Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Being Nuts" Part the Third

In which the heroine discovers that the Detox Program she has signed herself into at great personal heartache and mental distress does not, I repeat does NOT have any psychotherapy/psychology/counselling/mental health worker chat type arrangement. At all. At.All.



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

And also

Just look at how clever I am! Go on, I'll wait.  Yes, see! Cle.ver at figuring out how to use my Android phone as a tethered 3G modem for my laptop 'puter. Figured it out all by myself I did.

Take THAT nerds!!!  Oh crap. If I did it that, ikso fatso, makes me a nerd too.


Day 1 of detox started fine this morning, dropping the kids off to their respective institutions.  Fine fine fine until it was my turn to see the doctor and then I completely lost my shit. Which was, in fact, a good thing so there was no doubt about me getting admitted for being nuts.

I met a male nurse in emergency whose favourite comic song ever he found on YouTube recently. It was The Only Gay Eskimo, by Corky and the Juice Pigs. Who happened to contain my friend Phil. Small world, etc etc, today filled with singing of Gay Eskimos.  Who needed the Lorazepam that came immediately after?
Well me because soon I wasn't shaking with anxiety, but falling sideways on the gurney into lalaland.  That's OK.  Lalala is OK, when you are in a supported environment.

So far, a whole day in hospital and not a great deal has happened. A lot of lying on my bed, playing with my phone. Taking pills. Feeling lonely for a bit. The kids came in and had a visit long enough for me to read them a long story, and for Ella to tell me she wanted me to come home, Felix to get bored and to want to leave and for me to be glad that for a while I am away from the two precious creatures I need the most.

There are two old buggers in the room next door who clearly have been sharing for too long and are over each other, which provides some amusement. Apart from that Day 1 of Detox is all a bit...well...boring.

Cant even get something decent to get me to sleep. What is the point in this if I cant bloody sleep?

Come on Day 2. Show me something better! Let's get challenging.

Day 2:  More pills. An exciting*  *actually in no way exciting chat with Mental Health Team said done an amazing job, have incredible insight and strength yadda yadda. She has to report abuse to children mentioned in conversations to Families SA. Great. Adam needs to work on his anger management issues (NOOOOOO???) and we need to have family therapy with Felix. Ohhh. Well.

Social Worker who said she would definitely be back today at 12pm. We have seen no sight of her today and she has been given Orders, yes Orders by the senior nurse to get her arse up to me pronto in the a.m.

Doctor happy. That's nice for him. I am mostly bored, flicking through magazines and chatting to my neighbour in the room and watching her tv. Walked for a short walk to the meeting with the Mental Health Team and ended up almost on the floor. Walking round corners on the drugs not so good. Definitely lalalalalaboomph.

Ohhhhh Squeeeeee: Pretty sunset!!

Felix is on Yellow Circles Reading Level, so had to go to Mrs B's room to get the next level up (i.e. from year level 1) which is a big HUZZAH for him and his hard work and cleverness and all round brilliantness.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Night Before The Future

Tonight I have told my 5 year old son that mummy has been sick and sad for a while because I was drinking too much wine, and that wasnt good for my body.  He asked me if I drank it because I liked it and I said "no, it was to help take my back pain away, but I drank too much and it made other parts of my body get sick." 

I explained that I would be going into hospital, probably tomorrow, and the doctors and nurses would look after me for a few days while my body got better, and my brain got better, so I could stop being sad and angry and be a better mummy for him and Ella.

Cue crying.

Cue tight hugs from Felix.

"Are you sad, Felix?"

Bottom lip trembling: "Yes, because I'll miss you."

I'll miss you too, my darling baby boy.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sleep, Tarot Cards and the Future

On a sunny Saturday when you sleep until 10.30 because you took 4 Temazepam the night before and they actually worked so you miss either a) looking after your daughter while the boys go to the movies or b) miss going to the movies as a family, it makes for a great time to go visit your neighbour and have a cuppa and talk about how shit your life is and have your Tarot cards read.

I havent had mine read for 14 years, when the "Wheel of Fortune" card came up and the next day I got a call to go on the TV game show "Sale of the Century."

As a result, I believe in the power of the cards.

Well... It was all about personal power and strength and difficult decisions and what I am considering is the right thing to do and will be better for all in the long term, and it was all rather mind-blowing stuff.

So the cards say that I am on the right track with my instincts and once I get this shit sorted I will rule the world. 

It will be so much better for everyone that way.

"If I Am Not For Me, Then Who Is For Me?"

*Apparently a Jewish Proverb. I read that on Twitter today so it must be true, eh?

If I don't look out for myself, then who the hell else is going to?

The one who almost 8 years ago promised to "love honour and cherish, in sickness and in health blah-blah" is certainly not showing any signs of "being for me", looking out for me nor for supporting me in this, one of the hardest battles I have ever had to face.

And you've read the condensed version of my life's battles. There's been some corkers, hey?

Drinking alcohol in front of me with friends and joking about "now this is really rubbing it in": not supportive.  Screaming at me (in front of the kids) that I have no idea how much I am costing him personally: not supportive.  Making every day so stressful by the yelling - always the yelling - at the kids, that if I hear his voice once more I am going to fucking explode.  Not asking, not ever asking how I am feeling without the alcohol: Not.Fucking.Supportive.


I am for me.

I cannot stand to be in my living room because the associations with alcohol are so strong. I cannot be in the kitchen at dinner time because my automatic response is to get a glass and go to the fridge. And then I remember..."Ohhh, DAMMIT!" I cannot cope with the constant noise and the demands and the yelling.

I want to be alone, so I can have the shakes and cry in private and not in front of my children. I want to be alone so I can hear my own thoughts. I want to be alone so I can feel something other than frustration with my children - because lets face it, boy (5) + girl (almost-3) = nightmare - and anger at my husband.

The only way I can see how to do this is to put my hand up and say "Help me! I can't do this alone anymore." To voluntarily go into hospital and do this with people who know what they are doing, who know how to get people through detox and who are not going to ignore my fairly obvious distress. I had my first panic attack since the birth of my daughter the other day, for no reason other than I was in my son's classroom and there were other adults there. The second was a day later in the car with MB, simply because I was with him.

I need rest. I need sleep. I need quiet so I can hear myself. If I cant hear my own thoughts, or if I cant even process information because of what my body is dealing with, all that happens is anxiety and panic.

If I cant hear myself, how can I help myself?

 If I cant help myself, how on earth am I going to be able to help these  two precious, beautiful children?

I am for me.

I am also for them.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Realise Your Future

 Today I have made several important realisations:

Being in friendly company is waayyy better for my mental health than being left to mope around at home.

That the increase in my Pain & Brain meds since last Thursday has in fact made a huge difference already, and not just in the "lalalaboomph" department.

That my kids are far more tuned-in to how mummy is traveling than I gave them credit for.

That Temazepam does shit for getting me to sleep.

That I have triggers for wanting a drink and the worst trigger is my living room, which is not surprising since this is where I would do 99% of my drinking. I haven't been able to spend an evening in there with the kids since I stopped.

That there are people that I have only known for a few weeks, or haven't seen in 6 months, or 25 years, or have NEVER MET because they are my internet crew who have been with me since the Infertility Days, that are capable of voicing their support and their belief in me and their love in such a way that I can physically feel it, and it wraps around me like the softest purple minky blanket with unicorns on it you've ever seen. I am safely cocooned and buoyed on an ocean of love and belief.

That there is one person, the one who most of all should make me feel this way, who has not offered one word of comfort or congratulations in making it this far.

That today was better than yesterday.

That I have been sober for 15 days.

That I have started maybe thinking about considering contacting AA. But only to get their medals. Would I get one for 15 days?


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

All Alcoholics Are Created Equal

When I lived with my previous boyfriend, who we call Fuckhead round these parts but whose name was John, I had a close-up hands-on experience of alcoholism. When we met he had already been engaging in serious drinking for a few years, and by serious I mean bottle of Scotch in an hour every day serious. Bottle in the filing cabinet in his office at university. He was an academic. He was brilliant. He was - then - a high-functioning alcoholic.

Lets not get into the myriad reasons why I wanted to enter into a relationship with a person who was clearly - and I do mean clearly- a complete write-off mental health wise. Lets just look at the alcohol.

When he lost his high paid academic job (due of course to the alcohol) and could no longer afford the scotch, he turned to the cheapest source of alcohol above metho, which was a 5 litre cask of wine. To this day the sight of a Berri cask of white wine fills me with anxiety and dread. Said cask would be consumed in one night. Or sometimes starting earlier in the day, if it was a bad day, in one afternoon. It would inevitably lead to other forms of abuse. This would happen every single day and we were together for four and a half years.

That level of alcoholism renders one unable to function, not only in the real world but in your own house too. The stories I could tell you of the filth he chose to live in when I was not there to clean up the detritus of another night's binging...they would make your stomach turn.

Of course I tried to get him to stop drinking, and as a good deal of alcoholics will tell you, he said "I'm not an alcoholic. I never drink before 12."  Or "I can stop drinking any time I want!"  What I didn't realise then was that he couldn't stop drinking because he already had Korsakoff's Syndrome which had rendered him brain damaged. I only discovered this only 12 months ago, when I was told that he had died from Korsakoff's.

I mention this story because this is my only experience of alcoholism.  Extreme. Brutal. Deadly.

So when I drank my one, and then two, bottles of wine each night, the word "alcoholic" did not enter my consciousness at all.  After I had Ella, I never drank to get drunk again. Unlike before, where there are many stories of friends holding back my hair in the UniBar loos...  But I digress.

I drank because it helped reduce the pain. I drank until I was relaxed. I always drank white wine because red made me a depressed and melancholic drunk, but white wine has no such effect. At the point I could feel that I was getting slightly tipsy, I would stop drinking and usually toddle of to bed, knowing that I was relaxed enough that I would sleep as well as my non-sleeping kids would allow me.

And this went on for three years. Every night. No one knew, except Monkey Boy., Sure, people knew I liked to drink wine, but that was it.   Eventually though, I got to the point with my pain and my limitations that I was truly suicidal. I had a plan, which I thought about often. I didn't believe any good could come from my being alive. I truly believed my kids would be better off without me.  So of course, my doctor was told about the alcohol, and wanted me to stop drinking immediately.  And I went into a major panic attack.

In conjunction with our social worker, it was decided I would taper my alcohol consumption in the same way I would taper down a dose of medication before stopping it, which at the time seemed logical.  But I couldn't do it. MB was in charge of doling out the exact number of mls each night, and it was torture. Having a little when I knew that I "needed" a lot, and not being in control of what was happening was just not going to work. So I faked not being suicidal anymore and went back to drinking, and I was still thinking that the alcohol was just a form of pain relief.

But then I would start to panic if we were down to the last bottle in the house. I would panic about when we would be able to get to the bottle shop to get some more. I would be in major distress (which I masterfully hid, or MB is blind to my distress) when MB said "Cant you just wait til tomorrow? I'll pick some up then."

I started to look at the clock mid afternoon and wonder if 2.30 was too early to start drinking. Some days it wasnt. but I never drank before 12!

I started drinking when my son got home from school. I would refill my glass as soon as it was empty, and kept doing this all night.  Then I began bringing the bottle into the living room and sitting it next to me so I didnt have to keep getting up to get another drink. Saving myself the pain of getting up and down I said to myself in justification.  Then it occurred to me that John used to do exactly the same thing with his 5 litre cask.

When I got to the point of drinking two bottles of wine every night just to feel "normal" of an evening, and I would wake up shaking each morning, I knew something had changed.

What I realised was that I had become physically dependent on this drug, and that if I continued it would kill me as surely as it killed John. I also knew that I had no idea how to stop.

My doctor gave me Valium to get me through the anxiety I would surely feel, but because of the cocktail of narcotics and anti-depressants I take I was certainly no candidate for the drugs that are used to block the desire for alcohol.

And it wasnt until I stopped, until there was no alcohol in my system at all, until I had gone a couple of nights without touching a drop, and I started to feel SO low, so sad, so anxious, so depressed, withdrawn, unable to stop crying, and so scared that once I had got through these physical effects of stopping, I would still not be able to have just one or two drinks, that I wouldn't be able to stop myself once I wasnt until then that I realised the awful, shameful truth.

That I had become an alcoholic.

That there was no difference between John and I, except for what stage we had got to with our drinking.  Had I continued...I would end up in the same place: liver damage, brain damage, death.  We started for different reasons: he refused treatment for his bipolar disorder and self-medicated with Scotch. I tried every medication available to me and still nothing was working satisfactorily so I tried to use the alcohol to "kick along" the other meds into working better.

For me, the knowledge that I am no better than him is devastating. It tears at my soul, it makes me want to scream, it makes me sick to my stomach.

I am a person who must remain in control of what is happening to me. Knowing that I have no control at all in this situation, that I am controlled by my addiction is terrifying.  I am controlled by something I thought, in all honesty, would help me.

I am controlled by alcohol: I am an alcoholic.

I have been sober for 14 days, but I am a mess, I am having panic attacks, I am frightened, I am sad and I don't know how to get through this withdrawal.

Monday, June 20, 2011

How The Fuck Did I Get Here, Then?

I know there was a time when I was happy.

Somewhere in between meeting Monkey Boy at the age of 33 and the shit going down with his mother over our wedding plans, I was happy.  Deliriously happy, as one is at the start of every relationship I suppose, but even more so because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was The One.

Unfortunately, I was at the end of a 9-month drug binge at the time we met. A binge that was helping me forget the incredibly abusive relationship with a brilliant and talented man who unfortunately had Bipolar Disorder with psychosis and self-medicated himself with 5 litres of cask wine every night. A relationship that had ended only with a Restraining Order after 4.5 years of trying. A binge that was helping me forget that my youngest brother had committed suicide one month before I ended that relationship, and that he was the second of my brothers to make that choice.  A binge that helped me forget that people I considered my friends sexually assaulted me in a hotel room the week after I ended that relationship and that the police would do nothing about it.

So I think its fair to say that I was well fucked up around that time. *Actually a gross understatement of the matter.

Being at university, drugs were freely available, always on offer and (it seemed to me) the perfect answer. *They are not and never will be the perfect answer to anything.  And they certainly did help me "forget" my troubles. When you are high on speed and ecstasy almost every weekend, and the good old green every day, you are having a damn good time in your own head.  But the bills aren't getting paid, and there is no money for food and everything else is falling to shit around you because all you do is party.

So when you meet someone who is nice, and decent, and the brother of your best "party friend" and he LIKES YOU, and he meets every criteria on the list you wrote down in your diary (while on drugs) re qualities the perfect man must have, well its rather easy to make some decisions that in hindsight might have been better made...well..sober.

Never mind, the decision was made and we were married. And because there was a passive-aggressive showdown about our wedding plans courtesy of Monkey Boy's mother, (who has several posts in her all to herself) his family did not come to the wedding.

Strike One.

Two days later, on our honeymoon I had Prolapsed Disc #1 followed by six months of unbearable pain that my doctor seemed unconcerned with alleviating in any way. Monkey Boy was halfway through his Honours Degree, which he had to give up so he could look after me.

Strike Two.

I had surgery, finally. Hurrah! It fixed the pain, by taking away part of my spine in a procedure called a Hemi-Laminectomy. Ok, whatever, at least it didn't hurt anymore.

So then I thought: lets have a baby! Fabulous idea, especially for someone who never ever wanted to have children (me) with a loudly ticking Biological Clock.  Then comes the miscarriage..

Strike Three.

My brain is OUTTA HERE!  Major Depression comes and overstays its welcome.

Our lives become a hell of TTC and HCG and TWW and OPK and Semen Analysis and timing sex and heartbreak after heartbreak after heartbreak.

Until, almost two years later, on the day we are at the IVF clinic being told we will be starting our first cycle in a couple of months and we are freaking out about the whole idea, we were completely unaware about this.

Hooray! We have a baby, and he's awfully cute and healthy and we loved him heaps. He was the impetus for a reconciliation with Monkey Boy's family. But we have no idea what we are doing with the strange little creature though, and he doesn't sleep, and he doesn't feed properly and he doesn't put on weight and I cant produce enough milk no matter what I do so now of course I am a failure, and there is more stress and no sleep.

But somehow,  after 18 months, there was enough sleep to produce some rather unexpected changes.

The thing was, we were not planning on another child. At all. Felix was the miracle baby. Another child was statistically impossible. Goes to show what you can take from statistics.  The other thing was that the very first day of the pregnancy I managed to prolapse a disc again. Same disc as before at L4/L5 but on the other side. The surgery that fixed the initial injury in 2004 had created a weak point, and my stupidfuckingspine decided "wheyhey! Lets smoosh out that way".

So imagine, if you can, a ruptured disc that presses on the sciatic nerve and causes indescribable pain happening at the very beginning of a pregnancy. All those long months ahead of you with increasing pressure on the back, on the pelvic joints, the loosening of all the joints thanks to stupid hormones. The doctors saying "well you're pregnant, you cant take anything."  Imagine pain that starts in the lower back, courses through your buttock and down the side of your thigh, hot, burning hot liquid pain, that then heads to your big toe, where it feels like your toe is being pulled so hard your leg is being ripped off.  Imaging this 24 hours a day. Imagine pain that makes you rock back and forth on your knees for hours on end in tears, unable to walk, or sit, or lie down, heavily pregnant and screaming with pain at times and desperate, desperate, desperate for anything. Even for the pregnancy to be ended there and then so they would give you decent pain relief.

Imagine also that you are dealing with all of this with an 18 month old son, a husband who cannot cope with what is happening, and no support. Imagine your husband grabbing your son, pointing to you while you are in obvious distress and yelling at him: "Look! Look at what you've done to mummy!"

My heart broke right there and then, and I realised that there was a choice to be made and that I would always always make it in favour of my child. Looking back, that was the moment, the very moment that our marriage died.

Nevertheless, I am pregnant and still completely disabled and dependent.  It wasn't until I was 33 weeks pregnant that I was finally given an MRI and some halfway decent pain relief.  To get this I had to scream hysterically at my Obstetrician who wasn't quite understanding that if he didn't prescribe me some decent drugs RIGHTNOWFUCKYOU I would kill myself.  I was given Endone for pain relief, and the MRI showed what I knew it would all along, a disc protrusion on the right at L4/5 impinging on the sciatic nerve root.  Right there that produces a whole new set of complications for the pregnancy and delivery. 

The boffins all said it would be right as rain once I had delivered. That once the pressure of the baby had been relieved then the disc would heal itself. Well we all know that boffins are full of shit, eh?

So delivery, with my back in this state? Horror show. Again, that's a story for another day, if I can bring myself to write it.  Suffice to say at the end, I had more pain in my back from the epidural, pain from the emergency c-section, a baby in ICU being checked for narcotic withdrawal (it turned out she was completely fine) and hospital staff that clearly never bothered to read my file and treated me like a "normal" postnatal woman, when very clearly I was a fucking wreck with very high needs.

I left hospital with severe PTSD from the delivery as well as severe PND which nobody seemed to pick up on even though I knew I had both but was so fucked up I literally couldn't say anything to anyone.  I was completely unable to care for my new daughter and what's more, I didn't want to. This is another story. It was BAD. It was so bad that it let to a complete disassociation from Monkey Boy's family. Again, another story for another day.

I think Ella was at least 12 months old before I got to see a proper Pain Specialist. In the meantime I took a combination of every painkiller on the market, including continuing with the Endone, and I took all of them at doses far greater than was recommended.  It was extremely hard for me to breastfeed because of the pain, and we had been comp feeding since the hospital anyway, so by the time she was 4 months old, she and I preferred to use formula.  I was over my high and mighty stance on breastfeeding. I had to do whatever it took to survive.

And once I was no longer breastfeeding, I decided to try "potentiating" my medications with a glass or two of wine each night. And it worked. It really did. I wasn't drunk, I wasn't even tipsy, I just felt less pain. I had greater ease of movement. I could get some sleep. And so it went on. And on. and on, for almost three years.

I changed medications frequently in an attempt to find the right drug and right dose and right combinations, under the supervision of my Pain Specialist, until we eventually hit on a combination of 4 different medications that, for most of the time, kept the pain at a bearable level. But the alcohol, unbeknown to him, remained part of my secret strategy.

I knew it helped the pain, so I drank from late afternoon (the time of day when I would have used all my energy reserves just coping with being alive and a mother) and I drank until I went to bed.

Three MRI's later and nothing had changed for the better. Quite the opposite, in fact. The L4/5 disc has "dessicated and sequestrated" and there was now also some spinal stenosis and retrolisthesis. There were "white matter lesions" on my brain which still may or may not be MS.  Much talk of Degenerative Disc Disease and permanent and spine is failing and wont operate too risky and I am just tuning out once we get to the word "Permanent".

So my life is a routine of pain medications that would knock most people out, doctors visits, neurologists, pain specialists, psychologists, and social workers whom I BEG for help and yet none is forthcoming beccause I dont fit into any of the right funding pigeonholes. Too young. Wrong type of spinal injury. Not disabled enough. Have someone at home with me therefore no need for extra help.

Except the person who is at home doesnt do all  the things he is needed to do. He takes his stress out on the children and on the person he is supposed to be caring for.  If this were a professional relationship of Carer/Client, he would be fired. Except it isn't, and one cant fire one's husband.  One cant even divorce one's husband when he is your Carer and there is no one else to do the job.

Stuck, with pain, with permanent pain, with a life on narcotics, with a life of dependance and limitations, and with the inability to care properly for my own children, with the inability to work. Stuck in a marriage I desperately want out of and with no clear way out.

How the fuck did I get here? Even looking at all that history, I can see how I end up in a situation where I become an alcoholic, but I cant see how WE - Monkey Boy and I - end up in the position of contempt for each other, and he behaving in damaging ways towards our children, when we started from a position of such love and respect for each other.  I have changed, of course I have, but I don't take my grief and anger and loss of hope out on my kids. 

Or did I miss the signs that were there the beginning that, had I not been drug-fucked, I would had realised meant trouble down the road?

Is this a hell partially of my own making?

Friday, June 17, 2011

My nane is...


Posts for the next little while will be very difficult to write. .  My doctor todat increased the doses on some of my pain killers. and the combinatuin makes a fun and interesting spectator sport, no doubt. But from this end, it is a struggle to stay awake long enough to write ledgably. Ledgiblu. See?

So. Just a quick now. now.,,k

Hello. My name is Sharon and I'm an alcoholic.

I have been drinking 1 - and more recently 2- bottles of wine a night every nighhhhht for almost 3 years, in order to deal witj my paim

I have been sober for 8 days.

I would kill for a drink.

this post has taken me one hour to write.

My name is Sharon and I an an alcoholic.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

cant retrieve id

The title of this post is an error message that was sitting there in the Title options bar, being all eerily appropriate.

Cant retrieve identity.

How did I get to this place, where I am nothing, I can do nothing, I see no one, I am not interested in anything, and I know that nothing will change.

Cant retrieve identity.

The discs in my spine are so badly degenerated that there is no hope of getting better. Yet I am "not bad enough" that a surgeon will touch me due to the serious and real danger of being left paralysed if they operate. I am left here, stuck here, waiting and hoping in some macabre nightmare that things will get worse, so that they may get better.

Cant retrieve identity.

I am nothing, in limbo, in a life I loathe, in a marriage that is dead, dependent on someone who isn't dependable, support-less, passive, sad, angry, watching my life being wasted.

How bad does it have to be, if this is "not bad enough"?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hello Blog, My Old Friend

Nice to see you, though I must say you're looking a little tired these days. A little too...Early Oughts. And far to focused on babies. Whats that about? Move on! Contemporise!

Yes, a makeover is called for. No, don't take offense. You just need a little something to help your inner beauty shine through. Attract some new people into your life.

No, there was nothing wrong with the old people. But do you see any of them around here? They've gone done other things while you just sat here, all purple and full of baby pictures and not saying anything. Cant blame them, really. (I know you were busy falling apart. Look, can we talk about that later?)

Yes I know, I know, mad as hell and just want to yell it to the world. Can it wait? Just until you've at least fixed your colours? They really dont suit you anymore. Nothing worse than someone doing the ugly crying when they are wearing the completely wrong makeup. No need to look worse than you have to, I say.

Ok then. What? Yes you can bitch on Twitter in the meantime.

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