Morning Gratitude

gratitude. =)

It’s 8am and I woke up about an hour and a half ago. I think I mostly woke up because I was cold, but also because my body was shaking and I was coughing up a hurricane.

My first thought was, eh, I’ll just take one of my pills and go to sleep again. But I thought about it again and came to the conclusion that there were other things I ought to do first.

So I got up, put on a sweater, and did my nebulizers. And of course, as usual my nebs cause me to cough even more, producing a headache that I liken to a whole troop of miniature dwarves with pickaxes mining brain cells inside my skull. So, I grabbed a couple Excedrin, grabbed an ice pack from the freezer and put it on my neck (seems like the headaches are caused by muscle strain in the neck from the by coughing).

Then I went back to doing my meds as much as I just wanted to lay down and nurse my headache. The problem with that strategy is that I would have kept coughing and the headache would have continued to get worse. So I just powered through it.

I honestly don’t know what part of me it is that allows me to do stuff like that. For the last five years, there has been NO part of me capable of doing anything but just giving in to pain and either quitting or taking a pill to make it go away (by the way Excedrin doesn’t count – it is just acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine). I honestly thought that I just didn’t have any willpower at all. My pain tolerance seemed so low that even the smallest ailment, physical or psychological would send me running for relief.

Because of that, just about every Emergency Room in Portland, Salem, Eugene and Denver knows who I am and knows that unless I have a broken bone protruding from my arm that they shouldn’t give me any drugs. Of course, I’ve continued to find a way to game the system.

And Saturday night, I could have done just that. It would have been easy for me to just walk in, give a string of false symptoms and force them to either give me drugs or risk a lawsuit.

And that is something that has been running through my mind for quite some time. You see, there are some gaping holes in the medical system. Doctors give patients strong narcotics for pain because they fear that if they refuse, they might get slapped with a lawsuit that would spike their liability insurance to the point that it might become nearly impossible for them to practice medicine.

That, my friends, is a crying shame. I had a doctor tell me this once, word for word:

“I know that you don’t have the kind of pain you claim to. I know that if I sent you home with nothing but ibuprofen right now you would probably be fine. However, I would rather give five addicts like yourself what they want rather than risk missing the one patient who really needed the pain relief.”

WHOA…. That one even hit home to me, despite how deep into my addiction I was at the time. I still walked out of his office with the pills I wanted, but I never went back, and it shook me. It actually ended up being right before one of the many times I “tried” to get sober.

Sorry that this post is so rambling but it is eight am and I only slept about 4 hours last night (although that is a significant improvement over the past few days (thank you to the peace of this river house and to the efficacy of clonazepam).

Here’s what I really wanted to talk about this morning: my gratitude.

My family and friends have rallied around me in a way I never thought was possible. My aunt, uncle, mom, dad, sister and future brother-in-law literally sat for over an hour discussing how they could best help me get through this detox process and how they could support me. My mother has gone so far out of her way to spend the night with me first at Richard & Kate’s, then at my aunt Laura’s, and now here at the River House. She has played games with me, talked with me, read with me, even let me crawl into bed next to her when my body was shaking so hard that I just couldn’t lay still.

I simply cannot imagine a more supportive environment in which to experience this difficult time. A few days ago I had the impression that this process might go on forever, that I might never feel “normal” again. But I can tell you that today, which is day 5 off of the subutex, I feel significantly better than I did two days ago.

I am still glad I sought out medical help and that I got some medication that helps mitigate the symptoms. But today the biggest feeling inside me is gratitude.

Gratitude for my family and their unfailing support. Gratitude for my friends who have continued to send me texts and calls to let me know I have their support. Gratitude for my doctor who has continued to stick with me through the last 3 years of hell. Gratitude for the universe and the energy that fills me right now, the energy that pushes me to write this despite the fact that my body is at once freezing and sweating, despite my splitting headache, and despite the anxiety that wants me to jump out of my skin and crawl up the walls.

Because today I am truly grateful to be alive and truly grateful to be moving closer and closer to what I have wanted for 5 years – real freedom from opiates.

So thank you, everyone who I mentioned. Thank you to everyone who I left out. Thank you to god, the great spirit, the universal energy source, whatever the hell you want to call it.

Today I am grateful.



One response to “Morning Gratitude

  1. Nathan…I have known you since you were born, as your dad and I grew up together, and your grandparents and my parents were dear friends for years. Although I have not seen you for years, I think of you often…I donate to cycstic fibrosis in your name every year. I am friends with your mom and dad and Aunt on FB, and this showed up on my page tonight. I have subscribed to your blog…and I look forward to hearing about your journey. You are so blessed to have the family you do along with many others that love you.

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