dad had been there to see it.

Chances are, when the shock wore off and the win sank in, you realized that you just saw something happen in real life that only happens in the movies.

And you started thinking about the things you think only have a fraction of a percent of turning out well.

About the hard things. The times you’ve failed and can’t bear to try again. The times you’ve wanted to give up on that kid, that man because chances are the chances are impossible and the odds are against.

I wonder as I write this, What sparked that unbelievable Seattle comeback? What fueled it? Was it the 12th Man? Was it their roar of encouragement at the slightest hint of turning things around? Was it the injured superstar players who refused to leave the game? Was it Pete Carroll, good old positive Pete who didn’t give up on Russell Wilson and pull him out of the game?Was it Russell Wilson who just kept at it over and over until he got it right?

Everyone loves a comeback, but not everyone has the guts to believe it can happen and see it through to the end.

Sometimes, you just need to see with your own eyes and feel the impossible.

That’s what we said over tea. Over coffee. Over lunch. Even if it’s football. Because it’s not really about the game at all.

It’s about hope. About how it’s never over til it’s over. About how the impossible CAN happen in real life. About how encouragement may come from the most unlikely places. About how even the strongest fall and have to pick themselves up and keep on fighting. About how what you believe about yourself affects your actions. It’s about throwing the ball one more time to a guy who’s missed over and over and that one more time is the most important time of all but you’re giving him another chance.

It’s about never leaving the game early.

Never give up. Never. Ever. Ever. Not on yourself. Not on that friend. And mama, don’t ever give up on your kid.

It may take perseverance. It may take a miracle. But comebacks do happen and they are beautiful.

Dave and me as farmers
Me and my comeback guy.

P.S. GO ‘HAWKS!

(12th Man Flag from Seattle Seahawks http://www.seahawks.com/wallpaper)