One Woman’s Battle & Her Desire To Help Others

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I’ve battled prescription pill addiction since I was 21 years old. I am now 40 years old now and not sure why I’m still here to talk about it. At age 21, my son was almost three years old and I was four months pregnant with my second child. I was so happy that I was pregnant with a beautiful little girl. Before my pregnancy, I was rushed for emergency surgery on my gallbladder. After surgery, the doctor started me on medication just as with any surgery. When I went home, I started to get really sick. I was literally crawling and my husband had to pick me up off the floor. I went back to the doctor and I found out that I needed to be transported to UAB Hospital in Birmingham. It was an emergency transport. I wasn’t so scared for me, but mainly for my little “miracle child.” She was the most important thing. During the pregnancy, because of the surgery, I was having to take pain medications and they were strong ones. When I was transported to UAB Hospital, they found that I had been leaking bile from my stomach for six weeks because my bile duct had been cut during surgery and I had been sewn back up before it was repaired. I had to have a bag placed on my outside to divert the bile and I had to have reconstructive surgery to repair the damage. When I delivered my baby girl, I had the bags still on me. My daughter was early, but because of God’s grace, she wasn’t addicted to pills like so many are. We were lucky in that aspect. Unfortunately, the toll it took on my body made it the beginning of my battle with prescription medications.

What some don’t understand is that pills can take control of your entire life. For those who have never been controlled by an addiction, it’s difficult to explain. The mommy that was getting in the floor playing cars with my son changed. It was already taking control. Pills affect relationships. They affect your family. My first marriage ended in a divorce. It was especially challenging by this time, because I now had four children and I was only 24. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to do it. In 2003, I remarried. In 2004, I was rushed backed to UAB Hospital due to the fact that I was bleeding internally. Once again, I had to have bags to drain the fluid. They literally told my new husband and my daddy that I wasn’t going to make it. Can you imagine how my husband and father felt? My family doctor told them that his team had done all they could. At that time, I had strength and I wasn’t going to leave my children. That wasn’t a option. The next couple days was a roller-coaster. My husband left to go check on my oldest son. That day, things were bad. I remember there was a nurse who was retiring that day. When I told her that I was dying, she replied, “I’m going to do all I can. You’re not dying on my last call.” It’s crazy. I literally felt some kind of higher power. I had 50 or more blood transfusions before I finally was able to go home and be a momma. At the time, I believe I was a pretty good one. I was drug-free. I didn’t need pain medications at this point.

In October 2006, my life became a crazy roller-coaster ride. It began when my family had a wreck and my arm was broken in half. I had to have emergency surgery to repair my arm. At that time, the doctor put me on even stronger pain medicine. I came out of surgery with flipped wrist and it took another five surgeries to repair it. This is when my true addiction started. What I want anyone out there who is reading this to know is that our circumstances don’t define us. We can change it! Do you see how some of us end up on these types of medications? It starts with some type of pain then, it takes a hold of you. I’ve been off this stuff for 13 days. Yes, only 13 days, but I honestly feel better than I’ve felt in years. I’m not going to say that I won’t ever be weak, I will be. This will be a lifelong battle. I’m sure going to try to find the strength I once had to live. Honestly, it is a battle to live. This is about my longevity. If I want to be here for my children getting married and having children of their own and all the other milestones, I have to become an entirely different person. The pills truly defined me. I became a person that I haven’t liked for a long time. My mind/personality changed. I stayed mostly in the bed in a dark room for two years. My best friend would come and help me, and I took her friendship and pushed it right out of my life. I was afraid. I pushed my daughter out of my life. I was hard on her about love, and I was overly protective, not allowing her to make her own decisions. At one point, I was probably taking around 200 pills and on Fentanyl. You name it and I had it.

In 2009, I lost a family member I was very close to who also had a pill addiction. I didn’t want to feel the pain of loss. Do you see what happens here? We start with small stuff, and it ends up being a very bad addiction. Recently, my best friend and my hero, my father, died from cancer. That was one of the worst tragedies of my life. From the moment I heard the diagnosis, I had to numb myself completely, and I did just that. It was so bad that for a few days I couldn’t even see my sweet father. I wasted time because I needed a hand full of pills! I hope he knew I loved him. He always worried about burying me first, and I honestly believed that I would go first. With my various health issues, it seems that every bone hurts all the way down to my feet. All I can do is tell you my story and, maybe, someone will take a closer look and ask themselves if they are happy with their relationships or are they lacking or pushing  friends away? Are they reading stories to their little ones? Are you paying attention to your kids or are you being toxic to everyone around you? I had a bag that I kept my medications in. A friend asked me why I stayed so close to that bag. Truthfully, because I felt like I had to have my medications close by. When we are addicted, our minds tells us to take another to get through whatever obstacles that come your way. I’ve had lots of hurt, but I’m alive and should not be. If you are on drugs, take a picture of yourself and see if you still look youthful and radiant or like death warmed over. One of my excuses for not looking my best was that I was going through withdrawals. I don’t know every excuse, but I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to go through that! Your best friend will truly be gabapentin (drug).

I’ve hurt all my loved ones and some are ashamed of my battle. It takes you back to the crutch. The drugs. That’s been my crutch. Many times, all I wanted was to be numb. I did not want to feel. My marriages were always lacking. I was way overprotective and overbearing. I was not the momma I should’ve been even when they thought the world of me. I hurt myself, but not only me. I hope anybody with any addiction will pay close attention to their life, if people are dropping out on you. Yes, it happens. If you’re losing loved ones, then you need to help yourself. Remember you are strong, and you can do anything, if you believe in yourself and keep God close. I’m here to tell you can’t do it all by yourself. I get it. It’s scary. I’m scared. I try to remember the key is to stay positive and keep the negative out of your life. No matter what it is, it’s easy to go back right where you started if you keep the negative around. If I had any kind of of stress at home or with anything, I went to the prescription bottle. The bottle is not your best friend. You may feel temporary relief, but it makes your body hurt way more. If this touches one person’s life then I will feel I have done something right. This sickness, my battle, has stolen so much of my life at this point. I’ve lost a lot, but nowhere near what my family can lose. No one wants to find their loved one dead. As I sit here, I wish I could go back and start all over. I’ve seen my daughter maybe four times since she left over a year ago. I don’t even know if she’ll spend thanksgiving with her family this year. If you are tormented by an addiction, take control of your life right now. Is it easy? No, but the truth is you and I are killing ourselves. You’ve got to take it day by day. Accept your mistakes. You can’t heal if you don’t fix those wounds. It will not be overnight, so don’t expect it to be. Everyone will not believe that you are healing and that’s okay. I know it will take time. My friends, my children and my husband, when I need them the most, they should have been my motivation. Instead, l pushed them out and that bottle of pills was my family, my heart, my everything. I didn’t care when so many said you’re going to die if you don’t do something. I believe that was a true statement. The pills kill you in every way possible. Be ever mindful that they do. They will destroy you. Be careful. I lost valuable time with my babies as they grew up. I can’t get those 20 years back. It’s gone. Even though some have discouraged me about sharing my story, I don’t believe you can really help anyone if you don’t share your experience. Something said may be the beginning of true healing in this wicked world. It’s also part of my own healing. I hope this will help someone. Obviously, I don’t have all the answers. I will be fighting this battle for the rest of my life.

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