Thursday, September 23, 2010

private benjamin???

I very rarely mention my two daughters on this public journal anymore, at least not since they technically became "adults". I feel that its really not my place to determine what portion of their lives should be made available for public consumption. The moment that they decided they were ready to take on the big bad world they became independent from us. Now as long as they were minors living under our roof, following our rules, their proverbial arses were ours and were fair game. Now that they are both in their twenties, I do try to respect their privacy - for the most part! Like everything else in life though, there are exceptions to every rule. This would be one of those times.

Plus, anytime a parent is bursting with pride, they get to tell everyone and anyone who will listen the reasons. After completing high school, Sara decided that she didn't want to go directly to any post-secondary institution. She felt that a break away from studying would be the best course of action for her. Obviously, both Jim and I had very mixed reactions to this announcement, but what could we really do to change her very set and stubborn mind? By far, I was the most supportive of her decision. In fact, I think it would be pretty safe to say that Jim and I were in fact, diametrically opposed to it.

Personally, I could empathize with her desire for a break and a change in routine. I went directly from high school to an unbreakable and continuous period of 7 years university and college combined. During this time, I did manage to complete my Honours Bachelors of Art in History at University as well as my Business Management Diploma with a Marketing Certificate at College. By the time I was through all of this, I was exhausted. I did make one futile attempt to take a break for one semester, but that never did work out.

Between my second and third year at Uni, my best friend and I decided to spend that summer exploring the British Isles. We had an amazing time and as the summer started to fade making ready for the fall, I decided that I wasn't ready to return to Canada so I made arrangements to stay an additional few months. My intention was to leave at the very earliest just before the Christmas holidays. I'd found a bar job in London, and one of my cousins got me a bed-sit. All of my Mom's family lived in London, while all of my Dad's lived in Dublin, Ireland so even though I was a few thousand miles from home, family was never too far if I needed anything.

Just before the fall semester was to start in Canada, I got word that my Dad had a massive coronary and was in very poor health. He was due for open surgery by the end of that September. With this bit of news, all my plans instantly disappeared, but then, they no longer seemed quite as important. I figured the British Isles would end up being around a long time after my Dad had gone, so I decided to return to Canada with the intention of going back overseas once he had left us. Even though he'd been given less than five years to live, they hadn't factored in what a stubborn Mic he could be at times. didn't he go on to live an additional eighteen years once he'd had the open heart surgery?

Anyway, I seem to have gotten off topic...Now Jim dropped out of high school before his sixteenth birthday, and while he didn't immediately regret this decision, by the time he was in his early to mid-twenties, he knew that it certainly hadn't been one of the better decisions he'd made in the past. While he did eventually go back to complete his high school education, he had to do this while working full time and a family at home. This didn't seem to matter to Sara as nothing he said could make her change her mind. So, off she went to join the workforce.

Luckily she had been forced to attend a bilingual public and secondary school so she was fluent in both English and French which gave her a bit of an edge over others. she managed to get a nice enough office job with a starting wage of almost$14 an hour. Unfortunately at the end of May of this year, she fell victim to company layoffs and found herself suddenly without a job. To make matters even worse, her former employer was beyond negligent in issuing her Separation Papers, an absolute crucial document required to receive any amount of Employment Insurance - used to be called plain old Unemployment Insurance. Whatever. She ended up having to wait nearly three full months before she managed to get this paperwork released. While one will not receive any monies until this document arrives and is entered into the recipients file, the lack of the document doesn't prevent someone from at least getting their claim started.

Now in the interim, she still needed money to get by so who do you suppose got this honour? Yup, me and Jim. By the time these three months finally came to their end, her father and I had forked over a grand total of just over $4000 - three months rent at $525/month, her personal hydro payments, telephone bill, groceries, some summer clothing as well as a few slightly more formal articles of clothing appropriate for future job interviews, an air conditioner for her frightfully boiling hot apt, and a boatload of cash for misc crap.

By the end of all this, this education vacation, I mean break, was not looking quite as attractive as it previously had. Of course, the moment we started handing over a substantial amount of money to her on a regular basis, Jim felt that this now gave him the right to start pressuring her to return to school - these kind of favours never seem to be given without some sort of strings being attached. Like Jim said to me "what goes around, comes around..." obviously referring to all of the crap we'd been forced to endure every time we got money from his parents. Ironic, isn't it?

Again though, Sara would not waver. She felt confident that she'd be able to get another decent job and had no intention of returning to school just yet. While I admired her tenacity, and was so very grateful and happy with the decorous way she handled herself through all of this, I've never really been able to understand her aversion to being a student. If I could have gotten paid, I'd still be a student. I truly loved school, loved to learn, loved being intellectually stimulated, couldn't ever get enough. I also know that I was fairly unique and pretty much alone when it came to this, but that never seemed to matter. Discovering computers and the internet just over a decade ago turned into being a near religious experience for me personally. I still think the internet is one big encyclopedia dying to be read. Some of my bookmarks are downright embarrassing and definitely nerdy.

And once again, it would seem that my daughter had made the right decision regarding her future after all. She obviously knows what she likes and doesn't like, and isn't prepared to settle or compromise in achieving these. Good on her. Recently, one of her friends mentioned that there were going to be five civilian internships with the army available. She researched the specifics, and once satisfied that this could be something she'd, enjoy submitted cover letters and her resume. She'd been advised to apply for all five of these positions even though each one was different.

First she had to attend an orientation session to become familiar with what this position would entail and to determine whether or not the applicant wanted to continue with their application. She came home excited beyond belief eager to continue. Her initial interviews went so well, that even before she got home from the first one, there was a call made to her praising her interview. She was advised by the Interviewer that, while she could not officially offer her one of the positions at this time, she could say with absolute confidence that Sara would definitely be receiving an offer of employment for one of the five. she said that of all the people she had interviewed, Sara stood head and shoulders above the rest. She said she couldn't remember an interview with an applicant ever going as well as theirs did.

After I got over the shock that it was indeed my daughter they were talking about, I was over the moon. What Mother wouldn't be proud to hear all of this about their child? She starts her new position on October 22, 2010. She still does not know exactly which of the five will be hers, but she has been told it will be one of two. She will either be an Admin Assistant to one of the senior officers stationed at Wolsey Barracks here in London, Ontario or she will be working in one of the Army's labs as a Technician. She says she is glad that the final choice is not hers as she wouldn't be able to choose between the two as she'd like either one of them equally. Starting pay is just over $30 000/annually and after her three month probation ends, she will receive benefits as well as be eligible for funding should she decide to pursue a post secondary education while employed with them. How's that for a wee bit of irony?

Obviously, I'm now more than pretty confident that she'll be able to navigate and manage her way through life on her own fairly successfully. Looks like her head is screwed on right - certainly better than mine has been during specific periods of my adult life... hangs head in shame for a moment...Can't imagine anyone who has recently graduated from Uni with just a general 3yr or honours 4yr degree getting much more than what she shall receive for a starting salary either - unless graduating from one of the Uni's professional schools but that's an entirely different universe.

So, a toast to my beloved daughter. I hope you know how truly proud and supportive I am of you. I've got faith that you can accomplish anything that you set your mind and heart towards with great ease. Good luck...

peace, love and happiness..

Monday, September 20, 2010


Where has the time gone? Seriously!!! Nothing like the mundane of everyday life getting in one's way, successfully obscuring what is actually going on right in front of them, never mind all around them, that's for bloody sure. Combine this with "if it ain't broke..." it is fairly easy to see how we are able to become pretty complacent, soldiering on without giving too much thought to our actions.or ultimate destination. It's certainly pretty, darn easy, of course, when one is on auto pilot. Imagine my surprise when I couldn't help notice that this was exactly what I have been guilty of doing these past months regarding my recovery et al.

In less than a flash of an eye, I find myself rapidly approaching the five year mark since I started MMT - Methadone Maintenance Treatment. When I initially started I had no idea nor intention of being on it anywhere near as long as I find myself today. My original goal had been to get to an adequate enough dose so that I felt comfortably stabilized. For any laymen out there reading this, this is the magical dose/amount of methadone that an addict requires so that all of those unpleasant feelings of withdrawal disappear, as well as any and all cravings to use opiates manage to vanish. This dose will be different for every single addict. This is not where one size fits all will even begin to succeed. Obviously, there are all sorts of factors that ultimately end up determining what final dose a recovering opiate addict will end up needing in order to be successful.

How many years of active addiction? How much? How often? How old? How healthy? How tall? How heavy? How many other drugs involved? How much drink? I could continue...but the combination and permutations are literally endless. For me personally, I required a dose of 90mg of methadone daily before I really and truly felt stabilized. There were lower doses that took away my cravings. There were even lower doses that eliminated those unpleasant side effects of withdrawal. Lower doses even still that flooded those pesky opiate receptors in my mind so that even attempting to continue to use opiates had no noticeable effect whatsoever. There was adequate methadone in my system that I was no longer capable of even getting a bit of a high from using that to try to continue was utterly and completely pointless, not to mention, a complete waste of money.

All fine and well indeed, but at any dose lower than the 90mg, there were more days than not where I couldn't escape the feeling that something just wasn't quite right. Was I restless? Was I ill? Was I manic? Was I apathetic? What? I never really could pinpoint exactly what wasn't quite right with me, until it was no longer there. Even then, it took me a couple of days before I seemed to notice that something was different, something had changed. The methadone was working. Unless I was consciously thinking about my addiction and recovery, I had seemingly started to forgot about heroin and dilaudid and morphine. No longer did they rudely force their way into my every waking thought.It was near nirvana.

A number of factors kept me at this fairly high dose of methadone longer than I would have liked. Fear of failure was the big one obviously. Security blanket of methadone still a way better option than the alternative that's for sure!!! Getting hit by a moped a year and a half into treatment and breaking my arm severely certainly didn't help either. Even after two major reconstructive arm surgeries and four attempts at resetting my arm's bones, I only used my methadone dose to manage my pain. For a brief time, my dose did increase to 105mg daily but the doctor allowed me to divide this dose in two so that it was more effective in relieving my pain so the higher dose was very much required. The whole time I didn't take anything stronger than two 200mg ibprophens when it hurt - not even a Tylenol 3, thank you very much. You know what? I managed to somehow survive this ordeal opiate free. Who knew?

Just when I thought it was safe to...Jim and I get attacked and he gets stabbed more times than I care to count, and again, our timing sucks a bit! With all of this added stress, it just didn't seem like a good time to try to start tapering down our methadone dose - yet, anyway. But, this was now over two years ago, and both of us are well on our way to recovering from this violent and savage attack on our lives and sensibilities. Still getting treated for PTSD, and probably will continue for some time yet.

Now, about six months ago though, I started to notice or feel kind of out of sorts. That restless of old seemed to be rearing its ugly head once again. This time it was different. It wasn't a restlessness born out of any desire to use again. No, not at all. I felt like I was starting to experience diminishing returns from my MMT, or at the very least, my current dose. So, I decided I would try reducing my dose by 5mg to a dose of 85mg daily. After a few weeks, I reduced this dose again by another 5mg. And so on and so on I am at a current dose of 30mg, and in all honesty, I feel no better nor worse for wear than I did when I was at 90mg. In fact, I feel pretty darn good.

No overwhelming cravings or uncomfortable feelings of withdrawal currently, nor have I experienced either one through this entire tapering down process. Now, that I am starting to feel truly confident I can succeed once my security blanket disappears once and for all, I am actively working towards reducing my dose to zero so that I will no longer be receiving MMT. That's not to suggest that I'm now going to blindly reduce my dose recklessly with no thoughts of potential consequences. Perish the thought. I do, however, now have a goal and a date by which I'd like to reach this goal.

No later than early spring of 2011 is now my ZERO methadone goal! I think that I will be able to comfortably reach this goal, and who knows, I may even be able to beat it!!! It's now time. In the next year and a half, Jim and I have family obligations that will not be remotely conducive to MMT. For one, we've got to go to the Philippines - his Mother's birthplace - for at least six to eight weeks with both his folks and sister and her soon to be husband. No choice either as his folks will be picking up this entire bill so that we'll all be able to celebrate in style and together their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Won't hear any complaints from me either, as this will no doubt be a trip of my lifetime!

peace, love and happiness...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Waiting for Mr Brownstone

To receive methadone, I have to attend two doctor's appointments each and every week. My appointments fall on Tuesday and Friday, and the "clinic" that they are a part of is held between the hours of 7am and 8:30am on both of these days. There are twenty-three other patients that also attend this clinic. This particular one is designed primarily for those on methadone that also work full time. During my clinic's available hours, you are looked at on a first come first serve basis, but as all of us have to follow a schedule of some sort, we almost always arrive at the same time which means we're all pretty much seen at the same time, as well as never really having much of a waiting period before we are seen.

This clinic is pretty much the only one like this that is offered at the Clinic - with a capital C - that I go to, even though there are now almost 1200 patients attending, and perhaps even more than this amount now as our numbers are still literally growing in leaps and bounds. As well, almost all of the patients from my clinic are exceptionally well behaved and well mannered, which can differ greatly with the average patient of the Clinic. As much as I am loathe to generalize I can't help it when I say that the average methadone patient ends up giving junkies a bad name!

I remember one of the doctors who was doing my assessment prior to starting methadone asking me how serious I was about getting clean. When I told him that I was very serious he asked if he could offer me some advice. He warned me that this was not the place to try to make new friends, not if I really was serious about my recovery. He told me to bring a book or magazine with me each time I came so that I would have something to occupy myself while waiting my turn. He said if I looked busy then it was less likely that anyone would bother me. He cautioned me from giving anyone there absolutely anything at all - not change for the pay phone or money for the bus, nothing at all.

For the most part, I've done my best to keep to myself and its worked out fairly well. I mean, I was trying to remove myself from the ongoing drama of an addict's life, so why would I want to add any more? To this day, I continue to bring something to read to each doctor's appointment even though I no longer really need its protection - again because of the type of addict that happens to attend the same clinic I do.

It is easy to marvel at the difference between our lives and the majority of the others. The others tend to be loud and demanding and impatient and intolerant for the most part. Every visit, there are always a few patients from the other clinics that attempt to be seen by the doctor that runs my clinic, and each and every time, the nurses sitting at the counter have to explain that this clinic will only see the patients that have been registered and approved for it, and if they happened to have missed their normally scheduled clinic that they would have to attend another one. Generally their response is never remotely polite. They usually carry on about some injustice done to them, but eventually have to leave with their tail between their legs as the nurses never, ever budge or make exceptions. I mean what were you doing that was so bloody important anyway that you had to miss your original appointment? It wasn't as if their job was keeping them from attending that's for sure!!!

This is one more thing that I constantly find myself marveling about - the number of addicts in the program that are incapable of working at the same time. Most of them that I've talked to or listened to while sitting quietly seem to express similar reasons for not holding down a job while receiving treatment. Most of their excuses seem pretty lame to me also, but then, even at my absolute worst, I always held down a full time job. The more I did, the more hours I generally ended up working so that I could pay for this ridiculous sickness. I've discovered that most of them never even had a job before they started treatment, so I guess this is a strange and unknown area for them regardless of whether they're using or not. Sad. Wish treatment offered some sort of guidance for them so that ultimately they would become contibuting members of society but there is nothing at all available. Again, sad.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Can You Accept the Truth? AND Living Life With an Addict

Just found two more blogs by parents suffering through the trials and tribulations of their child's battle with addiction, and everything that accompanies this horrific disease. These numbers continue to grow at a rapid pace.

My newsest discoveries can be read at Can You Accept the Truth? and Living Life With an Addict.

peace, love and happiness

Here, I am survived thirty years plus on methadone AND Addiction/Recovery through an addict's eyes

Found a couple more addiction survivors. Both have just recently started blogging but you can check out their future entries at Here, I am survived thirty years plus on methadone as well as Addiction/Recovery through an addict's eyes.

peace, love and happiness...