Saturday, January 28, 2012

"The Incident"

I'm currently working for an adult drug and alcohol rehab in Utah which has been both rewarding and challenging. I enjoy helping people, especially those who are trying to improve their lives and progress to reach their potential. It's not always easy but I feel needed for both patients and therapists and I have learned a lot and grown.

However last week was by far the worst day in my year of working there. I took half of the group to a recreation activity at a local trampoline gym. Unfortunately one client had smuggled drugs into the facility after a weekend pass (he had almost completed 60 days of treatment). He shared it with two other clients on the way to the activity and then decided to elevate their high by taking more when we got there. The used a synthetic drug that can't be traced in your urine but took way too much and by the time our session was over one client was babbling and acting stupid. He is a total jokester so I thought he was messing with me and after prodding him and telling him it wasn't funny anymore I told him to follow us out to the car.

When I got outside I found another client just sitting on some steps near the van and when I told him he needed to always wait for me he turned around and starting slinging a bunch of profanities. This didn't face me just caught me off guard but I don't think I'll be able to forget the look of his eyes. His pupils were the size of pins and it was as if he was possessed. I mean I could not even glimpse a part of his goodness or anything true to his nature. When I looked back inside and realized the first client had not "snapped out of it" I knew something was really wrong. I'd love to say how strong I was and how I heroically controlled the situation and made everything better.

In reality, I was completely overwhelmed and out of my comfort zone. The clients continued to be aggressive and incoherent and although the other clients were trying to help I was so lost. I started calling my supervisors only to completely start crying and already being sick and losing my voice they couldn't even understand me. We eventually got them the info and were instructed to load everyone up and head back to the house immediately.

Easier said then done, the client who was sitting out side was hitting and biting and cursing as two boys guided him into a bench seat. The other client was holding onto a fence and screaming and when they tried to lift him up went crazy swinging at anything he could. Finally once he calmed down they tried again and this time he started to pass out and go unconscious on us. Now I knew we had a bigger problem and that these boys were in danger of an overdose. Another call to my boss and we were now headed straight to the hospital. Oh it gets better, on the way to the hospital the unconscious client is turning grey and not breathing well and another client leans forward to inform me that she is positive a third client is high as well - I look in the rear view mirror and she similar eyes and know that we'll have to take care of that soon as well.

I pull up and have everyone wait in the car - come inside and while yes still crying explain my situation to the nurse who grabs some friends, I don't want the clients to hurt anyone, and they come out to the van to help get the clients onto beds. From there a lot was happening fast and slow at the same time, I'm trying to provide information to the hospital while keeping my other clients in sight, and giving co-workers updates and directions to the hospital.

The first client has a strong reaction and after not breathing well on his own is eventually intibated and moved up to the ICU. The second client when he wakes up is so violent (and a strong person) so he is eventually restrained in the ER. The third client eventually had a gradual reaction in the waiting room, passed out, wet himself and also landed in his own room.

So on my watch 3 of the 7 clients ended up in the ER. I cried pretty much consistently from 3pm - 10pm when I finally was home and went to bed. They say I saved someone's life by getting him to the hospital but I was so frustrated/hurt/and scared that it had to even come to that. All three clients were discharged and although I still hope for their recovery I personally can no longer be involved.

Addiction is a real disease and it kills people, lots of people, everyday. From my observations there is no "high" or "buzz" that is worth even an once of the pain, sadness, hopelessness, aloneness, fear, and frustration that it causes to all those who have to share the consequences. I just needed to share my experience to try to let it go. I won't blame myself for someone else's choices and I don't have to hold onto any of the emotions that I felt that day. I will not be able to forget this experience but I pray that I never have to be present for something like this again. I choose to be clean and sober because I want to be present for my life and I never want to let something control me and take away everything that I am.

We end every AA/NA/CA 12-step Meeting with the serenity prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Everything is better with Friends!

So this year started out great I was able to head up to Washington for my brother's reception and see a bunch of family and friends. Unfortunately it seems like every time I get to visit with someone it is not enough time. We try to catch up and share some laughs but I just wish we all could take a month off and just be together.

So every October Southwest Airlines has this great deal and if you fly the beginning of December or sometime in January or February you can get great rates. I really wanted to go visit my friend Katie who had just done a full year internship with Walt Disney World and since I had never been there before I couldn't pass up the opportunity. And luckily my work appreciates what I do and how hard I work so they allowed me to take a full week off so that I could take the Am Track with Katie up to Washington DC to visit her sister Anna too. I loved that I just got to spend TIME with them and we did just enough sightseeing but enough relaxing to still call it vacation.

The photos loaded backwards and I'm too impatient to re-do it or move them around. But enjoy!

In front of the Washington Monument - thank you random man who took our picture and got none of the Monument (the whole point). Don't worry he cut out the baby in the first picture too.

At the Lincoln Memorial - it was pretty cold this day with some good wind - add that to my eye itching and watering all day, hence the squint. But we still had a great time. And yes I forgot a hat so I'm wearing my scarf like my grandma used to.

We went to Gettysburg one morning - Katie and I climbed an observation tower. It was so cold we stayed up there just long enough to take a picture.

The canyon location where the union Army held the high ground.

We were on a self-guided driving tour and when I got out of the car the map blew away - and I'm talking it was incredibly windy so it was like gone. It blew about 60 yards away through this fence but I saw it get stuck in these grasses so I chased it down and jumped the fence - tons of prickly bushes I didn't see (oops) and retrieved our map so we could continue the tour. Abe would have been proud.

The other observation tower check out Anna's scarf and hair the wind was so strong.

Our walking tour of downtown Fredrick. These towns are so fun with so much history and personality it was great to walk around.

Katie and I took the Am Track up to DC from Florida, not as scenic as I would have liked but still a great experience. This kind gentleman rode with us from Orlando and would constantly come talk to us about places to go in DC. I think he kept trying to think of more so he could stop by our seats again. So nice!

Wildlife Kingdom Walt Disney World - by the Tree of Life

Epcot - Katie works super close to this and she took me on a backstage tour of the hydroponics greenhouse she had been working in. It was so fun!

Had to get a picture with a character! Katie's roommates came with us and we all had such a great time touring the parks.

Thanks again girls for taking the time to let me come visit. I'll be buying another ticket I'm sure next year in October so let me know if you'd like a visitor coming your way.