A Wonderful Client

I just wanted to express appreciation for a great, generous man today.

I left rehab (I’m still going to outpatient rehab for my drinking problem) early to attend a session with a new guy.

I came home, made sure my apartment was spotless, and got all leathered up (he’s a leather fetishist) and did my hair and makeup all pretty, and the jerk NO CALL NO SHOWED.

I understand that 80% of my clients are married and scheming around to see me.  I understand they are lying to get away from work or their families. I get it.  I really do.  One little thing goes wrong, and they can’t get away to see me.

But you stand me up, and you can’t even email me to apologize and cancel?

Well, I tweeted about it, because I was pissed.  Twitter is stupid, but, for some reason, I love it.  Very passive form of communication.

In rushes a longtime, established client, who actually knows about my blog and who has been in my home.

He shot me $200 to “make sure I was okay.”  He saved the day! Normally, I’m very wary of a man trying to give me unearned cash, but I’ve known him for over a year and I know he’s not trying to manipulate me/bully me with money.

You know a good man when he puts his money where his mouth is.  A good man wants to take care of the women in his life, because he KNOWS that we are taking care of him.

I will date a poor man.  I will never again date a cheap one. Crucial distinction.

Thank you so much for your help.  You saved the day, Sir. Next session is on me.

Rehab (II): Why Don’t You have a Child?

I can tell you one thing that got me into a ton of trouble when I was in rehab: arguing why I didn’t have a family.

Everyone there–and the group had approximately 25-30 people, always coming and going–had kids.  The only one who didn’t was a 17-year-old, and he had a baby on the way.

We’re all sitting in a circle in group therapy and it was my turn to talk and I started to cry a little bit, saying that I was concerned I might never have a child.

This Mexican guy sitting across from me raised his hand and asked, “But what if it just happened, and you got pregnant?  I mean, sometimes that happens.  It could be an accident.  That’s what happened with my kids, and I love them.”

I blew my nose into a tissue and exploded.

“I’d get an abortion!  I’d get an abortion so fast it would make your head spin!  Look at me!  I’m in rehab for alcoholism!  Do you think there is any room in my life now for an ‘ooops’ pregnancy?  I wouldn’t bring a child into this world unless I could give it a certain standard of living!”

I swear to God, every woman in the room cringed and looked down at her desk, and half the guys got upset, too.

The therapist, who was actually one of the more competent ones, said “Some people have very strong feelings about abortion.”

I was FUCKING FURIOUS.  I slammed my hand down on my desk.

“A third of the women in your life have had at least one, whether you know it or not. I haven’t needed one yet because of my religious use of birth control and Plan B. I admit I had blackout sex several times, but I always got Plan B and was tested for STIs. Do you think I would have a child without the means to give it a stable life, with the opportunity for a father?!”

The room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.  As Chekhov said, An angel of silence flew over the room.

None of the women talked to me that night in the dorm.  It really frustrated me and made me feel alienated and rejected.  I didn’t mean to be hurtful! Yeah, sorry I was responsible about procreating.  Sorry I never had a baby with a scumbag.  Sorry I coughed up $30/month for the Pill at Planned Parenthood and insisted on condoms when I wasn’t in a monogamous relationship.

I’m telling you: all of these women had kids, and most of them had at least one abortion. Two of them had four abortions (and she voted for Trump. Smooth move). I know because we discussed these things late at night before we went to bed.  I trust that they were being honest.

Do you know why…?  Part of it is, of course, the biological imperative.  The other part is psychological immaturity and the fact that addicts resort to desperate means to fuel their addictions, and, in the case of women, that means trading sex for drugs.  I’ve always been able to afford my booze, but that’s the cheapest drug out there unless you have good insurance and a Dr. Feelgood.

The cold was glacial, even though I wasn’t blaming anyone personally.  I mean, we’re all in this fucked-up rehab boat together.

 

 

 

 

 

Rehap (Part 1)

What can I tell you about rehab…?  I was voluntarily placed into a quasi-medical facility and slept in an all-female dorm.  It wasn’t one of those celebrity California rehabs you see ads for that offer horse therapy and yoga classes (I’d love to see any addict desperate enough for institutionalization who’d be interested in yoga), but it wasn’t Gospel Mission/Salvation Army austere, either.  It reminded me of an extremely clean college dorm that doubled a jail and a sanitarium.

You can trust me that it was clean, because when I wasn’t in six hours of group or individual therapy per day, I was cleaning the facilities myself with bleach-based products, hospital disinfectant, and a shit-ton of Lysol.  Everything in rehab smelled like artificial pine trees.  Apparently, like most rehabs, this one was big on discipline, so we all had chores daily chores.  Being new and relatively young, I got the “worst” ones: cleaning the bathrooms, sweeping and mopping the hardwood, and washing bed linens.

I did just fine with the chores, even though I didn’t enjoy doing them (especially starting at 5:30 AM). I was already doing them at home, unless I can afford to hire a professional cleaner for the week, and rehab was my “home” now, and SOMEBODY’S got to do it, so what is the problem…?  I also grew up in homes with control-freak parents, and my mother and downright obsessive about housekeeping.  The jobs I held in younger years, cleaning restaurants and the bathrooms.  Cleaning up in the dungeons multiple times daily, too…

Most of my roommates also executed their chores well and with a minimum of snark…but about a third of them found having to make their beds along with everyone else and take out the trash and dust the furniture to be some sort of personal insult, especially since they were “paying for it (rehab)” and “not children anymore.”

I bring this up not because I’m bragging about completing simple household chores.  I bring it up because it was one of the most prevalent personality traits I observed about the other patients in rehab: a resentment about being told to do anything and a neurotic worry that cooperation with rules was humiliating or some sort of threat to the image of themselves that they’d built up in their heads.

Another thing I noticed was the ability (or, worse, willingness) to sit still and concentrate.  We spent most of the day planted in desks in group therapy sessions and classes about addiction.  I’m not a professional educator anymore, except for freelance tutoring, but jeez, I couldn’t help but look at it through my teacher’s eye: so many of them (at least half of them were younger than me) couldn’t physically control themselves.   I don’t think they were being intentionally disrespectful…they just couldn’t stop crosstalking or fidgeting.

Many of the patients there were caught up in the court system: DUIs, were attending because they were in custody battles for their children, or were there to be in compliance for some legal evaluation to maintain their employment or parole/probation requirements.  What I would like to say is that I don’t think most of them would have committed their dumbass (mostly) petty crimes–theft, possession, public intoxication–if they hadn’t been under the influence of their drug of choice.

I was the only one who was not a parent.  I thought about this a lot.

The quality of the therapy was variable. I honestly don’t think that one shrink knew what he was doing, which scared me.  Another seemed to know what he was talking about and was trying to do his job.  The others were in between.  I cautiously ascribe this to professional burnout, which every staff member in the building seemed to be experiencing, to some extent or another…from the cafeteria cook to the techs who constantly took our blood pressure and urine samples.

After a week, a new psychiatrist talked to me for a few hours, and he asked me how I felt about psychotropic medication for anxiety or depression.

“Well, I’m not enthusiastic, but I’m not anti-drug at all.  I was on Paxil for a year and a half ten years ago, and I don’t think it did anything for me, one way or another.  The withdrawals when I quit it were awful for a month.  I had vertigo and brain zaps. But, I’d be open to trying something again, if you think it can help me.  If it doesn’t work, I could always just stop taking it after a decent trial run or two or three months, so no harm done.  Please don’t give me anything that will make me a sleepy fatass.  I don’t want any sexual side-effects either, though I’d be willing to put up with them for a little while until my body adjusted.  The Paxil made me inorgasmic for a month, and then I adjusted and everything worked again.”

I talked to the Collector on the phone immediately after I was taken off the several-day “blackout” period, and told him that I was doing well and going back on Naltrexone and trying out a psychotropic SSRI.

He demanded to talk with the physician who prescribed it.

“I don’t think he will, Collector.  I am pretty sure that’s illegal,” I said.

“You can listen in on speakerphone or I can come down there.  You’ll have some legal paperwork.  I can look at it.  I need to know what is going on!”

Other calls were made.  It was like the Inquisition in there.

I’m giving Citalopram a three-month shot.  Thus far, I feel nothing that I can discern.  If that doesn’t help, they recommend Wellbutrin.  If that doesn’t work, well, who knows.

More about Rehab–and the Holidays–later today or tomorrow, I hope

The “Lost Wallet,” and Other Updates

 

First, I am feeling much better.  I’ve been weaning off the librium (in the hospital, they were giving me two or three pills per day) and today will be my last dose (yay!).  I take it before bed because it makes me sleepy and slightly uncoordinated, and I have a lot of chores and driving to do today.

(One thing I can say in my favor is that after I was arrested for drunk driving–Minor in Possession, actually–at age 20, I never got in the car after more than one drink again. One drink was my cutoff limit, and I waited an hour before driving.)

My esophagus is much better, but I’m still on meds for that.  I don’t need the lidocaine anymore, but I take this other stuff that coats the esophagus and stomach and prevents any acidic stomach bile from coming up and burning the hell out of it again.  Eating more than a few bites of solid food is still uncomfortable and I don’t have much appetite, so I’m still living primarily on chocolate meal-replacement shakes I make in the blender with soy or almond milk (being Whitey McWhitebread Northern European, I have no trouble digesting dairy, but the doctors said almond milk would be more gentle on my terrorized stomach).

On the upside, not to sound moonbat crazy (though I am), this has been GREAT for my figure! I can fit into my 32-band bras again and I have to superglue the bands of my stay-ups a little tighter so that they don’t slide down my legs!  I think I lost a little muscle definition, though, because I laid in bed (or sat by the bed throwing up) for two straight weeks.  There is no way in hell I am going to be able to go to the gym or lift weights for at least two weeks.  Doing laundry and one chore at a time is all I can manage.  Then I have to sit down and rest for half an hour before I can get up and do another project.

My tour to San Francisco when very well–much better than I expected in my weakened, newly-sober condition, and the fact that most of my clients were brand new ones, and, well, with brand new clients, you never know what you’re going to get.  They were all really nice, though, and I only had one bad experience, and I had it because I broke the cardinal #1 rule of sex work: always get the money up front.  I have also been ripped off in this industry because I didn’t hide the money in a good enough spot while he was in the bathroom or his back was turned (keeping it in the safe is a good idea, but it means you’ve got to turn your back to him, and if he has a weapon, he’s gonna take all your cash.  IMO, the best place to hide it is a box of tampons.  No dude is going to look in a box of tampons.) and he STOLE IT BACK when I was in the bathroom after session.  How can a man have any masculine honor to steal back money from a woman who just gave you a great experience?  Answer: he can’t.  And he doesn’t see you as actually providing a legitimate service.

The other times I’ve been ripped off–and it’s happened about five times now, I’ve very, very embarrassed to say–is because I didn’t ask for the money up front.  I wrote about one of those incidences in the Chester series (there are three parts to the Chester series. At least I got some money from him by robbing him in that restaurant).  And I should know by now, from bitter experience, and unless the guy is a clueless newbie who doesn’t know what he’s doing, if he doesn’t leave cash or an envelope immediately in the bathroom or the dresser without saying a word, he is up to something shady.

I hate asking for money because if the guy is a cop and you ask for money, you’re busted.  They’ve got it on a wire or some recording device.  Even if you’re a prodomme and what you’re doing is legal.  The cops don’t give a fuck.  They have an “arrest-em-all-and-let-the-judge-sort-them-out” mentality.  Most cops doesn’t even know or understand what dommes DO, we’re all lumped in with escorts in their minds. The dungeon provided a small layer of protection, because management handled the money and the domme never had to talk about it. If he pays you after the session, well, then it’s just a “gift.”

He was a young-ish man, about my age.  He wanted a bondage tease-and-denial session with a lot of talking, with really ISN’T my thing (at least he was friendly and not too vulgar) at 10 PM at night, which ALSO isn’t my thing bc I hate working past 7 or 8 pm, but I did it because I was still weak from being in the hospital and had to stagger my sessions all day with hours in between so that I could rest and take naps.

Well, get this: we do the session, he takes a shower, goes to pay me, and finds out that he “can’t find his wallet.”

Shoot me now.  Just shoot me now.  Better yet, shoot HIM now.  I had fantasies about putting an arrow in this guy’s chest.  If I was still in NYC, the NY Post would LOVE that one: “Disgruntled Hooker Kills Cheap John With Bow and Arrow in Swanky Hotel!” with a picture of his dead body with an arrow sticking out of it and a picture of me in a sexy dress and handcuffs, doing the perp walk.

Well, we tore the room apart for 30 minutes and couldn’t find it. Went through his coat pockets, looked behind the curtains, everything.  No wallet.  I was pissed.

“If you do not compensate me, I will blacklist you and never session with you again or give you a reference,” I said.  I didn’t scream (I never raise my voice), I was just cold and matter-of-fact.  I’d also changed into my street clothes right away.  No more free show for you, buddy.

He went home and sent me and email apologizing profusely and saying that he found his wallet in “his other pants.”  I suppose this is remotely possible, especially if he was in a hurry trying to get dressed in better clothes to come see me…and we all make mistakes.  One time, for example, I had a session with my shrink and I totally forgot to stop at the ATM to get cash to pay her.  Another time, I really did forget my wallet on my desk.  But she’d known me by 2 years at this time, and she knew I was honest and reliable, and she wasn’t mad at me, and, sure enough, I paid her immediately up front the following week and apologized (again).

He wants to book with me again this Wednesday and promises he will bring me the money he owes me. “I have every intention of fulfilling my obligation in this transaction,” he writes.

I’ll put the odds of this actually happening at…20%, and that’s being generous. Too much time will have elapsed; and even if he’s telling the truth about leaving his wallet in “his other pants,” the guilt will have faded and he’ll just want to move on.

Personally, I think he probably left his wallet in the glove department of his car in the parking garage.

I had another session story to tell, a FUNNY story, which I have already dubbed The Story of the Spanko and the “Session Jar,” but I’ve written long enough and I’m starting to get tired.  So, I’ll save that one for next time.

It’s a fun one.  And we all know this place could use some cheering up.

P.S.  My mom saw a Momma duck at the river with about 11 baby ducklings (don’t you just LOVE ducklings?) who were tiny, maybe 2 weeks old, and a big crane came out of nowhere and snatched one of the ducklings.  Momma duck attacked the crane, but there was nothing she could do, the crane was too big. Duckling was screaming and dying a horrible death. Mom was screaming and freaking out, which I have never seen her do in my entire life, which is weird.  Momma duck had to give up to protect her other 10 babies and rounded them up and swam away as fast as she could.  My mom ran away because she couldn’t look at it anymore.  She told me this over the telephone.

Why would the crane do that?  I thought they just ate fish, minnows and the like. Do they eat birds too?  They’re not raptors.  Surely it would not attack the duckling if it didn’t want to eat it for food…?  Does anyone know?

Alcoholic Psych Ward with the Roommate from Hell

IMG-1462389346946-VSo, in the ICU, they need to get an IV in me.  I’ve always been a “hard prick,” as they say in the profession, because my veins are small and deep.  They usually have to go in through the hand eventually.  My nurse was really nice and trying her best, but she couldn’t get anything.  I’m not afraid of needles and, as you know, I am definitely not a baby about pain, but I had more needles in me than a fucking Christmas tree and three of them collapsed the vein, leaving me with wonderful huge bruises that I am going to somehow explain to clients.

IMG-1462389346946-V

 

They were about to bring in a physician to put the needle IN MY NECK, but another nurse finally got one in–the ulnar artery in the wrist, which is usually a last resort, but who cares, it worked.

They gave me some liquid valium and my body finally relaxed for the first time in days.  It was wonderful.  Then they started draining bags and bags of saline into my dehydrated mummy body.

The doctor on rotation, who was a woman who seemed nice and not an asshole (which is always a relief after knowing the Surgeon) came in and asked me what was going on and about my DTs and how long I’d been drinking and been sober blah blah the usual. I told her I hallucinated.

“Spiders? They almost always see spiders at night. On the ceiling,” she said.

Holy shit, I thought.

“No, there were two apparitions in my room talking to me but I couldn’t understand because they were murmuring.  I was asking them why they were there and what they wanted. I knew I was hallucinating and I would close my eyes and say to myself ‘I am Margo Adler and this is my bedroom and this cannot be happening, and when I open my eyes, they will be gone.’  But when I opened my eyes they were still there.  I knew they would go away when the daylight came.  I wasn’t scared of them because they were not trying to hurt me. I was only scared because I knew I was seeing things that were not there.  I even tried to touch them.”

“That’s a new one,” she said, not sarcastically.

She went away and I relaxed blissfully with the valium. I was extremely thirsty but they wouldn’t give me any water, just the IV.

Doctor came back in with my test results.

“Well, your liver enzymes are slightly elevated, but it’s healthy. Bad news about the pancreas. Your pancreas is really mad at you.  It’s scarred.”

“Pancreas?” I asked, confused.  Pancreas never occurred to me.  I was worried about the liver.

“It’s moderate damage and it can be at least partially healed.  For now, your stomach must remain totally empty.  Not even water.  I’ll give you small amounts of ice chips. In a few days, you can start a liquid diet.”

Well, okay.  Sorry, pancreas, but the bullshit I put you through.

Valium wore off and then shit got gnarly.  They hooked me up to an EKG and periodically my heart rate would shoot up to 170 or 180.  Then my blood pressure would drop to 85 or 90/60.  I was sweating the freezing cold.  A nice nurse wrapped me up in warm blankets. He put socks on my feet.  He was very compassionate and did not make me feel like a scumbag.

Then a psych nurse came in and asked me questions like who was the president, and what year it was, and what was my full name, and did I know where I was?  I was cogent so I knew.

They gave me pills for my heart, liquid potassium that tasted like shit (I didn’t complain), librium, and ativan.  Despite being doped to the gills, I would have attacks of pure anxiety, even terror, that would last for minutes, and I would close my eyes and shake my head and whisper no no no no no no.   I knew it was irrational because I was in a safe space and it just meant my brain was broken.

Then my legs totally cramped up and I could not bend my knees.  Get this: they put a diaper on me just in case because I could not walk to the bathroom (for the record, at least I did not need to pee my diaper, thank God). They also put an alarm under my body so that they would know if I got out of bed, because they were worried I’d fall and break my fucking skull, which is hilarious, because I couldn’t get out of that bed if a ravenous polar bear charged into the room and wanted to eat me.

“Is this normal? and my panic attacks?” I asked the nurse.

“Totally normal,” she said.

Holy shit, I thought.

“I’m not paralyzed forever, right?” I asked.

“It’ll pass,” she said.

After a day, when they were sure they had me under control and I was no longer dying, they moved me to the alcoholic psych ward.  It was small and I had only one roommate, who, blessedly, was quiet and slept all the time.  She was discharged and I had the place to myself for a few hours.  I felt good enough to watch TV, so I watched Judge Judy, which was a really bad idea.  And I sucked greedily on ice chips.

Then the nasty junkie bitch moved in.

I can’t judge addicts because I’m one myself.  But there is no reason to push it onto other people.  The staff at the hospital loved me; I overheard the nurses talking about me at shift rotation and they said I was very pleasant and “totally compliant.”  This woman was not.

She was 60 years old, a dilaudid addict who also used Oxycontin and who knows what else.  She was screaming at the staff–not politely asking or explaining–that she needed her shot RIGHT NOW because she was “in pain.”

Yeah, lady, that pain is called “withdrawal” and you have to get through it if you ever want to get healthy again.  Why are you here if you don’t want to get better?

The nurse calmly explained that she could not give her a shot for another two hours because that was the schedule.

“I’m not going to ask you again!  Give me my shot NOW!” screamed the woman, as if she had anything to threaten this nurse with.  Making demands of the staff, ha…ha…ha.  Let me know how that goes for you.

“I can’t do that for two hours.  I can give you one Oxy.”

Woman proceeded to fake-cry and whine loudly for the next two hours about being “in pain” and how this wasn’t a “real hospital” because “nobody cared about her.”

This continued for the next few days.  When she got her shot, she passed out for a few hours and blessed silence reigned once again.  I finally got to start eating pudding and chicken broth and water.  My tremors stopped.  I started to think clearly again (well, clearer).  Otherwise, I slept as much as possible, when it was quiet.

The staff would come four times a night to take my blood pressure or draw a little blood out of my hand.  It only took 5 minutes because it was just taking blood and not an IV (I was still taking saline, by the way).   I didn’t mind.  I always said thank you for your help.

The nasty junkie next door woke me up at least 4 times a night ringing madly for the nurse and demanding her dilaudid. When they explained they couldn’t give it to her yet, she’d fight with them over it, as if she was the only human being in the room and I didn’t need to sleep at 3 AM.  She started wetting the bed on purpose and saying “HA! There, YOU clean it up, since I’m sick and you won’t give me my medicine!”

The long-suffering young nurse’s assistant would sigh and say, “I’m not certified to give you any medication at all, even if a doctor said you should have it.  I can’t give any prescription meds, only things like Tylenol.”

The junkie accused her of being a liar while the poor girl dutifully cleaned the bed, changed the sheet, and got the woman a new robe.

When she wasn’t howling at the staff or complaining about her “pain,” she tried to talk to me.  Constantly.

“Aren’t these people awful?”

“Actually, everyone I’ve met has been very professional and compassionate.  I’ve been very impressed, actually.  I expected to be mostly ignored, especially because I don’t have insurance.”

“HA! I send all my medical bills to Michelle Obama!  She can pay for them, with that goddamned Obamacare!”

I bet your creditors and collections agencies are really going to respect that decision, I thought.

This woman hates the Obamas.  Especially Michelle, for some reason. Here she is, in the hospital, complaining to a complete stranger (and whoever she was talking to periodically on her cell phone) about how much she hates President Obama and Obamacare.  She even called him the N-word once. (I feel childish saying “N-word” but I also feel uncomfortable saying the word nigger, so it’s a dilemma).

“Did you know that for two years I sent so many phone calls, letters, and emails to Obama that I got notification from the government that I was forbidden to contact him anymore?  That’s why I write to Michelle instead,” she said.

Jesus fucking Christ. I interned for a US Senator.  Like all major politicians, he got a shit-ton of nasty, complaining, demanding, petulant, critical communications every single day (one of my duties was to answer some of the simpler, more common communications, but I read a lot of the others.  The most memorable was a guy who wrote his Senator a very angry email because there was a dead raccoon on the street by house, hit by a car, and it had been lying there for a week and nobody had done anything about it! I’ll never forget that one.  If it bothers you that much, jackass, get a shovel and throw it in a bag in the trash!).  It’s water off a duck’s back to politicians unless you’re sending death threats or threatening family members or doing some serious stalking, like taking pictures of their house across the street.  Do you realize how far you have to go to have the Secret Service or authorized staff visit you or send you official legal communication that you are FORBIDDEN to contact the politician again?  You have to be batshit crazy. Ted Kaczynski obsessed, although, obviously, I doubt this woman ever taught Mathematics at UC Berkeley.  Ted was nuts, but at least he had a few brain cells to rub together.

She had other noxious opinions she shared with me or with her friends on her cell phone, apropos of nothing.  She was mad about “Obamaphones.” First, the Obama administration did not, and COULD NOT, create a program to give cell phones to welfare recipients.  There is such a thing called jurisdiction.  The president cannot just do whatever the hell he feels like doing, which is why Gitmo is still open.  It is, in fact, a federal program that offers reimbursement to pre-paid cell-phone companies who offer phone service to qualified (very) low-income people. It’s a spin-off of the LIFELINE PROGRAM implemented in 1984 under that great champion of the poor, RONALD REAGAN (I know all this shit because it’s what I devoted my academic life to studying when I was a professional scholar, instead of whatever the hell it is I am today).

These “Obamaphones” are shitty little flip-open trak phones that cost $9.99 at Kmart and they get 70 free minutes a month.

Now, the most GERMANE thing here, is that I am sure this dilauded junkie is unemployed and has been for some time, unless she’s a housewife, she’s sending her bill to Michelle Obama instead of Medicaid or trying to make payments on it, AAAANNNND–

How the hell is a welfare recipient supposed to get a job, any job, without a telephone?  Think about it.  You fill out an application and the movie theater wants to hire you to work the ticket booth or snack counter. How do they contact you to come in for an interview? Or the Temp agency?  Are they supposed to send you a message by a fucking carrier pigeon?  If your kid gets sick at school, how are they going to reach you to come pick her up?

On the third day, I was coherent enough to speak intelligently and I was completely fed up with her.

“I’m sending my bill to Michelle Obama!” she repeated for the millionth time, like Michelle held a gun to her head and made her a pathetic bitter narcotic junkie. Like Michelle is actually going to reach into her handbag and cut a check.  Maybe send flowers and a “Get well soon!” card.

“I think Michelle’s great! I actively campaigned for Obama and voted for him both times, and my candidate won, both times!  I also interned for (famous Democratic Senator junkie lady hates), and I used his letter of recommendation to help me get into my Ph.D program in New York (junkie lady hates NYC and San Francisco)!”

(Now, it’s true that a few of these statements are exaggerations or lies–the Senator did write me a letter, but I was only an undergrad, for example–but who cares?  It’s not like I was lying to the IRS.  I was just lying to piss her off.)

Her mouth dropped open.  She’s one of those conservatives who lives in such a tight little conservative bubble, such an echo chamber–all Fox news, all talk radio, all Republican friends, all Free Republic forum (if this babe can even write), all conservative Church–that she just automatically assumes everyone thinks like she does.  She thinks leftists can only be identified if they’re wearing tie-dyed t-shirts, man-sandals, and peace medallions, coming back from Burning Man.

She never spoke to me again, which was a huge relief. The whining and fake crying and transparent attempts to manipulate the staff continued.  She refused to let them bathe her, either in the shower or a sponge birdbath.  She complained about the food, as if it wasn’t being made in a hospital (I bet when she’s home high on narcotics she’s a real Cordon Bleu chef, boy, I wish I was invited to some of her dinner parties!).

Meanwhile, I was getting healthier every day.  I could read again, so I read Harper’s and National Geographic.  My legs worked again and they let me go for short walks with a walker (just in case) up and down the hall a few times.  I became fatigued very quickly, but that’s because I was still sick and I couldn’t have been eating more than 600 kcal/day.  It was still pudding and broth for every meal.  Sometimes chocolate milk.

A group of residents from the local med school came to see me.  I knew they were residents because they were so young, and in a group. I apologized for looking like a scrub (unwashed hair, no makeup).  I tried to make a joke: “I didn’t think I was going to run into Liam Neeson around here!”

They asked me all about the symptoms I had before I came in and then told me that all my test signs had improved, and my liver enzymes were down (already?) and even my pancreas looked better and my blood pressure was stable and blah blah blah.  They wanted to see if I could eat solid food.

I told them that it hurt really, really badly to swallow.  Not so much in my throat, but further down.

That is because I burned the hell out of my esophagus puking up acidic stomach bile for 11 hours (I’m on 3 medications for that now so that it can heal and I can eat.  God bless lidocaine and sucralfate).  They said, “Well, GERD does hurt.”  No, doc, this is not just GERD.

Anyway, I wanted to get out of there, so I forced myself to eat a small pancake.  It hurt.  I ate it anyway.  Once it was in my stomach, it didn’t hurt at all.  It was just getting it down.

Then I did something bad.  I cheated.

I closed the curtain to my room, wrapped the other pancake in a paper towel, and shoved it down the front of my underwear.  I left two pieces on the plate to say that I “couldn’t finish it.”  Ah yes, an old trick from my anorexic days.  I know how to get rid of food or hide it secretly or discreetly in a million ways.

I went to the bathroom, broke it up into lots of little pieces, and flushed it in 3 parts.

The doctors were happy.  I was free to go.  IV came out.  Mom drove me back to her house, where I stayed in the guest bedroom for a week.  I went to see a Gastro doc and he put me on these meds that are making me better already and I can drink water in small mouthfuls.  I can’t eat real food easily yet, but I can eat yogurt and frozen yogurt and bananas (even tho I hate bananas, but they are good for my heart, and soft, and I do not want to have a heart attack).  I drink Ensure, that drink for old people that is a meal replacement, and slim-fast, which reminds me of (bad) old times, but at least it has lots of nutrition.  I make protein shakes with soy milk. If I have to eat something more substantial, I take a dose of lidocaine, which works for about 30 minutes.  That shit is great.

My house is clean because I had it cleaned by a professional cleaner before I got home.  I am still weak and I have to rest for 30 minutes after I do anything strenuous, but my plants are alive and Abe is back home, and last night I slept for 9 hours in my nice clean bed, and I didn’t see any shadow men.

And I lost almost 15 lbs.  So, something good came out of it.  From the outside, I look great.  Healthy.

The inside, though, is not so pretty.

Margo Tries to Detox at Home (Bad Idea)

Fasten your safety belts, readers, because this isn’t going to be pretty…but it will be honest.

I took a week off from work and cleared my schedule because I intended to hole up in my apartment for about six days and detox (go through withdrawals and stabilize).  I paid all my bills so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it, bought some Pedialyte, went home, and prepared for the worst.

I’d been drinking for 8 weeks, excepting the week before, when I tried to detox in 4 days and it just wasn’t enough time and I had to give up and drink to get back to work (see the previous post “Sucky Update.”).  Eight weeks, after over a year and a half of sobriety.  They told me in rehab that if I started drinking again, my worst symptoms would come back almost immediately–that I could have a few drinking and feel healthy and “normal” for maybe a few days, and then everything would turn to shit almost overnight and I’d be back in alcoholic hell again.  They said you can’t start fresh again, it will never be like it was when you first started, your physiology has permanently changed.

Well, I must admit that this did not make sense to me.  I thought, if your body is recovered, how could you get sick again so quickly?

Well, as usual, the people in rehab were right.  They are the professionals, after all.

I’m not going to lie to you: I was drinking a lot in those eight weeks.  The only times I was (mostly) sober were when I was working, because it’s unprofessional and rude to be intoxicated, not to mention extremely dangerous for the woman alone with a strange man in a room.

Moving on: at first, the withdrawals were the usual bullshit.  Tremors, inability to read or concentrate, chills and sweats, insomnia, nightmares about drinking, and the inability to be comfortable in any position.  Hearing nonexistent white noise.  No appetite; mild nausea.  It’s very unpleasant, but I’ve been through it about five times before, and it’s…manageable.  It’s a bit like having a very bad stomach flu or food poisoning.

The only good news: no hallucinations of people in my bedroom at night.  No hallucinations this time.  THANK GOD.  Also, I didn’t have any seizures, which I hear is pretty common.

On the sixth day (I think it was the 6th day), things got much, much worse.

I vomited for eleven hours. I am not exaggerating. Every five minutes, I dry-heaved or wretched up foamy bile, and, let me tell you, it hurt like hell.  It was the worst part of the entire time. I was scared to puke in my bed, because it’s the only place in my apartment I have to lie down (my sofa’s a love seat), so I just sat on the floor and used this plastic container I use to hand-wash clothes.  There was absolutely nothing in my stomach because the only thing I’d eaten in 12 days was 4 chicken wings (I kept ordering food because I knew I had to eat SOMETHING, but when it came, I couldn’t even stand the sight of it.  Money well spent, there.  I was living off of calories from alcohol and the juice I sometimes mixed it with.  I’m sure my stomach really appreciated that alcohol-and-acidic juice combo.  I’m sure my stomach was saying “Hey thanks for putting me through this shit, Margo!).  I was throwing up nothing but bile, stomach acid.  It hurt, the constant clenching of my torso hurt, and I burned the hell out of esophagus.  I’m on medication for that right now.

Next up: my legs started twitching and cramping.  I could not stand without something to pull myself up with, like an old person.  I could not walk. I had to scoot myself to the bathroom (at least I could urinate–what, I’m not sure, because I couldn’t hold down water–but at least it meant my kidneys were not shutting down).

Then, the chest pain, a very powerful pain in the center of my chest over my breastbone.  It happened more than once, and it hurt a lot.  I was wondering if I was having a heart attack.

I thought: I am going to die alone in this apartment, nobody’s going to find me until my body starts to smell, and my bird is going to die of starvation.

I threw in the towel.  I knew going to the hospital would cost me about $60k, but, hey, it beats being dead.

I texted my mother (hard to do with shaking hands) to let her know where I would be and that I was calling a cab.  She insisted on taking me herself.  The last thing I needed was her judgmental horseshit while I was in the process of dying.  I said she could go back to hating me in a few days, but I didn’t need it right now.  She promised she would not scream and only try to help.  I warned  her that she didn’t want to see me this way and that I looked like hell.

I took 3 shots of cheap mouthwash (a first for me–I’ve never been that desperate before, but there was no way in hell that I could get to a store without, say, one of those motorized wheelchairs used by the disabled and obese. Couldn’t drive and sure and hell couldn’t walk), which is poisonous but also 20% alcohol, so that I could stabilize just a little bit.  Drinking the mouthwash was disgusting and degrading and it said on the back of the bottle not to drink it and to call Poison Control Center immediately.  Oh well.

I put on a dress and a coat, combed my hair and put it into a ponytail, and put Abe in his kennel.  Mom arrived and I wouldn’t let her inside because I didn’t want her to see that I’d trashed my beautiful apartment and there was a pizza box on the floor and I had about ten empties laying around my desk and my plants were dying.  Disgusting, right?

I insisted that we take Abe to the boarder’s first because I didn’t know how long I’d be gone.  Mom took him inside for me because I know the owners of this place and I didn’t want them to see me this way.

Then we went to the ER.  They gave me an EKG and immediately admitted me to the ICU–that’s right, I jumped the line, baby!  After a day there, the alcoholic psych ward.  In the loony bin, just like my (not) dear old Dad, Franz.

Second half of the story next installment.

Released from the Alcoholic loony bin onto an Unsuspecting Public

This update will be brief because I’m writing it at my mother’s house where I have been recuperating since my discharge from the hospital a few days ago, but, believe me, I have a tale to tell, and it will be told as soon as I get back to my apartment tomorrow.

I’ll save the lurid, horrific, and, at times, blackly comic details for the larger blog post, but these are the some of the basic facts: they kept me for six days and told me that if I kept trying to detox alone at home, I might have died, despite my relative youth.  They hooked me up to a heart monitor machine and, just lying in bed, my heat rate periodically rised to 170 (I shit you not).  The staff would freak, in their calm and professional way.  Then my blood pressure would go down to 90/60.  I’ve always had low blood pressure because I work out (when I’m not drunk) but that is pretty low.

My suite mate was a geriatric dilaudid (among other things) addict, which I guess is fine–I mean, who am I to judge, as we are in this fucked-up junkie boat together?–but she was also a crazy selfish mean delusional bitch who constantly imposed herself on every human being in her orbit, and you are going to be reading a LOT about her, believe me.

For the first two days, I had moments of extreme psychological distress for no apparent reason because I knew I was in a safe space.  My rational mind knew it was because my brain was fucked. Otherwise I was lucid (except for the zillion drugs they put me on) except that I kept having nightmares that Judge Judy was going to be my nurse and scream at me for being stupid and fucking up my life.  “Judgement for the Defendant!”  Who the fuck would be the defendant?  Bushmill’s Whiskey?  The poor nice girl who works at the gas station by my house, who always looked sadder and sadder every night when I came in to buy the same thing, my looks and coordination deteriorating?

I couldn’t drink or eat (both literally, and doctor’s orders), so my dehydrated mummy body was hydrated with about 3 bags of saline via IV daily.  Good thing I didn’t have to work (as if I could have), because I look like I spent a few weeks in a shooting gallery, and I don’t mean the gun range.

My brain is about 80% back and I want to write again.  I am wearing makeup and fixing my hair pretty again.  I had the strength to go buy my Mom nice presents for Mother’s Day, even though I had to sit down to rest a few times on the floor in Macy’s (nobody cared; it was a zoo). I can read again. I’m almost off the librium, and then I can re-start the Naltrexone.  Abe is waiting for me.  I visit him at the boarders every day.  I bring him a new toy every day until I get him home, tomorrow.  I learned he likes to play with wiffle balls.

I hired a housecleaner (not my usual one–I was too ashamed) and paid her double so that I don’t have to go home to my depressing apartment with a garbage bag I didn’t have the energy to run to the dumpster and a desk surrounded by a graveyard of empties and a few take-out boxes of food completely full because I couldn’t bring myself to eat even a single bite.  I mean, who the fuck can’t eat a slice of PIZZA? Your friendly neighborhood alcoholic, that’s who.  At least Bushmill’s has calories.

Oh, I lost 14 lbs.  At least something good came of this.  I’m a size 4 again.  My clients are gonna love it.

More tomorrow–the juicy details that should serve as a cautionary tale.

Oh, one other thing: I watched “The Lost Weekend.”  Scary as fuck, but it’s stood the test of time, and it is, without a doubt, the truest depiction of alcoholism on film I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen them all.  You can stream it on Amazon for cheap.  Not sure if it’s on netflix.  Highly recommended if you don’t think it’ll make you want to slit your wrists.

Tales from Rehab: The Coach

I feel very conflicted writing about this, but it’s weighing on my mind, and I figure that if I change all of the relevant details it will be ethical to post, and not violate the man’s privacy….?

You all know that I attend an alcohol rehab support group twice a week.

Well, there is a man in the group named “Henry.”  Henry is a middle-aged white guy who teaches physical education at a local community college.  He really loves sports, and coaches baseball and basketball.

He is also an alcoholic.

When I first met him and learned that he coached these sports, I recoiled.  He must be a total meathead!  I thought.  Ugh, what a jerk; I’ve taught these guys (players of the Big Three: baseball, football, and basketball) and they are generally GROSS.

Henry is not gross.  I was wrong about Henry; I was prematurely judgmental.

Henry seems fundamentally self-aware and has a sense of decency and he truly enjoys coaching and being around young people (but not in a creepy way, at all).  He identifies with his students.  I can tell that he is probably a good coach, because he is skilled, and he cares.  And he has passion.  He loves what he does.

Well, his wife left him because of the drinking (and, presumably, the host of issues that go along with it).

He went to 60-day inpatient rehab and ended up in my support group.

Henry has adolescent children.   Only a few years younger than the young adults he coaches.

I want to shake him and say, Don’t you understand that they will still forgive you…?  There is still time.  What they want, more than anything, is to believe their father loved them more than drinking.  If you can turn a corner on this, you will be a hero to them.  They will forgive your previous selfishness and addiction, because they need you and they still need to believe in your love.  

If you don’t, in ten years they will hate your guts. 

You will lose your career, because, eventually, you’ll miscalculate your inebriation and be drunk at work around your students.  Almost every alcoholic I know, despite their best efforts, has been drunk when they didn’t mean to be drunk.  And when you are drunk around your students, the parents are going to flip and you are going to be canned.  

How is the job market looking for 55-year-old baseball coaches…?   

You also went to rehab during the school year on your insurance’s dime.  That means that people are watching you now.

You can still pull out of it and save your life and your relationships with the people who love you.  Maybe even your wife back.   I know she still hasn’t completely written you off because she is willing to do marriage counseling if you stay sober, so at least she’s willing to listen. 

It hurts me–which is, admittedly, entirely my own issue–because I see what this man has to lose, and I am rooting for him so hard, and I don’t want him to end up estranged.  It hurts me to see other addicts standing on the precipice.

If I ever had a child, I’d like to think that I’d do anything, including fighting against myself at the most primordial level, to give them the love and leadership they need and deserve.  This is not a slight against Henry.  It is about what my concern provokes within me; this is partially honest concern for him and partially my projection issues.  I sit there with this man twice a week, and I want him to succeed and fight so much.  Neither of my parents resisted themselves.

I don’t know what else to say.

Disulfiram (Antabuse) Update: Peripheral Neuropathy

Bad news:  I have to discontinue antabuse treatment.  I’m writing about it on the blog just in case it may be helpful to some worried person googling their side effects on the internet.  I’ve also posted my experience on two of the big drug review websites.

I took 250 mg antabuse for 99 days.  The only side effects were mild headache and a bad metallic taste in my mouth, both of which stopped after about two weeks as my body adjusted to the medication.  Then it was smooth sailing until this week.  I fully intended to take this drug indefinitely as long as my liver stayed healthy.  I like it.  It works for me.  It provides me with a nice fluffy comforting security blanket.  I feel like I might as well be living in a world without ethyl alcohol.

Well, this week I noticed that my lower legs were feeling a somewhat numb below the shin and above my ankle.  I had no idea what it could be, as I’ve never experienced anything like it before.  I’d been writing at my computer for about five hours straight that day, so I figured that maybe it was a circulation issue (?) and I am already starting to get old and decrepit (?).  I went out to get some exercise.

It did not go away and sleeping on it didn’t help.  After a few days, I thought maybe it was something like my carpal tunnel syndrome, only in my legs.  But I’m not typing and using a mouse with my legs and feet, right?

I started researching more about the side effects of antabuse online.  Among the user reviews at webmd (read em and weep.  There but for the grace of God go I…), I found a review by a woman who started feeling numbness in her feet, which eventually spread up her limbs and through her body.  Her symptoms started approx. 90 days after beginning treatment.  Her physician diagnosed her with neuropathy from the antabuse.

Fuck my life.  I made an appointment with my doctor, and, yes, that’s what has happened to me.   Neuropathy is an uncommon but known side effect.   Most people don’t experience it, but I do, and it’s just my bad luck.  🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁   I’m sitting here now with this weird numb feeling on parts of my legs.  It’s been 6 days now.  It’s not terrible and I don’t even notice it unless I’m paying attention, but it’s there, all right.

I have to stop taking the pills immediately.  The good news is that I reported the symptoms very quickly and the doctor says the nerve damage will probably reverse itself.

I still have access to the medical literature through the university, so spent a few hours studying the research.  This is from an abstract of an article that’s not behind a paywall:

“Disulfiram (Antabuse) can produce neuropathy in daily doses of less than the usually recommended 500 mg. The four recent cases reported in this paper emphasize the need for greater recognition of this condition. Nerve biopsies showed axonal degeneration…Disulfiram neuropathy occurs after a variable latent period (mean 5 to 6 months) and progresses steadily. Slow improvement may occur when the drug’s use is stopped; often there is complete recovery eventually.” *

Neuropathy is serious shit.  If you’re on antabuse and you experience numbness or pins and needles in your legs or hands, get it checked out right away.  Don’t wait.  Some of these poor cases in the articles didn’t seek medical attention until the symptoms were crippling them.

Now what…?  I guess I’ll try Naltrexone.  It’s a completely different type of medication.  The counselor running the therapy classes I attend reports very high patient satisfaction rates.  A pharmacist I know also recommends it.

If anyone reading this has any experience with it, one way or another, please leave a comment or send me an email: piecesofmargo@gmail.com

 

* Watson C.P., Ashby P., and Bilbao J.M. (1980)  “Disulfiram Neuropathy” Canadian Medical Association Journal  Jul 19; 123(2): 123-126

(21) Things I Lost While Drinking

Every hard drinker will tell you: you lose things when you’re drunk.   I am not normally a forgetful person, and if I’m wearing or carrying something expensive, I watch it like a hawk.  The person who leaves their cell phone on the table when they go use the restroom?  Or their Kindle on the control bar of the treadmill at the gym?  That’s not me.

Almost everything I’ve lost in recent memory–say, the last several years–I lost after I’d been drinking.  Some of these I misplaced after two or three glasses of wine and some of them I lost in blackouts.  A few were retrieved, or returned to me later.  A few were abandoned because I was unable or unwilling, for various reasons, to return to the scene of the crime.   Most were just….gone.

  • At least three different earrings, one of which was real gold.  Women who wear earrings inevitably lose them, but nothing will make it happen more often than booze.  Yeah, long hair + winter scarf + drinking = lost earring
  • A brand new pair of prescription eyeglasses.  They were dark pink wire frames in a cat-eye shape, and they were beautiful.  They were lost sometime over the course of a holiday weekend at The Kitano hotel–I think I left them in the pocket of a bathrobe, but I really couldn’t tell you.  I also lost a ring that weekend, which was found and returned by the housekeeping service (I gave them a $50 reward for that), but the glasses were never recovered.
  • Two brand new unopened tubes of Retin-A, a prescription-only skin treatment I’d just purchased from the dermatologist.  What better way to celebrate an expensive doctor’s appointment at 2 PM than a martini?  Bombay Sapphire, dirty, with olives.  I think that I left the Retin-A on the train.
  • One of my student’s midterm exams.  I only lost one exam or paper in my entire teaching career, but, yes, I did lose this one.  Left on the table (I think) at a sidewalk cafe.
  • Contact lenses.  Many, many contact lenses.  Usually at the end of the night, when I was trying to take them out of my eyeballs.  They never made it back in the case, and I’d find them on the floor or the bathroom porcelain the next morning, all sad and dried out.  Not unlike yours truly.
  • A pair of black knee-high Camper boots, lost at the Hotel Wales.  I liked that old-fashioned, stuffy hotel.  It saw a lot of action in 2010.
  • My first Kindle, lost at a bar on the Upper West Side.  I’m not sure which bar.
  • Two Fleck riding crops, each lost at a different location.  I am of the opinion that Fleck makes the best and most attractive crops in the world (but if you have another suggestion, I am willing to listen).   One of them, I sneaked into the Surgeon’s bag as a prank.  He pulled most of it out the next day, in front of his class (Oh boy, was I in trouble for that one.  I consider this crop lost-while-drunk because I hid it when I was drunk, and I never got it back).  The other riding crop was lost at a fetish party in Montclair, New Jersey.
  • Probably a dozen books or magazines.  You know that person who sits by himself at the bar and reads?  That’s me.  Oh God, did I read in bars.  Writing notes to myself in the margins.  Sometimes, the next day, I couldn’t remember what I’d read, but I know that I read it, because I saw the notes.  Off the top of my head, I left my copy of The Forger’s Spell at a bar in Boston.  I remember that one because this dumb Irish doctor kept trying to talk to me.  Hello!  If I wanted to talk, I wouldn’t be reading!
  • A switchblade.  I had to hide it because the police were going to search my bag.  Where I come from, it’s not a huge deal, but in New York I would have been arrested on the spot.  Anyway, I don’t remember what I did with it.
  • Umbrellas.  If you live in NYC and take public transit, you will lose at least one umbrella per year.  If you drink, you will lose four or five.
  • Cigarettes, before I quit smoking.  Marlboro Reds first, then Marlboro Lights. Yes, I smoked the cowboy white trash cigarette brand.  Don’t forget LIGHTERS, because I lost those, too.
  • Two debit cards, left at the bar with the check.  I got both of these back the next day.
  • A bag of treats for Parrot (Parrot RIP).  Lost between the pet store and home.  No idea.
  • The Power of Myth on DVD.   I had to replace it, and it was expensive.
  • A pink lace camisole from Express, lost on a date with Matt, this guy I used to date.  I have absolutely no idea what happened to it, because we tore the place up looking for it in the morning.  Maybe he stole it…?  Men steal clothes sometimes.
  • Money.
  • Metro cards.  Lots and lots of metro cards.
  • My dignity.