One Man's Journey: Part 3
Yesterday was a Sunday, and about the only thing I had to attend was a N.A. meeting. Having all that free time reminds me that I’ll have a lot of “free” time when I leave here. There will be a big void (vacuum) in my life without rehab and alcohol. Nature abhors a vacuum. I’ve found it also applies to my mind. When I’m alone, I’m with bad company. I’m going to connect with a program called Bridging the Gap. It’s a program offered through AA. It’s put together to help ‘newcomers’ make the transition from rehab to the ‘real world.’ I have to call them at least a week before my discharge. I’m so forgetful, I’ll have to write a reminder and tape it to my mirror. I’ll probably forget to do that unless I proof this letter about 20 times.
I learned about five years ago that I have O.C.D. No, not the kind you just thought of. I have options, choices, and decisions. Having someone that can function as a wise sounding board will help me with all three.
We have an apple tree about a hundred feet from the dorm’s front door. Yesterday, I saw Sobriety out there munching on the apples that had already fallen. When our eyes met, they were sans stink. Just like before when I first rode Sobriety, I was in a new town with no friends and no knowledge of what’s out there. Why not trust Sobriety again? She’s given me no reason not to. It was my own fault that I got knocked off her in Jacksonville, May 20. We were galloping along and I saw a low branch ahead of us. I ducked, but not low enough. I was swept off Sobriety like a golf ball off a tee. I must have landed in a precarious fashion because the extent of my injuries was finding that my head was up my ass. It took about 4 months to begin recovery.
If I had some help from a person who’s familiar with how to write books, I believe I’d have no trouble expanding on this theme. Actually, the first time I fell off Sobriety, I was thirteen years old. Just suffered a few bumps and bruises. When I was 26, I was not on Sobriety and nearly lost my life. Well I did lose it in a certain way. That would be the longest chapter of the book.
I have a problem that I’d like to address before leaving [rehab]. I’d bring it up in group therapy today, but I won’t due to time constrictions. Whoa, whoa. Karma strikes like a bolt of lightning!
As I was writing about my problem and expressing it in group, the psychiatrist walked in and sat down beside me. We talked nearly half an hour about my recurring nightmares. The talk was very helpful. I asked him if I could borrow a DSM—Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. It’s used by psychiatry professionals to diagnose mental disorders. I told him the DSM was missing a whole category. He said, “I wasn’t aware of that, what is it?” I told him my picture should be in it. Next to my picture would be a long description of the new category of “Gone Feral.” He laughed, but not as much as some other doctors I’ve told that to. He said that I’m not feral now but added that feral would have been his diagnosis for me when I first arrived. I was not a happy camper. Now I’m just a scared camper. Scared of that next low branch. That’s me, afraid of something that I’m not even sure of it’s existence.
My list of to do’s upon discharge goes something like this. Bridge the Gap, hit a meeting, go to LensCrafters to try and get glasses through their “One Vision” program, if it still exists and if I still qualify. I’ve done it before, about 4 or 5 years ago. I’m about blind.
On my second cup of coffee. About 20 more to go. I don’t stop the caffeine until I get wired like a substation.
I have Janine, who is responsible for helping figure out where patients can go after discharge, stepping and fetching. I asked her yesterday if I could be discharged to Haywood Hospital.
Asheville Memorial – went there three times about my knee and leg. One X-ray and two MRI’s later, they diagnosed my leg to be infected and started antibiotics, without even taking a culture from my leg. Went from there directly to Black Mountain—no insurance—treat’em and street’em. This time, the hospital changed that up a bit. Can’t pay, drinker & depressed, we’ll hand him off to Black Mountain; we’ll even give him a ride there.
I’m not complaining about being here. My concern is my knee. The pain has never dropped below 7, even after 800mg Ibuprofen. My knee doesn’t feel “sturdy” if that makes any sense. I know I won’t be able to do any manual labor that requires a lot of physical exertion. Even when I’ve had to walk fast so I wouldn’t be tardy for a class, the pain level goes up to about 12. I don’t know if I should go to the hospital or directly to a malpractice attorney.
Writing letters helps me feel connected, lessens the loneliness, allows me to vent, and hopefully makes someone smile.
The battle for the top of the pecking order continues...One guy got thrown out yesterday for threatening another patient. It’s down to two now. They’re both young and cocky. Imagine two 25-year-olds, white, hat bills off center by 45 degrees, pants hanging low, corn-fed, country, rednecks attempting to out-stupid each other. Regardless of who they believe eventually wins, everyone else here sees them both at the very bottom of the totem pole.
It’s no wonder the probability of relapse is 80 percent for the people leaving rehab. I’ve been to countless rehabs and detoxes and, though I’m not claiming to be an expert, just by observation it’s easy to see that only 20 percent actually want to be here and give the program a try. I think the other 80 percent is composed of court-ordered, family-ordered users making a “pit stop” to get energized so they can make another run. Some here by ultimatum, some homeless and going to “five-star hotel vacation,” some confused, some check-deserving, some mentally ill...all have a substance-abuse problem.
When I was moved from detox to rehab, there were about 20 of us here. Now we have a full house of 30 people. We’re about elbow to elbow. I don’t want to hear others’ conversations, but it’s almost unavoidable at times, especially during community meetings. I’ll try to score some ear plugs today. The negativity is so thick you could cut it with a knife. I’ve noticed the negativity is almost contagious.
My outdoor environment is fantastic today. The air is crisp, clean, and sweet. The mountains are trying to pierce the clouds. Geese were flying in a V, honking loudly, flying east actually (to find a mountain pass?). Sunflowers and gladiolas near the door. Squirrels everywhere dropping so many acorns you could use a hard hat just walking to the gazebo. Newly-mowed lawn reeking fresh chlorophyll.
Quality of life here and now? It would be 8.5 if I had a cigarette.