Monday, October 11, 2010

Spare Tire to Spare

One of the few complaints I've got regarding MMTMethadone Maintenance Therapy – is the disgraceful amount of weight one almost always seems to gain while on it. Sure, there are a few lucky ones that seem to escape this horrible fate, but from where I'm sitting they are most definitely few and far between! I've gone from a fairly svelte size eight/ten to a seemingly, no, actually, lumpy size fourteen on a good day! Most days I am barely bothered, but on those rare days when I am carefully dressing for a particular event where I know that I shall most definitely encounter particular individuals, this fact never seems quite so galling, never mind appalling. The proverbial albatross around one's neck to be sure. Might as well weigh three hundred pounds it seems by the time you've somehow managed to settle on an outfit. No amount of black can be that slimming, nor can any amount of strategic dressing be that flattering. Don't believe everything that you read!

For better or worse though, it seems that once on MMT as a female the sooner you accept the inevitable, the better! Don't get me wrong. I'm not at all suggesting that you use this side effect as a license to eat either, as I know many do. If you gain close to 100 pounds while on MMT, then you were severely underweight when you started or there are whole boatloads of other issues you need to deal with as well. Most seem to be decidedly underweight by the time they start treatment, so it makes sense that this weight should be welcomed. It's all of that extra stuff that tags along for the ride I end up resenting. Keep in mind that I am not at all suggesting that methadone per se is the cause of the weight gain, as I don't believe that weight gain is a recognized side effect of methadone as constipation would be.

I believe this weight gain occurs while on MMT because of the overall, generally positive lifestyle changes that an addict undergoes while on MMT. Just as no two addicts are alike, no two stable doses of methadone will be alike, but once that dose has been found, all sorts of possibilities start opening up for the opiate addict. Until this magical amount has been reached, the addict is still susceptible to old behaviour or habits. On a stable dose, all of those brutal and unpleasant withdrawal side effects will have completely disappeared. Also, the opiate receptors of the mind are so flooded that any attempt to use any other sort of opiate will be a waste of both money and time. The addict will feel absolutely nothing. Now up until a stable dose has been reached addicts will try anything and everything in their power to try to find a way around the methadone in their system. Generally, they've also got to discover this on their own regardless of how many have gone before them. Doesn't matter. Until it happens to them, it's not true.

Until this stage, even though the addict is on MMT and may be on it for months at this stage, old addict behaviours and lifestyles will still figure fairly prominently in their lives. If you're still trying to use while on MMT then nothing has really changed at this point. Things really don't start to change noticeably until the addict is at a stable dose. Once all of the side effects from withdrawal have disappeared, their overall body will start to feel better. With each passing day, the muscles and bones start to ache and throb less and less until one day when you wake up and get out of bed; it no longer feels like a chore. It becomes second nature. When in active addiction, our stomachs tend to be in turmoil because of dope sickness or cause we're too messed up. Either state tends not to be conducive to eating three square meals on a daily basis! Addicts graze at best.

Whatever your drug of choice, whether pills, smack et al, generally there tends not to be some bottomless well providing our vice to us no questions asked. No, that would be far too easy. One of the crosses you have to bear as an addict is the huge amount of time and energy one must invest in the search for their big, ultimate payoff. I am now, depends on my mood though, either the most saintly patient person ever, or I've got the attention span of a newborn kitten. Varies by the day and circumstance, though, I figure for every hour I've invested in travelling to score, scoring, making it back home again and then actually using, there are probably nine more hours where nothing whatsoever happened except for the waiting, and then some more waiting and some more. On the infrequent day where there is a line at my clinic, I can't help but chuckle to myself each and every time someone in line complains about how long of a wait they've got or how they've never, ever been here when there has been such a long line. On days when I can't take it, I chide them and ask if they've never had to wait for a delivery that never seems to arrive! I mean seriously, the absolute longest amount of time I've had to wait in line at the clinic in nearly five years has been twenty minutes. I would never have started MMT in the first place If only the dope fairy had bothered to show up in such a timely manner previously.

OK, now that this weight gain is here and there is nothing I can do to fight it in the short run, I do the best I can with what I've got for the time being. One of the things that I did learn to do the first time I was in MMT over a decade ago was to learn to sew. Now initially, I was crap but I persevered for a couple of reasons. Specifically, the whole idle hands theory was a huge factor, but mostly because I discovered a love, as well as appreciation, of fabric. I couldn't stay away from fabric stores and after each visit, I'd arrive home with more and more fabric, all of which I made sure I purchased at ridiculously low prices. So of course, I just kept sewing and sewing until one day I noticed I was actually getting pretty good at it. Well, actually, it was more my daughters could no longer tell if what I wore was store bought or homemade. Once these lines blurred, I knew I had made it. Confirmation on this followed my daughter's first request for my services.

So over the course of this summer, I've been playing with a top design for myself. It's my very own design and after each attempt a dramatic improvement has occurred. I've been tweaking and ripping and tearing and sewing and testing for the past couple of months until finally, now, I've created a top that flatters and camouflages all of my current imperfections, and for the time being offers me a certain amount of self-confidence that I've been lacking. If I could find my digital camera, and if I knew how to use it, I'd definitely upload some photos. I definitely will get some online very shortly.

peace, love and happiness…

Monday, October 04, 2010

A Pain That I’m Used To Is Almost Done

Just over two years ago I posted A Pain That I'm Used To concerning an uncomfortable situation that had developed with my employer a couple of months after our attack and Jim's stabbing. After all of this time though, we are still dealing with its aftermath although I am hopeful that this will all come to an end fairly shortly. Now, unfortunately, having to go to Small Claims Court to reach some sort of settlement has to occur. This part of the whole ordeal is something I'd like nothing more to avoid, but no such luck. A number of months ago we finally retained a lawyer to help us out, she's been briefed with all details of our situation, all necessary papers have been filed with the court and all necessary statements of defense from our employer have also been filed. Nothing else left to do but show up for court bright and early Friday morning. GULP.

For the short version, we are basically suing our employer for approximately $7500 because they disposed into a large dumpster in front of our apartment building, about twenty or so of our personal possessions and furniture without notifying us in advance. When we attempted to confront them about this matter, we continually received their cold shoulder. They refused to offer us any sort of explanation or apology for their actions against us. We didn't pursue it at the time for a number of reasons. It was so soon after the attack that fear was the overriding emotion driving pretty much every aspect of our lives. We didn't realize that we could actually do something about it. We couldn't afford legal representation for this matter two years ago. And so on…Two years on, our situation has changed on all fronts so once we discovered that we could, indeed, pursue them to attempt to recover our costs for this debacle, we decided we'd be fools for not moving forward. Although we did have to give our lawyer a $2000 retainer, if we are successful then all costs will have to be paid for by our employer.

For the long version, the following is the text of the original entry from August 2008:

Some things stay the same; some things never see to change. As the months pass by since Jim's attack and its savagery seems to fade from some people's minds, the more difficult it seems to become for us regarding our work situation. Immediately after it happened, everyone from the office staff here in London right up through to the VP of Operations in Toronto couldn't get to us fast enough with promises for our physical, emotional and financial security. Now that three months have passed since this incident almost all of their promises seemed to have fallen by the wayside. The only thing that I am not really worried about – yet – is our physical safety. We still have a beautiful roof over our head which we do not have to pay for as well as having all of our utilities looked after. Right now that is all that we seem to have. This fact is disturbing to say the least.

All of our forms were to have been filed and completed, etc. for a Workman's Compensation claim for what happened to Jim and any forms that we were responsible for have been submitted. When I last spoke to the head of Human Resources of the company about a week ago, she mentioned that the company would no longer be paying us but that WSIB would be taking over from now on. Now when I spoke to WSIB earlier today, they advised us that our claim had been rejected because our employer had not submitted a series of forms. Fit to be tied at the moment mostly because I wasn't able to actually speak to someone at WSIB but had to leave messages on two separate answering machines there. GRRRR. Of course when I called through to Toronto, I could only reach voice mail in the HR department. Oh how very, very typical.

I wouldn't be quite so insane about all of this if something awful hadn't happened here in London with my Regional Manager almost three weeks ago. Shortly after Jim's attack, we moved into our current apartment because no one in my family was feeling terribly secure living on the ground floor of the apt building. Now since Jim was still recovering from near life threatening injuries, he obviously was unable to move any of our furniture or stuff up here. Naturally, one of my daughters managed to break her arm barely a week after Jim's attack so she was also unable to offer much help or assistance. That left just me and Sara who barely weighs a 100 pounds on a good day! Naturally, it was tough carrying some of the heavier stuff for us so a few items were left behind in our old unit. I advised the office of this and apparently it wasn't much of an issue until the time came when they needed our old unit.

The weekend after I was notified that they were going to need our old unit, I moved everything except for one couch out of it. This left behind couch was a monster to move so I had to leave it. When I talked to my boss she said that was no problem that she would get some of the maintenance guys to help. I waited for a number of days and no one came to help. One day Sara's boyfriend was over and we managed to get it upstairs and into the hall of the fourth floor. Could not get it into our unit no matter what I tried. Finally the head of maintenance showed up to help me but no matter what he couldn't get it in either. This couch just also happened to be near brand new. We had had it only a month. Looked like we were going to have to trash it which was a darn shame. Because I had been waiting to get this couch inside before I moved a few more of our other articles in, I stashed some of our stuff in an empty unit which just happened to be located directly beside our current one. This is also standard practice if you happen to be a Building Manager of an apt building – you tend to take advantage of empty units and store stuff in them on a regular basis. This is done by near everyone and is not remotely unusual.

I had mentioned to the office about this furniture being there in the empty unit also but for some reason my Regional Manager decided to take it upon herself to have the contents of this unit emptied into the dumpster out front of our building. There was a lot of stuff of value there also. Why she didn't mention that she was going to do this so we had a chance to move it into our unit or get rid of it ourselves, is a mystery to us. Even after talking to her about it, she had nothing to say regarding her reasoning. I am so sick of everyone telling me that whenever I need help while Jim is recovering to just let them know and then when the actual time arrives, nothing at all. It is beyond insulting. What is really terrible about the whole thing is that when we went to check the dumpster not all of our stuff made it there. Any of our electronic equipment seemed to be missing. When we asked about this, we initially got a whole bunch of different answers until someone obviously started to feel a little bit guilty cause somehow some of this stuff was located – sitting in the paralegals office getting ready for her to take home!

Excuse me? How awful is this? You're stealing from someone not only that you work with, but also from someone who has already had a series of horrific stuff happen to them, someone who's interests that you in your position should be guarding. Insane. I wasn't going to get the police involved but on our last visit to the specialists we mentioned what had happened and one of the doctor's took it upon herself to call the police. I guess that she is a fairly good friend of the detective handling the attack. The police feel we have a fairly strong case for theft, etc. So far I have given a statement but I haven't had them approach anyone in the office yet regarding this although after today, I plan on giving the go ahead. I've also given everyone enough time to return all of our electronics and even though I've received assurance that we'll get them back, we still have not.

Following is a list of the items that we ended up losing – that I can remember so far because I know that there is more but probably won't know something is missing until I go to get it.

  • antique sewing table w/antique Singer sewing machine
  • walnut dresser w/five dresser drawers
  • all components to construct our bed frame i.e. slats/foot board
  • Sklar Pepplar arm chair
  • creme coloured leather love seat
  • creme coloured leather arm chair
  • 20″ tv set
  • 17″ flat screen computer monitor
  • 17″ computer monitor
  • dvd player
  • large collection of various types of cables for use with computers
  • digital camera w/case
  • laptop computer w/leather case
  • collection of electric helicopters plus their accessories
  • all of our winter coats – four individuals for a total of eight coats
  • six fabric laundry sacks of clothing primarily Jim's winter clothes
  • all of Sara's bed linens including comforter, three double sized blankets, set of curtains, sheets, pillows
  • two extra-large Rubbermaid storage containers w/hinged lids w/contents removed
  • misc. hand held tools
  • two basic desk chairs