April 14, 2017
This post isn’t really going to be pretty and in a lot of ways will be
pretty god-awful. With that being said, I will go down to the roots of what this blog is and has always been about – a record for myself. This means the good, the bad and the VERY, VERY ugly (of which there will be a lot of today). However, I hope the fact that I am here today, which is my 48th day sober – the longest streak I have had since last year!! – will show that there can be some positivity coming out of all of this.
If I remember correctly, I left off at the end of January, beginning of February. It gets really ugly here. I’m not sure what happened to me, whether I was driving Uber or what, but the most horrific feeling of helplessness and hopelessness overcame me. Perhaps it was my court date and DMV hearing that were fast approaching or maybe I just picked up a bad vibe from a passenger. Now that it has been as long as it has, I don’t really recall the exact source of this feeling.
It started at the end of January, the very last weekend. I didn’t just start drinking but I went full out binge. I am not sure how many bottles I went through or how much booze I consumed but it was a significant amount. I went through the last few days of January drinking every night after work and then on February 1st I left work early (sick) and I never returned.
What started off as drinking quickly turned into extremely suicidal thoughts. It got so bad, that I started researching ways to die and I spent hours doing it, hours! It got to the point that I even called the Suicide Hotline and talked to them for a while, I talked to family and whoever would listen to me.
Eventually, I felt that was no longer working and legitimately attempted suicide via acetaminophen overdose (Excedrin). I knew that I wouldn’t have the courage to try it without alcohol so I drank booze beforehand, poured the whole (or most of) the 80 Excedrin tablets into a Pepsi bottle so they would dissolve and drank from it. This all happened between 1-2AM.
By the time the next morning came around, I had sobered up quite a bit, but I felt almost numb throughout my entire body. I remember seeing the Pepsi bottle, of which I only drank about 1/3 of. I have never been more disappointed to be alive, at that point at least. I’m not sure how long I laid on the floor under a blanket. I remember at one point feeling as though I was dying and it was actually really peaceful.
Eventually, the symptoms of liver failure began appearing. I couldn’t hold down any liquids and would vomit after drinking water. I started feeling discomfort in my abdominal area. Deep down, I knew what was happening and I was honestly okay with it. I laid there pretty much all day. I did look at how much I took and looked at the wrong bottle which grossly underestimated how much I did take. At one point, I saw what I had been vomiting which was actually little pieces of Excedrin (gross to think about I know).
I talked to my mom a little bit and was thinking I had work the next day (which is debatable at this point seeing as how this was on February 9th…). What happened next really freaked me the hell out. I went to the bathroom and actually saw a little bit of yellowing on the whites of my eyes – the early stages of jaundice. You see, this really freaked me out because I was still in the early stages of working at this job. It’s customer facing and the last thing I wanted was a full onset of jaundice after I had already missed so many days.
Initially, I was going to go to the hospital the next day but after seeing that I really got freaked out. This was already around 9 or 10PM. I called poison control and, after waiting on hold for 18 minutes, they confirmed what I had already believed – my liver was in the beginning stages of failing so they told me to go to the ER.
This 911 call (which was the first of more than I can count and will get to later) was probably one of the most humiliating calls I’ve ever made because they did ask me about intentional self harm and all this other stuff which I don’t really remember. One little bit of humor in all of this is that I was not really dressed for a visit or anything – random tee shirt, shorts and mismatching socks. I couldn’t even find my shoes or my keys or hardly anything.
The dispatcher stayed on the phone with me until the emergency services arrived. You see, I thought they would just send the ambulance and everything would be fan-fucking-tastic – I go to the ER, they give me the antidote and I’m good to go for work the next day. WRONG! They sent everyone! They sent the police, they sent the fire department and the paramedics. Now, keep in mind, I still lived with people who knew that I was having serious issues and going through a really hard time. One of my roommates was still home. It was like 11pm. The whole crew comes into the house, they sit down with me and my roommate comes up to see what the hell is going on. The police and the paramedics were asking me if I did try to kill myself and if all of this was intentional. It was EXTREMELY humiliating and I told them the truth, as embarrassed as I was.
So, after all of that, they finally put me in the ambulance. The police told me they were going to put a 72-hour hold on me. The officer was decent and told me many of his fellow officers had DUI’s and it wasn’t the end of the world. He was actually really nice. Then one of the paramedics told me what acetaminophen does to your body. He told me that his mother committed suicide and that he thinks about it every day. He told me some things about how tough his life had been but he pushed through it and was making it. Finally, he told me something I’ll never forget (although I didn’t really listen) – “Don’t ever fucking do that again.”
After we made it to the hospital, I went to the ER and went over what I did with the doctors and nurses and shit. I estimated 20 tablets just based on what I vomited and what was left in the bottle from the best I could see. I think now, that estimate may have been a little high but it was the best I could think at the time. The hospital was a little concerned with my alcohol withdrawals and told me that I had no alcohol left in my system, which was perplexing to me but whatever. They helped me detox which was really nice. They needed a UA and it seriously took me 3 attempts to get it to them. They had this weird ass thing they called a “urinal” but let me tell you, it was just some small plastic bottle… They did an ultrasound on my liver and that stuff they put on you before the machine is cold as hell. I stayed in the ER for 8-9 hours and they were some long-ass hours!!!
Around 8AM, after they gave me breakfast, they moved me up. I forget what the name is but it was one step up from ICU. All I remember was there was like 4 people sticking all these wires and shit on me. I felt like a robot to be completely honest. I had to ask permission to get out of bed and use the restroom or whatever and that kind of confused me. The nurse told me that my liver was fine, besides fatty liver which all of us alcoholics likely had at one time or another. No permanent damage or scarring or any of that. Not sure about you, but I was fucking shocked… Fuck it, I still am shocked.
Anyways, I asked the nurse if I could go to the bathroom because dammit I really had to go. She said yes, and so I asked her if I could unplug myself. She said no. So, I don’t know if you can picture being hooked up to an EKG machine with a ridiculous amount of wires and then having an IV in my arm and all of this crazy shit. Then picture taking that to the bathroom… how the fuck?? So, the nursing assistant helped me move that monstrosity over to the bathroom and he left the EKG in between the door and the wall. I remember thinking that we probably could have fit the whole thing in there. I mean, I’m no expert but I felt like it could have fit. Anyways, I did my business with the door half way opened, which at that point, I really gave zero fucks.
I remember they served me breakfast twice (once in the ER and once in the upper floor) but apparently no one told them because they were shocked when I wasn’t hungry and made some comment about how I wasn’t eating. I remembered that I was on a hold and wanted to get out of there to try to salvage my job so I made sure to tell them that I had already eaten and wasn’t being difficult. I think they finally got it. Anyways, I sat around there, trying to rest but chatting with the nursing assistant whose name was Jupiter (not going to lie, I thought that was badass. I mean, if I want anyone looking out for me, Jupiter is up there on that list).
Anyways, there must have been a shift change or something because my nursing assistant changed to Monica. She was WONDERFUL!! She actually untangled all the EKG and IV wires so I had a little better movement and fucking let me do my bathroom business with the EKG machine all the way in the bathroom and the door cracked.
Anyways, I started talking to her and we got a long really well. She opened up quite a bit to me about her life and things like that. At one point, I remember mentioning how great it was that the hospital has someone in all the rooms to keep the patients company. It was at that point that she informed me they do not. Then it all made sense to me. She was there to make sure I didn’t try to off myself. It all made sense! I swear, when I started dozing off, I saw the nursing assistants watching me. At first, I thought I just always glanced over there at the most interesting of times but apparently not. Ohhhhh!!! She was really great company though. At one point, the nurse came in and was giving me some meds. I mentioned to him that us patients really have to have a lot of trust in the nurses because for all we knew, he could be giving us laxatives. Can you guess what he gave me next? Yeah… a laxative. The orange pill from fucking hell.
What I can tell you is this – my heart rate had already been high because of the acetaminophen and all the shit from the IV, the meds and whatever. While I was having my Jeff Daniel’s moment (see Dumb and Dumber for the reference), my heart rate probably hit 150 and everyone was asking me if I was okay. Yeahhh… out-fucking-standing. The funny thing is that I told the nurse and he was doing his own Jeff Daniel’s impression and was actually almost spot on. It was hilarious. It was at that point that he informed me that I could have declined the pill and that I didn’t have to take anything they were giving me. That son of a bitch… but it really was really funny now that I look back on it.
I also had my first experience talking to the hospital psych unit which scared the living daylights out of me. The nurse was extremely nice and shared her DUI experience with me, briefly, but it still made me think that the end of the world was not approaching like my brain made me believe. It was a positive experience overall.
So that was pretty much most of my excitement for the first day. Monica left and me and the night nurse pretty much just watched movies all night because I couldn’t sleep. I will admit I got a little mischievous and actually a little curious. I figured out that I could manipulate my heart rate and breathing and could see it’s impact on the machine and the readings. I honestly had the thought that maybe I could unlock some hidden power in my brain and that with enough concentration I could make my own heart stop beating but my body gave my brain the finger and that was that.
The next morning, I was expecting to see Monica again but I didn’t. My new nurse was Shirley and she was an absolute angel. Her choice of food (I let her fill out my food request card) left something to be desired but she was a really wonderful woman. I did get a little bit more sleep. After a while, I talked quite a bit to Shirley as well. She was absolutely wonderful and shared some awful experiences she had been through. She told me that with all of that, she never once thought about taking herself out. That gave me quite a bit of strength.
She originally had dinner plans but agreed to work a double shift (legit, she stuck with me for 16 hours!!). She helped me relearn how to walk – which was confusing to me in the first place. But, with the amount of meds that were constantly being pumped into me and laying in a bed for hours on end, I actually did lose some of my motor skills. Shirley made sure that I worked on them and walked with me around the floor a little bit. It was really nice actually.
Around the end of the day, I got transferred out of that room to a much nicer room that had a shower – which the nurse agreed to let me use. I still had to have the door slightly cracked (which was awkward) but it felt really nice to get a shower in.
From what I understood at this point, I was pretty much in holding until the Psych Unit decided if they wanted to keep me or not. I was really nervous (and still thinking about the job that I thought I had), but Shirley really helped relax me and accept what would happen one way or another.
Shirley stayed with me until 10pm or so when Francesca replaced her. Francesca was really nice too. I felt bad because she had two kids around my age and seeing me there was a bit concerning for her. She talked with me for a while before sitting with me by my bedside until I fell asleep. It was rather comforting actually.
The next day, I don’t really remember as much of but it was full of many different nursing assistants and others that I really didn’t talk to as much. I did talk to other Psych personnel and eventually with the hospital psych. The psych unit determined that all of this was alcohol induced and agreed to let me go but also recommended that I contact Gateway (which helps with substance abuse in my county) and start going to AA meetings – with that they released the hold on me and discharged me.
So, with that, I headed back home to face my roommates. That was a bit nerve-racking. My roommates were both supportive though and didn’t make it weird, which was nice. I was pretty exhausted from the lack of sleep and all the meds that I had over the last 3 days so I was able to sleep pretty quickly once I got back home.
The next morning, I went back to work. I had maybe been there for a few minutes when my boss took me to his office, made some pretty awful comments and subsequently gave me a $9 check and said it was time to go separate ways. That was really devastating for me because I had left the hospital rejuvenated and full of hope once again only to have it mercilessly crushed.
With that, I decided to find an AA meeting and I went to it. It was a book study but still it wasn’t bad. I was still really exhausted so I just went home and rested after that. The next day was similar as well, except I found a really good AA meeting in Mountain View that I really enjoyed.
The next few days, my energy started to come back and I did my Uber thing, rather successfully actually. Then, I hit another road-block. My attorney sent me the police report from Christmas and it was rather unpleasant, to say the least. Apparently I admitted to driving, I failed the field sobriety test miserably and to top it all off I blew a .29 with a .26 on my blood test. My attorney advised me that we were pretty much in full damage control now and told me to keep on going to meetings and such.
What I should have done is not freak out and to take some time to think about it. Instead, my alcoholic brain realized that if I could blow a .29, getting above a .5, which could and should be fatal, should be no problem. I came to the realization that I just needed to drink higher proof alcohols in order to achieve that and that is exactly what I did. I started drinking 151 proof, alongside my usual 80 proof. This continued over the next several days and landed me with several ER visits and visits to EPS (emergency psychiatric services – which was the most god awful, disturbing experience I have ever had, by the way). The highest recorded BAC that I know was .4 but still shy of what I had been aiming for.
At the time, I had family out supporting me and after being thoroughly violated, having boundaries crossed with my own personal belongings, alcohol, my car and other experiences that were forced upon me, it was extremely stressful and something I am still trying to get passed today. I hold a lot of resentment for what happened during that week. In fact, I still need to get my car fixed from that…
Either way, it ended with me in rehab – something I agreed to with extreme caution. What I had been advised was to enter an inpatient program, which I had no clue meant rehab at the time – and I did.
I’m just going to throw this out there – rehab fucking sucks… To me, it felt like being incarcerated. You don’t get any phone, technology, communications or anything like that – err, limited communications that can be taken away at a moment’s notice. Your whole day is planned out, from beginning to end. You have a time you have to be out of bed and those rude awakenings really sucked!! You had to be 5 minutes early to everything that was on the schedule and if you weren’t, it was the end of the world. Even if I did everything I was supposed to do and I did it well, I still was part of the group and paid for their screw-ups. The rehab has this thing they call “reflections,” which is a nice term for the equivalent of lockdown in a prison. Essentially, you lose phone and all the “privileges” that some of us needed to survive.
I was already suicidal going into there and only really agreed because the hospital felt all my suicidal feelings were alcohol induced, which I know now they are not and were not.
I was extremely fortunate. The very first day I was there, I met two wonderful people. One of them talked to me after we got back from celebration (which is what the program does to honor graduates and sobriety time). He talked to me for like 2 hours after that. He was about 20 years older than me and kind of gave me a preview of where my life would end up if I kept going along this path. He was, by far, one of the most naturally smart people I’ve ever met and honestly he is the main reason that I really got acclimated to the atmosphere so quickly. He told me about what he called the “not yet” bag and I realized mine was quickly becoming more and more empty. Legitimately, alcohol was the only thing that could beat this guy. He learned how to play the piano at age 4 and just naturally from hearing the music. He can memorize things at a ridiculous rate and is very good at reading and understanding people and patterns. To be honest, I was blown away, but at the same time, extremely grateful to him.
As much as I hated rehab, I had the privilege of meeting some really great and wonderful people. Many of these guys were good people but the addiction just overwhelms the best of us at times. I will say that over the 36 days I was there, I went to a fair amount of AA meetings, I came to accept that alcoholism and addiction are a disease, as much as I hated that idea. I grew as a person, I learned more about myself and there’s a few of these relationships that I have kept with me today. I’m close with many of the guys there and still hang out with a couple outside of rehab until the other ones get out.
For the first 24 days or so, I was still really, really suicidal. No joke, I was planning my own death for most of that period. I’m not sure what it was, but I had a thought to try reconnecting to one of my childhood friends (shh but I’m going to try to eventually get her to post on this blog as well – fingers crossed!!). Although it took me a while to get the answers regarding her, I also found out that she has struggled with addiction and alcohol like I have. That fucking terrified me because she is a really sweet person and she has a really good heart. It’s this damned disease. It takes such good and wonderful people and essentially leads them down the path of self-destruction. I HATE IT!
Anyways, as much as I know and countless people have told me that I need to work on sobriety for myself – that hasn’t been working. I haven’t found enough value in myself to think I am worth saving. However, I do want to be there for her and right now, she doesn’t know it but she is saving my life. She is worth fighting for – not romantically or in love or anything like that but to be there for her in her fight against this disease.
That realization – the idea that I wanted to live to be there for her, was the first time I really started to come to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me. Right now, my higher power is love – and like I stated above, not romantic or in love but it is the only word I could think of that represents that feeling that I want to be there for a person and that feeling decisively beat the feeling of not wanting to be alive. That’s powerful to me and it has kept me going through thick and thin since then.
I finally got out of rehab on the 36th day, which felt great. I’m currently at a THU (transitional housing unit) and working on moving to San Francisco for work. Even at this house, I’ve met some really great people. One of my biggest triggers has been isolation and I really haven’t been able to have any of it for the last 48 days now. There’s always someone that wants to hang out with me or something, which is frustrating to my inner addict but good for my sobriety.
I let my roommate use my car to go to a Narcotics Anonymous convention in Sacramento and he got stuck on the way back last night with a flat tire. It was stressful and usually would be a trigger for me but I’ve realized it isn’t the end of the world and I’m glad he wasn’t hurt nor was there any physical damage to my car. My sobriety has been maintained, relationships developed and slowly I am putting the pieces of the very destructive last few months back together. My court date currently was continued until the middle of May so I should find out what my sentence will be shortly.
I got a sponsor on Saturday, April 15th and I’ll be meeting with him and starting the steps. I’m nervous about that but most of that has to do with the shame and all of that, which I carry a lot of.
Through all of this, I cannot count how many relationships I’ve developed and renewed and reconnected. The battle looks like it is turning more and more in my favor but the war is long and I’ll continue to fight it one day at a time.