Saturday, June 27, 2015

Back To Work We Go

On Thursday Darlene went back to work. Still sore, but the trouper she is, up at 5am because getting out of bed is much slower and getting dresser is much more of a chore.

She said she was greeted warmly with welcomes and hugs. Right now a big hug is not her favorite thing. At lunch I text her to see how she was doing and her comment was, "I miss my ice packs."

This next work week will only be four days and then a holiday.

Medically she is doing great. A week ago she went in for her first "fill". That is when they use a big needle and syringe to inject saline solution into her expander's. I didn't go with her, she had her sister for comfort. From what I hear it was not a pleasant experience. In fact I seem to recall her words were, "It hurt like hell."

Ever the efficiency expert with a wealth of ingenious ideas I wondered why they didn't just put a valve stem in them and I could use my air compressor to blow them up to whatever size I need.  LOL

There will be appointments each month until probably October for fills. Then she will have surgery were the expander's are removed and the implants are put in place.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day

On this Father's Day there are a lot of us that have lost our fathers, some long ago and some not so long ago. While we remember and miss our dad's let us not forget there are others with a hole in their heart.

There are many Father's that have lost their child.

As we remember and miss our fathers on this special day let us not forget the pain of those fathers that miss a child.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Life Goes On

Hello everyone, Darlene is doing wonderfully. It's just a matter of time and doctors now.

Alex is still plugging along and all the kids are moving forward.

For me it's not so good right now. Can't exactly talk about what's going on, family is great but every day I feel like a piece of my soul is taken from me. I will share when I can much later.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Doctors Thumb Through Papers

Is there anything more frightening than watching a doctor thumb through papers in your file?

Darlene went to the doctor yesterday. This time the OB/GYN surgeon. The doctor looks at her handiwork and then picks up her file.

Page and study, page and study, page and study and a longer pause.........

Darlene, the pathology report is all here and the reports are negative and you have clear margins in all remaining tissue. All we need to do is wait for your surgery to heal and begin reconstruction.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Bandages and Scars

Went to the doctor yesterday for the first time since surgery. Everything is progressing just as it should.

What's it like to peel away the bandages? It's a beautiful thing.

Not for the squeamish. This is what it is like for a husband that has been playing nurse and caretaker for a week.

An elastic bandage wraps twice around Darlene's chest. It holds a four layer gauze bandage against her skin. The elastic bandage has two pieces of Velcro on it to hold it to itself. As the elastic bandage is loosened it loses the support for the gauze bandage and it slips, but does not fall because it sticks to the scars. Unthreading the bandage through the drain tubes being careful pull or catch the tubing that enters her skin.

Tossing the elastic bandage aside I slowly lift away the gauze bandage. Little threads stick to the scar and stitches holding in the drain tubes. Carefully I pull them away trying to be gentle.

Exposed is two big thick scars across her chest. The scars are red, swollen and wrinkled. Darlene will not look in the mirror. From her side are tubes coming out of her body. Draining liquid from inside her into bulbs dangling from her side. We clip these to her necklace so that they do not drop and hurt her.

The breasts that provided life to our three children as babies are gone. Nothing left to resemble what once was.

What is there now is the most beautiful part of Darlene. What is left is pure. It is beautiful. Those scars touch her heart. They are physical evidence of the love she has for her family.

We are all the sum of our parts but we must never forget that if something goes away it is not a subtraction from the whole unless we allow it to be.

The sum is the whole. Everyday we get a chance build on the whole because the most important part of the whole is not the physical.



(I'd post a picture but Darlene does not want to go that far.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

On The Mend

I don't know the psychological effect a surgery like this has on a woman but it is clear for me to see the physical effects.

This is a painful surgery. Darlene takes her pain pills but also uses ice packs when it is bad. The day she came home from the hospital the pain was pretty bad.

The doctor said during discharge, "Don't go home and sit down in a chair or recliner, it is not good and you will be sorry. Go straight to bed and use pillows to prop yourself up to be comfortable." Just like my little rebellious and non-compliant wife, she came in and sat down in a chair. Getting up out of a soft leather chair after surgery is not as simple as it is when you still have a full uncut chest.

After about 40 minutes we got up. Now it is time to tackle 13 stairs up to the bedroom. "He didn't know I had stairs, he didn't know I had 13 stairs", was the refrain being uttered through the tears.

Stair one elicited a moan, stair two brought forth verbalization's of the pain, three saw tears on her cheeks, at six, "I can't do this, I can't", through the tears falling on her arms holding her chest.

Now this is not a good place to be, six back to the bottom or seven to the top.

That brave and strong girl grimaced and cried through the pain. To the top of the mountain she climbed. It might as well been Mount Everest, the summit was achieved.

That girl deserves a better nurse but she got what she got in me.

Our daughters have been coming over regularly and have been godsend for us both. It helps that Erica is a registered nurse.

Three days in bed only getting up to pee and shower. It's hard on me trying to help without hurting. Taking off bandages to shower and putting new bandages on without hurting her is hard. Every stuck thread of gauze on her wound hurts me.

Today has been a day that sitting in a chair beside the bed has been possible. Tomorrow she wants to try the stairs. Hopefully, thirteen down on day five will be easier than thirteen up on day one.

Otherwise I think things are going as well as can be expected. back to the doctor on Friday.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Big Day

Yesterday was the big day. Today we are home.

Everything went well. The pathologist still have to do their analysis but during surgery they said the lymph nodes looked good.

Once again we have opiates in our home but they are legal this time.  LOL

Last night Darlene was in a lot of pain and had nausea. It was a rough night but she is better this morning. Truthfully I couldn't believe they say that a bi-lateral mastectomy is considered day surgery so she had to be out of the surgical center within 23 hours. I think the professionals, doctors and nurses, really don't run our health care system it is all bureaucrats at insurance companies.

Darlene is in good spirits, I'm trying to the best I can at being a good nurse but it is a struggle for BOTH of us.

10 minutes before they took Darlene in for surgery I snapped a picture.


Barbara and Annette thought that Darlene looked strong and courageous. They thought I looked scared to death. I didn't know it was so apparent.

I never forget, that she can always do better, I cannot.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Nurse Ron

Guess it's getting real. I got a lesson today from the nurse how to take care of the drains Darlene will have after the surgery. It won't be long now.

It's all so casual for those in the medical field. But it is all so personal for us in the family. The nurse was very caring and took all the time we needed and answered all the questions but she does it every day and this doesn't happen to us every day.

There is a sense of humor that you must have during this process. The last visit they showed us the different implants. It was explained about the difference between the expander and saline, silicone and "gummy bear" implants. It was strongly recommended and Darlene decided to use the gummy bears. So while the doctor is examining and talking to Darlene the nurse laughs and tosses me the implant samples, "Here's something for you to play with." The doc laughs, the nurse laughs, Darlene smiles, me I just started feeling up the implants. Like I said, laughing is better than crying.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

On Your Mind

I don't know exactly what Darlene is thinking, she is a normally quiet person. It's been a few weeks since we have learned what she must go through. Me, I'm more of a straight forward person.

Despite the prognosis, when a person you have been with for over 40 years is associated with the "C" word it weighs heavily on you. I have a confident belief in the doctors opinions. Even the oncologist says that it was caught very early, the surgery should take care of everything and with what is going to happen there may not even be a need for chemo or radiation. Darlene has been on Tomoxifen for over a year as a preventive measure for breast cancer due to her family history. The doctor says there may be a drug treatment afterwards but we have to wait on the pathology results.

However, there is still that fear in the back of your mind. I have seen what cancer can do just as probably most of us have felt its effects on a loved one.

I must learn to keep everything in perspective and trust my instincts.

I love that gal.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Rita Wilson and Darlene Grover

Darlene has had her iPad smoking. For a couple of weeks she has been researching everything she can on breast cancer and her upcoming surgery.

Tonight she is watching videos of Rita Wilson and reading about her surgery. She just learned that Rita Wilson just had the same surgery as she is to have next month. Cancer does not discriminate. No matter if you are a famous actress or a software quality analyst we can all suffer from the same diseases and anxieties about what the word cancer means to a person and I assume the same drama of  a life altering or should I say a life saving surgery.

Never thought I'd hear Ron Grover and Tom Hanks used in the same sentence. She was comparing Tom Hanks and I. She said, "Tom Hanks and you have something in common. I like you both."

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Boobs and Breast Cancer

Since January 2009 this blog has been focused on parenting an addict. Everything was written from our personal experience. Over this time we learned many lessons, some of them valuable and some very painful. Through it all we always tried to remain focused on a simple question, "What have I learned?" That simple mission is much harder than it seems.

Many of you faithful readers have seen I write less and less. There isn't the drama in our life from drugs and addiction as it was once. We stay involved in the community and I still answer emails and calls. My mission to help others remains strong but for the time being, I don't know for how long, the subject of my blog will change.

The title will remain the same however I will work to find ways to match search links to another subject in addition to drugs, parenting and addict and addiction.

The posts on our blog will now be focused on another member of our family.

"Mom" aka Darlene has been diagnosed with a large tumor and five small tumors in her breast.

One tumor about the size of a thumbnail and there are 5 other very suspicious looking small tumors. In the opinion of two doctors, "Of course, without a biopsy we cannot be sure the large tumor is malignant but all indications from the MRI leads to that conclusion by both of us. The 5 smaller spots are very suspicious and I am very wary of those spots. With your family history, we should look at a complete mastectomy as soon as possible."


The beast of cancer is a family nemesis. The women in mom's family have all fought this battle, breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Most have lost their fight. Mother's, Aunts, cousins; they fought and lost, all gone way too early in life, gone carrying a heart full of love.

Due to a very troubled family history Darlene had a genetic test done and she came back negative for the BRKA gene but positive for the CHEK2 gene. Genetically, this is not good. In fact the results came back as a 26-48% chance of breast or colon cancer after the age of 60 and with each successive 5 years of life the percentage rising. Darlene is 57 now.

Today mom's sister is fighting her own battle. She was a 9 year breast cancer survivor but the beast attacked again. On March 25 we celebrated with an "End of Chemo" party for her sister. The chemo is done, now the wait.

On Tuesday, March 24 Darlene went in for an MRI. With her family history mammograms are regular every 6 months but the doctors say they are not enough, MRI's and Ultrasounds are also a part of the diagnostic toolbox. On Thursday, March 26 the day after her sisters celebration the cancer doctor called with an urgency in his voice. The MRI did not show a clear and clean picture. A "mass" was discovered that wasn't there last October during her last mammogram. Darlene's instructions were to call her OB/GYN surgeon immediately. On the following Monday she went to see the OB/GYN doctor. The news was not good.

Today mom had a doctor appointment today with a plastic surgeon. The OB/GYN surgeon and the plastic surgeon must coordinate their schedules for Darlene. 

Soon, in the middle of May, Darlene will be suffering the physical and emotional pain of a complete mastectomy of both breasts. At that time we will know if the tumors are cancerous. 

If the tumors are malignant then other appropriate treatments with be employed, chemo, radiation of whatever the doctors recommend. If they are benign then we can rest assured that the beast of breast cancer will not be a threat the rest of her life.

Darlene will have all the love of a family around her that she can stand but once again we are in a place of very little knowledge and no experience.

The lessons of parenting an addict will serve us well. We learned to appreciate each day what we have instead of living a life bemoaning about what we don't. 

You all know Dad, aka Ron, a recovering control freak. I may be tested but I will not break. Hopefully all of you that supported us in the past can find it in yourself to once again support us on another unknown journey.

Darlene and I have decided to be completely open about this journey just as we learned to be about our last journey. We will continue to chronicle our journey on this blog with hopes that every woman reading this will always perform their self checks and get regular mammograms. For every man reading this we hope you will remind those women in your life that you love them and to make sure they are checked often and regularly. 

If you are reading and searching for support about parenting and addict, you are not alone, we are still here for you. If you are searching for support about breast cancer and how this family is coping, we are not alone either.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

The War on Drug ADDICTS

Just a short update on the family. Everything is going well. Each of us sleep soundly at night. I am at a new job, Darlene is happy at her job. Alex is doing well, going to school, and training on his job as an industrial technician, with PLC programing and robotics. All of this has given me time to think.

My deliberations may be construed as political but I'd love to have someone explain to me how what we are doing is working.

The War on Drugs was formalized by President Richard Nixon in 1971. Since that time our nation has been hell bent on eradicating drugs. What we have been doing has NOT worked. I have come to realize our War on Drugs has been in reality a War on Drug Addicts.

If we truly were fighting a war on drugs we wouldn't be pouring over 80% of our resources into law enforcement. A real war on drugs would see 80% of our resources put into eduction, rehabilitation and treatment. A War on Drugs would include research and mechanisms to ensure approved drugs cannot be used illegally and could not enter the market until that was ensured. That would be a war on drugs. Reduce or eliminate the need and desire, in turn that reduces drug usage.

The way we have been fighting our War on Drugs since the 1970's and before has been a miserable failure.

The same applies to our War on Poverty. President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty in 1964. Since that time we haven't fought a War on Poverty. We have been fighting a War on Poor People. It's well known what it takes for people to escape poverty. Good educational programs and schools, opportunity and livable wage jobs. A effective War on Poverty would include a minimum wage that lifts people to a livable wage. A War on Poverty would involve improving our educational systems and making college affordable for the poorest or make it free. A War on Poverty would include a health care system that treats all people equally regardless of their financial ability to pay.

The way we have been fighting our War on Poverty since the 1960's and before has been a miserable failure.

How about our War on Terror? President George W. Bush declared a War on Terror in 2001. How effective have we been at that war. We are at war with people not like us. What are we doing to stop people not like us from using terrorism against us? We now have an entire terrorist state called ISIS. We are killing them and we are killing their families, relatives and friends. How does that encourage them to live in peace when we continue to kill their families and friends? Fighting a war on terror involves more than dropping bombs from drones. Fighting a war on terror involves finding out WHY people want to kill us and dealing with the root cause rather than focusing on killing every terrorist in the world and HOPING none of them breed our recruit others to carry on their mission.

Maybe it is time as a nation to begin fighting our wars differently.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Live Long and Prosper

Goodbye, Mr. Spock.

As our childhood hero's age and pass it forces me to realize that none of us are forever.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

School Talks

Another two days of school talks wrapped up. It is refreshing for me to do these even if it is only make believe that I am helping. But in critical reflection I believe it is making a difference.

  • Students that have heard me talk in previous years come back to listen again, to be refreshed I was told by a student.
  • Students stand up to the stigma and share what it is like for them and their families.
  • Non-student guests come in to listen and then suddenly share their story and pain opening up with strangers.

I cannot measure or gauge the impact six years of speaking to students has had on our schools, community and students. I don't know if there empirical data points I can plot. However, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming, I have made an impact on individuals and that is the most important constituency I can touch.

You Are Not Alone, are sometimes the most important words you can say.

 
BREAKING THE STIGMA
 
BEATING THE MONSTER

Friday, February 20, 2015

What Will YOU Do If It Never Gets Better?

This is another re-post of an essay that asks a questions we all must ask our self. "What if it never gets better?"

Who has the nerve to not only ask the question but who has an answer. This is what a parent of an addict never wants to face. When we face this question we face our self. It is hard , it is scary, it is real.

Another great part of this post is all of the reader comments. My advice, link to the actual post and also read the comments.

What If It Never Gets Better?

What if it never gets better? I bet that is a question every parent of an addict has ask themselves, probably more than once.

I admit I no longer struggle day to day. Most of my time in dealing with addiction issues involves reflection. Playing Monday morning quarterback is my best position in sports so I have adapted it to life.

What if it never gets any better is that question of frustration. It's usually followed by a statement like, "I've done everything I know to do."

Lately I have been thinking about this question and it is still troubling. For a fixer like me what does that really mean, I failed? I'm not one to accept defeat. There is a fix, I just haven't gotten the right formula. That was always my answer. I always seemed to disregard the real answer because I never really accepted the premise of the question. My failure to accept reality that some never do get better caused me much heartache and much grief for my son.

The last few parents I have spoke with I have ask this difficult question. It's a hard question for me to ask because I know by the time someone would write me, a stranger, an e-mail based solely on this blog there is a desperation and hopelessness that I do personally understand very well. They aren't writing or calling to find someone to tell them give up, they are looking for an answer and sometimes just someone to talk too.

Not until the last six months of Alex's active using did I learn what I needed to know and understand the first six weeks. Understanding and dealing with addiction isn't about the addict.

Understanding and dealing with addiction is about dealing with a disease and yourself.

Granted I can't ask this question to someone that has been dealing with this six weeks but it is something we all need to answer. Put aside the anger, the fixer, the disappointment, the guilt, put aside the past. Don't try to analyze and understand ideas like powerless and acceptance. Make it simple, go off by yourself or with a close loved one.

What if it never gets better? 

What type of relationship do I want to have with my son/daughter/brother/sister/mother/ father/friend or whoever your addicted loved one happens to be? 

When you get to that answer it is easier to begin working on making your own life better despite the heartache you feel for your loved one.

Sometimes it is OK to have a one sided relationship. Life is give and take. Sometimes the scales do not balance no matter how hard you try. (thanks dad, you still speak to me even after 32 years gone.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Practicing Self Care

Just a short break from re-posting past essays.

Last year was a very stressful year in my life. Family issues, health issues, personal issues and work issues and even an accident that was very traumatic for me. All in all I am glad to see 2014 in my rear view mirror.

One of the changes I made in which I had control was my job. I left a job in January in which I had worked with the same people for 16 years. A new job was one step in which I did have control of in my life. For me that's a big step for someone 59 years old and looking forward to retirement. I did not retire I got a new job that I am excited about and making worthwhile changes.

So much of our lives we believe we can control. Especially for us control freaks we think we can not only handle anything we can control anything. This is a major personality issue for me. It is struggle for me to let go, always has been.

Slowly I have been learning the limits to my control. However, one of the things I thought I couldn't control is the very thing in which I had the most control. We all become secure in our lives and that includes our jobs and careers. Going to work and getting a paycheck each day is out of our control. YEA RIGHT!

Work is important to a person's psychological well being. It should not be the thing that is hurting your psychological well being.

I have a learned lesson late in life. That seems to be the time I have learned all my important lessons.

Lesson learned: Money is the easiest problem we have to solve. Each day we wake up and have a chance to make more of it. Every single day we get to make more of what we let cause our greatest stresses. Think of all the things that each day we wake up and whatever we missed we can never get back, like time and broken relationships.

Ron practicing a little self care.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Detaching With Love

As our son progressed in his addiction we did not. We struggled with first one thing and then another. We tried loving him well, negotiating away his addiction, throwing him out of the house, tough love and anything else heard that might be a fix. Nothing improved until we tried what we had be told in the beginning, take care of yourself first.

Boundaries and detaching are critical steps to understanding where we as loved ones fit in the whole disease and puzzle of addiction. Detaching with love is easy to say but the big question for each of us parents is HOW?

Below is another reprint. "Detaching With Love". Learning to detach is learning to establish boundaries.

I have received many comments and personal e-mails asking me to explain exactly what or how do you detach with love. The other day I was again ask for an example of exactly how do you detach with love and I answered with a typically philosophical answer. That evening it bothered me because here I was answering the question again and I am not being clear to what people are asking. It finally stuck me to use the KISS it methodology. (KISS, keep it simple, stupid)

So I wrote about when detaching, enabling, boundaries, values, rescuing and a whole bunch of other things began to click with my wife and I. Below is how one step by step transformation occurredfor us and our son.

My son shoplifted to support his addiction. Needless to say he got caught several times. The first few times when he was a minor we'd get a call to come pick him up and he'd get a ticket and we'd pay a big fine and take him to court services for his probation and take him to a psychologist. This went on for a couple years.

When he turned 18 he was no longer a minor and with his record they'd take him to jail. He'd make that phone call from jail, "Please come and bail me out. I'm never going to do this again." Off we'd go. After a while this was getting expensive and no one was learning their lesson. I mean, Darlene and I were not learning our lesson. ;-) and by the way neither was our son. We were doing the same thing over and over, and our son was doing the same thing over and over, nothing was changing. He'd make the same promises, we'd take the same action and we couldn't understand why HE kept using!

This is where the idea of detaching and setting boundaries started with us. We are no longer going to pay bail. As a mom and dad it is very hard to think of your child sitting in jail. In Jackson County, MO jail he witnessed a person get stabbed. The food is universally bad at all jails, without money on your books you can't even get a toothbrush to brush your teeth, he had food stolen and had to fight at times for his food, spent 2 days in solitary for defending himself against another inmate that attacked him. Some jails they put the crazies in with the criminals like rapists and murderers, in with the drug addicts, makes no sense to me.

It's hard to think of yourself as being a loving parent when you know that for just a few hundred dollars we could get him out of those situations, but if you don't pay the bail are you really a loving parent? Finally the day comes when you don't pay the bail money. Once we let him sit in the Johnson County Resort for 11 days because we wouldn't post a $50 bond. Sounds mean doesn't it?

This is about detaching with love and not enabling.Your boundaries must match your values. It works for us this way. Overriding all is the value that we love our son. When you sit down to think about and discuss boundaries this goes at the top of the page. Every single boundary is tested against that value.

Another value we hold close and taught our kids, Stealing is wrong. Stealing carries consequences and it should. Bailing him out removes or minimizes the consequences. Contrary to our values we were bailing him out. But we hated what he was exposed to in jail. However, we had established a pattern, he got caught, he called, we jumped with cash in hand. It's not fair to change the rules without telling all the parties.

So Darlene and I sat down a determined where we would go and where we would no longer go. This began to establish our boundaries. You will never cover all of the situations, you just cover what you can and know that once you learn how to judge behaviors and rescuing against what it is you believe inside the exercise becomes easier and more natural.

Then you must sit down with your child, an addict that may or may not be high at the time and explain where you will no longer go with him. In fact you can even start each sentence with, "Because we love you........... we can no longer bail you out of jail. All your life we taught you that stealing was wrong and you know that in your heart so we cannot support your actions by bailing you out of jail when you do something you have been taught all your life is wrong. I hope you understand this and can accept our decision."

Each boundary that we had discussed the conversation went like that. Our son hated it when we turned off the TV and ask him to sit down at the table to talk. This satisfied our need to tell him our expectations and it told him what to expect from us. Yes, he still called begged, pleaded and cried from jail but what we had been doing in the past didn't work and was bad for us and him. We had to change the rules, but that didn't mean we loved him less. It meant we loved him more because it hurt us terribly to let him sit in jail.

Even with his begging and pleading we were still able to sleep at night and have a moment of down time. He was in jail and we knew jail was safer than being on the street shooting more heroin. We then began to see jail as "protective custody."

We detached from Alex's crimes and actions, we did not detach from him. We still loved him, took some of the $10 for 10 minute collect calls from jail. On those calls we always ended with that we loved him and please help yourself. We were doing all we could and all we knew to do. Detach from the actions, crimes, drug use, lying and every other terrible thing a drug addict does to himself and others. Love and support the person inside not the addiction controlling the life.

Does this help explain what detaching with love and how it works for us? Then you begin applying the same formula to all other areas in your relationship with your addicted loved one.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

7 Truths About My Addict That Took 5 Years To Learn

It is a different life today than when our son was in seven years of active addiction. Our son got clear and sober in July 2010. I have writing this blog for over 5 years. I am going to reprint some of my posts that helped me the most and seemed to have a good effect for readers. Hope this helps new parents living this nightmare.
I feel deep empathy toward parents just beginning the terrible journey of their child’s drug addiction — and those facing the turmoil of a next step: rehab, incarceration, dislodging the addict from the family home. These are still open and fresh wounds for my wife and me.
Following are seven hard lessons we’ve learned in our journey, all of which we denied in the beginning. We fought with ourselves and with each other about these things. It didn’t matter who was telling us the truth, we knew better, after all he was our son. We have come to accept these truths and now it is much easier to deal with the heartache and we’ve become more effective helpers for our son/addict.
1. Parents Are Enablers

We love our sons and daughters. We would do anything to remove the pain. Take away the addiction. Smooth the road. We’d give our life if it would help. I once wrote a letter to my son about using drugs. I used the analogy of him standing on the railroad tracks and a train (drugs) is blasting down the tracks and blaring its horn but he hears nothing. I told him it was my job to knock him out of the way and take the hit, that’s what fathers do. I understand now, I was wrong. All that would do would leave me dead on the tracks and he would be standing on another set of tracks the next day.
We raised our children the best way we knew how. At some point they made decisions that set them down this path. We can only support them and provide them opportunities to make another decision. This is a hard one. That is why at times sponsors, recovering addicts, police officers, probation officers, corrections officers, pastors, counselors can all do a better job than we can in showing our addict the correct path. That is difficult because no one loves our addict like we do but we cannot do what they need when they need it.
2. I Cannot Fix This

This goes to what I wrote above. This is a problem only our addict can fix. A concept such as this is very hard for me to accept because I try to fix everything. No one is allowed in our addict’s mind except them. They are the only ones that can decide to do something about this. This will not end until they decide to end it. Parents trying to make that decision for them only results in failure and frustration.
3. My Addict Is A Liar

Addicts will say anything to hide their addiction and take any action to mask the problem. I honestly believe at the time they do not even realize they are lying, they just say whatever they think you want to hear. I believe they have motives in this to seek approval and to give us pride. I believe addicts do not like themselves or what they are doing but at some point they can see no door out. Their only mechanism for survival is to seek somekind of approval through lying, even if they know they will be busted. I believe it offers a similar instant gratification as drugs. I think even a smile of approval from a loved one shoots off those chemicals in the brain that gives them a different high, even if it lasts only a couple seconds. When my addict tells me he is not using I really don’t hear it. I tell him often, “My eyes can hear much better than my ears.” Just as we seek evidence of their using, we must seek evidence of their NOT using. Do not rely on faith that they are not using because they told you.
4. My Addict Is A Criminal

Symptoms of this disease include illegal behavior. That is why he is incarcerated. Face up to it, Dad and Mom. He has done things wrong and he must pay the price, as they say, his debt to society. It does no good to bad mouth the police, the judge, the jail, the lawyers they did not put him there. He put himself there. When we see others on TV and in jail we think about how much they deserve to be there but our babies aren’t like them. We can justify and separate the wrongs by misdemeanor and felony but those are legal terms. The long and short of it, my addict has done things that got him put in there and he must pay.
5. Others Don’t Want Them Around
 
That is OK. He has wronged many people. We are the parents, it’s called unconditional love. It is not wrong for friends, brothers, sisters, grandparents, relatives to have their own feelings and pain about this situation. Some families have great support and no one abandons the addict, some people decide they do not want the trouble of an addict in their life. That is OK. We all get to make the choice and there is no wrong choice, it is just a choice by those people.
6. Life Will Not Be The Same

At 5 years old my son thought he was Michelangelo of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Running around the house with an orange bandanna tied around his head brandishing plastic weapons fighting evil and the bad guys. When we look at our addicts we see that 5 year old and mourn the loss and try anything we can to get them back. My addict is now a 21-year-old man. He is every bit an adult with at times a child’s maturity. But our world recognizes chronological ages, not maturity levels. Parents must do that too. I believe Michelangelo is lost inside of him. Those that are lost sometimes find their way back, but some do not. I can grieve this loss but it will not help him or us to move forward. An addict does not live in the past or the future. An addict lives in the here and now, if you want to help your addict you must live in the same world he does.
7. Homelessness May Be The Path He Chooses

Mom works in downtown Kansas City. When you drive down there you see homeless people with signs and some of them living under the bridges. They are dirty and hungry. They very likely are addicts, alcoholics or suffer from a mental illness. The one common denominator for all of these men and women living alone and homeless is that at some point in their life they had people that loved them. They are sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends to someone. That doesn’t change their situation. They made choices that got them to this point. They can make other choices, and there are people and organizations to help them change. The key is, they must make the decisions. If our son makes the decision to live this way, it will hurt me terribly but he will do this until it is time for him to change, I cannot change him or those circumstances. It will not help him for me to give him a bed in my home if he continues to live the lifestyle.
Why is This Important?

We struggled mightily against these truths, fought with every ounce of strength. We lost our fight. We have accepted what we wished was not true. My learning is: until you understand the truth you cannot find peace within yourself or really be able to help your addict. Accepting the truth is what allows you to help your addict by helping yourself.
I do not hate my son for using drugs and putting all of us through this pain. I hate the things he does. I hate the lying, the stealing, the using. I love my son very much, I hate his ways. It is perfectly okay to separate the two.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Driving While High/Stoned/Drunk

Everyone knows the danger of driving while intoxicated, high or stoned. Maybe just call it driving under the influence, no matter the intoxicant.

As a parent, we of course got our son a car when was in high school just as many other parents do every day. He was a good student and we wanted him to have the chance to be mobile and date. We were good parents.....????

What happens when you get your child a car and you know they are addicted to drugs or alcohol? They will drive. They will drive under the influence. Do not fool yourself dad and mom, it will happen.

Just like us, they will drive that car you technically own. Your name is on the title, the insurance is likely in your name. Your child is under 18, or maybe that car is in your name when your adult addicted child is driving under the influence.

What difference does it make? I can't stop them from using, I can't stop them from driving under the influence.

My story, my son drove under the influence. I began to realize one day he was going to have a serious accident under the influence of drugs. The car was titled to me. He was over 18 years old and driving a car titled to me and the insurance was in my name. I knew he was an addict and I knew he was PROBABLY driving under the influence.

What if he had an accident and hurt himself or hurt someone else? I knew he was driving under he influence. How much ownership did I have if he did hurt someone? How much of it did I own financially and morally?

I come to the realization that morally I would suffer long if he hurt someone. I owned that, I knew he was an addict and I gave him the keys, even though he was not using at the time, it was "his" truck.

What would my financial liability be if he hurt someone seriously and the vehicle and insurance was in my name and I knew he was an addict? For me, I am not an attorney, but it isn't a stretch to see an attorney putting financial culpability on my actions and negligence.

Dad and Mom, what should you do if your child is addicted to drugs and driving "your" vehicle?

What I did was take MY vehicle back. Told my son that I could not allow him to expose me to that much risk if he was using drugs and driving under the influence. I was NOT prepared to risk losing my retirement, IRA, house and everything I own because he was driving under the influence and I knew he did that regularly. I told him I could not live with myself if he killed or hurt someone seriously while he was driving under the influence.

He wasn't being punished. I established my own boundaries. I didn't say YOU can't drive my car. I said I would not assume that risk of him driving my car. "I" means boundary, "You" means rule. I established a boundary, I would not allow someone that I know that drives under the influence to drive a car I owned and put me at risk, morally and financially.

Took the truck away and it sat parked for two years until I sold it. I told my son he could buy the truck from me simply by coming up with the money to have titled in his name and to do that he needed to buy insurance and pay property taxes. We all know if an addict can  scrape up that much money it isn't going to the county and state to register a vehicle.  LOL

Do your want real evidence my scenario and logic is real then read this article published in The Kansas City Star on Wednesday January 28, 2015.


"Family of Man Hit by Teen Driver Sues, Cites Drinking Issue".


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

January 20, 2009

I just read that Annette posted about her hitting the mark of 800 blog posts. Congratulations Annette, thank you for sharing your life and wisdom.

Her post made me remember that my blog recently celebrated an anniversary. On January 20, 2009 I began writing this blog.

When I think back I recall why I began writing. I began writing because there was nothing left for me to try. I had gone to counseling, rehab, gone to Nar-Anon, NA, AA, and Al-Anon meetings, I had talked to friends and talked, screamed and cursed at my beautiful wife, nothing worked for ME. I began writing to save my life.

The lesson learned for me was that each of us must keep working to find our own answers for ourselves. Writing was my answer.

Six years later, thank you all for reading. Thank you all for commenting. I owe you all a debt that can never be repaid.

There are people reading this blog since I began writing. I know there are parents just now finding that they are not alone in this terrible journey. For all of us we do what we must and hope that peace can find us in some way. I hope that in some way I have shared my experiences that have helped someone.

I don't know what the future holds. Today my son is clear and sober. There was a day when we did not believe there was hope. Do not write the end of the story until the story is finished.

Where there is life there is hope.