National Suicide Prevention:
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It is Amazing What You Can Do…..When You Have To

External motivation does not seem to work for me. You tell me to do something, even for my own good, and I can come up with a dozen reasons that I don’t have to do it. Defiance seems to be my middle name. I’m different. I don’t have to follow the rules. Even though I know better, I think I can get away with it until I have to change.  Only I can decide when that is.

When I got arrested for drugs, I had to quit. It was the only way to keep my license. I thought at the time, I could just wait until the coast was clear, and then, when nobody was interested in my behavior, I would start drinking to take the edge off. No, I was NEVER going to do drugs again, but a little beer every once in a while wouldn’t hurt, would it? Then I went off to treatment and learned about my disease of addiction. It has many faces. They all want to destroy me. Chemical abstinence, total abstinence was the only way.  All mood-altering drugs. I abstained and it worked.

Other faces of my disease are process addictions. You know, the justifiable needs that are not black and white, yes or no, but those which require moderation. Like shopping, eating, helping others, even healthy things like exercise and working for a living. Just like I don’t know what “normal” is, I have never had a good working definition of “moderation”. More has always been better.

Perfectionism makes me stumble in attempting moderation. I don’t know when I have crossed the line between healthy behavior and obsessive thoughts of achieving the best possible. I think I need a life coach, but then, as in the first part of this article, I would come up with those dozen reasons.

I am overweight. “Morbidly Obese”. I have fought diabetes with every medicine known to endocrinology, except for diet and exercise. I have been defiant. Back in 2001, the day I chose to quit smoking, due to chest pain and dizziness from a whole pack of green meanies I smoked one morning, I heard from my hospital bed as I prepared for my stress echo, a loud voice from down the hall. I never met the man, but what he said became my defiant battle cry of a diabetic in non-compliance. He hollered to his wife, “I am not letting some high-falooting doctor tell me what I can and can not eat!”

I passed that stress echo in 2001 and two other tests for the same intermittent chest pain. One cardiologist told me I was having a panic attack. All my treating physicians have advised me to lose weight and begin exercise. I lived to eat, and that didn’t happen. One Thursday in January, 2014, that same pain became constant and insistent. I could not ignore it. It was time to choose. Was I going to sit at home and die of a heart attack, waiting for the pain to go away? It didn’t go away.

It’s amazing what you can do when you have to.

Emergency room. Long wait. More symptoms. Enzymes elevated. Cardiac cath. Found two 100% obstructions in the posterior coronary artery. Stented. Released from hospital. Cardiac Rehab. New diet, exercise. Weight plummeted, Blood sugars controlled on ¼ of the insulin. More energy. Wow.

I can take no credit for this miracle. God must not be done with me.

I had a plan to deal with the need for medicine during this ordeal. I had two IV doses of morphine and a fair amount of versed and fentanyl during the cath. I called the NCCDP and told them what was up and that I was going to be accountable to them during this process. I did the same with my sponsor. I did have significant pain, but the meds did not make me high. I don’t know why. They just made the pain go away. I went home with no need for pain meds.

I am so grateful for a new plan, the support and care of a great surgical team, nursing team and the NCCDP to help me deal with my addiction issues. I just passed through the number one relapse scenario intact and better. Who has ever been grateful for a heart attack? There’s a first time for anything.

Grateful – JN