Saturday, February 27, 2016

Another surprise visit at the rehab




One year ago this weekend, I got one of the best surprises I have ever received.  I was in my second stay in treatment, and Chad had promised me that he would not be bringing the kids to see me this time around.  He said the visits were so emotionally exhausting for the kids, and they even had a rough time after their weekly fifteen minute supervised phone call with me.  I was devastated by this, but I also understood.  I prayed nightly that I would get to see them, as one-hundred days without any contact with them was a daunting thought.  I didn't know if I could get through it.

I had originally told Chad and the kids that I would be leaving treatment on February 17th, as I had initially signed up for the thirty-seven day program.  Only a couple of weeks into my stay, and after learning that I didn't have a home to go to, I made the wise decision to stay for a little over three months.

When Chad visited me on Valentine's Day, he informed me that he would come to see me on February 28th for an hour, so that he would be allowed to pick me up on March 15th for a four hour out visit to celebrate our fifteen-year anniversary.  I was required to have two successful in-visits before I was allowed to leave the facility.  I thought this sounded like a great idea.

So, on Saturday February 28th, I got up and got ready for my visit.  I put on a button up ivory shirt with gold buttons, put on a new pair of jeans I had gotten out of donations, and threw on my favorite olive green vest.  I wore my favorite cognac ankle boots, did my make-up, and spiked my inch long hair.  I was pretty excited to see Chad again, and, honestly, I couldn't wait to just hold his hand.  I knew I was still not welcome in our home, but I saw something in his eyes when he had visited two weeks prior that told me there was still hope left for our marriage and our family.  I had surrendered to the idea that I just had to work on myself and what had led me into my addiction and trust God with the rest.

I always volunteered to help with lunch duty for the other residents and their families on visit Saturdays.  Most of the other girls left the house for visits, and I really wasn't even sure what time Chad would show up.  Families started arriving for visits, and another girl and I started preparing lunch.  I will never forget this moment.  I was standing in the kitchen with a ceramic tray of rolled up turkey and ham (you know, so they would look pretty) in my hands, and I looked out the front door to the driveway.  I saw my white Honda Odyssey pull up, and I wondered why Chad had driven it.  He typically drove his truck or car.  I got excited when I saw his face, and then I realized there was someone in the van.  I thought that maybe he had brought one of my friends with him.  Then, I saw the side automatic door open, and out stepped the most beautiful sight I have ever seen.......my three kids.  I immediately started jumping up and down, yelling, and crying.  All of the other girls ran into the kitchen to see what the commotion was all about.  I remember saying, through tears, "My kids....my kids."  The other girls hugged me and cried right along with me.  That's what happens in rehab.  We grow to love one another like sisters (even though we sometimes drive one another crazy!) and share in each other's burdens and joys.

Chad and the kids walked into the office area to get checked in.  It felt like an eternity while I waited for them.  I stood right by the door and waited.  The office door creaked open, and in they walked.  I hugged them all at once, then stepped back to take a look.  It had only been about seven weeks since I had last seen them, and they already looked different.  I noticed that Addy's hair was extra curly, and it was clear she had slept in sponge curlers the night before (the above picture was actually taken by her dad that Friday night before bed).  She was wearing coral pants, a navy blue and white striped peplum top, and tan suede ankle boots.  My eyes moved to Ethan.  He had on jeans, a light blue, white, and navy blue striped button up, with a navy blue dressy sweatshirt over top of it.  A smile took over my face when I looked to the neck of his sweatshirt and saw little aviator sunglasses hanging there.  He looked so big.  Then Bethany....as beautiful as always.  She was wearing a new PINK outfit (her favorite store) and new Vans.  I told them all that they looked adorable.  They replied that Chad had taken them to the mall the night before to get them a new outfit for their visit.  How precious.  It was clear that he was doing an amazing job taking care of them.  They had brought Wendy's food with them, and we went into the dining room to eat.  The room was full, so we went out to the empty sunroom to sit at the table there.  The kids talked, telling me story after story.  They also told me that they had started going to counseling.  I asked how that was going, and they replied that they usually just spent the time telling on one another.  I was not surprised.

Addy wanted to walk upstairs to see my room.  I let her walk up the spiral staircase that she LOVED, and we went into my room.  I showed her which bunk was mine, and she laid down in it.  She had previously sent me a little Sully doll from the Monsters, Inc. movie (her favorite), and I showed her him sitting on my bed and told her that I slept with it every night.  She laid down on my bed, closed her eyes, and said she wished she could have a sleep-over with me.  She had no idea how badly I wanted that as well.

We went back downstairs into the sunroom and spent the rest of the visit playing games and working puzzles.  I loved the feeling of just watching them:  seeing their faces light up as they told me a funny story; watching them laugh and smile; knowing that they were just eating up the attention they were getting from me.  The four hours flew by and were over in the blink of an eye.

The worst part of visits are the good-byes, especially when kids are involved.  I walked them to the door, and Addy grabbed ahold of me.  The older two were holding back tears, but Addy could not contain them.  She wrapped her arms around me, buried her face in my arm, and just cried.  I hugged her, kissed her, and told her I would call her in just a few days.  That feeling of knowing my kids were going through pain directly because of something I had done is not something easy to shake.  In fact, it is something that I think about daily and it fuels my fire to stay clean and continue on in my recovery.  Chad pulled Addy off of me, and they walked out the door.  I quickly ran upstairs so I could watch them drive off of the hill and down the long driveway.  Once again, I watched the vehicle until it disappeared from my sight.  I turned away with the knowledge that I had really messed things up, that I had put my entire family through turmoil.  But, I also had hope.  Hope that there was nothing I had done that I couldn't make amends for.  Hope that there was nothing that could not be restored.  Hope that I could spend the rest of my life being the mother that they needed and deserved.  Hope that life for our family was not over; rather it was just beginning.  


To read about my first surprise visit, click here.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Bad news mixed with a little humor





So, I previously told you that I have a brain disease called idiopathic intracranial hypertension (aka pseudotumor cerebri).  I underwent brain surgery to have a ventricular-peritoneal shunt (VP shunt) placed in October of 2009.  This allows excess spinal fluid to be drained directly off of my brain down into my abdomen via plastic tubing running from my brain to my pelvis.  This was an extremely difficult surgery to go through.  I had to shave my head, had 20 staples in the top of my head and behind my right ear, and incisions in my chest and abdomen.  I also developed an infection and was "out of it" for days.  I woke up every few minutes and asked if it was day or night, and I swore I heard my brother, Joseph, talking in the hallway to my surgeon.......except Joseph was at his home, on the army base in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky.  This was one of the hardest surgeries I have ever gone through, and the recovery was long and rough, triggering a relapse after sixty days of sobriety.

Fast-forward to October of 2014.  I had completed a 100-day residential treatment program for opioid addiction.  It was during my stay in rehab that I realized something was wrong with my shunt.  They allowed my husband to pick me up to go have my shunt adjusted (another story for another day), but the adjustments didn't help.  I saw my surgeon again when I graduated the program, had a spinal tap to find out my pressures were still really high, and then proceeded to have surgery to replace the shunt in December of 2014 (another story for another day).  Things with my recovery only went downhill during that time.  

Fast-forward to present day.  I made it through a major neck surgery just a little over two months ago without coming home with pain meds (another story for another day).  I have started having extreme headaches, visual disturbances, and ringing in my ears over the past month or so.  These are all signs that my intracranial pressure is high, so I saw my Neurosurgeon's Nurse Practitioner a few weeks ago. We love the care I receive from her, and she seems to be truly concerned about me, always inquiring about how my recovery is going (this past time I saw her, she just came straight out with "How are you doing with the drugs?).  She adjusted my shunt like she always does with a little magnetic device that is placed directly on my shunt valve on top of my head then shifted to move the magnetic device inside the shunt.  This was the last setting on my shunt that we could go to, and this setting would allow the greatest amount of spinal fluid to be drained.  At this setting, my spinal pressure should be around 3, while 12 to 14 is considered normal pressure.  3 is extremely low.  This adjustment usually takes my pressure down quite a bit within just a few days.  I waited and waited, expecting relief, yet my symptoms only worsened.  After a few weeks, I called my Neurosurgeon's office again, and they requested I come in and see the surgeon.  They got me in within just a few days (it typically takes months), and Chad and I drove to Columbus yesterday to see Dr. McGregor.  Going to their office is like seeing friends we haven't seen in awhile.  Over the past ten years, we have come to love them.  

I was hoping and praying for a quick fix, and I asked some of my closest friends to pray for the same.  We walked into the exam room and the doctor came in.  He asked me about my symptoms and agreed that it didn't sound like my shunt is working.  He advised that I needed to have x-rays performed that day to make sure my tubing wasn't kinked, and then I would need to come back for an MRI and a lumbar puncture that they would get scheduled for me.  He then proceeded to tell me that, based on what the tests show, I may need to undergo surgery again to replace the valve in my brain and possibly even to place a new shunt in my lumbar area that goes directly into the spinal fluid sac to drain extra fluid off.  Meds are not an option for me any longer as they caused me to develop a fainting disorder (vasovagal syncope) as well as kidney stones.  

I will be honest, when I heard the awful "s word" (surgery) come out of his mouth, I felt like crumbling into a thousand pieces.  Getting through the recovery process from my recent neck surgery without pain medication was one of the hardest things I have ever done; not to mention the horrible allergic reaction that I developed afterward, which is still of unknown origin.  All of that completely terrifies me.  I kept my composure, and Dr. McGregor told me to head on over to the hospital to have my x-rays done, and that he would see me back in a couple of weeks.  We walked over to a new part of the hospital that I had never been to.  I registered with a sweet lady who kept laughing at Chad's corny jokes.  He ate that up.  I went upstairs to the Imaging area, signed in, and sat down.  I am pretty accustomed to having x-rays and MRIs, and I typically dress accordingly.....no metal, no zippers, no buttons, no jewelry.  However, I didn't anticipate having any tests completed yesterday, so I wore my typical attire.  

The radiology tech came out and called my name.  I followed her back to the dressing area/waiting room, and she took a look at my clothing.  She informed me that I would need to remove it all and wear a hospital gown.  I immediately thought about the fact that, it being winter and all, I hadn't shaved my legs.  Luckily, when she laid me out a gown on the counter, she placed a pair of pants with it.  Cue huge sigh of relief.  She told me that I could leave my socks on, and I suddenly remembered that I had worn boots with no socks.  Weird, I know, but I hate socks.  They make my toes feel trapped.  This must be an inherited trait as my nine-year old daughter feels the same way.  She left the room and I started removing all of my jewelry.  I had worn a lot of it.  I put the gown on and managed to get two of the three stringy things tied (I hate those things!!).  It felt like it was choking me, and I realized I had mismatched the strings.  Unfortunately, I had tied them too tight, so they were staying that way.  I picked up the different patterned bottoms and held them up.  They looked like they would fit a six-foot tall supermodel weighing in at 90 pounds.  I kept my hopes up and tried to put them on.  They didn't go past my knees.  I started searching through the cabinets for more pants.  I needed those pants.  I found the cabinet with a big stack of the pants, and I pilfered through the pile to find the biggest pair.  They were all the same size as the tiny ones.  Every.  Single.  Pair.  I resorted to plan B and grabbed another gown to wear backward, as a robe.  I put my boots on, you know, since I didn't have socks and couldn't find any footies in the cabinets, and stepped out of the dressing room.  The tech had told me to sit in the waiting room until she was ready for me, but I evidently took a long time in the dressing room, because she was standing at the door patiently waiting.  It must have been the frantic searching for alternate attire that held me up.  I stepped out of the dressing room and followed her down the hall.  I couldn't see myself, but I'm sure I was a sight.  No bra (most of my most embarrassing stories involve this fact), two hospital gowns on, unshaven legs, and ankle boots!  I can't even imagine what I looked like.  At that point, the discouragement I had been feeling disappeared, and I began chuckling at myself.  I'm not sure why things always seem so complicated when I am involved; nonetheless, I appreciate the humor it allows, even with all of the humiliation it brings.

I am not sure what the next few months will hold for me, but I am hoping and praying it does not include surgery.  To be completely transparent here, I do not feel mentally or physically prepared to undergo surgery anytime soon.  Medical procedures are one of the scariest and most stressful things a recovering addict can go through.  If you don't care, keep me in your thoughts and prayers that my shunt will somehow start working on its own again, or that my Doctor can come up with an alternative plan of treatment.  I have complete confidence that God can answer these prayers; yet I also believe that He can and will get me through whatever may come my way. 


Read about how this medical condition initially led me into addiction by clicking here.



Thursday, February 18, 2016

On Doubt






The Oxford Dictionary defines the word doubt as "a feeling of uncertainty."  Have you ever experienced a feeling of uncertainty about happenings involving you or those you love?  I have.  I will be the first to admit that I doubt things sometimes. 

I grew up as the daughter of a preacher.  I probably teethed on a red Freewill Baptist Hymnal...or the back of a wooden pew.  On those little Sunday School attendance sticker charts, I'm certain not a single shiny gold foil star was missing beside my name.  I knew all of the stories about the Bible by heart, and I gave my life to Christ at an early age.  Even through all of my life's struggles, my faith remained intact.  I feel that I am fairly knowledgeable regarding scripture, and I have a good relationship with God.  But, if I were to tell you that I am never plagued by doubt, I would be the boldest of liars.  I'm pretty certain that, deep down, we all have doubts, even if we don't express them.   There are times that I struggle with believing all of those little Christian clich├ęs (you know...the ones you say to someone when they are hurting and you have no clue what else to say).

You may ask what causes me to doubt. 

Well, when bad things happen to amazing people, I doubt.
When kids leave this world way too young, and their loved ones are filled with unspeakable grief, I doubt.
When people who would be amazing parents cannot have children, I doubt.
When someone pours their heart and soul into a ministry and is rejected, I doubt.
When people turn their backs on us, I doubt.
When marriages and families fall apart, I doubt.
When our friends, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, mothers, fathers, cousins, lose the battle to addiction, I doubt.

When my husband and I lost our business and every penny we had within the first year of marriage, I doubted.
When we didn't have money to buy groceries, gas, or pay our utilities, I doubted.
When a three-year-old abandoned little girl came to live with us during our financial crisis, I doubted.
When we fell head over heels in love with her and then had to send her back to a questionable environment, I doubted.
When we finally got her back and had to go through years of custody battles, I doubted.
When I learned of all of the things her three-year-old innocent eyes had already seen, I doubted.

When we were told we might not be able to have children, I doubted.
When it took five years of waiting to become parents, I doubted.
When our son was born too early, I doubted.
When he ended up with pneumonia, in oxygen tents, and in and out of the hospital repeatedly, I doubted.
When he wouldn't grow, no matter what we did, I doubted.
When a doctor told us he was partially deaf, I doubted.
When his lung collapsed, and we weren't quite sure what was going to happen to him, I doubted.
When they took him in for surgery and we waited for an answer as to whether he had a tumor or a life-threatening disease, I doubted.

When I surprisingly became pregnant a short time after our son was born with a little baby girl, only to be diagnosed with an awful brain disease, I doubted.
When I was so sick because of the brain disease and the pregnancy, and then I developed a fainting disorder on top of that, I doubted.
When the doctor was listening for her heartbeat far along into my pregnancy and couldn't hear anything, then stopped and prayed then listened again----until I heard that precious sound of a beating heart, I doubted.
When I went into that baby girl's room one night and found her underneath a pillow and picked her up by her feet realizing she wasn't moving-----until she started breathing and crying, I doubted.

When I was told I could/should go permanently blind from that brain disease, I doubted.
When I had to give up a good job and be declared unable to work, I doubted.
When I was no longer allowed to drive myself or my kids anywhere, I doubted.
When I had brain surgery to help me to live a normal life, only to realize I would never again have a normal life, I doubted.
When I was in so much pain that I had to take painkillers only to quickly become addicted to them, I doubted.
When my shunt came dislodged from my brain and had to be replaced, I doubted.

When I relapsed time and time again, I doubted.
When I prayed and prayed for healing and was anointed countless times and my pain only got worse, I doubted.
When I laid in a dark room feeling forsaken by the world, I doubted.
When I sat in rehab and learned I would be starting a new life on my own, I doubted.

When I started having such unbearable pain in my spine that I didn't think I could handle life without narcotics, I doubted.
When I learned that my spine was crumbling apart, like that of a ninety-year old woman, I doubted.
When I had surgery and came home on no pain medications only to develop an allergic reaction so severe that it could have taken my life, I doubted.
When that surgery that had a 70% success rate of taking away my pain did not, in fact, take away my pain, I doubted.


Forget what you have heard about "Doubting Thomas".  I'm pretty sure I'm the real doubter here.  And, the thing is, I've always felt condemned for doubting.  Growing up in the church background that I did, I was always taught this it was wrong to question God.  Just the other night, I sat at a prayer vigil for the family of a little girl who was taken way too young, and a friend sitting beside me confessed to be in the same boat.  She grew up in the church just like I did.  Yet, she looked at me with tears streaming down her face and said, "I just don't know.  Something like this even makes me question my faith."  But....God made us human, and I honestly believe He knew that we would struggle with feelings of uncertainty and doubt. I don't claim to be a theologian, and I'm certain there are a fair number of them who would tear that statement apart, but that is just what I believe.  And, here's the real kicker...even Jesus felt forsaken on the cross.  In the darkest hour of his life, when he was facing the unthinkable, he cried out and said, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  Does that sound a little bit like uncertainty to you?  It does to me.


But, through all of the doubting, one thing that never changed was God's love for me and His constant presence in my life.  Through all of the doubting, He never moved.  He endured my questions and begged me to come to Him with them.  To tell Him all about it.  To allow Him to comfort me.

Because, even though I sometimes question His plan, I never question His goodness.

There are simply things on this Earth that we will never be able to understand.  It is humanly impossible, and no matter how hard we try, we can't fathom how to make sense of it.

But, just remember this.
Even where there is doubt, there is a reason to believe.  The ground on which unspeakable grief stands today will one day shift, and something new will grow in its place...unspeakable joy.  While there are a million reasons to doubt, there is ONE reason to believe.  And that, my friends, is something we can ALWAYS be certain of.   Now, that......that will preach.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day at the rehab



The date was February 14th, 2015.  It was a Saturday.  Lou (a residential staff woman) came into my room, the "Blue Room" and told us it was time to get up.  She was always up and at 'em and ready to conquer the day.  I sat straight up and hit my head.  No matter how many nights I had slept in this very bed, I always busted my head in the morning.  I guess it's hard to get used to sleeping on a bottom bunk at the age of thirty-three.  All of the girls in my room got up and we ventured downstairs.  I could smell pancakes cooking (Saturday mornings rotated between pancakes and French Toast).  There was already a line for coffee, and I joined it.  I hated coffee before I came to treatment, but I had recently acquired a taste for it.  Well....a lot of cream and sugar, with a little coffee on top.  We sat around the white folding tables in the formal-looking dining room and sat in silence for a few minutes. Our mornings typically began that way as there were only a few "morning people" in this group of girls.  I was not one of the chosen few. 

We finished breakfast and headed back upstairs to finish our chores and get ready.  I hadn't had a visit in the almost forty days that I had been there, but I was supposed to get one that day...not from my family, but from someone at church.  Regardless, I was happy to see someone from home.  I showered, picked out something nice to wear, and started getting ready.  I was still nearly bald from a brain surgery I'd had in December, and I decided to give myself a mohawk that day.  As I stared in the mirror at my reflection, I thought to myself, "Good idea.  Who couldn't conquer a day sporting a mohawk?"  I put on my makeup, then started fixing the other girls' hair and helping them pick out clothing for the day.  Several of them got to leave for "out visits" with their families.  I was thrilled for them.  After we were all ready, we headed into the Great Room (our meeting room) for Morning Meditation Group.  I can remember stating that I was thankful to be getting a visit.  After we closed out group with The Lord's Prayer, we all headed downstairs to wait for our visitors. 

A few of us gathered around a table and started working a puzzle.  We laughed, chatted, and talked the time away while waiting.  One by one, girls started leaving, and their family members began arriving.  At noon, they headed up to the Great Room to watch a video that all first time visitors were required to watch.  I was a little disappointed that no one had shown up for me yet, but I still patiently waited.  I helped prepare lunch, and I sat in the Dining Room with the other girls and their families and talked.  I always loved watching everyone else interact with their parents, spouses, children, etc.  As time ticked on, it became evident that my visitors were not coming.  It had begun snowing outside, and I knew that no one was going to venture up that mountain to visit me.  They hadn't come when the weather was good, so why would they come in the middle of a blizzard?  I helped clean up the lunch mess and headed upstairs.  I changed back into my lounge clothes and crawled back into my bottom bunk.  It had become my "safe place."  I looked around me and saw all of the pictures of my kids along with a rose one of the other girls had given me when her parents arrived with them that morning.  There was a sign above my head that said, "I love my Mommy."  I thought back to previous Valentine's Days and how I had always dreaded going to the school parties.  At that moment, I would have given anything to be at one of those parties.  I cried myself to sleep.

"Misty.  Misty.  Wake up."

I opened my eyes and saw Lou standing beside my bed.
 
"Someone is here to see you."
 
I always wake up a little disoriented, so it took me a minute to figure out what was going on.  Honestly, I think I had even forgotten I was in rehab! I asked her what time it was, and she said it was 3:30.  Visits were over at 4:00. I jumped up and looked in the mirror.  My mohawk was smashed flat, black eyeliner and mascara smeared my cheeks, and I was basically in pajamas.
 
"Well, hurry up and get yourself put together!" Lou said.
 
I changed back into my good clothes, ran my fingers through my hair, wiped the black off my cheeks with a tissue, and left my room. 

I couldn't fathom who would be here to see me.  I really hadn't even put anyone on my contact list this time around.  I knew it wouldn't be Chad because he had already said he wouldn't be visiting, plus he had just sent word that I was not welcome back in our home. 

I followed Lou down the stairs, begging her to tell me who was there.  She wouldn't give me even the slightest hint.  We made it down the steps, walked through the kitchen, and started to go into the front office.  As I turned that corner, a familiar scent hit me.  Surely my nose was lying to me, but it smelled just like Chad.  It couldn't be.  I slowly and cautiously walked into the front office, and there he stood.  I will never forget that image for as long as I live. A vision of hope.  He just kind of looked at me, and then he smiled, his big dimples taking hostage of his face.  I hugged him, and we walked out to the sunroom.  The room was full of windows, and it was clear there was a blizzard going on out there.

"I can't believe you drove in this to see me", I said. 

He said he had woken up with the feeling in his gut that he was supposed to come see me, but he had fought it all day.  He finally couldn't stand it any longer and drove up there.  An hour and a half. In a blizzard. To see me. For thirty minutes.  He reached into his pocket, pulled out a package of fun sized Skittles, and handed them to me. 

"Happy Valentine's Day.  I grabbed those out of the kids treat bags", he said

We sat and held hands, barely talking, but still enjoying being together.  Lou eventually walked into the sunroom and told us that visiting hours were over.  I gave Chad a hug, and he left.  I walked back upstairs and stood at the huge window, watching him drive down the hill, until his car was lost in a sea of white.  The fear that he no longer loved me vanished along with it.  That Valentine's Day, a little piece of my heart started beating again.  I started falling in love with my husband...all over again.  My healing began. 

This Valentine's Day, we will get up and take our kids to church.  We will stand side by side during worship and sit side by side during the message, probably holding hands.  We will have lunch at home with the kids, then watch "our show", and take a nap.  Then, we will get a sitter, go to one of our favorite restaurants, and go to the movies.  We will spend the whole day together.  We will spend the rest of February together.  We will spend the rest of 2016 together.  We will spend the rest of our lives together.  And, somewhere along the way, I'm pretty sure we will eat some Skittles. 
It is, after all, our love language.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

A few words from my husband: the day i took my wife to rehab








My husband recently told me that he would like to share some things from his point of view.  I was thrilled, because I knew it would give me a clearer picture of the feelings he had while going through the hardest season of our lives.  Here is his story.  I am happy to share it with you.


I just wanted to reach over and hold her hand.  I fought that feeling the entire hour and twenty minute ride. My throat felt like it had a basketball in it; tears tried their best to escape from my eyes. My heart was ripping from my chest. I wanted to tell her everything was going to be ok, that I loved her and was proud of her.  I couldn’t do it this time.  This was the not the first trip we had made down State Route 23 to Louisa, Kentucky.  This time had to be different, I had to keep my game face on and not lose hold of the tough love I planned to dish out.

REWIND NINE MONTHS

Accompanied by a friend, I made a trip to the detox center/ psych ward that had kept Misty for several days preparing her to enter a residential treatment program.  We sat anxiously awaiting her to be released to our custody to transfer her to the treatment center. Not a transfer quite like transporting Hannibal Lector, but we did have to make sure she didn’t back out.  We left the hospital and headed to get a quick bite to eat, then to pick up some last minute items she “needed” to take with her.  The day before, her friends took her to shop for several other things she “needed”.  If she was going to take the step and go to treatment, I felt I should at least meet her “needs”.  I think in total we shelled out three to four hundred bucks! All for “needs”.  
 
After a little resistance in the Wal-Mart parking lot, we finally got back in the van and headed on to the intake center.  When we arrived, we were met by the sweetest lady who made us feel very comfortable and welcome.  She made us feel like this wasn’t your typical run of the mill rehab.  It was a majority “private pay” facility so there’s a “better group of girls” here.  I made the statement later that only Misty can go to rehab and end up in a mansion up on the hill.  She has always had a very classy nature and was maybe a little spoiled.  Well, a lot spoiled! We agreed to the time of treatment she would receive, I agreed to be responsible to pay, wrote a check for our insurance deductible, and we headed to our next stop.

Upon arrival to the center, I think the welcome wagon was a little more excited than me.  We toured the house, I guess to make us comfortable leaving her there.  The bedrooms looked as if they were bunk rooms from a fancy summer camp.  Bunk beds for 10 lined perfectly along the wall, each bed with matching bedding that you could bounce a quarter off of, a small area for the girls to keep their belongings (from the size of the area, I think Misty Probably had too much stuff with her). I am a little particular (OCD as some say), so the quarter off the bed was a for real thought.  As we toured, the lady made small talk with us and found out that Misty could sing. Again, she was very excited. I was still having a hard time getting excited.  I couldn’t keep my mind off the fact that I was getting ready to leave my wife for three months.  I couldn’t even think of how I would keep my kids from worrying. How was I going to dress my 8 year old daughter and fix her hair!?  She always looked like a million bucks and I had never put together a single outfit to put on her!  My mind was on overload, so to be honest, I couldn't care less about the tour we had obliged to. Our friend and I finished our tour and we were reunited with Misty to say our goodbyes.   I had in my mind that I was going to be the good Christian husband and have a heartfelt prayer with her as we departed.  I can’t say for sure, but I may have gotten out the words, “oh God please” as the tears began to run like a raging river.  We hugged as we both cried.  I know that God knew both of our needs that day.  I may not have pulled off the good prayer that a ministry leader of a Celebrate Recovery should have, but I did feel God close to us at that very moment. I had never felt that I loved her quite like I did that day.  I kept telling her (and myself) "a few months apart for the rest of our lives together!"  This was by far the hardest thing I had ever faced in my life. 

We left soaking wet from tears and began a long, nearly silent ride home.  Our friend was very consoling and supportive as we made that journey down that long winding road.  Well, she was as consoling as she could be for she was a mess as well! This ride home was me embarking on a completely new journey in life, one that led to a lot of roads I never thought I would travel...alone.

FAST FORWARD NINE MONTHS

I had been attending a Loved Ones group for family members of folks who struggle with addiction.  I had recently been taught not to make idle threats and to never back down.  I had told Misty before entering treatment the first time that I would stand by her and love her through it, but this was it.  I would not allow our family to be destroyed by her addiction.  She had to get it together or else she would be on her own.  These statements came back to me as I sat in that group that night.  That was on a Monday night, and the very next day, Misty came clean that she had relapsed again.  I felt with all my heart that if I didn’t follow through with making her leave, I wouldn’t help her at all.  I told her I felt she was six months away from being a “crack whore”.  I know that is very harsh and I mean no disrespect to anyone, but I needed to get her attention.  I followed through with my word and told her she had to get out of our family home.  I hid all of her jewelry and anything else of value I felt she could sell.   I also told her she was not to disrupt our home for the kids’ sake and she was to take NOTHING out of the house. I was keeping my word and completely playing the tough love trump card.  I felt that if she would reach her bottom, maybe she would really get help. The next day I called home from work to remind Misty she needed to be making preparations to be out of our house and assure her that I was not pulling a bluff...as I had MANY times in the past.  She told me that she had been in contact with someone, and that she was going back to treatment.  Over the next few days she prepared to leave and prepared to tell the kids what was happening.  We spent some time in great conversations and really had some healing moments that I think made her success real this time.  I maintained my position; I loved her but in a very tough way.  Monday came.  After telling the kids what was going on, a family member was waiting to pick them up and we left for the treatment center.  This time without a friend, no special lunch, and for sure no shopping trip.

I just wanted to reach over and hold her hand.  I fought that feeling the entire hour and twenty minute ride. My throat felt like it had a basketball in it; tears tried their best to escape from my eyes. My heart was ripping from my chest. I wanted to tell her everything was going to be ok, that I loved her, and was proud of her.   I knew that from the hard approach I had taken, she probably didn’t feel very loved at the moment.  When we arrived at the intake center, I cannot tell you how we were greeted. I sat in the car refusing to accept any responsibility, pay any fees or deductibles, or hear anything encouraging about this time around.  Misty returned to the car and we proceeded out the long country road to the treatment center.  We arrived and I can remember the rain pouring down in the cold air.  I unpacked the trunk and sat her bags on the porch.  This time we didn’t encounter the welcome wagon. I refused to buy into any of the festivities.  I was leaving and would not return until she completed her stay, and only then to give her a ride home...to her new place of residence.  I informed her I would not be visiting, sending money, or allowing the kids to visit this time.   I sat her bags down, extended one arm to embrace Misty briefly, wished her good luck, and off the hill I went.  I refused to let her see me cry, as hurt and broken as I was, feeling like I was about to explode. As soon as my butt hit the seat in my car and I was turned away from the house, the pent up emotions inside of me exploded.  I must have cried for an hour. At one point, I stopped my car just to compose myself. I couldn’t believe we were going down this road...again.

A year later, I can now look back and see that God had a plan in all of this.  I believe these moments I have shared with you were the most critical moments in leading Misty to sobriety.  It was recently shared with me in a loved one’s group that “hurt brings healing”.  I know that, at times, my tough love caused Misty deep pain.  However, I still feel that I took the correct steps and I believe she agrees with me.  If you have a family member struggling with addiction, I cannot stress enough that you need to seek help as much as they do.  Connecting with a support group to help me learn how I was helping my wife and how I was hurting her recovery, saved my wife’s life, saved my marriage, and saved my kids' mommy.  As hard as it was, I would do it all over again.  And, I believe, so would she.


To read about the day my husband kicked me out, click here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Depression has a voice...and it is loud!







There are two voices in a constant battle for control in my mind.  One wants the best for me.  And the other?  The other wants to kill me. 


My heart tells me to get out of bed, enjoy the day...do something productive.  Depression tells me to close the blinds, draw the curtains, and crawl back into bed.

My heart tells me to make plans with a friend for lunch...something fun.  Depression tells me not to bother; that I probably won't feel like going anyway.

My heart tells me to open, read, and answer that private message or e-mail I received.  Depression tells me to ignore it, that I don't have the energy to reply.

My heart tells me to answer the phone.  Depression tells me that I don't feel like talking.

My heart tells me to reach out to my friends...the ones I KNOW that I can count on.  Depression tells me to bury my head in the sand and pretend that everything is fine...and to crawl back into bed.

My heart tells me to keep that appointment, that I need to go.  Depression tells me to call and cancel.

My heart tells me to open up and talk to someone when I have a problem.  Depression tells me that I am a nuisance to others, to keep it to myself. 

My heart tells me to get up, shower, put make-up on, and get dressed.  Depression tells me to stay in last night's pajamas and watch Netflix.

My heart tells me to go do something fun with my kids.  Depression tells me to stay locked in my room.

My heart tells me to go to that ballgame, recital, or school play.  Depression tells me to stay at home in my cave.

My heart tells me to wake up when my alarm goes off.  Depression tells me I can't possibly handle the day.

My heart tells me to get involved at church.  Depression tells me that I will never follow through.

My heart tells me to give back.  Depression tells me not to fool myself, that I will only take.

My heart tells me to go wash my nine year old daughter's hair.  Depression tells me she is old enough to do it herself. 

My heart tells me that WE DO RECOVER.  Depression tells me that sobriety is a short-lived facade.  

My heart tells me to go on a walk, to enjoy the beauty of nature.  Depression tells me to stare at the walls inside my dark bedroom.

My heart tells me to go to a meeting.  Depression tells me "not today". 

My heart (and my bank account) tells me to file a claim for the E-bay purchase I got scammed in (true story).  Depression tells me to do it tomorrow....or maybe the next day.

My heart tells me to make my bed so that I don't crawl back in it.  Depression tells me to dive right in.

My heart tells me to do something that I love.  Depression tells me to lie in misery.

My heart tells me to pick up my laptop and write.  Depression tells me that I will look like a dismal failure. 

My heart tells me to be proud of how far I've come.  Depression tells me to doubt it. 

My heart tells me to be compassionate.  Depression tells me to be apathetic.

My heart tells me to have joy.  Depression tells me it doesn't exist.

My heart tells me to be grateful. Depression tells me there is nothing to be grateful for.

My heart tells me to connect.  Depression tells me to isolate.


My heart tells me to laugh.  Depression tells me to cry.
  

My heart tells me to love.  Depression tells me to hate.

   
My heart tells me to live.  Depression tells me to die.


Which voice do I listen to?  I wish it were an easy and sure answer.  I wish that I could say that I ALWAYS listen to my heart. However, many days the voice of depression is the loudest one...the one that I obey. 

Every single day I must make a choice to listen to my heart.
 
Every single day I must strive for progress, not perfection.
 
For example, today, while wearing last night's pajamas, I said yes to an invitation to a Ladies' Night Out with one of my very best friends.  I hesitated at first because I don't know anyone at her church, and I don't know if I will feel like going once the day comes. But, then I reminded myself that I NEVER laugh more than when I am in her presence.  Why would I let depression rob me of that?? 

One thing is for sure, when I listen to my heart, there are rarely any regrets.  When I listen to depression, there are a lifetime of them. 

So, today I choose to listen to my heart, to do what will bring me a feeling of contentment and gratitude when my head hits the pillow tonight...even if I am still wearing yesterday's pajamas. 


P.S.  Depression told me to let my husband take the kids to the movies this evening while I stay at home and sit in quiet solitude.  My heart said to get in the car and go with them.  Today I am choosing to listen to my heart.  Hopefully my body will follow.


********If you also struggle with depression, please comment below and tell me how you make the decision to not listen to its powerful voice.  We can help one another!




Saturday, February 6, 2016

Psych Ward: Part 3

To read Part One, click here.

To read Part Two, click here.


The Bingo game is over, and I stand up to go back to my room.  I feel very chivalrous as I have just provided a diabetic woman with a lifetime supply of chocolate.  I am intercepted by a counselor stating that it is group time, and that I am required to attend.  I head back into the TV room, which also doubles as the group room.  It is full of people.  One lady cannot stay awake.  She begins talking, and mid-sentence she nods off.  I suspect that she is on some heavy duty meds.  All of the "regulars" are in group, but I focus in on a little lady I haven't noticed until now.  She is extremely short, probably 4'8, and she is as round as she is tall.  She has pale skin, light brown hair, and a hare lip.  She keeps interrupting with off the wall statements while the counselor speaks.  She tells us that she is an Indian...quarter Cherokee, quarter Chippewa, quarter Navajo, and a quarter American Indian.  She is definitely the palest Indian I have ever seen.  When she says this, everyone in the room begins to chuckle, but I somehow manage to stifle my laughter (if you know me, you know that this is a feat within itself).  The counselor reminds us that this is a safe place, which means no judgment and no laughing at one another.  The scolding makes Chippewa happy.   
When group is over, several of us stay in the TV room.  I can't stand the thought of going back to my room and sitting on that bed.  The television is on, but it is always on a music video channel.  It really depresses me, especially when the Reba McEntire songs come on.  We end up in a conversation about what brought each of us to this facility.  I listen intently to all of the other stories and think about how some of them are entirely different from mine, while some of them are quite similar.  I begin to speak, and I notice this man sitting at a table look up.  Our eyes meet, and then I quickly look away.  He is very handsome, tall, and much too thin.  His face looks rough and hardened, as if he has lived his life three times over in the same body.  He appears to be in his upper thirties.  I tell some of my story and finish by saying that I have not really lost anything from my addiction.  I haven't lost my husband, kids, home, or freedom.  He speaks up in a deep voice that matches his face.  It's exactly what I would guess it would sound like.  His voice is saturated in wisdom, as if he is an expert in self-destruction.  He asks me to repeat my last sentence.  I obey.  He then asks me to repeat it, but this time, to add the word "yet" to the end of every statement.  I obey again.  "I have not really lost anything from my addiction...yet.  I haven't lost my husband...yet.  I haven't lost my kids...yet.  I haven't lost my home...yet.  I haven't lost my freedom...yet."  Wow.  That one little word is a real game changer.  He tells me that if I don't open my eyes and realize how serious this disease is, then the "yet" will only be a matter of time.  The "yet" is sure to come.  He tells me of the wonderful life he had.  Beautiful wife, great son, amazing job.  And then he tells me how he managed to throw it all away.  My brain wants to argue with him, to tell him that I really have things under control, but my heart believes him.  I will eventually lose everything, perhaps even my own life, if I don't make a change.  These words he has just spoken to me will play themselves over in my mind for years to come.
I still have not seen the doctor, and I know that I must do so in order to be released.  I start asking my nurse when I will get to see her.  An hour or so later, the Dr. comes into the TV room and asks to see me.  She is short with long jet-black hair, and she walks with some kind of canes that are attached to her wrists.  The rumor around this place is that she had polio as a child.  She must not have taken the vaccine, I say to myself.  She takes me into a private room (AKA the kitchen), shuts the door, looks at me with a serious face, and says she has something she needs to tell me.  She informs me that she thought she had seen me early this morning.  She then tells me that the person she assessed was not me, however it was someone pretending to be me.  She entered my room and saw a lady sitting on my bed.  She asked if she was Misty Monroe, and she nodded.  She then completed a full assessment with her.  Ummm....what?  I am totally freaked out by this.  I mean, what kind of place is this?  Patients impersonating other patients??!!  You would think there were crazy people here.  She apologizes and asks if she can now get to know the 'real Misty Monroe'.  I agree, and I answer all of her questions.  When we talk about what brought me in, she informs me that I could have/should have died from ingesting the amount of pills that I did.  She quizzes me again about my intentions, and at this point, I have learned to just say "I don't know."  It is easier than trying to explain everything.  I finish my visit with her, and now it is dinner time.
By this point, I have started talking to the other patients, and I feel compelled to eat dinner with them in the dining room.  We have some pretty good conversations, and I actually find myself laughing a couple of times.  When dinner is over, UK guy and his friend ask if I want to play a game of Euchre.  I tell myself to say "no", but I love me some Euchre.  I agree, and they look around to find the fourth person for our game.  Chippewa walks into the room, and they ask her if she wants to play.  She is beyond thrilled at the invitation.  She is in love with UK guy, and she has been writing him love letters all day.  She sits down to play with us, and I become engrossed in the stories she tells.  She tells tales of being a slave, that her Master used to lock her in a closet and not let her eat because she was an African American (again, she is one of the palest people I have ever seen).  I am fairly certain that she believes these stories she is telling.  Whatever.  Twenty-four hours in this place feel like an eternity, and she is making them interesting.  The Euchre game takes off, and I find myself relaxing and letting my guard down.  We have lots of laughs, and we start talking about crazy things we have done in our addictions.  Chippewa interrupts.  "You guys need to be quiet.  I wouldn't say anything incriminating around me.  I have a man living in my foot."  We all just stare at her in silence.  She continues telling us that she used to be in the Mob where she witnessed a murder.  She is now in the witness protection program, there is a microchip implanted in her foot, and a special agent is on the other end of it.  He can hear everything that is said around her, and she can hear him speaking in her ear.  She then says that he has fallen deeply in love with her and that they one day hope to meet in person.  I cannot even believe what I am hearing.  She has clearly lost grip on reality.  I, on the other hand, have not.  We finish playing Euchre, and I go to bed.  Once I lie back down in that dark, quiet room, the laughter disappears, and the reality of where I am returns.  The cries resume, and I do not find even one minute of rest for the remainder of the night.
When I wake up the next morning, I head to the dining room for breakfast.  My newfound friends pull a chair up to their table for me.  The candy bar lady from the Bingo game has a nurse at her side, a personal aide.  She says that she tried to kill herself the night before, and she now has constant supervision.  I say, "Do you mind me asking how in the world you were able to try to kill yourself in here?"  I know I am prying a little, but with all of the chocolate that I gave her, I feel like she owes me an answer.  She puts her weak hands up around her throat and tells me that she just "squeezed real tight" and tried to choke herself.  I doubt there is enough strength in her hands to choke a gnat, but I feel terribly sorry for her.  Plus, I wonder if she knows she is the luckiest one here?  She scored the only room in the place with a real hospital bed, and now she has her own personal servant.  I can't understand why she would want to end her life with such amenities.  I clean my tray up and walk back to my room to take a shower. 
When I open the door, I see a couple of nurses, and I realize that I have a roommate.  I was hoping to avoid this at all costs.  Her name is Sally.  She is young (maybe nineteen or twenty), blonde, and she seems nice enough.  I head to the shower while the nurses finish up with her.  When I walk back into the room, I hear Sally telling the nurses that she needs to see the Doctor ASAP.  Now this is a girl who knows how to get things done.  I head to the TV room and start working on a puzzle.  Sally soon walks into the room and I introduce her.  "Sally, this is everyone.  Everyone, this is Sally."  She sits down and starts talking.  She notices that everyone (besides me) has one of these little plastic cigarette things.  They are smokeless, but when you suck on them, they release a little bit of nicotine.  She immediately asks how to get one, leaves the room, and comes back with one in her mouth.  UK guy leans over and whispers to me.  He says, "I don't even smoke, but everyone else had one, so I got one too.  Want me to get you one?"  The irony of that is not lost on me.  Sally tells me that she is a heroin addict, and by the looks of her eyes and the way she is talking, her last fix wasn't too long ago.  Sally is the exact opposite of me.  Within just a few minutes of being here, she makes herself completely at home.  She doesn't seem intimidated or nervous in the least.  She actually makes me feel more comfortable, even though I'm the one who has already been here for a couple of days.  Sally is enjoying herself. In fact, she seems way too happy to be here.  The doctor comes into the room to get another patient.  Sally sees her and yells out, "Hey!  Are you the doctor?  I need to see you as soon as you are done with him."  The doctor tells her she will come back to get her.  True to her word, about an hour later, the doctor comes to get Sally.  When she is finished, Sally comes back to the room and tells me that she gets to have Suboxone to help her come off of the heroin.  I tell her the doctor offered me the same thing, but I didn't want it.  
The payphone in the hallway rings, and someone yells my name out.  I say "hello", and the voice on the other end is comforting, yet panic inducing at the same time.  It is my husband, Chad.  He tells me that he will be coming that evening during visiting hours to see me.  I am filled with both happiness and dread.  I have no idea what he is going to say to me.  Regardless, I can't wait to see him, and I wonder if I can convince him to take me home.  When I hang up the phone, I am told that it is group time again.  The familiar looking Bingo man is the one leading the group and he tells us to grab a chair, that we are going outside.  It is a nice sunny day, and my transition glasses immediately shade over.  Everyone seems to want to comment on this, but I just want them to look away.  I concentrate on the face of the Bingo man again.  I swear that I know him.  I find myself wanting to figure out how I know him, but also wanting to make sure that he doesn't know me.  I would die if someone I knew were to find out I was here.  I keep staring at him until he looks my way, at which point I quickly look away.  Not awkward at all.  Does he look like a movie?  Does he sound like a song?  Oh gosh, does he remind me of when I was young?  (Don't judge-I was an Adele fan long before it was cool to be an Adele fan).  I glance at his name badge when he is not looking.  Man...that name sounds familiar.  All of the sudden, my stomach drops.  He was a teacher at my high school.  I think to myself that maybe he will not recognize me or my name.  Chippewa tells another outrageous story, and everyone laughs, including me this time.  We are once again scolded and reminded that this is a "safe place" to say anything we need to say.  When group is over, we sit outside and talk.  The teacher looks over the names on his list again and notices my last name.  He then begins asking me if I am related to different people.  He knows my family. 
After dinner comes visiting hour.  I head back to my room and get ready for my visit...which includes wetting my hair and putting my tooth in.  Side note:  I had just undergone Phase One of a dental implant surgery a couple of months prior to this hospital stay.  One of my front teeth had been removed, and I had to wear a flipper.  Surprisingly, the facility could not provide me with Fixodent.  So, most of my time in the psych ward was spent braless and toothless.  
I walk to the dining room to wait for Chad.  My stomach is full of butterflies, but I am glad to have a visitor.  He walks into the room, stops dead in his tracks, and just stares at me.  He sits down at the table.  There is an awkward silence, and then I ask how the kids are doing.  We make small talk, and then he gets serious.  He tells me that he just wants me to get help, and that he will stand beside me, but just this once.  He promises me that if I don't get clean, he and the kids will be forced to kick me out.  I know that he means business, so I forego the idea of begging him to take me home.  I tell him that my nurse has just informed me that I will get released the following day.   He says that he and one of my friends will be picking me up to take me to the treatment facility.  I'm still not sure that I'm going to go, but I don't tell him that.  As we are talking, a patient that I haven't seen before comes running down the hallway screaming.  She has long, black, frizzy hair, and she is flipping out.  When the nurses chase her, she starts to take her clothes off.  They eventually sedate her and carry her back to her bed.  After that, Chad doesn't stay long, and he hugs me and says good-bye.  As he is getting ready to leave, I introduce him to my new friends.  He gives me the most skeptical look I have ever seen.  He doesn't say anything, but his eyes say, "You better not be giving your phone number to these people." 
Side note:  He later tells me that after he was checked in, the nurse walked him into the visiting room (aka the dining room) and asked if he saw me.  He was so frightened by the look on my face that he almost said 'no' and left.  He said that I looked crazy.  And to think I put my tooth in for him.  
I walk back into the TV room, and my 'friends' comment that it appears my visit went well.  I tell them that it did.  I ask if I can change the television to a show rather than these music videos.  They oblige, and I find an episode of Law & Order: SVU followed by Modern Family.  This makes the time pass much more quickly than listening to 80's rock.  We start up another game of Euchre and Sally decides to join us this time.   We play for hours, and then Sally says she is starting to feel kind of sick and gets up to go to bed.  After she leaves the room, UK guy tells his friend he should try to get fixed up with Sally.  Chippewa has joined the game and the conversation at this point, and she, once again, declares her undying love for UK guy.  We finish the last game, and I get up to head to bed.  I feel tired and think that I might be able to sleep a little tonight.  
When I get into the room, Sally is sound asleep.  I tiptoe around so that I don't wake her.  She doesn't look so good.  I try my hardest to fall asleep, but despite my best efforts, sleep doesn't come.  I simply lie and ruminate over the events of the past week.  The manic female from earlier this evening is in the room beside me, and I still hear her screaming and crying.  She curses at anyone who comes near her.  They continue to sedate her, but as soon as she wakes up, she is screaming and crying again.  I am completely frightened.  Male nurse is back, and he comes in throughout the night to check on both of us.  He keeps having to wake Sally and sit her up because her vitals are so low.  She fights him, but when he tells her that she can't get her meds if she doesn't sit up, she finally agrees.  Morning slowly arrives and I figure it is probably around seven o'clock.  Sally is still asleep, even though all of the sheets and blankets are thrown off of her bed.  I leave the room and head to the dining room.  Everyone asks me where Sally is, and I tell them that she doesn't seem to be feeling well.  We eat breakfast, talk for a little bit, and I head back to my room.  When I walk into our room, I see Sally standing there looking frantic.  She is digging through all of the drawers and throwing stuff everywhere.  I calm her down and ask her what the problem is.  She tells me that she had been hiding her Suboxone strips when the nurses gave them to her so that she could take them all at once.  She starts taking her clothes off thinking that maybe they dropped down into her shirt or pants.  She still can't find them and she starts looking all over the room.  She swears that she put them in the drawer beside her bed.  I tell her that I definitely didn't take them.  She assures me that she doesn't think I did.  She suddenly realizes that maybe they have dropped under the bed.  The bed can't be moved, so she takes her sheet and starts sweeping it under the bed and pulling it back out.  The sheet brings out a bunch of dust, dirt, and trash...but no Suboxone.  She is pale, sweaty, and shaky, and she asks if I can help her.  I stand for a minute and try to decide what to do.  I finally say, "What can I do to help you?"  I know the misery she is feeling, and I want her to be out of it.  She asks if I can lift up the bed while she looks underneath it.  The bed is bolted to the wall and to the floor, but the bolts have loosened somewhat over the years, so I can get it about an inch off the floor.  I keep lifting the bed while she looks.  I tell her to hurry, that I am scared a nurse will walk in while we are doing this.  I have to keep sitting the bed back down because it is so heavy and is hurting my hands.  We try this multiple times, with no luck.  When I look down at my hands and see that they are blistered, bruised, and bleeding, I tell her it is time to give up.  She crawls back into her bed, and I head to the shower.  When I get out of the shower, I check on Sally again and find that she is burning up and nauseous.  I get wet washcloths to put on her head and a trash can for her to vomit in.  I sit on the edge of her bed and stare at her.  I think back to the previous day, when I was sitting on my bed reading the Gideon Bible and she asked if she could join me.  She plopped down on my bed and asked what we were reading.  I was reading in the book of Psalms and she asked if we could read out loud.  After every verse, she wanted me to explain it to her.  Sally really seemed to enjoy this.  She said that she had not read a Bible since she was a little girl in Sunday School class.  Only I would be having a Bible Study in the psych ward.  I think back to how Sally told me about a car accident that changed her life.  She had been a really good kid in high school.  Good grades, cheerleader, involved in sports, and rarely in trouble.  She had a car accident only six months prior to her admittance here.  This car accident nearly took her life and broke several vertebrae in her back.  This got her addicted to pain killers, which grew into a heroin addiction.  Addiction very rarely surprises me, but I was blown away that her life had spiraled out of control so quickly. I think back to how Sally has told me that she plans to go to treatment when she leaves here.  I know that she is lying to me, as well as to herself.  I can see it in her eyes.  
The nurse gives me my clothing back as well as the other things that I brought with me so that I can get ready to leave.  I try to look as presentable as possible, and begin to pack my stuff into a little plastic bag.  I notice a letter on my side of the desk.  It is from Sally.  She is wishing me luck and telling me that she is going to get clean as well.  I stand beside her bed and hope with everything inside of me that she one day does...before it is too late.  Side note: There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about Sally.  I wonder if she got her life back, if she was reunited with her family.  Some days, though, I'm more afraid than I am hopeful that Sally's life was taken by this evil beast.  
I finish getting ready and sit on the bed patiently (not so much) waiting for Chad and my friend to pick me up.  The nurse who smells like flowers comes into the room and tells me that my ride is here.  I ask her if she can please keep a close eye on Sally, and I stand up.  I take one more look around the room...the room where I hit rock bottom, and I shut the door behind me.  I exit through the same wooden doors that I entered into just a few days before, and I see my husband and friend standing there.  I hug each of them, and we turn to walk out the door.  
It is in this moment that I realize one thing.  My journey is just beginning, and it is far from over.