A Puffy Face on a Walking Cadaver

Like I have said before, this disease may be found walking the sterile halls of hospitals, dressed up in a freshly pressed white jacket, or in nursing scrubs taking care of your grandmother or baby girl.  My dear colleague of many years shares her story back from the gates of hell.  As dark as it may seem, there is always hope.  

I actually don’t even believe in the devil, but if I did, it might be the disease of addiction.  The disease of addiction sucked the soul out of me and brought me to my own personal hell.  I was obsessed and I mean obsessed with drugs and alcohol.  I did and would have done anything for them.  Have you lived in a personal hell?  Well, here is a look into what mine was.

The days I had to go to work as a RN at a great hospital across the street I would wake up at 5am and check my stash of stolen pills in my closet, lots and lots of opiates and maybe even some Adderall.  Knowing I was going to work to steal more, I would take 5 or more to get the day going.  I would then sit on the couch and try to cover my fat, puffy and sweaty face with makeup while watching the news.  Then I would say goodbye to my husband and son and skip across the street to steal drugs for 8 hours.  The minute I got to work my face would be dripping sweat from the walk and from drinking the bottle of tequila and a six pack the day before.  I would then get my patients and scan the medication administration records to check all the narcotics that I would get to steal and ingest that day.  For 8 hours I would be such a great nurse while behind your back a huge drug thief.  I was a walking, breathing fa├žade.

When the work day was over and my belly was full of pills and my pockets had at least enough pills to get me through a couple of days I would walk home.  The minute I walked in the door tequila was now on the menu, not just tequila, but a lot of tequila and beer to wash it down.  A shower with a beer and tequila, now that’s romance.  Then maybe some food and then pass out like about six o’clock.  Then the urinating started.  I was so drunk I did not know or care where the bathroom was so I would urinate anywhere.  Some nights I would wake up at midnight and drink more while watching TV.  Then wake up and do it all again.  On my days off the only difference was I didn’t go to work and started drinking earlier.

Sick, empty, sad, liar, thief, bad person, obsessed, weak and mostly scared.  Some of these were true; some were not, but inside I felt like the worst person.  How could me, a nurse, steal drugs?  I was in hell and told no one.  I did not drive anywhere or even leave my house except to go to work.  I made excuses to do anything because it might bet in the way of my drinking.  I didn’t know how to get out of it, or even if I wanted out, I didn’t think I could live without alcohol or drugs.  I had become a full blown drug addict and alcoholic and I would have stolen from anyone to get those damn pills.

How had this happened to me?  How had I become this empty person?  I had a young son and great husband, and a great career.  I was healthy, I was happy, I was blessed.  I stopped laughing, smiling interacting, enjoying and living.  I was literally dead inside, I didn’t want to die but I don’t think I cared if I did.  I was so miserable and didn’t think I could tell anyone the truth.

How can I tell someone that I am a thief and drug addict and drunk?  I sure didn’t know how.  What if that person wanted me to stop drinking and drugging?  Well that would be way too scary for me.  I hate change even at that time positive change.  Just everyone leave me alone with my drugs and drink and I will make it through somehow.  Please just let me slowly take everything I have for granted, sit on the cough buzzed out of my mind and slowly die from this disease.

Well thank you universe that didn’t happen, I got caught!

Looking back, getting caught was the best thing ever, but not at the time.  I was not even beginning to want to be honest.  So I lied the whole time they were shoving me out the door of my dream job that paid very well.  Goodbye drugs, goodbye income.  Now what?  Anxiety, tears and denial.  Just tell everyone you have a drinking problem and the hospital thought it was drugs and got it all wrong.  Somehow I will lie and manipulate my way out of this.  Doesn’t everyone know that I need those narcotics?  I can go buy alcohol at the store but I am desperate to get those narcotics and I mean desperate. 

I knew I was going to get a letter from the BRN so I waited in misery.  I stole drugs from people I knew and tried to sweet talk my MD into giving me tramadol.  Still so closed off to change.  Then the letter, ten days to decide, 3-5 years drug testing, sobriety and meetings; hell no.  I was not going to do that; I will work at Denny’s and be free of anyone and all your rules.  I already went to nursing school, I am not going to do this program to save anything, I could care less.

Then my step mom gave me a number of a girl in diversion with a DUI.  Fine, I will talk to her, just talk.  Well she told me the nitty gritty about the program, the truth.  Then she said she was happy.  Fine, I’ll try it.

Well with everything you guys made me do and with patience I am a whole new person.  I am me again.

Each step I took was so scary but I ended up loving it.  Sitting in outpatient I remembered that I was not a big bag of shit, that I was sick.  I left after 3 months and started feeling special again.  I started telling people slowly, very slowly that I was a drug thief.  No one laughed at me or kicked me out.  People liked me.  I found this special AA meeting outside at a park and went a lot and you were right, it worked.  I started to learn how to live again and love again.  I started slowly driving and even staying up past six at night.  I started laughing again, everything seemed so much more colorful and I enjoyed life again.  What was happening to me?  I started reaching out, doing the steps, thinking about other people, going to the store, smiling, visiting people and telling the truth.  I made friends, a lot of friends.  I got into contact with my old friends, my husband and I stopped fighting, my son was blooming, I was living again.  I was proud of myself.  I loved life.  I was happy.  I started chairing meetings, got a coffee commitment, anything to not go back.  How could I have gotten so lucky to have this second chance?

Today I live again.  I smile, share, laugh, love, drive, shop, work, play and enjoy.  Today I tell the truth.  The truth set me free.  I am no longer scared and I am here to help.

How can I help others?  By telling my truth.  People told me not to hell the BRN about stealing drugs, just tell them about being an alcoholic, cause that’s more acceptable in society.  Well guess what everybody, I don’t give a shit and I don’t lie anymore.  I am an ex drug thief and I am proud I have changed.

150 people die every day in America cause opiates and I can’t talk about it?  Well I am!  I am here to tell the truth.  I am not going to live in shame anymore.  I am here now to talk and share.  I saved my life and have been recovered back to the old me.  If you want to know where I have been I will tell you, if not, well that’s cool as well.  I am no longer scared to say drug addict and alcoholic.  Saying those words out loud saved my life.  The BRN helped save my life.  An open mind saved my life.  AA helped save my life.  My Dad’s last pep talk saved my life.  I am honored to be a part of a group of people who wanted to change for the better and are making it happen one day at a time.

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