World AIDS Day 2018…My Day of Reflection

Yesterday was December 1st, which is designated as “World AIDS Day”. This year was the 30 year marker for observance of this day. HIV and AIDS have been around long before this day was designated to bring the crisis to front-mind awareness.

I was diagnosed in August of 1993. I had been in a “no-risk” space at that point for approximately 3+ years…so, I was infected in the late 80’s. I actually am one of the rare few who know exactly when and where I was exposed to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). It was a one-time share of a needle, which was very out of character for me, but it happened due to the situation at that moment. I don’t know if it’s “good” or “bad” that I actually know my infection route. I guess it’s good in the sense that I never wonder “how” I got the virus. Yet, it’s bad in the sense that it makes me “blame” someone else in some ways, when it actually was entirely my choice to share that night and thus my own fault. I have always worked to take responsibility for my own actions and I made a split second choice that night that was the wrong choice and thus changed my life – or at the very least altered the trajectory. We never know what’s going to be handed to us in our lives, we just never know. 

In the 1990’s I lost quite a few friends in the height of the AIDS epidemic. Prior to knowing my own positive status I was working with local organizations to spread prevention information.  In the summer of 1992 there was a March on Washington (I’m sure that many of you remember) and it was one of the very last times that the AIDS Quilt was displayed in it’s entirety on the Mall in Washington DC. I was there that day; I walked the quilt with my best friend, Nancy. I was moved to tears over and over that day. Each of those panel represented someone’s life. Each panel is 3 ‘x 6’ in size, representing the basic size of a coffin. Every panel was handmade by someone who loved that person or even a group of people would together make a memorial panel. There was something cathartic in the whole scene. 

I vividly remember sitting down on one of the benches on the edge of the Mall with Nancy, taking in the enormity of the display. It covered the whole Washington Mall. Quite the feat of volunteerism to get it displayed with huge amounts of care and dignity shown by all of them. The quilt idea was borne of Cleve Jone’s incredible mind. It’s called The Names Project and is still in operation today. The quilt now travels in smaller displays around the country. I’m not sure how big it would be to be once again displayed in it’s entirety. I highly recommend that you visit the Quilt’s page and take some time to look it all over, reflect, learn and NEVER FORGET. 

The display that day brought my mind very close to beginning to think about getting tested myself. Up to that point I had not sought out testing for myself. I naively figured that since I hadn’t been using illicit injection drugs for over 3 yrs. and I hadn’t been sexually promiscuous with anyone who I thought of at that time as a risk, that I couldn’t possibly have gotten infected. That was pretty standard thinking at that time. We have learned so much since! I recall having a physical reaction as I walked through the miles of panels and I shudder to think that now the Quilt has more than doubled in size. It still gets displayed, in partial displays, around the world.

So, that was the beginning of me thinking about getting tested. Finally in July of 93 I got pneumonia and my then therapist urged me to get tested; just so I would at least know if there was any chance I had been exposed during my drugging days. So, in mid-August I visited the Feminine Health Center. I was paired up with a great counselor, Assiah, who interviewed me in-depth about my history and possible risk factors. Then we drew blood and it was sent out to the lab for testing. The whole process I remember cost me $25. But in my mind I was going to come back negative and those who kept urging me to get tested would shut up. The tests at that time took 2 weeks to process and you had to go back in person to receive your results. On Aug. 31, 1993 I went back for my results.  

I was taken into the private discussion room by Assiah. She quickly closed the door, spun around and said “You’re positive.” then burst into tears. I stood there stunned. I didn’t know what the fuck to do at that point. She was obviously upset at having to tell me this news. Come to find out, as she told me later, she had never had to inform a woman of a positive outcome before, only men. And the fact that I was lesbian and was HIV+ was very unique. Lesbians are known to be in the least-risk group for infection and were usually on the front-lines of care and prevention.

I remember sitting down and putting my head in my hands. I was super confused. I felt like I had literally been gut punched and was gasping for air. There was now an expiration date stamped on my forehead. Fuck. I knew this was not going to be a good experience; nope, not good. I asked for a second test and had more blood drawn for it, but I knew the result would still be the same. I now had to figure all of this out. I had to first tell my family, and I knew that would be the hardest thing. And I had to get educated; to learn how I was going to beat this beast within.

I have lots of side stories of telling various people in my life about my infection and how it related – or not – to them and our relationships. My family all gathered at my home at the time, and I told them all together. They, of course, had lots of questions, were very upset and concerned for me, all while bursting with love and support for me. Thank my lucky stars for this, I don’t know what I would have done had my family shunned me, as happens in so many instances. Things would have definitely turned out very differently had that been my case. I am super grateful that it was not, but I feel deeply for those who do encounter that kind of response – especially from family and close friends.

My life changed on that day. It was a definitively distinct change. I could no longer be as casual as I had previously been about love, life and living. I quit drinking immediately. I also discovered on that same day that I am co-infected with hepatitis C, a common hepatitis for IV drug users to contract. I had been an on again off again kind of alcoholic. If I wasn’t shooting hard drugs I was drinking myself into comas. Yes, some serious self-destructive behavior, I know. I figured I wasn’t going to live long at that point. Back then the average time between diagnosis and death was 3-5 years, sometimes a little longer for women. I just concluded that my future was over; I had no future in my mind at that time. But I was determined to educate myself and those around me so I could live as long as possible, as healthy as possible. 

So much has gone on in my life since that hot August day in 1993. Life has a way of changing continuously. We grow. We learn. We lose. We win. And life just continues to go on. I had been handed a massive challenge and there’s nothing that I like more than a good fight! I put my whole being into becoming as educated and informed as humanly possible. I began living a cleaner, healthier life. I learned to love those who loved me with a renewed fierceness and determination. I stopped being a total asshole and adopted a kinder, gentler way of conducting myself. And I fought. 

Today, I am healthy and doing very well. My journey hasn’t been so smooth sometimes; I’ve struggled with addiction all of my adult life. It rears it’s ugly head occasionally and it’s a battle to the death for me. I’ve had many, many good years; fun years and years full of awesome memories and tons of love. I’ve travelled, farmed, built, raised, and let go of things when the time came. I’ve had a couple of spectacular relationships that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I discovered real love and basked in it like a snake in the sun. I’ve lived a pretty decent life; being lucky enough to have access to great medical care and the cutting edge in medication I remain healthy and happy.

So, yesterday is my annual day to reflect on these years of living with HIV and to remember those friends of mine who didn’t have the good outcome that I’ve been gifted. I remember their faces, their voices, the laughter and the crying; every one of them beautiful and a gift to earth in their own ways. May they be dancing wherever they are. 

Peace ~ MB

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Pulling It All Together

Writing again from my spot of dirt on this big blue marble that we all inhabit.

I am venturing into pulling all of my web content together so that it’s all linked and easy to navigate.  This is no easy task.  Over the last 10 years I have spread myself out a bit across the web, in some good ways…and in some no-so-good ways I am finding.  So, I thought that with the new changes and updates to my two major go-to sites, YouTube and WordPress, that it’s high time for me to get my web presence shit together.

This will be the focus of my weekend.  I’ve been reading up and watching videos on all of the new things we can do on both sites, the costs associated with upgrading each of them, and I’m pulling all of my social media pages into the mix as well, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.  I am seeing linking it all together as a way to have some consistency in my presence.

On YouTube my videos are all very old now.  Outdated, and not very reflective of who I now am.  I haven’t been posting much in the last 2 years, and so much has changed.  I have grown and changed in so many ways.  And I definitely like who I am now far better than who I was even 4 years ago.  Life is happier.  I am happier, healthier, and personally more enthusiastic about life and whatever lies in my future.  So, I am going to review all of my old video content and most likely remove most of them from public viewing.  I’ll keep some of the older, funny, or interesting ones but I am sure that most of the over 500 I did will end up on a private list.  Of course, I’ll personally keep them for the hell of it, and to look back on in years to come.

It’s kind of the same way with WordPress.  I need to review and archive many of the less relevant ones.  My blog has been a sort of diary on some days, and those are less interesting and kind of pointless to keep up in public viewing space.  When I upgrade my WordPress to the Premium package it will afford me the ability to do a LOT more with the page, too!  I will be able to share video and audio content, have a direct email address linked to the page and will have an actual web address.  It will be so much cleaner and nicer looking, so hopefully it will be more interesting and/or fun to read my posts.  I’ll depend on all of YOU to let me know; to give me some feedback and to help me tweak things to improve the whole experience for both of us.

…A Little Personal Life Update…

I know that I haven’t been very good getting posts up lately.  I seem to start one and get half way through it and a squirrel runs by….*poof*…it never gets finished or posted.  Story of my life is half-finished tasks….dealing with adult attention deficit disorder and a bit of OCD thrown in for good measure, makes completing things a challenge sometimes. Which is why I have designated this weekend to focus completely on over-hauling my web pages, social media and pulling it all together.

Everything else is going pretty damned good.  Work is going well, I still like my job and just celebrated 2 years there back on January 14th.  Feels like it’s been much longer, but many things can – and did – happen in those 2 years.  I moved into this house on Dec. 3, 2015 and started the job on Jan. 14, 2016.  There were different people in my life back then, and life was not going very smoothly.  I had too many demons in my world at that time.  I was involved in a toxic relationship of sorts, and wasn’t treating myself very good at all.  Not a healthy way to live I discovered.

It took me some time, and I had to go through rough terrain, but I managed to work my way back to a really super good place in life.  I’m far more healthy, and way more happy!  I don’t constantly question if I am doing the right thing anymore.  I don’t feel over-stressed about how other people are feeling or doing.  I’m not trying to please anyone, just worrying about myself and my own happiness.  And through that re-set of my mind, I have found a renewed energy and enthusiasm for living life to it’s potential.

I am very grateful for where I am today.  I have a pretty nice living space, two awesome little companion dogs, my best friend living just up the road, great family support, a good job, and the possibility of a new romantic relationship on the horizon.  What the hell more could I even wish for??

Sure, I still have the stupid things happen, like the thermostat for my heating system shorted out last weekend.  It got pretty freaking cold in here!  I had to go purchase a new thermostat unit from Lowe’s and replace the burnt out one.  I’m glad my Dad taught me to do things like that.  I got it done, but unfortunately found that the furnace burner was bad as well…so I had a repairman come out on Super Bowl Sunday to replace the burner motor.  Luckily it was around 1pm, and not later!  So, I got to go to a Super Bowl game party and watch my team lose…sadly.  But we don’t need to talk about that.  There’s always next season!

I also go pneumonia in January.  But I caught it really quickly and got right in to see my doctor.  Antibiotics, steroids, and an inhaler…and it was gone about 5 days later.  I lost a couple of days of work, but it’s all good.  I recovered and am back to smartass self.  🙂

I now have this kind of attitude that you cannot stop things from happening most of the time.  You can be as careful as you want, and wear your seatbelt, but there are times when things just happen in life and you just have to get through it; deal with it and keep on going.  I find very few things that I face that I cannot handle in some way.  Keeping a calm attitude is the key; not letting myself get unduly upset or stressed out when it’s something that I just can’t change, but have to deal with head-on.

By changing up my attitude, and adding the right vitamins, I avoided the seasonal depression that I usually get.  This winter has actually been pretty good.  Right now I can’t even remember the last time I felt depressed – which is awesome!  I like the happy-go-lucky me WAY better!  I have more energy and physically feel stronger and healthier than I have in quite a few years.  I am eternally grateful to modern medicine for that.  By keeping my chronic health condition in check and staying true to my recovery program, I have improved my health immensely.  It’s just good to feel good.

I still have my share of worries.  I worry about the toxic political climate in my country.  I worry about my aging parents.  And I worry about friends who are struggling.  I try to do as much about those worries as I am able to do.  I stay well-informed about world happenings; politics and events.  I keep a close eye on my parents, calling them daily to check in and make sure they are well.  I call, text and email various friends, just to stay in touch and to let them know I am thinking of them.  While I wish I could be more of a help on all fronts, I realize I am doing all that I can possibly do as it is.  I try not to let worries take up too much space in my head.  Space in there is expensive and worries don’t pay rent!  I have many more important things to think about, to plan and to do than to fill my head with worrying about things that I cannot control.

That’s what’s been going on with me.  January and February are always fairly slow months.  My birthday was in January.  My family gave me an Amazon Echo (Alexa) and I really love the thing!  I use it to do lots of things, from listening to music to making lists for shopping, tasks, appointments and more.

Thus far February hasn’t been very eventful.  I’ve had to do repairs on my truck, and repairs on my heating system.  I’ve been watching the news about the chaos and calamity in Washington DC and getting angry over that sporadically.  It’s this gut-level sort of anger.  Anger at why those grown men and women cannot seem to ACT like adults, and have so much scandal and corruption going on constantly.  I admit that I am a new junkie; a political pundit of sorts.  I have some strong opinions and views on these topics – as you probably already know from some of my previous writings.

I’ll wrap this up here.  I am going to drop in a few photos of the snow, Nola, Lulu and myself all taken in the last couple of weeks.  Tell me, how has your winter been going?  Done anything fun or interesting so far in 2018?

Peace…~MB

 

 

 

Personal Stuff, Updates

Hello my fearless readers! I hope you are all in the very best of health and spirits – wherever you are on this big blue marble we call Earth.

The weather is turning here in southern Maine.  It’s beginning to feel a lot like Autumn, or Fall as we call it here.  Morning temperatures are pretty cool, down around 50F and it does warm up into the 70F range by mid day, but summer is now behind us as well as her very hot, humid weather.  Personally, I love this time of year. I love the smells, like fresh cut hay, newly fertilized fields, pumpkin and apple pies being baked, and that crisp clean smell of the ocean as the tides roll in and out.  Yes, this time of year just feels good.  I like being able to wear my sweatshirts and flannel shirts, and dressing in layers is key as you want to shed some as the days warm up.  I  like that I don’t have to run the air conditioners in the house – and have actually removed them and stored them for the winter – yet, I also don’t have to run the furnace for heat either.  Living with the ambient natural temperatures is perfect.  Sleeping is great, the cooler weather makes it so for me anyway.  And days are just comfortable.

I’ve been doing all the regular stuff.  Working, keeping up with the house and taking care of the dogs.  Everything is going pretty well.  I get to talk to my girlfriend every day, and we are doing really well.  Thank goodness for Skype!  And messenger of course.  what the hell did we do in days before cell phones and computers?  Dating was very different back then for sure, you were relegated to dating only those you could meet in your local circles.  I’m really glad that’s not still the way it is.  I never would have met this awesome woman had it not been for social media – this blog specifically.  And I’m really glad I met her and have gotten to know her.  She’s planning to come here in late November.  She’s got a lot of work between now and then, thus we are waiting.  I’m really looking forward to us spending a week just hanging out together.  It’s going to be great.

I decided not to bounce the friend of mine, who is staying here, out of the house just yet.  After giving it some careful consideration I decided to make a rule that politics are not to be discussed and told him to please be considerate of the fact I don’t want to hear it.  I felt bad cuz I know he doesn’t have much choice other than moving back to the motel.  Thus my choice to give it another try.  So far so good…although I am having some issues with his excessive alcohol consumption.  I don’t think that he will be here very long, too many things tell me this.  He’s planning to head to Florida the second week of December, and I think I can deal with him until then.  We shall see.  Regardless, he won’t be coming back to this house when he returns to the Maine coast, and returns to fishing, in the Spring. I’ve already decided that definitively.

I’ve been feeling really good.  Met with my doctors, each of them, in the last week.  Been having some issues with my c-spine, pain radiating down into my arms and hands.  So I am on a non-narcotic pain reliever called Celebrex and I have a brace on my left wrist.  We think I may also have carpal tunnel in that arm, thus the brace.  Both have seemed to help, I am in far less pain now.  Then I met with my HIV specialist yesterday.  My current tests just came back from the lab and I’m doing great.  T-cells up around 790 and my viral load is remaining undetectable.  This makes me really happy.  It means the cocktail of drugs that I am on is working and keeping my immune system healthy.  I’m feeling excellent, although I still battle a little weight gain, but I’m not real worried about it right now.  I know it’s a result of healthier living and being on the Suboxone…got to give a little to get a lot, so I’m just letting it ride.  I’ll work on losing the weight along the way.

My dogs are doing great.  Here’s a cute pic of them invading my spot in the bed…

2017-09-02 13.25.44

Well, I’m off to Groups…my weekly check in is on Wednesdays.  Things are going well with it and I’m continuing the program.  Staying clean is pretty important to me right now.

I hope you all have a great night!

Peace!  ~MB

The Insomnia Files

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I’m awake. I should be sound asleep, dreaming of sex or something equally as deviant. But, hell no, I am wide awake and just wishing I could sleep some more; hoping that maybe after I write a little and just chill that I’ll be able to fall back to sleep for a few hours.

The news in America is just so troubling. From Trump’s continuous blunders and embarrassments to the devastation from Hurricane Harvey on Texas and Lousiana, you just can’t escape it. Every news channel is focused on these points; these topics of communal interest.

I, like everyone here, am so saddened by what is happening in Texas/Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast of Texas. From Corpus Cristi to Houston, and every small town and city in between there has been so much loss and destruction. This hurricane is the single largest natural disaster that the USA has ever witnessed or experienced on her own soil. And my fear is that we are only at the beginning of the losses – there will be so much fallout from the storm in the form of human suffering, pollution, ecological disaster, more fires, massive loss of personal property and real estate, and more. Yes, I think things will get much worse there before this is all over with.

The water is still mostly there, stagnant and putrid. The rescues continue with people still being IN the water, standing in it, sometimes neck deep. Animals are still being found, some lost, some abandoned at the last minute, and all needing food and care. Humane societies from around the country are trying to help out; some even taking in many animals to care for and help find homes for. I am sure there will be dogs headed up to Maine, I saw where the Maine shelter was preparing for them. I might even have to find room for one more little fur baby in my home for one of them.

My employer donated half a million dollars to the Hurrican Harvey relief effort; $250K to the Red Cross for use specifically for their efforts in Texas/Louisiana and another $150K to our company employee fund that will be used to help employees of the company who are affected by the storm. I thought this was very generous of them. And it makes me a little proud. At work, we are asking customers to join us by donating their change to the cause. I don’t mind asking knowing that the company themselves have made this huge donation as well. Basically, I ask each customer that comes through my line to donate the change rounded up to the nearest dollar, like if the sale is $5.47 I would ask that they donate .53 cents to the relief fund, rounding up so that the customer pays an even $6.00. Most say sure and are glad to do so. The money we raise at the counter there will go to the Red Cross’s efforts in the hurricane zone as well.

I can’t even bring myself to comment on Trump’s actions and behavior during this whole crisis. Let’s just say I believe it’s just plain – using one of his own favorite words – SAD.

Hopefully, our government will not make this a huge political battle to get funds to assist the victims and to rebuild the area.

Of course, the immigration debate and the government’s threat to deport all illegal immigrants will directly affect the rebuilding efforts. Ten percent of the population there is illegal, and most of them are construction workers. It’s just a shame that it will all become such a political battle that will severely affect so many innocent lives.

It’s turned very cold here at night. Temperatures are dropping down into the 40’s at night, brrrr…chilly willy! I wake up mornings and I’m damned near freezing! But I have yet to turn on my furnace! I refuse to start burning valuable oil, which has now skyrocketed in price because of the hurricane. They shut down all of the refineries in the Houston – Corpus Cristi area, which is where most of our heating oil and gasoline fuels come from. I ordered a load of heating oil this last Tuesday and got it at a price of $1.90/gal. Today, just a just 4 days later it’s up over $2.30/gal. And gasoline, OMG, that has gone crazy high! I paid $2.11/gal at the beginning of the week, and last night I passed the station where I usually fill up and it was at $2.67/gal.!!! That’s one helluva increase in just those few short days!!!! So, burning oil right now is a commodity that I can do without. I’ll just wear extra layers in the mornings and shed them as it warms up. The daytime temps have been up around 70-75.

With Fall coming in so early the leaves on the trees have even begun to change. It is pretty early for this to start happening here, which means that peak leave change and peak colors will be fairly early as well. I’m hoping to take a drive up to the White Mountains this season to see the foliage there. Maybe go over to Cathedral Ledge and check it out from the cliffs.

I finally got to the doctor for the pain in my arms and neck. And now I have a brace on my left wrist, immobilizing it pretty much. That seems to help. That and the addition of a non-narcotic pain reliever called Celecoxib. Between the two I’m considerably less pain and discomfort. The doctor ordered x-rays of my c-spine area, and I haven’t heard back on those yet. We’re not sure if the pain is being caused by nerve damage in the c-spine, or if it’s carpal tunnel type stuff that’s happening.

Also had my blood drawn for my quarterly level testing to make sure I am staying healthy and my medications are working properly to keep my HIV suppressed. I meet with my specialist about that this week. I’m feeling just fine, so I am not worried as I am sure the tests will show that I continue to be healthy and my virus is being kept in check.

I’ve been spending a good amount of time online and on Skype with my sweetheart. She was out of the country for a little while, traveling for her work. We managed to stay in touch thanks to Facebook’s messenger even during that time. I’ve really gotten spoiled by being able to Skype video call with her quite a bit. She’s really become the Rockstar in my life, and I’m so friggin happy about that!

Alright, it’s dawn here in Maine. Looks like it’s going to be a nice clear day, not much for clouds in the sky that I can see. I’m not sure what the day will bring, but probably some garden work and a run to the post office to mail a package to start off.

Here’s a new pic of the front of my house with the freshly painted porch and some new flower baskets and hangings.  The old place is looking pretty good!   Peace!  ~MB

2017-08-27 18.47.47

An Addict in Your In-Box…

candleSo, you see a lot of articles and television stuff about the “opioid crisis” in America lately.  This is a real, serious epidemic here.  Let me rant on a bit here and give you some of the scoop from inside an opioid addict’s life and mind…bear with me, this may be a bit harsh to some, and I also offer up a trigger warning – some of this is very graphic.

Let me dispel some basic myths first.  No one “wants” to be an opioid addict.  It happens for various reasons.  I have seen the gamut of people addicted to heroin and prescription opiates.  From high-school aged kids – both from up-scale homes and street raised – to doctors, lawyers and pharmacists themselves.  I know addicts in every kind of job and walk of life. The addiction doe NOT discriminate at all.  YOU can easily fall victim to this powerful drug epidemic.  Break your leg, they will prescribe you oxycodone, probably 15mg tablets, 4-6 times a day…take those for 4-5 days and POOF you ARE addicted to them and when you stop taking them you WILL experience withdrawals, irritability, nausera, and depression – stay on them long enough and those things will all occur at once, sending you into a desperate need and search for something to stop that pain and agony you are going though.  You either get a new prescription, a refill, or you “borrow” some from your neighbor, sister, brother, other relatives, or kids.  Everyone seems to have them nowadays.

Not only do opioid drugs like oxycodone or heroin, morphince, methadone and Vicodin help to block pain in the body, they also induce a euphoric state; a feeling of well being and they boost your energy.  Doesn’t that sound like something we ALL would like to have?  Wouldn’t you like to simply pop a little blue pill and have your day go 100% better, have lots of energy, have a nice warm feeling in your body and feel at peace?  THAT is what opioids do, they enhance the sense of well-being, feeling good, and energy and those become feelings that you need every day.  I’m sure there is a chemical thing that happens in the brain that causes all of this, I am not a medical professional – I am an addict – and thus I can only give you a very personal view and personal first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to BE an addict; how I got here and how it entwines with my life.

As I was saying, anyone – YOU – can become an addict in a short few days.  Prescription opiates (pain killers) are the gateway to addiction.  It’s a double bladed sword, we need something to relieve pain when necessary.  Suffering with severe physical pain is never a good thing for anyone.  Some pain, such as that associated with cancers eating away at a body, must be combatted with prescription opiate pain killers.  I would never want someone who is going through that kind of intense pain to NOT have what they need just because a doctor is worried about addiction.  Addiction at that point is mute.

When one goes from a prescription pain killer addiction to street drug addiction it is always for one reason – they were cut off; denied further prescription medication.  THIS is the part that the medical community needs to really, seriously deal with .  When you develop this addiction by “accident” because you are put on prescription opiates they need to EDUCATE the patient – YOU – about several things.

  • #1.  The chance is VERY good that you will develop both a physical and mental addiction to the “feel good” pain killers.
  • #2 You cannot just STOP taking them without going through what can be severe withdrawals, like vomiting, the shits, shakes, yawns, sneezes, watery eyes, irritability, depressiona and yes, sometimes even suicidal thoughts.
  • #3 Over time you will require higher and higher doses (usually in milligrams, mgs) to achieve that same pain relieving, feel good feeling.
  • #4 Never mix opiates with benzos…cocktail for death…Google it.  This can also cause some weirdness and has frequently lead to suicide in many patients.  Same goes for mixing these powerful opiate drugs with alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamines.  Always consult your doctor – or google if you are a street user – for information.  Even better, don’t be stupid and mix ANYTHING with your prescription pain killers just to be on the super safe side.
  • #5 When it’s time to stop the pain killer you need to talk to your doctor AT LENGTH about HOW you are going to do that without going off the deep end, or seeking them (or substitute drugs) outside of medical care.  i.e. on the streets.  You should develop a “plan” to taper down your dose slowly over a couple of weeks until you can stop without going into withdrawals, without having the DTs and without having serious “cravings” for the drug.

Addiction is serious.  It’s easy as pie to become an addict too.  As I have explained above it can happen in a snap with the simple injury that requires opioid pain relief.

Not all addicts entered the world of addiction via this prescription route.  Some started directly with street drugs, heroin, fentanyl, dilaudids, morphine, or opium.  They (we) start this way for other reasons.  But generally there IS pain involved – it might just be emotional pain one is trying to mask with the use of the drugs, it might be the remnants of a traumatic incident or situation in their (our) lives.  There are many reasons, each addict of this kind has their own.

My story:  As a kid I started to “dabble” in illegal substance abuse at an early age – 14.  I was emotionally disturbed, hiding my sexuality and identity all the time and under stress from doing that.  Doing recreational drugs with people I saw as “friends” at the time was an escape for me.  It made me feel good about myself and took the “pain” away for a little while.  I messed with a wide range of substances, pot, LSD, mushrooms, PCP, cocaine and prescription (illegally gotten) stuff like Vicodin and Percocet.

To keep it brief here, I stopped for a number of years.  But I was still an addict in my mind.  I still had the cravings, still had the inclination to “slip” although I did not for many years – 18 all told.

Then I fell into the prescription drug rats nest. I had degenerative disc disease in my back, herniated discs in my cervical spine and lower back as well.  I have neuropathy (a pain and tingling feeling in arms and legs) and I was miserable.

A doctor in Boston one day handed me a prescription for Oxycodone, 30mg tables (magic blue pills) and said, I quote, “They make these for a reason, you are the reason…you shouldn ‘t be in pain, these will help.  Let me know when you need more.”  unquote.  On that day I became a prescription opiate addict.  Those little blue pills helped me a LOT.  But not only did they mask all of the pain, they gave me a feeling of elation, lots of energy and took away my depression.  I thought they were gold.  And for the next several years – about 7 in all I guess – I got refill after refill, legally.  AND he added Morphine 30mg, 3x a day tablets (long acting contin) to my regimen.  My pain was under control.  But what I did not realize at the time was that I was becoming a serious prescription drug addict.

In my mind I was a recovered addict.  I quit the “drugs” I had been doing recreationally years prior, so I didn’t have a problem anymore — or at least so I thought.  And I was living a pretty “vanilla” lifestyle with my wife on the farm during those years, so I  definitely wasn’t an “addict” again.    Hell, I had a legal doctor’s prescription for the magic pills.  AND I had NO idea that I was actually part of the beginning of a huge epidemic in this country.  Yes, it was a rather naïve time in my life.

The story is one I know many can relate to.  As time went on I required more and more of the pills, higher doses.  My doctor happily obliged and upped my dosage so I wouldn’t run out of  pills.  Everything was going along swimmingly.  I was working, living and having a good life.

My life changed one day.  My marriage ended.  My friends were gone (with the ex). And I found myself alone.  I struggled a bit.  I ran into “old friends” from my younger days.  Some were not so good of influences on me.  One showed me that the magic pills (oxycodone 30’s) were great to “get high” on.  You could crush them and shoot them intravenously.  Somehow, at the time, my mind thought this was just a novel idea!  And thus began my “abuse” of my prescription drugs.

This lasted to the end of the 7th year on them.  Then, I changed doctors.  The new doctor wrote me for a while…then she got suspicious that I was abusing them and started to cut me back, told me I needed to wean off of them and find new ways to deal with the pain.  I worked on this, I did inter-skeletal injections, in my back, in my neck, and in my shoulders.  I continued to get the oxy’s for quite a while, just fewer of them, and by this time my “friends” were always around begging to buy them off of me, too.

I ended up at he Pine Care clinic.  Another name for legal prescription drug abuse in my opinion now.  They continued with the morphine 30’s and Oxy 15’s (yup down to 15s!) and I did that tight-rope walk for a while.  They would only give a 1 week supply at a time.  My “habit” – the amount I NEEDED to not be sick with withdrawals – was MORE than they were prescribing.  So I began also buying the thru other channels.  You can get anything you want if you know the right people and have the money.  I did that for a while…then the Pain Care clinic cut me off – COLD.  NO taper, NO weaning off, NO help whatsoever.  It was sheer, utter HELL for me.

That is when I took my addiction back to the illegal substance market.  I swapped out the oxycodone and morphine for heroin and fentanyl.

I tell you all of this to give you a personal chronology into the making of an opiate addict.  I just want people to be aware that ANYONE can be an addict.  This shit doesn’t care WHO you are, how much money you make, what kind of high powered job you have, who your parents are, or what your “social standing ” is in the world.  It will sneak up on you and bury your ass.

Today I am in recovery once again.  I no longer use any of the prescription or illegal substances.  No oxys, no herion, no fentanyl – and no other recreational or illegal drugs.   I am in group therapy weekly and on Suboxone strips daily.  Suboxone is a maintenance medicine that blocks the effects of opiate drugs in my system and helps control my cravings / urges.  Its’ working very well for me.  How long I will have to take it I do not know.  Could be 2 years, could be longer.

One day I will be free of all of it.  THAT I know.  In the meantime, I am here, I am fighting the good fight and I am winning.  I made it this far for a reason, as to what that reason is  remains to be seen.

I hope you got something from this.  Even if it was just a little better understanding that addiction is a disease that some of us have to battle for whatever reason.  We’re not “bad” people.  We’re not “criminals” just because we use.  We are your family, your neighbors, your grocer, the guy at the gas station, your lawyer…maybe even you.

Be kind to one another, because you never know what another person is dealing with behind the scenes.

Peace & Love.  ~MainelyButch   aka Ang

 

Depression, Meds, and Life Stuff…

It’s the end of July 2017…it’s a cool, rainy day here in southern Maine.  I am wearing a long sleeved T-shirt and jeans because it’s too cold for anything less!  I’ve got the windows shut (most of them) and the doors closed today.  Brrr.  This weather is just strange for this time of year.  Normally it’s 90 and humid as fuck.

Well….that got me far…I started this days and days ago.  Just never got back around to finishing it up.

I’ve been in a serious funk for about a week.  I’m in the midst of switching up my anti-depressant meds, for those of you who can relate, it’s not a fun time.  Your brain gets to depend on those chemicals to stay in balance.  So when you remove them things get a bit haywire.  I’m just lethargic and without any kind of will to do anything.  Living is a chore.  But, I’m not one to quit, so I’m hanging in and waiting on the new medication to be approved.  Fucking insurance companies.  They hold our lives hostile at times.  Evidently this new medication I am going to be taking, Trintellex, has to be pre-approved by my insurance company.  It will be a week tomorrow that I have been waiting.  And 3 weeks with no anti-depressants in my system.  Depression takes different forms for each of us.  With me it’s the lack of desire; the lack of enjoyment of life that really manifests.

I have a ton of shit to get done around here.  I’m behind on my gardening and the lawns really should be mowed tonight.  It’s 5:30pm now, so I am thinking that I will get ready and mow the lawns around 6:45 when the sun is setting and it’s at it’s coolest – and yet still enough daylight to see.  Normally I do enjoy mowing and grooming the yard.  It always makes me feel good to have it looking neat and tidy.  It also gives a temporary sense of accomplishment and well-being.

The veggie garden is going gang-busters.  It’s producing lots of nice cucumbers and zuchinni squash.  Tomatoes are green still, but will ripen soon (I am personally NOT a fan of tomatoes, but I grow them for others).  My herbs are really growing well.  I am not sure how to dry them, but I am going to research it and dry what I can for future use.  I have basil, rosemary, mint and others.  Damn, see I can’t even remember simple words at the moment, I had the list of herbs in my head and I cannot bring the names of them to the forefront of my brain to type here….another side effect of depression and lack of medication.

I have been researching some herbal anti-anxiety remedies, since I am banned from any benzos now.  I can no longer get the lorazapam or xanax.  So, I found two that are of interest to me.  Here are two pics of the bottles that I took while I was in Walgreens waiting for my weekly script.

I think I’ll get both of these products this week when I stop in there again this Wednesday and try them out.  Herbal is better than nothing I suppose.  And the valerian root extract that I tried made me kind of sick.  I didn’t get the relaxing results, but I sure did get a stomach ache and headache.  If you know of any really good ideas for anxiety reduction – besides meditation and reducing stress – those things are a given, and it’s not that I want to be under stress any more than anyone else does, but in order to live this weird thing that we call life you must be under pretty much constant stress.  You have to survive, and that in itself is stressful.

Ok, I’m off to mow those lawns….rawrrrrr!  Peace!  ~MB

A Glimpse into My Life

I know I’ve been writing about a lot of different things lately, like my political rants and things like that, so I thought I would write you all a personal note tonight, to say #1, I am very very appreciative for all of your presence here on my blog.  Thank you for your readership, comments, conversations and support.  It means a lot to me, I mean it.

On more personal notes, I’ve been doing quite well lately.  I’m strong in my recovery and have been attending Groups: Recover Together meetings every Wednesday.  It’s group therapy for opioid addicts, primarily heroin and oxycodone.  We meet weekly, voluntarily are tested for substances abuse, see the doctor once a month and pick up our Suboxone prescriptions.  The Suboxone is a life saver.  I haven’t felt this good about my recovery ever.  The suboxone kills the cravings for the drugs.  Flat out.  It’s a miracle drug in my opinion.  I had previously tried detoxing and maintaining with methadone, but I found that it made me high just like the heroin did and I didn’t want the “high” feeling.  With the suboxone you don’t get that, you just don’t have the craving for the opioid at all.  Don’t know why, but it works the balls!  I highly recommend it as part of your recovery program if you are an addict.

Also, the group therapy piece is important too.  It gives me a place where I can bring up subjects and talk about things that are challenging during this process, with other people who are in similar situations with their addictions; a place where I am not ashamed and can actually be proud of my accomplishments and have someone understand that pride.

Around home things are going really well.  I did run out of heating fuel this weekend, which was unfortunate.  I didn’t want to pay for an emergency weekend delivery so I borrowed two 5 gallon diesel fuel containers from my brother and hauled 20 gallons of diesel over (2 trips to the station) and put it in to burn until I can get 100 gallons of heating oil.  The hardest part was getting the furnace running again.  I had never had to do that before, so I watched a YouTube video on it, tried to bleed the line and get it running myself…no luck.  Several tries later, I conceded my defeat and called my heater technician.  He came by and was here all of 12 minutes, got it going and walked me through the entire procedure so that I can do it myself next time.  I just have to get over to Home Depot and pick up a jumper wire, which will help me to get it going in the future if this ever happens again.  I’m going to be a bit more vigilant now and not let it run out!  I did calculate and figured out that I am burning approximately 50 gallons of fuel mix per month, in the dead of winter, to heat this place.  That’s not bad!  And knowing this will give me a better idea of how to budget for next winter’s oil deliveries.  Live & Learn.

I have been uploading new videos to my YouTube channel.  It’s been a struggle to get back into the swing of doing videos.  Plus, of course, I have changed a little bit in the last couple of years, and the world has changed too.  I’ve gotten older, perhaps a bit wiser, and definitively more comfortable with myself.  It’s fun to go back sometimes and watch the really old videos of my younger, cockier self.  I feel like I am much more conscientious of what I am saying in my videos now.  I am more aware of my own internalized phobias and prejudices to begin with, and I fight to change those.  I never realized that one could have those types of things.  I like to think of myself as open minded and educated, but I had to admit that I, like most every person, also have my baggage and am not perfect in my thought processes.  Like today for instance, I was reading about the Russian people revolting against Putin and the powers that be in Russia where they suffer under his rule.  It occurred to me that while I hate Putin and Russian politics, I am not a hater of the Russian people, and I hope they over throw that demon.  Formerly, I would say I hated Russians…but it’s not exactly that way, it’s more a hating of the authoritarian rule of Russia and a healthy fear of it as well.  Am I making sense?

The first day of Spring was last week, but it still is very cold and wintery here in southern Maine.  I am really looking forward to some warmer weather, sunshine and the greening up of the landscape.  Right now everything is brown and dead looking, with smatterings of snowbanks that haven’t yet melted.  It will be good to see green grass and buds on the trees soon.  I always fight my depression more in the winter too.  Although this winter seemed to be a bit better on that front.  I had my best friend Linda around a lot and she helped me snap out of my moods quite often.  She wouldn’t LET me get sullen and depressed; she would refocus me on doing things to keep myself busy and not give me time to get bored, which often brings on the depression for me.  I really thank my lucky stars that she is there for me.  I’ve even come to depend upon her in many ways, which takes a large amount of trust for me to do.  She’s shown me real friendship, and for that I am grateful.

The dogs, Nola and Lulu, are doing great.  Of course they have been cooped up a lot with the inclement weather of winter too.  I try to get them out of the house any chance I get, taking them with me in the truck whenever possible.  They love to ride in the truck and are just as happy to wait for me in the truck when I get out to go into any place we stop at.  Thankfully they are good dogs, don’t chew or destroy stuff and can be trusted to wait patiently while I get things done.  As the days get warmer we will do more outings like going to the local beaches and parks for walks and outside time.  They also have a nice pen outside of my house that they can safely be outside in during good weather, and to do their business every couple of hours.  That pen is a lifesaver.  I built it right out my back door, so all I have to do is open the door and they can scoot out into their yard, which is like 20′ x 40′ in size.

So, there you have it.  A basic update about me.  No politics.  No deep questions.  Just a little window into my more personal side.  I’m healthy, happy and doing well.  And I hope all of you are too!  Peace!  ~MB