I hit rock bottom one year ago today. I started the day off like I normally did by having a few drinks before going out and doing my errands. One of those errands was to have routine bloodwork done. A few hours later I go a call from my doctor’s office telling me that there were issues with my lab results and to go to the hospital right away. “ Go to the hospital. Don’t take the bus, don’t take a cab, don’t take Uber. Call 911 and go right now”.
It turned out that my blood sugar and sodium levels were very low. Begrudgingly I did what I was told and went to the hospital. I figured no big deal, right? They’ll give me an IV and send me home in couple of hours. Wrong. Fun fact, you can die from a low sodium level. After arriving at the hospital by ambulance and having an initial work up I was admitted to the ICU where I stayed for four days. I was told that I was in critical condition and may not live through the weekend. The nurses described what CPR was like and told me that it could result in fractured ribs and sternum. Wanting no part of that I signed a DNR order.
After four days in the ICU they finally let me go home in Monday. I was already scheduled to go into rehab later that week so the first thing I did when I got home was start drinking again. By the time I got to the rehab center my sodium had dropped again and I spent another three days in the ICU there while they stabilized me for the second time in a week. The rehab program was successful and I’ve been sober since February 25, 2020.
I mentioned in my last post that I was having surgery in a few days. I’m five weeks out from the surgery and am starting to feel better. I had surgery on my left hip because I had a torn labrum in my left hip.
(A hip labral tear involves the ring of cartilage (labrum) that follows the outside rim of your hip joint socket. Besides cushioning the hip joint, the labrum acts like a rubber seal or gasket to help hold the ball at the top of your thighbone securely within your hip socket.)
There were complications with the surgery, the damage was much worse than what they were able to see from my MRI. I have something called avascular necrosis which basically means that the blood vessels that supply blood to the hip are damaged to the point that blood doesn’t reach the bones causing the bone to die. The surgeon ended up doing something called a core decompression. They drilled a hole in the ball of the hip joint, transplanted bone marrow and filled the hole with cement. This will stabilize the bone for a while but I will eventually need a hip replacement.
After spending two weeks on crutches and two weeks using a walker I’m back to walking with just a cane. I haven’t been in much pain until the last couple of days. I have physical therapy later today and I’m hoping that will help.
Looking through my blog and I see that I haven’t posted anything since June. I’m doing well, I’ve reached two important milestones in recovery recently. On August 15 I reached 6 months sober. Yesterday I reached 200 days sober. I haven’t been in the mood to write, but I’ve been working on music. I bought a new guitar in June and it has reignited my passion to play and I’ve recorded around a dozen songs. I’m having surgery next week, so hopefully I’ll be able to write something while I’m healing.
Today I celebrate 60 days sober. 60 days ago today on Valentines Day I was sitting in a hospital bed in the ICU at the Bradford Regional Medical Center in Bradford PA. My sodium had dropped to a dangerously low level and I developed an irregular heartbeat and my brain was swelling. When the body is deprived of sodium water begins building up in the cells. This was the second time I was in the ICU for the same problem in less than a week. I had arrived in Bradford to begin a 21 day Intensive dual disorders rehab program. When I arrived they did my intake paperwork and ran routine bloodwork. When he results came back I was immediately sent to the ICU. When I finally got to see the doctor in the ICU I was given devastating news. The doctor told me that if my sodium continued to drop faster than they could replace it I may not live through the weekend. He said if the brain swelling got any worse they would have to put me in a medically induced coma.
As my drinking spiraled out of control my primary care doctor repeatedly told me that if I didn’t stop drinking I would die. I didn’t take her seriously because my liver and kidney function tests were pretty close to normal. Part of me also didn’t care if I lived or died. When faced with the possibility of death I finally realized that I did in fact want to live.
The last 60 days have been the roughest of my life. I’m on three different medications to control cravings. For the most part they work, I get the occasional craving but it usually passes pretty quickly. I’ve only been to the store where I used to buy alcohol once since I’ve been home. Both cashiers remarked that I looked healthier than I had in over a year. That felt good, but it also triggered me. I left the store and when I got about halfway home I was hit will the most intense cravings I’ve ever had. I stood there on the sidewalk rocking back and forth battling the little voice that said “one won’t hurt”. I stood there for almost five minutes fighting that little voice. In the end I came home, picked up my guitar and played for a couple of hours until the little voice went away.
The difficult thing about finally getting sober is doing it in the middle of a world wide crisis. I’m easily triggered and I’ve never responded well to stress. But with lots of support I’m hanging on. I’m taking better care of myself. I’m eating every day. I’m showering almost every day. I’m setting goals. I’m living like an adult. I’m going to beat this awful disease.
I want to thank everyone for the love and support you have given me. I’ve put you through a lot over the years and I don’t deserve your kindness. I’ve hurt a lot of people and I can never make up for that. The best I can do is be a better person today than I was yesterday.
My heart is broken. I received a call yesterday letting me know that a friend had passed away unexpectedly. I just chatted with her Monday. I keep going back to that conversation, staring at the text thread, in total disbelief that it was my last conversation with her. She was a warrior and a great support to me. As difficult as this I am trying to stay sober in her honor, she was one of my cheerleaders on my journey through recovery. I can’t believe that I’ll never get to talk to her again.
I’m really struggling right now. Last week my ex-wife’s father passed away. While we have been divorced for 15 years I adored my ex’s parents and it hit me hard. I had planned on renting a car and driving for the first time in over six years so I could attend the funeral. The day of the service I became ill and went to the clinic to be checked out. They suspect that I may have the COVID19 virus and I need to quarantine until the test results come back. A couple of hours ago I got a call telling me that a friend from rehab passed away. I just chatted with her yesterday.
It’s only Fucking Tuesday. I don’t want to know what the rest of the week will bring.
I’m not feeling well this morning. It started with a runny nose and a sore throat last night and it has turned into difficulty breathing this morning. I will call the walk in clinic when they open for advice.