Feb 19, 2009
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Member since Feb 2001
, Feb 17, 2001 12:00AM
To: To all on this forum - please read
This post was originally in response to one person but I want everyone to read this, so, forgive me for posting it twice.
[Pat to annie]
Tom's not going to post on the board until he follows through on his pledge to take one of the treatment options written about ad nauseam on the forum.
However, tom spent much of last night writing, what we will call a "night's memoir."
He wrote it partly to unburden himself but, principally, to remind everyone that visits or frequents this forum of how precious life is, how relentless the disease of drug addiction is, and how, in the blink of an eye, this disease can have you dangling over a cliff, ready to plunge into the abyss.
From tom to all:
"I feel I must begin this story the way so many horrific tales are begun:
This is a true story, described as it happened with no detail omitted, no embellishment added, and no dramatic license taken.
Most of you who know me are aware that I've be addicted to opiates for thirty years and now maintain myself, if one can call it that, with a combination of darvon and xanax. However, in a matter of a few months, private physicians in California and elsewhere will be able to obtain certification to treat patients for opiate addiction with the drug buprenorphin. This is the course I have decided to take and, while the legislative wheels slowly turn, I go on, day after day, dosing myself with enough Darvon and Xanax to enable me to work and, in short, function in society.
If you're getting bored by now, take heart, because this story is about to become a lot more "interesting."
Wednesday night started out quite happily. I had firmed up a job interview for Friday. If successful, this job would dramatically enhance my future and that of my family. It was long in coming and well deserved. Wednesday night my wife and I thought we had something to toast, so we did. A few Baileys and what not, nothing (seemingly) that I couldn't handle.
But I had forgotten a little bit of basic wisdom about Xanax and alcohol. Mixing the two can result in paralysis and death. It's there on rxlist.com for any idiot to read. Midnight came around I suddenly felt a little "too" medicated. It takes a lot for me to feel "too' medicated. Therefore, I elected to take a solitary stroll through our neighborhood to clear my head.
We live in what amounts to a suburban enclave built into a row of steep hills. This gives each of us our cherished view of the Pacific Ocean in all its beauty. All the streets are connected by steeper than average cross streets, the kind you think twice about parking your car on for fear of finding it crashed at the bottom from an overwhelmed parking break - steep, roughly asphalted bastards that test your climbing abilities and give you nice calf muscles if you walk them enough. It's a nice, private collection of streets with no street lamps to spoil the beauty of the night (or help you find your way home).
I was perhaps a twenty-minute stroll from my front door when it hit me. An almost-total paralysis overwhelmed the muscles of my body and, perfectly conscious, I watched as my limbs became rubber and my body fell harshly to the ground. To my horror, I found I could not raise myself from the ground. I couldn't even get up on my hands and knees.
It began to rain. I was now in a curious position:
I knew I needed to go to the ER
In order to get there, I knew I had to attract help.
I tried to cry out for help only to find that I had virtually lost the power of speech, mouth and tongue virtually paralyzed.
I considered by predicament. If I was successful in attracting someone's attention: this would have been the sequence of events:
The police and paramedics would be called. I would be rushed into the ER. A police report would be taken. My doctor would be contacted and, conceivably, charged for one prescribing violation or another. The entire neighborhood would find out. They already knew I had gone into a court-ordered rehab in 1994. I was supposed to have made a complete success of it and rebuilt my life and career. To the observer, I was a rehab success story.
If I went to the ER, I knew my family would be shamed; I would have been hospitalized and lost the new job. Our finances would have imploded. Plus, our landlord, hearing the news, would quite likely have evicted us from our dream life in the hills overlooking the great Pacific.
At the same time, I knew that if I didn't get myself off this rain soaked road I would lay there till I quite likely died.
I thought, "is this how the story ends? Found dead, another drug casualty, cut down in his prime. How sad. How senseless. How typical.
I decided that, if I could drag myself to my doorstep, I could at least go to the ER without all the spectacle of the cops and paramedics.
I managed to claw my way up onto my feet using a hillside covered in ice plant. I promptly fell and fell hard. I did this many times. Until I determined that the only way I would make the half-mile back to my door step was to crawl. This I did for the next 90 minutes in the pouring rain, the odd SUV passing by inches from me every 10 minutes or so. I was quite lucky not to be run over.
I finally got to one of these steep feeder roads I described and simply tumbled down the length of it until I was laying face down in the mud on my own street. It took another hour to drag myself to the bottom landing leading to my second-level front door.
At this point, I was so exhausted I could barely move. I looked up the dimly lit set of brick stairs leading to my front door. I immediately discovered that I lacked the strength in my arms to drag my body up even one step, let alone the thirty steps I needed to cover.
I wondered again, is this where it ends? Is this the end of my life? I lay there a few minutes, asking myself, do I really want to go on, or is this the merciful end denied to so many others?
I decided no, I did not want to go out a loser on this rainy night. Another wasted human receptacle of education, training and experience, some of which might still have some value to the world.
It now occurred to me. If I hadn't the strength in my arms, what about my legs? I rolled myself over on my back, head facing upwards towards the top landing which was my goal.
For the next hour, maybe two hours - I don't know - I pushed with what strength was left in my legs and lifted as hard as I could with my now-bleeding elbows. Step by step, I pushed myself up to the top landing.
All this time, mind you, it was so dark, so rainy and so removed from the usual police beats that nobody had noticed this soaked, writhing mass slithering snakelike down the street for a total (counting both streets) of about 1 mile!
By now, I had lost my shoes somewhere on the road, most of my jacket, and was literally covered from the shoulders down with bruises and abrasions. By some miracle, I had not a mark on my face or neck.
By another miracle, my house key had not fallen out of my pocket. I reached up with the key. I could barely lift my arm or move my hand to work the lock.
Once in the door, I dragged myself up into a chair and just sat there breathing. My tongue was bone dry and swollen and I knew I needed to get some water down my throat. After a few minutes in the chair, my control of my arms and legs slowly returned and I was able to stagger into the kitchen by holding onto various pieces of furniture until I got to the sink and drank down some water.
Somehow, this caused a dramatic return of muscle control and I was able to stagger into the bedroom to my sleeping wife. (She had not known that I had even left the house. At the time, I thought I'd be back in ten minutes).
She helped me out of my clothes and into a warm shower. A few minutes later, I was lying in my own bed, breathing, drinking fluids, recovering control of my arms and legs, and trying to explain to my wife what I had just experienced.
With one day to recover, by the grace of god, I was able to hold it together for exactly one hour in order to make my job interview and land my lucrative contract. With no marks on my face or neck, I was able to hide the appalling collection of bruises and abrasions from view.
As I drove home from the interview, hurting from every point of my body like a motorcycle accident victim, I thought, "This, Tom, is God's last act of grace to you. By any standard of reasoning, I should have been, at that moment, lying in a hospital with my life ruined and family publicly shamed, my wife facing an eviction notice with a drug addled, broken down, unemployable husband.
Instead, I start my new job on Monday. I have since reviewed the readily accessible information about the lethality of mixing benzos like Xanax and alcohol. I still cannot fathom how I could have been so stupid as to let this happen.
But here I am. I'd say God cut me some major slack - why, I don't know. But I do know what I'm going to do because of the experience."
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