Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Day two and some perspective

Nothing like a hospital ER to provide a different slant on things. Withdrawal from white powdery substances whether heroin, cocaine or sugar sucks. Being an addict sucks. Doing the same thing again and again and again ad nauseum sucks. It's not, of course, the end of the world.

It sounds absurd, really, to be in severe sugar withdrawal, especially since my consumption has been so casual. It's looked a lot like what regular people do. A little dessert, a bag of whatever. No big deal. Working out, losing weight, consuming regular food. Only I'm not regular. I can't eat like other folks. I say it and say it and say it and still I try it again. Anyway, day two of withdrawal. Yipthefuckee.

But perspective is indeed a good thing. Took the husband to the ER thinking he was having another bout of acute pancreatitis. He was severely dehydrated, incoherent, unsteady on his feet. He's better and home and we go back to the doc tomorrow. Not pancreatitis, apparently. The other big fear is pancreatic cancer, but that's just always hovering in the background with a pancreas as tortured as his.

In the room next to us, separated by those ridiculous "privacy" curtains, was a man who was making all sorts of revolting noises as he tried to rid his lungs of an excess of fluid. Turns out he had lung cancer two years ago. He couldn't remember who his doctor was, never saw the guy after radiation treatment. Has not seen any doctor in two years, now he has a lump on his neck, can barely swallow and can't quit coughing up all of this mess.

He never saw a doctor, he said, because he's got no insurance, has been on Methadone for a long time and had little money for other things. Methadone costs a fortune, but it's a step up from the alternative in most cases. Living on the edge like that, health insurance becomes a luxury. We were there long enough to hear the diagnosis: a lung full of tumors and metasteses to the bottom of the esophagus, liver, throat.

I heard all of this, this tragedy, through that thin curtain in that ridiculously busy ER. I heard, too, the efforts of this dying man to try to comfort the reserved and dignified woman with him who described herself as his "signifcant other." I heard the doctor tell him this dreadful news and heard the compassion in her voice as she called him sweetheart and told him she wasn't going to let him go, that she was going to admit him right away, not send him on a chase to this doctor or that one.

I overheard this same doctor using the same compassionate voice to talk to a man on a gurney in the hallway. He had spent the day huffing paint and she matter-of-factly asked him if he had been huffing all day? had he eaten anything? did he have someplace to go? This man was not sick in a way that ERs can treat, he was sick from chemicals and no food and no hope, no place to go, no one to help. Addiction.

Two stories in one ER in one city. I can't imagine how many thousands more there were across the country just last night. I am a sugar addict and I chose to pick up my drug again. Right now, I have enormous hope of getting it out of my life one more time. I am also healthy, fit, insured, with good finances and a nice home and people who love me and who I am fortunate to be able to love. Alcohol was easier to get off of, or maybe it seems so because it's been 24 years.

It's just another drug and I have all of the tools to beat it into submission. I am blessed with so much and I know it. Today I am praying for those who are suffering without hope, without support, without love.

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Anonymous Travis said...

Heya, Lynette,

I hear ya. I had another "no more, no matter what" moment with my food choices at the end of last year. Hopefully, the last one.

Today, I'm at 36 days, and the withdrawals have gotten easier.

One day at a time, as they say.


February 06, 2007 11:52 AM  
Blogger evilganome said...

I know what you mean about sometimes needing to get hit in the face with a cold mackerel as we say up here. Sometimes you get mean and deprived feeling and then suddenly you see someone who is much worse off than you are. Still I am not trying to brush off your food problem. I am having my own struggle with cigarettes and the best I can say for myself so far is, no ones dead. Yet. Good luck with the sugar, I know what that "Oh just one won't hurt" problem.

February 06, 2007 7:52 PM  
Blogger evilganome said...

Oops, that last sentence wasn't completed was it? Should have had "is like" between problem and the period. It's the nicotine withdrawl.

February 06, 2007 7:55 PM  

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