Monday Essay: Twice Gifted
People who drink and drug, seem to forget their mortality, and their sense of well-being, once we pick up that first drink or a drug. I don’t know a single man or woman who has not said, in a meeting, that before they picked up, said to themselves, “this might kill me!”
It might not kill us right now, but given enough time and abuse, we bypass the jails, we bypass the institutions, and we end up Dead in the Ground.
There are warnings out there, from people in the know, that if you abuse drugs and alcohol, you too will eventually die. And usually quicker, when you play the mortality game with the Sacred Temple, that is our bodies.
A long sober lady friend of mine, who passed away last summer, used to say, about herself that, when she drank, in order to attain a certain goal, she would allow a man to “Touch the Sacred Temple.”
How many of us think about that fact ? None really, until it is too late.
I have many friends who tempted fate, with their excessive drug and alcohol use. We number in the double digits on Monday night. In many other meetings, those numbers are quite higher, because some of my long sober friends, tell horror stories about themselves. That is knowledge in the bank, for sure.
My sponsor, for instance, spent the last portion of his using days in New York City, shooting up and having sex. When he met his now wife, he had AIDS and HEP C. They procreated and produced a son who never tested positive. She never tested positive either, and when she learned about this fact, she was none too happy about it.
Imagine what she went through, getting tested over and over for nine months ? I can imagine, because I was on that end of a test myself a number of times, until I had hit that proverbial Jackpot and my diagnosis.
The good thing about my sponsor and I was this … We both ended up here in Montreal.
In the beginning, many years ago, I was treated in Miami for AIDS. And my doctors kept me alive. I was one of the first patients in that medical clinic to receive Phase One Issue drugs that had just come off the pike for use in general community.
That did not last long because of that little small voice that assisted my SLIP.
When I came back, I had fallen out of Florida’s State Medical insurance program, because I was out-of-state too long, and I had to start back at the beginning, which took longer than I had anticipated.
I had done myself in, so I paid that ultimate price.
My sponsor had been here for the entire 35 years he has been clean and sober. He, like myself, found the fountain of eternal life, in the doctors we both have today.
He had a double dose of reality with two major illnesses. HEP C is much more lethal than AIDS is, in the Big Picture. The liver is a serious organ. And if that one goes, the rest of you goes with it.
There is no coming back from HEP C, you are a dead human being.
I watched a very long sober man, when I first came in, many years ago, be well and healthy, living with HEP C. A number of years later though, his fate changed. The HEP C got the better of his body, and in a matter of four days, JUST FOUR DAYS, he was dead.
I saw him on a Sunday, and he was alive. On Thursday of that same week, he was dead.
My sponsor was treated by the best doctors money could buy, through the year 2014. After several treatments with Interferon, he went into remission. All the while, in Montreal, the city is well stocked with the luminaries of AIDS treatment professionals.
Doctor Mark … A life taken too soon. He was a master at his craft of saving lives.
We just lost a Major Luminary not long ago, our research Head of Science and clinical trials. My sponsor never took another drug or drink, after he got sick. He jumped the border and settled here with his family.
I was not so lucky.
After returning from my slip in July of 2000, to Miami, I would not jump the border until April of 2002. On my first visit, over Easter of 2002, I found a place to live and the doctor who treats me today. When I landed here in April of 2002, I was still not yet a citizen, and that took some time. In February of 2003, I was given my citizenship. Which cleared me for treatment in Quebec. (In the meantime – My doctor back home was sending drugs over the border to treat me while I waited).
Like our woman, in tonight’s story, who had found out her liver was failing because of the excessive way she drank, she had a choice to make when she got sober. For her, there were no two ways about it. She needed a new liver, and transplant teams, across the board hold to certain standards.
They aren’t going to give up a healthy organ to a drug or alcohol pusher…
So she had to walk through tests, some random, and some not. She had to adhere to certain rules of engagement. And like me, she waited for a liver to come, as I waited to get into the clinic I desired. Both of us put ourselves in mortal danger.
On our Own Dimes.
All three of us; our woman in the story, my sponsor and myself, all survived.
When I got into the clinic, I was given an ultimatum. I would be treated. In exchange for my drugs, I would become a drug test patient. And for the rest of my years, to this date, I am still testing new medications, as they roll out of the science departments in Canada.
Over these fifteen years, I have tested numerous types of drugs. Each patient with AIDS/HIV, is unique. None of us carry the same strain. In the beginning they tested all of us to Genotype and Phenotype our strains of the virus.
With that information on hand, as each drug came out of the lab, depending on what strain we carried, we would get certain drugs, that would work for us, so they thought. Which was why we were testing the drugs on ourselves. Because if they worked for us, they would eventually get passed into general populations around the world.
I had to adhere to certain rules and regulations. I was tested many times to make sure I was clean and sober, and every time I drop labs, to this day, they test me for substances.
There are no two ways about this sober life. I am not only responsible for my own life, I am responsible for every life that comes in contact with the drugs I am taking right now. There is NO ROOM for fucking up a treatment regimen because if they get failed regimen data, that drug becomes useless because we did not adhere to treatment protocols.
That Skews the data.
Folks who come to recovery, get off Track A – and they get to choose Track B.
If they choose Track B – they get their do over.
Medicinal patients in the program, know that they fucked up their lives, and if they want to live, they are going to make the Track B choice. Many of my friends who made that Track B choice, are alive because of cutting edge science, here in Montreal.
I can say that, without a doubt. I know several of my friends are alive right now, because they got clean and sober, and sought out medical assistance from our World Re-known Science Labs here in the city.
I know, like our woman tonight, for myself, I was in no way prepared to change what I was doing, when I got sober the first time. I knew I was going to die, and I also knew that I was not going to suffer like many of my friends did. I was going to kill myself with the drink, Until Todd got a hold of me and changed that outcome.
He did quite well, don’t you think ? He made a wise choice.
Until I take my dying breath, I will sing THEIR praises, because of the Goodness of God, made incarnate in Todd.
In the beginning we make the decision to drink and drug. To some extent we all know, we made that decision. It might not have been a logical decision then, and we may not nor never admit that in open community and for many an alcoholic and drug addict, the fear of death was nonexistent.
We chased the HIGH or the Magical Affect of Alcohol, not death in and of itself.
It wasn’t until we had that Mirror Experience, or we sat in a jail cell, or was told that we were very sick, and for a few of us, we were going to die, if we did not Shape the Fuck Up.
For many, that takes several kicks at the can.
Today, those of us who have made successive passes at the can, and did GET clean and sober, our jobs, in our community, is to drive that point HOME, that, if you continue on this path of self-destruction, You Too Will Die.
There won’t be another chance to get this right.
Many of our young women, early in the rooms today, were Itty Bitty Bad Asses.
The girls usually can out drink and out drug the boys. The Sober Women in Montreal, the young ladies and some of our older ladies, were serious party animals, and could quite clearly, out do their male counter parts.
Which is why we have to work twice as hard to keep the women, IN the ROOMS, clean and sober. Because if we fail them, they are dead women.
Some of our young men are just as bad, and always need that swift kick in their asses on a regular basis. I’ve lost several good friends to the beast over the last few months, and a handful of them as well, have slipped over the divide and are stuck in the proverbial revolving door of addiction and using.
I can’t seem to get them to be able to admit they are powerless over their drugs and alcohols of choice. They seem to think that a Friday “Night Cap” is good for them, instead of being responsible and smart.
How do you say that to your friends, and not alienate them from the fold ?
All we can do is be present.
We pay a lethal price for alcohol and drug abuse. But if we GET IT, we want you to KEEP IT and STAY. Because the alternative is jail, institution or
Bodies only last so long on this earth. Sometimes the damage is so severe there is no coming back from our using and drinking.
Some of us got very fucking LUCKY.
Never look at a chance to live again, twice. You might never get another chance.