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Los Angeles, California
I am 47 and thriving in Southern California. One day at a time.
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Monday, February 7, 2011

abstinence makes the heart grow fonder

last week, my friend, m, asked me if i ever crave fiorinol.

for those of you not up to speed, i overdosed on fiorinol last june, was admitted to cedars-sinai medical center, and k. convinced the e.r. psychiatrist not to 51-50 me.

[i hear, the more you talk about this stuff, the easier it gets. still talking.]

i told m. the truth.

[and the truth shall set you free]

the first time i migrained after june, (yes, once you've become a professional headache-r, like myself, all things noun become verb) i had a full-blown panic attack. all the literal bells and whistles. blinding lights, shaking booty and spinning top.

but, gone was my obsessive, insidiously possessive girlfriend. who cheated and lied her way into my heart like a bad, country song, but who i'd borrow clothes from and totally loved her hair.

[god, i miss her so much.]

i dreamed about fiorinol the other night. i took 2 pills from a huge bottle and immediately felt sick. withdrawal sick. i didn't want anymore, so i stored the bottle in our cabinets in north hollywood. i didn't take anymore and i didn't hide it, but i didn't throw it away.

sure, it was only a dream, but for me, this is progress.

they say timing is everything. so it's really no surprise that in the midst of all this, a request most apropos arrived from cedars. would i please sign an abstinence letter from the drug and alcohol rehab program? by signing, i would consent to abstain from all illegal drugs, all prescription drugs (not prescribed by my doctor), marijuana, all alcohol, nicotine and any over the counter medications (e.g. cold medicine) that contain alcohol? i would agree to random drug and alcohol testing, and if i did not say "how high", when they said "jump", i could lose my position on the transplant registry and be forced to return to rehab.

say WHAAA?

my first reaction was, "NO. absolutely not". how can i sign this?  how often will i get called? what if i can't get there? will they refuse me treatment if i have wine with dinner? how many years of random testing?

fluttery butterflies quickly spun into frantic moths; pricking my belly walls.

secondly, how can an institution hold me hostage within my own life? last time i checked, alcohol, cigarette smoking and medical marijuana is legal. i get it. in excess, it's not good for my health. but, why, then, isn't there an abstinence clause for donuts? surely the evils of refined, white sugar are up there with the reasons the health care system is overburdened with obesity and type 2 diabetes?

thirdly, not a one time after my overdose, was rehab suggested, inferred, mentioned or encouraged by the 2 psychs or dr. d.

so i mulled. realistically, i knew there was little chance this could ever be "enforced" or "policed" to any serious degree. this standard form, 90% of which did not apply to me, was clearly designed to secure their liability browser.

[and please, any addict worth their salt is not going to let a form letter stand in their way...]

but, i just couldn't sign a lie.

i, of course, recognize the terrible irony in "protesting too much". but, it wasn't having a drink i was trying to protect. it was having the choice.

at first, we were met with edgy resistance..."why, are you calling for henriette?"..."well, actually she is really sick now, and this is the last thing she needs"...

so there.

[i'll admit it. it's kinda great having your own personal champion.]

"well, that's fine for today, but she'll have to talk to psych."

so, she talked with psych. and psych didn't understand me, and i didn't understand psych.

it was like a flaccid game of frisbee. we kept throwing it back and forth to each other, but neither side was catching on.

"honestly, henriette. we've just never had anyone question this".

yes, well, you've never met henriette. (well, once. for 40 minutes.)

i'm the girl whose kidney transplant lasted 23 years when most last 7-10. i'm the girl whose never tried a cigarette, having bore witness to its devastation. i'm the girl who never got high off pot (barely attempted) because she doesn't know how to inhale. and i'm the girl who is practically drooling at the sight of her runners; fantasizing about the day when she can run 5 miles again.

and you're telling this girl she has to agree to never again, toast her husband with a splendid, italian white wine over sublime, katsuya sushi on his 38th or any future birthday?

"i don't know. maybe people just sign it hoping they won't get caught".

and then it hit me. HARD. they saw me as an addict.

and it hurt. because maybe they are right.

[jury is out on this one. they are in the back having a smoke.]

"i guess people don't really read it. everyone has just signed it."

it'd be kinda of patronizing to point out the obvious to a psychiatrist..."if everyone else was jumping off a bridge - would you?"...so, i let it slide. and finally, i felt it. like, new jeans worn on the second day, the fabric began to give, and we relaxed.

and so i consider it a small victory that i signed an amended version of the abstinence letter.

they say the eyes are a window to your soul. now, officially housebound, the television has become my window to the world. i find myself envious of the egyptian protestors. their energy and passion and the ability to execute it. truly. i get winded puttering around my house. resting between chores. i haven't had a regular bowel movement since december 17th. i am in constant discomfort. unrelenting headaches and crippling nausea. incessantly re-nuking the "magic pillow" my friend, a, made to keep me warm. it's heat the only buffer against the endless cramps and waves.
a surprising decline from last week. too fast. too furious.

so furious, that tonight, the "d" word is back on the table.

[spoiler alert: dialysis. to "d" or not to "d". that is the question]

so, m, it's not fiorinol i crave. i crave escape from this increasingly painful, uncomfortable existence. but, today, in fighting for power of attorney of my body, i was able to regain a teensy piece of my self esteem, my dignity. my soul.

["the spirit of the henriette" flies still.]

so, don't write me off just yet.

'cause i ain't signing shit...

["If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";"]



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