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Sick

I sat at my desk and coughed.

Again. Just a short one. But enough to have me notice that it seemed to be happening a lot.

I felt that familiar tightness in my chest. I knew this wasn’t the normal chest/stomach anxiety that had lived there for over 2 years. This was real sickness- tightness. I had felt it coming on for a few days now. A bit of a shiver. The wave of dread sliding from the top-down resting in the big muscles in the thigh in the form of aches. My white blood cells working overtime trying to combat this invader. I went home and popped vitamin C, zinc, echinacea, & silver. Two days later I tasted it. That taste you get when you cough. When you know that you’re in for a few weeks of miserable Flem, snot & fevers. Ughhhhh. The dread of knowing your body has been invaded by a viral species.

Who has time to be sick?? I did a covid test on myself for the 3rd time this week.

Negative. Great.

Now I have to be sick PLUS not have an excuse to miss work. See, in nursing, and before covid, you had to be practically dying with the pastor calling your boss for you to call off sick.

I know, I know. But we take care of sick people, we can’t be sick. In theory and on paper, that’s true. But in the real world, you load up on cold medicine, and if anyone notices, you say you have allergies and no one blinks an eye. Now, after Covid, people would back away from you if you so much as uttered a little Kerchoo! But things have changed in the last 9 months. The long-talked-about nursing shortage is happening in real-time. There are no extra bodies to cover your shift. You work pretty much through anything.

I started thinking about when the last time I was sick was. It was October 2019. Despite being around covid positive patients and not missing a day of work since I had not been truly ill for almost 2 years.

Why now?

Hmmm. The day before my first chest tightness was the day I dropped my 36-year-old son off at rehab. We have been waiting 2 years for this. Even with the court breathing down his neck, he knew it was time. He told me he was tired of running.

Best words I’ve heard in a long time!

Tired of running.

I was tired too. My son had addicted himself out of a house, car, job, and family. He had been scoraging around, always “trying to start over with nothing” as he put it. He even had a bullet hole in his leg from one of his jaunts to Vegas. Most people who “start over” don’t get a bullet hole in the process. Bullet hole, to me, meant you’re still on the downward slide. But who am I to know anything?

I had met his addiction head-on trying to lead him out of this hellhole. I had begged and pleaded for him to see the light. When he was released from jail earlier this summer, on a Saturday afternoon, I was devastated. I thought the chances of him going to prison were exponentially high because I knew beyond a shadow of the doubt that he wouldn’t check in with pretrial probation as they asked. I tried to stay out of it. I did. But just because we “stay out of it” doesn’t mean our insides aren’t churning like a taffy twisting machine you see at the carnival. So while my stomach was in knots for the 9 weeks he was out, he finally went back to jail in the best scenario possible: Pulled over on warrants, with no new charges. This time, for 33 days, we (me & the lawyers) made sure he wasn’t getting out except to rehab.

So here we are. Him safe, me sick.

The very fact that I came down with one of the worst colds/ flu I’ve ever had the minute he was safe in rehab, was not a coincidence.

I think it’s God’s way of saying, “Rest, child”. Joanna Weaver states in her article on 7 verses for when you are weary:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

God knows what you need. Like a good shepherd, He ensures we have seasons of rest in green pastures and beside quiet waters. He also knows that to get to some of those restful places we may have to walk through a dark valley first, but He offers His presence to guide, protect and comfort us every step of the way.

No hurt is overlooked, no pain is wasted, no child of God is left behind. God will carry you through to the other side.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:1-4"- Johannaweaverbooks.com

‘He MAKES me lie down in green pastures. I have always believed sickness is our body’s way of telling us (making us) to slow down. When we can’t seem to do it ourselves because of our martyrdom, or our real responsibilities. Ironically, I used to send my addicted son this quote when he was at the height of running his businesses and showed no reprieve in his drive and ambition.

He would soon live up to that and spent 3 years counting, in addiction, and now whatever time it will take to climb out. I’m forever grateful for the chances he gets and the second chance he has to live. I’m grateful that things have seemed to turn in his favor. Tonight as I settled in for a rainy afternoon making me some homemade chicken noodle soup, just like my mama used to make; I breathed in a sigh of relief. I guess it was time to take care of myself. I guess I needed this illness. I “earned” it. Not that anyone deserves suffering, more like forced to slow down for their own good. As I sat down to eat hours later, it was then I realized I had forgotten to add the chicken. My soup was just Noodle Soup.

Oh well. Go figure. Recovery is not a straight line. And neither is my cooking! Sometimes the chicken doesn’t even cross the road…or my stove!

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Pandemic For a Year? Welcome to ØɄⱤ World

We’re coming up on a year of this pandemic. My daughter was really Ill last December with what she thinks was Covid.

I wrote this article last April when the pandemic was in full force. It’s meant to show the living hell a mom of a substance use disorder person lives with comparitively to Covid 19.

Continue reading “Pandemic For a Year? Welcome to ØɄⱤ World”
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“Because of Covid”

“Because of Covid”

How many times a day do we hear “Because of Covid?”

I’ve never wanted to die. But because of Covid, I sometimes do.

No, I don’t have Covid. Nor do I want it. No, I don’t think it’s a fake virus. I think it’s a virus.

A relatively unknown virus. That kills.

Almost everywhere, a million times a day you hear “Because of Covid.”

It seems to be a “reason” for ANY thing that can’t be done due to covid, no matter how trivial; even things which don’t seem to correlate “with Covid”.

Confusing statement? Exactly. Proves my point.

What makes me sad, and angry & shocked, is the power this virus seems to have. It’s like a cancer eating away at everyone’s sense of judgement for freedoms and even affects their relationship with their families, who may disagree.

The seemingly invisible ability to destroy families, businesses, traditions, values, vacations, jobs, housing, decency, human nature, bonds, and holidays feels eerily familiar.

See, there’s another Pandemic that doesn’t get near the attention because of a preconceived judgement that certain humans aren’t worthy of basic needs.

Resurrection of Me Instagram

I care about covid, I do. But the lack of attention and empathy for the ongoing opiod epidemic that came crashing into my life two years ago, has me rattled.

I mean, we could compare the two death rates and all, but it would always end with the same statement: “Well, addiction is not contagious, addicts knew the risk, they’re not innocent, they brought this onto theirselves”

That’s awesome.

Another painful jab to a mother’s hurting heart.

So pain is now judgementized?( I’m aware this may not be a real word- but it fits)

I thought pain was pain. Suffering is suffering.

I was taught as a nurse that pain is what ever the PATIENT said it was….. Not what pain YOU think they have. ( Thanks to studies sponsored by Purdue—which helped contribute to this epidemic in the first place)

How come AIDS was a valid disease even though it usually resulted from a person’s choice? (With no push from drs and pharmaceutical companies that it was ‘harmless’).

So are WE playing God by deciding who’s worthy of treatment or sympathy?

It’s an honest question.

“No we’re not playing God, it’s just that addiction will always be around, this virus NEEDS our attention NOW.”

Do you know what else needs attention? An innocent little kid who needs her daddy back. What else? A man who has lost every single thing he worked for 15 years to get and now he shaking miserably in the bathroom of a speedway not knowing where to get his next fix so he’ll stop vomiting. A mom, who night after night, cries herself to sleep wondering where she went wrong. A mom who begs a God she never quite believed in before, to please save her son.

Maybe that’s all I want. Is sympathy.

I get it.

I haven’t lost anyone to Covid. Close, but not quite.

But I guess I kindof resent the fact that those who have lost relatives to covid are getting the mass media coverage like crazy. Softly dramatized stories about how much their relative suffered in the hospital and the heroes who took care of them.

Let me be clear. I’m not downplaying anyone’s experience. I’m just saying that if their loved one was suffering with a substance abuse disorder, they probly would not be used as a ‘ story’ in order to further the need for a certain point to be made, such as mask wearing or any other pubic service campaign to persuade people to take it “more seriously”.

We” (mamma’s of addicts) ARE taking it seriously. Like you, every aspect of our lives has changed, how could we not?

But we have been masking up for years. Hiding behind the stigma of Addiction. “We” can now see some of the hidden agendas that are being indirectly and sometimes directly played to families suffering with their grief.

This is done by using that pain as a “message” by having it come from the tear- stained face of a family member pleading with people to Pleeease care!

Do your part!!

“DO YOUR PART! DON’T BE SELFISH”

As they drive by the homeless person in their shiny car.

Look, I KNOW it’s human nature to have a CAUSE or a tribe to further the need of place our pain and blame onto someone or something else when we feel out of control. I mean, you could say I’m doing it now.

I could mention that I’ve been in “isolation” for years with my own mask. Covering up and quarantining our family secret of this addiction.

It’s one of those things normal people don’t understand.

But I attest to you, the pain of this other pandemic, is real. The fear of the unknown Is real. The dread of receiving “the call” is on my mind every single day.

When I see how far people have jumped and caved and twisted and turned for this virus, Yes, I’m jealous. I’ve written letter after letter asking for assistance with the nightmare journey of addiction. Famous people, entertainers, influencers, politicians, netflix documentary lawyers. I rarely get a response.

What did I want them to do? I don’t know. Whisk him away to the indies for a swanky rehab I guess. Who knows? I just want the pain to stop. Mostly for him. But that requires money.

The money thrown at this new powerful virus is hard to watch. 1-2 million for billboards for masks?

I’ve resigned to the fact that “because of Covid,” No one can really help. Especially when people are in constant chaos about the state of the world and the safety and future of themselves and their families. So I trudge through each day on a wing and a prayer. ?

Praying that “Because of Covid”, or AFTER covid, some miracle may happen to bring my son back to life.

Life before Covid.

Life before addiction.

I just hope that AFTER covid , it won’t be too late.

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Today Was a First

Had covid not happened, today probably wouldn’t have happened. And like most things covid, I wish today hadn’t NEEDED to happen.

Click here for nar-anon mtgs

But it did.

And I did.

It wasn’t really my choice. I mean not technically. It was my son’s choice. Long ago my son’s choices forced today to happen.

I zoomed into my first nar-anon meeting. For the lucky ones who don’t know what nar- anon is, it’s the equivalent of al-anon, which is for families of alcoholics. Nar-anon is for families of narcotics users who became addicted and found themselves “powerless over their life.”

Luckily though, I am not powerless. I chose to get myself some help from the maddening rollercoaster which loving an addict brings on.

What a weird club to be in. Little squares of faces in the zoom boxes on my screen. People from all over.

Tennessee,

New York,

Montana.

People from all walks of life. I see in the backgrounds of some, the old wood paneling from my childhood. Others are seemingly lying on a beach? A few men, but mostly ladies. A few young, most old.

Ladies that have been secretaries and treasurer’s in the organization for sometimes 20 years! God help me if I have to talk addiction for that long!

I mean, can’t my son just get better? Can’t we just go back to our previously scheduled lives before addiction took hold? Can we kayak on Dr Seuss’s La Jolla beach in San Diego again? Can my adult silly son yell “Mom! Mom!” In his annoying loud voice with a smirky smile even when I’m answering him from 10 feet away.”What son?” “Watch what I can do!” In his best Stewart impression.

Can’t we go camping again with his favorite Grandpa, his hero, who just passed on? Can’t we go scouting for deer, or look for deer sheds, roaming the mountains for hours, listening to my son’s endless stories of chasing a deer on this mountain or that mountain?

Hey, I know. Isn’t there lots of movies about time travel? So if they can dream it up in a movie then it HAS to BE possible right? Ok. I pick 1988. My now addicted son was 2. His little toe headed hair bouncing over his forehead. His head looked huge compared to his body. He stood up in the 1984 Ford Bronco 2 & pointed to a truck, “Dum bum!” He said. “What? ” “DUM BUM, I WANT A DUM BUM!” We looked at the big dump truck out the window. We laughed. He laughed, smiling at a little boys hopes and dreams of driving a truck full of dirt. This little boy ended up owning a company with dump trucks & an excavation company!

Or how bout time travel to 5 yrs old? He was riding in the seat behind me in the driver’s seat on the interstate as we headed home from shopping. Suddenly, I heard a swish of air blowing in. He had managed to open the door handle and the door was open a few inches with a semi-truck barreling up beside us!!! I yelled, “BRAXTON! Lean towards your sister!” I couldn’t do anything but pray that the door closed enough and he was leaning the other direction in the back seat, as I maneuvered to the side of the road. My heart was pounding a million miles an hour as I pulled over and proceeded to yell at my child for his actions. “Why did you do that? How did you do that? What’s wrong with you?”

In my defense, I probably didn’t say THAT last line, but I’m sure my anger took over in fear and shock.

But in my time travel moment, I can have a do-over, see? I can take that little boy in my arms; I can say “honey, I’m soooo glad you’re safe, I’m glad we’re all ok. You were led by some unknown reason to pull on that door, and you were very lucky and were saved from a lot of pain or even death. Do you know, my sweet little boy, that you will face many big semis like that one? Do you know how they can overtake you and make you think you’re safe when really they want to hurt you? They can even transform themselves into other things like an ice cream truck to get your attention. There’s a secret though. The ice cream is poisonous. 🍦🐍

Soon, though, you will want nothing else but that ice cream. And we will all miss you terribly. You will have a little boy who’s just your age now who won’t know his daddy.

But do you know how strong you are? Do you know that you can get through anything? It’s going to seem like you’re lost sometimes, But I have faith in you son. I know you will always figure out a way to live your dreams and stop the enemy from overtaking you when you are tempted or have gone down a wayward path.

Oh my sweet strong little boy, let’s go have some ice cream- err I mean some chicken nuggets- and you can tell me everything about today that made you happy or sad or scared.”

” Hi, I’m Samantha & I’m the mother of an addict”.

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I Decided I Like Masks

As I left work and headed to run errands amid the Covid pandemic, I slowly put my mask back on that I had been wearing all day as a nurse. Usually I resist putting it back on, because of breathing, claustrophobic & dizziness issues. This time however, I welcomed it. Because today was another highly emotional day in the life of a mom of an addict.

My son is an adult, but the devastation on our family the last two years has been palpable. His two little kids abandoned from their daddy, his ex-wife forced to sell their beautiful new home, and his business that most of the family worked at- was gone.  He had one attempt at rehab and it seemed to make it worse in the sense that it gave him the impression that all rehabs were scammy like that one.

Today, though was another rough one for this mama. He had sent  pictures of himself to me after not seeing him for 5 months. To say I was shocked is an understatement. My once buff, stocky, six foot 240 lb. son looked like a little old man who hadn’t eaten in a month. I, of course, had to torture myself all the more by pulling up his old pictures and making a split screen to show the drastic difference that the toll of drugs has had on his body.

As I walked into the grocery store, the images of these pictures pierced my mama heart so deeply, my eyes stung with tears. I felt my face scrunch up and my body become weak. But I still was able to push my cart around with my mask pulled up to under my eyes, and no one knew the difference. I can mourn my son while he is still alive, amidst other shoppers who wouldn’t have a clue what I am dealing with. I can walk around and grab the milk and eggs and wonder if my son is eating today. I can basically buy anything I want while he struggles to get a few dollars. I can feel guilty for not paying his phone bill this month, even though it seems to not do any good because he doesn’t call in for his court hearings anyway.

Nothing with addiction makes sense. You’re either tough loving them or your enabling them. They’re either going to die, or they’re going to recover.  You feel powerless for the outcome, paralyzed in fear and confused as to what is the right thing to do. Most of all, you have deep sense of sadness for your child that you once knew, is gone. 

My struggle with my son’s addiction is mostly a secret anyway except to family so I literally wear a mask a 24/7. But now, with the current covid precautions and the masks, I can still have my complete daily or weekly meltdown while doing errands and no one is the wiser. I arrive home with my tears dried, my eyes just a little red and my mood lifted just enough to get on with my nightly tasks.  This is a day in the life of an addict’s mom. – Samantha Waters