Thoughts on Addictions and Public Perception

From The Free Thought Project’s Facebook page

I came across the attached image today on the Free Thought Project’s Facebook page. The variety of reactions to it were pretty amazing. Lots of LOLs. Several WOWs. For the most part all people were acknowledging was that the two figures in the bottom image were gross and out of control. The sad thing? That was not where I was going by sharing it. Not at all. The range of (to me) inappropriate reactions just proved my point.

Too often, when we think of addictions, we only visualize people out of control as a result of using drugs. But the truth is, we are almost all hostage to one addiction or another. The fact that the devastation is not as obvious as alcoholism or substance abuse seems to make people complacent. They don’t believe they  could possibly be suffering from addiction.

But think about it. (more…)

Father’s Day 2017

At 70 years of age both my fathers are gone. Yeah, both my fathers. Lavera_June_Richard_Edwin_At_ManningPop w Sahoni and Loretta

I got lucky. I was adopted within my mother’s family. So at the age of 19 I learned I actually had two fathers instead of a father and an uncle. Each of them showed me love in their own way. So…
Richie – Thank you for supporting my mother in her decisions and standing by her through thick and thin. She told me how the depressions after I came to visit drove her crazy, so it couldn’t have been easy on you either.
Hal – Pop. Daddy. You loved me like I was your own. You showed me that I could be all I chose to reach out and be. You stood behind me when I made decisions both good and bad, and never stopped being supportive and loving me.
To my two fathers: Thank you. I love you. At my age, I think I understand each of you better. Thank you both for all you did for me and for all you didn’t do for me so that I could become the person I am today.

The Foolishness of Eulogies – Part 2

If you’ve read my previous post on this subject, you know that I have learned to tell people how I feel about them while I can. Not putting off until later when there might be “a better time”. From that perspective, I came to the conclusion that eulogies were foolish. But I have always tried to maintain an open mind on things. Which is a good thing.

A good thing especially in light of the fact I unexpectedly lost my best friend last week. I am oh so glad she knew how much I loved her. How much I admired her. How much she has enriched my life. She was my friend, my mentor, the big sister I never had, my partner in explorations both temporal and intellectual. My poor husband couldn’t figure out how we could spend as much time together as we did and yet still be able to talk on the phone each evening for never less than half an hour, often for well over an hour. In many ways we were kindred spirits who were just so relieved and happy to find someone else who valued what we did, loved life and the wonders around us as much as we did, who got it.

I thought eulogies were foolish but I’ve had a change of heart. I am driven to speak of her to others. To let others know what a wonderful, wise, kind, giving, loving, gentle soul we have lost. If they didn’t know her, to let them know what a treasure they missed. If they did know her, to enlighten them as to the additional dimensions of her they probably missed.

JoyAnna Singer was a woman who had the kindest heart in the world. A person who had gone through many trials and tribulations. A person who often was less than totally confident and who was very aware of her weaknesses and failures, yet was able to maintain an open and loving attitude to everyone around her. If you missed the chance to know her, you missed a true humane, human who was well worth the admiration and faith she inspired in me. If you knew her… I hope you know what we’ve lost and will miss her as much as I do. There is a huge hole in my life right now that hurts more than I could have imagined. But I am oh so very grateful to have had her in it because she enriched my life enormously. She helped me be a better person.

So I hereby change my stance on eulogies. They may not do the person who has passed any good, but those of us left behind need them. We need to be able to share our love and appreciation, vent our grief. Eulogies help us to move through our grief.

I sincerely hope that The Great Spirit, God, Allah, the Void, whatever you choose to call that Force in the Universe that is greater than ourselves, will grant her joy, serenity, peace, great rewards for the richness she gave the world in her own way. Have fun exploring, JoyAnna! The Motherducker will carry on and see to it that your ducks are cared for and that Miss 70% (Her favorite duck) has a safe, happy home for the rest of her quacked life!

Drug Addiction vs Drug Dependence

If you know anyone who has been dismissed or refused employment because they are taking an opiod prescription drug, you might be interested in this post. Employers are woefully uneducated concerning the difference between drug addiction and drug dependence.

We all know about drug addicts, or think we do. These people have wrecked their lives in the pursuit of drugs. Drugs are slowly (or not so slowly) killing them. Addicts spend their life in search of another, better high. Their health, families, friends, obligations, futures have been abandoned in search of that driving, all consuming obsession with getting high. If you take their drugs away without tapering them off, their bodies will go into withdrawal; and withdrawal can kill them just as surely as the drugs and getting high eventually would.

What we do not readily see, do not recognize, are the thousands of people out there who are drug dependent. Like the addicted, if they are taken off their medications abruptly they will suffer the same kind of physical effects.

So far as the general public and most employers are concerned, because the physical symptoms of withdrawal are the same, all of these people are addicts. The truth is, they’re not anything alike and they are NOT all addicts in the classic definition of the word.

Let me put this as simply as I can:

A drug addict lives for their drugs. The drug dependent take their prescribed drugs to improve their ability to live a full, healthy life.

Drug addicts take highly addictive opioid drugs. Drugs they have acquired, usually illegally, in order to escape life and reality. They want to get the best high they can. There is nothing positive or constructive in their drug usage. Drug addicts are mentally addicted as well as physically addicted. By that I mean, they mentally & emotionally crave their drug of choice. Usually that results in a constant search for a stronger drug that will give them a longer, hopefully less expensive high that will allow them to escape the realities of life.

Those who are drug dependent take highly addictive opioid drugs. That is where the similarities end. Drug dependent people have been prescribed a certain drug that will enhance the quality of their life. This classification includes not only epileptics and people with neurological disorders, but those under pain management.

My husband is a perfect example of a drug dependent person. At the age of 16 he was ejected from a truck when it crashed. His back, hip, tailbone, collarbone and a few other things were broken. As a result he spent over a year in hospitals, in a cast and was told he would probably never walk again.

This guy is not a quitter and set out to prove the doctors wrong. He walked. Then he got a job as a Canadian parks back country ranger and fire lookout. He went on to ski, ice climb, roller blade, get his open ocean SCUBA certification… in short he went on to live a full life. But it was at a price. All those broken bones and nerve damage meant he was in pain 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. As he got older, he was no longer able to ski or rock climb or work an outdoor job, so he took retraining as a computer instructor, technician and technical writer. He was still in pain 24/7/365.

In 2008 we were working a job in the Phoenix, AZ area and he was quite frankly very depressed and thinking of giving up. His physician sent him to a pain management specialist who, after extensive testing and analyzing, decided to put him on a form of morphine.  We both did a bit of a freak out, but the doctor asked us to trust him and just try it.

Within a week there came a morning when I looked at my husband as he was laying in bed after just waking up and there were tears streaming down his face. I asked what was wrong and his reply was, “Nothing. Absolutely nothing. For the first time in my adult life I just woke up and was able to lay here and listen to the birds and watch the shadows of the branches on the wall and I AM NOT IN PAIN.” He went on to say he always woke up because he was in pain, and on this day there was… nothing.

The form of morphine he is on is an extended release. It feeds into his system slowly over several hours. The dosage is quite small (30 mg). It is just enough to take away the pain and allow him to live a better quality of life. In the eight years since being put on this drug, he has never increased the dosage, in fact, his original prescription was for 60 mg 4 times a day and on his own, with his doctor’s approval, he has cut it back to 30 mg twice a day. He is able to be more physically active, hikes, swims, rides a cruiser motorcycle, splits our firewood himself, builds furniture, does minor repairs around the house, gardens… many of these things he was not able to do prior to getting on the morphine.

Is it dangerous? Yes. Is it physically addictive? Yes. If he doesn’t take it as prescribed (Skips doses) does he experience withdrawal symptoms? Yes.

Here’s the sad part. He is now 65 and since he was around 55 he has worked security, first at a high security power generating plant and more recently since we moved back to the Pacific Northwest, at a large mall. All employers were aware of his prescription. His specialist has certified in writing to his employers that this regimen does not impede his motor skills, mental cognition, equilibrium or ability to function normally. He is safe to drive, operate equipment, etc..

He was required to take periodic drug tests at all his jobs, all of which he passed with no problem. In fact, he has always gotten the highest scores in his performance reviews and has received recognition for at least two instances where he helped save people’s lives in the course of his job.

Does this sound like a drug addict? I think not! But he IS drug dependent. And there are thousands of people like him out there, doing their best to keep on living a decent life, supporting themselves and their families, being physically active and living healthy.

Last year the security company he worked for lost the contract at the mall he was working at. The new company told everyone they would most likely be hired. “Just fill out the application.” My husband did as instructed and was put through the new company’s training program and issued a new uniform. Then he was asked to bring in his medication bottle to be photographed. Then he was informed the job offer was being withdrawn because the drug prescription that he has been taking for 8 years, and performing at the top of the staff where ever he worked, was on their dangerous substances list.

The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Council) has reviewed my husband’s wrongful dismissal case and has ruled it to be a legitimate case. So we know what it is like to suffer this kind of discrimination. Another man who is on epilepsy control drugs was awarded a cash settlement for discrimination last year after the EEOC determined he was released from his job just because of his prescription.

I guess what I am saying here is: If you, or someone you know, has been discriminated against because of a legally prescribed medication you need to stand up, fight back, don’t just take it. By fighting back we can hopefully make more people aware of this problem and increase the chances employers will make an effort to educate themselves and their human resources departments so the practice can be stopped.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hothouse Humans

Have you noticed that people are getting sick more often and more easily than in the past? Do you ever wonder why?

I had a theory: In the past getting out in “nature”, whether it was in the form of a farm, yard, sandbox or playground, was a natural part of growing up. We were exposed to all kinds of stuff and we not only survived but flourished. So I came to the conclusion that dirt, to some degree, and exposure to pollens and germs, again to some degree, was good for us.

I looked back through history and realized that the people who had to work for a living and who were not so protected, were healthier than the more privileged, who were usually coddled and kept separated from “life” as children. Privilege does have it’s downside.

So I let my own children get out there and live a full life. I let them get their share of bumps, bruises, sniffles and scratches… and a few stitches along the way.

Recently I came across an article on WebMD that supports my theory. How about that?! Common sense made medical sense for a change! Check the article out. Especially if you are currently raising children or have children who are raising THEIR children like hot house plants.

Hmmm… reinforcement for the old adage that “what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger” seems to apply here as well.

In 2015 May You Have Enough…

2014 was a pretty rough ride for an awful lot of us. As I look ahead into 2015 and all the possibilities out there for all of us, I am reminded of a story I heard a while back about “enough”. I’m not going to retell it here. You can find the version I first heard here.

Look ahead to an infinity of possibilities.

Look ahead to an infinity of possibilities.

Here is what I hope you each have enough of in the coming year:

  • I wish you enough love to spur you on to be your best.
  • I wish you enough adversity to help you better appreciate the good things that come your way.
  • I wish you enough faith in yourself to give you the courage to do what you know is right instead of what is most expedient or what “everyone else” is doing.
  • I wish you enough challenges to keep your life interesting.
  • I wish you enough compassion to make an effort to help someone else whenever you can.
  • I wish you enough friends to make your life merry.
  • I wish you enough quiet time to allow you the opportunity to look inside and get to know yourself.
  • I wish you enough wisdom to know when to speak and when to listen.
  • I wish you enough courage to follow your dreams, no matter what anyone else thinks of them.
  • I wish you enough health and happiness to let you appreciate all you have.
  • I wish you enough comfort in your times of trial and sadness.
  • I wish you enough of an open heart and mind to embrace life and the people around you.

Happy New Year everyone!

The Foolishness of Eulogies

Coming from a different cultural background, I have always been baffled by the stupidity of eulogies. Think about it. You wait until the person is dead and gone. Then everyone who knew them, cared about them, come together and tell one another how much they cared for, respected, valued the person who is gone. What’s the point?

In the culture I grew up in we did things differently. My father’s passing is a perfect example. When he knew he was getting close to stepping from this wheel of life to the next, he called us all together. He took that opportunity to share with us his thoughts on life, living, how he felt about each of us, what he wished for each of us. In turn we were able to share with him how we felt about him.

The whole scene was one of calm, love and light. Once it was done he seemed to be at peace with everything and he gently passed on a few days later. The memorial service was short and sweet. The biggest thing about it was the give away and the food. He had made lovely wooden carvings, cribbage boards, clocks, etc. as well as hand painted t-shirts and tote bags which he sold at craft fairs. We put them all on a table and encouraged everyone to take something from the collection to remember him by.

Then, according to his wishes, we put half his ashes into my step-mother’s grave and took the other half to Halawa Valley on Moloka’i. There my husband and a group of male relatives paddled out and scattered his ashes in the ocean outside the mouth of the river.

I think Pop gave his stamp of approval because as the guys were paddling back to the beach a rather good sized fish flopped up onto one of my nephew’s surfboards and just stayed there. We took it as a sign and Pop’s contribution to the family BBQ that was about to take place on the beach in Pop’s honor.

So what brought all this contemplation on you may ask?

Joe Beaupre - Sail on!

Joe Beaupre – Sail on!

It’s because of one of my husband’s best friends, Joe. Back in April he was informed he had probably no more than to the end of this year to live. Colon cancer. He has faced the situation head on. He’s been open and up front about it with those he cares about and who care about him. He made the informed decision not to go through chemo or radiation. Rather, he has chosen to accept what is and live every day of the time left him to the fullest of his ability.

I admire this man. I don’t know him very well. I’ve only heard of his escapades from my husband, spent a few days with him several years ago and shared stuff on good old Facebook.

None of us gets out of life alive. By Joe’s example I have been given a road map of how to accept my mortality and make what time I have left as good as possible not only for myself but for those I care about. I have seen how you can be honest about what’s going on and make the acceptance of it by those I love a little easier. I have learned how to face the inevitable with dignity and humor.

Now why would I want to wait until Joe is dead and gone and then tell everyone else these things? I may not make friends for doing so, but I am going to tell him NOW, while he can know he has made a difference in someone’s life. I just hope everyone else will have the courage and love him enough to do likewise.

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