Friday, May 25, 2012

Who's counting?

I've been meaning to post here for the last several days, but I've been incredibly busy at work and with stuff around the house. Now I'm off work for five days--a sort of mini Memorial Day weekend "staycation"--so I figured I'd update everyone on how things have been going.

First off: My son is 62 days clean today. How do I know this? Not because I'm focusing on counting his clean time, but because he is focusing on counting his clean time. This is very different for him. During his previous streaks of sobriety, he wasn't always sure how long he'd been clean. If you asked him, he'd give an answer like, "I think it's about 34 days." Or, "I'm not really sure." But now he is totally aware of his status. I think that means he's "locked in"--at least for now.

Now, regular readers of this blog are probably wondering how I know what my son's up to, because in an earlier post I told you that we were cutting off all contact from him for six months, on the advice of his sponsor. That plan changed a bit for a couple of different reasons.

The main reason for the change is that 10 days ago my son had an issue with his heart. He texted my wife that he was having occasional irregular, rapid heartbeats and he was very concerned about it. He also told her that a doctor he saw in Palm Springs mentioned something about this problem several months ago.

While I suppose my wife and I could've let our son take care of this heart issue on his own--call a doctor, schedule an appointment, find a ride to the appointment, etc.--we decided to step in and help out. Because I myself suffer from atrial fibrillation, which can be hereditary, my wife and I decided it would be best to skip going to a regular doctor and take my son straight to a cardiologist. My cardiologist.

We were very fortunate that my son raised this issue on a Tuesday, because Tuesday is the only day my cardiologist--who is the best doctor I've ever had--is in the office. We were also lucky that he had had a cancellation for that day, because it normally takes months to get in to see him.

My wife called me at work to let me know she was taking our son to the appointment, and I left the office to meet them there. When my son was finally called in for his exam, I accompanied him; not because I was trying to be a control freak, but because I have a long-time rapport with the doctor and have a lot of experience with similar heart issues. Plus, I was generally concerned.

After the nurse gave my son an EKG, we had to wait about an hour for the doctor to come in. The doctor listened to my son's heart carefully and could not hear anything abnormal. He also said the EKG was totally normal. While the doctor said my son could possibly have atrial fibrillation--which can be hereditary--he said it was highly unlikely that he would have it at such a young age. He said it was more likely that my son has something called atrial premature beats, which is not as serious. And because my son has been experiencing these irregular beats only occasionally, the doctor did not want to put him on any medication at this point. The doctor told my son to let him know if he started having more frequent episodes, and asked him to come in and have an echocardiogram done the following week.

The most amazing part of this doctor's visit for me was the hour my son and I had to wait to see the doctor. During that hour, I had some of the best conversation I've had with my son in years. Not about anything in particular. Just about "stuff." It almost felt like I was having a dream or something. Seriously. My son and I hadn't talked like that in a long, long time. I even went out on a limb and asked him how he was doing with his sobriety, and whether or not he still has cravings.

His answer seemed very honest. He told me that he doesn't have cravings very often, but that he does have dreams about getting high. He added, "I know I can't go out and get high just once, though, because when I do my brain just tells me it wants more and more. And I don't want to deal with that shit anymore."

Yesterday my wife too our son to have his echocardiogram done, then took him to the urgent care clinic because he's been sick with a nasty sore throat/cold the last few days. After getting a prescription filled, they stopped by the house briefly for a "cat visit" before my wife dropped our son back off at his house.

I have to say, my son seems so much more level-headed now. The way he talks, the way he acts; it just seems so much more "normal." Hugging him and telling him that I love him felt so good yesterday.

Later on, my wife told me that our son told her he feels the best he's felt in years, even though he's sick with a cold. That alone speaks volumes to me.

So that's the health stuff. The other reason the "no contact at all for six months" plan has changed a bit is because the person who suggested it is no longer my son's sponsor. My son said they weren't seeing eye-to-eye on some things and that they both thought it best to amicably part ways. My son has a new temporary sponsor for now and says he'll see how that works out.

I should add that even though the strict "no contact" plan has technically been compromised, my wife and I are still committed to having very little contact with our son for a while. We still think it's the best way for him to gain independence and learn to figure things out on his own.

Some people may think we're being hypocritical by saying we want our son to figure things out on his own after we just took him to three doctors' appointments. But your kid's heart isn't something you really want to mess around with. So if us taking him to the doctor makes us hypocrites, I'll proudly accept that designation in this instance.

One more thing: I've said this before but I want to say it again. If you or someone you love is going through a problem with addiction, try your best to be open about it. I know it's not easy, but I really believe it's the only way the stigma associated with addiction will ever be lessened. I am very grateful that God gave me the ability to be totally transparent about my son's condition right from the start. I have nothing at all to hide and will talk to anyone about everything my son and our family have been through. I know some people might find that strange, but addiction is everywhere and can happen to anyone. There is nothing to be ashamed about.

Happy Friday and praise the Lord. My son is 62 days clean today. But who's counting?

"Everything I have to offer anyone...depends on me staying sober." --Anne Lamott

1 comment:

  1. A great post, Dean. You are a good man and I am lucky to know you. Keep fighting the good fight.