Today is a day to celebrate. While it is a day that I hope no others have the need to celebrate, this is a good celebration. Let’s rewind the tape so that we can get you all caught up to speed.
On January 10 of this year, I ended up back in the hospital for pancreatitis; it was my second time. The reason for this is that I had started drinking again after our dog, Thor, had died. It was a sad time for me and I did not handle it very well. For almost nine months, I was a closet alcoholic and I hid it, very well.
Thor was my best friend and the most loyal and sweet dog anyone could own. He did not instill the reputation of a German Shepherd very well which is a good thing. Even as I write this now, I am tearing up a bit because that is how special he was to both of us.
When crying no longer worked to dull the pain of his loss, I turned to the bottle. It was slow, at first. Ordering a beer or two after work then going home. I thought I could handle it, thought that a beer or two was not a huge deal. Eventually, two beers turned into six and six turned into a bottle of wine. It would have to be red wine because I couldn’t afford anyone finding the bottle of white wine in the fridge.
The Downward Spiral
After a while, the wine turned into bottles of Jim Beam Apple. It was perfect. Easy to hide, no need to refrigerate, and a somewhat strong buzz. Before I realized it, I was in trouble. There was no way for me to quit anymore on my own. Even before getting sick, I had contemplated getting treatment for this disease but didn’t know how. Perhaps, I didn’t want to know how.
Then, on January 10, 2019, divine forces intervened in the painful form of pancreatitis. It wasn’t as bad as the first time I had it since I knew the signs and went to the doctor right away, but it is still an experience that I hope no one ever has to go through.
After getting out of the hospital and going back into the hospital again because I was not over it yet and yet again, getting back out, I had decided to seek treatment for this disease.
The Road Back
At first, I reached out to Saint Francis in Grand Island because it was close to home and had an inpatient rehab center. Again, fate intervened in the form of ‘they did not return my calls’. Perhaps St. Francis is a good facility and I just got lost in a shuffle of paperwork, I do not know. After the third time of trying to reach out to them, I called Valley Hope in Norton Kansas, just an hour and a half away and they could get me in the next week.
So, on February 1, 2019, I admitted myself for a 28 day stint at Valley Hope. What I saw opened my eyes; I was not alone.
Without getting into details or names I will say that what I experienced was not unique, it was like looking at photographs of diseases and their progressions; in many respects, they all looked the same. I made some great friends, including two wonderful ones that I still keep in touch with. Without them, I am not sure I would still be sober. Call them angels, divine conscience, good influences, whatever you want. These two have helped me in ways that they cannot even imagine.
My experience was not unique, but it was my experience and what I did was by my own choosing; I take responsibility for that. For years, I have deeply hurt those around me. I have aligned myself with people that were not healthy for me at the sake of those who were. The disease flipped everything upside down; ‘Enemies’ became friends and friends became ‘Enemies’ in my mind’s eye.
Friends I had in high school and college, friends at work and casual acquaintances were casts aside because they would not be good for my disease. I hope to someday get some of those old high school friends back, it’s pretty lonely after shedding the bad influences that I had in my life for so long.
I still don’t know if I am ready to share this on Facebook, but I am going to leave it here for now, maybe add to it, edit it and improve it before I am ready for the world to see this side of me.
So, how am I doing now? I am doing OK. My heart aches with the hurt that I have put loved ones through and I am trying to improve that but I can only work one day at a time for the rest of my life. Perhaps, someday, things can get to a comfortable new normal.