Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Some of these things I covered in my last blog entry but that was back in the fall of 2019. I have been focusing on my health since then but I am finally picking back up the pen and want to share with you more details of how I became a drug addict and what that addiction period was like...
When I was in the hospital at the end of 2017 I had 6 surgeries. I spent 12 days in the ICU and a month in the hospital. I received Dilaudid intravenously every 15 minutes. Dilaudid is a brand name for the drug Hydromorphon which is significantly stronger than morphine and causes an instant effect similar to heroin. When I got out of the hospital I was bedridden for several months and was prescribed Oxycodone for the pain.
I will always be grateful for those pain medications because the pain of my injuries was so severe that I could never be able to describe them in words. It was pure horror. However when you are in a busy trauma hospital in Memphis there is NO education about what they are actually giving you. Not only was I in severe pain but I was also filled with sheer terror. Each surgery took a tremendous toll both physically and mentally. Worrying about whether I would survive and wondering what my life would be like afterward. I was so scared I remember promising myself that if I got out of there I would never leave my house again.
But here’s the thing…. the pain medication took away my pain and almost as importantly it quieted my mind. It took away a lot of the fear, terror and extreme anxiety. It felt like such a blessing.
But can you imagine going from a healthy, active person who has never taken pills to all of a sudden being injected with heroin?? These drugs are physically and mentally addictive and when you stop taking them you get violently ill. Imagine having the worst flu, fever, freezing, shaking, sweating and constant diarrhea days and days on end. You can literally die so you have to be weaned off of them.
When months later I had to be weaned off I had NO CLUE what I was in for. I was so UNAWARE. No one shares all this with you so having not dealt with this before I was completely unprepared. All I knew was that my body was no longer my own. And neither was my brain. No longer did the drugs give me comfort or lessen my anxiety. I needed them to get out of bed. My body literally shut down without them. I had unknowingly become an addict.
I was so embarrassed. I was so lost in a world where only I existed. I felt completely alone. I had no idea there were other people out there struggling like I was. I had no idea there was help for people like me.
And the bad thing is that once you are addicted to opioids you need more and more just to be able to function. You no longer get high from the drugs. You simply need them for your body to work. Your entire system is addicted to these drugs. And you lose all self esteem. You loathe yourself. You are trapped in hell.
My husband knew to some extent what was going on with me because after the mowing season was over in October of 2018 (I didn’t want to burden him when he was working 12 hour days during the busy summer season) I took him to a therapist and I shared with them both that I had been unable to stop taking the medicine when I had been “cut off” in late spring. I had found a VA program online describing in detail how Veterans who have been through trauma and addiction are treated to get off the same drugs I was on. With the help of Ty and my therapist we followed the program at home. I put my heart and soul into it and by December I was down to a very small dosage and as a reward Ty took me to Norway at the end of that month (December 2018/January 2019). It was the happiest I had been in the 13 months since my accident. He got to meet my family and see the beautiful country I’m from and I treasure those days in my heart every day.
But when spring came and he started working again I relapsed. The anxiety that has always been in my body had quadrupled after my accident and I fell back into the drug nightmare. I was way too embarrassed to tell Ty and didn’t want to disappoint him - this man had done SO much for me (changed my diapers, given me baths, carried me for months when I couldn’t walk) and he worked so hard to provide for us and his family.
I tried several times to quit on my own but I got so violently ill. And each time I picked it back up I needed more. I spiraled downhill. I was so, so skinny. I weight 119 lbs when my normal weight is 140 lbs (I’m 5’9). When I look back at pictures now I cry for that lost person I see.
If you are unaware of how addiction works (like I was) you don't realize that each time you pick it back up you spiral double as quickly. I am retired from a long career in banking as an Executive and Chief Financial Officer. Hence; I have (or had) a sizable retirement account. This was how I was able to hide my addiction and feed it. I would make early distribution withdrawals and no one knew about it.
The last time I tried to quit I went home to Norway for three weeks in July of 2019. By the time I arrived back in Memphis I was desperate and called my drug dealer immediately. This failure was the straw that broke the famous camels back. It broke me. I realized there was no way out for me and I was so low I felt like everyone would be better off without me in their life. I was ready to die. On September 16th 2019 I turned off my phone, got in the truck, and ran away to Memphis where I holed up in a hotel ready for death to take me.
… to be continued “Survival” coming up next.