I’m currently writing this post from the second floor of Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale, Arizona – the postpartum maternity ward to be exact. We welcomed our son Kaehler into the world. Needless to say, we’re overjoyed to finally have him here with us. Tired for sure, but incredibly happy to have another healthy addition to our family. To be able to show up today, to be a father, a husband, and a present family member was something that, not so long ago, I could not have even fathomed. It is a blessing to be here today in every sense of the word.
Ten years ago, I remember staring blankly out these same hospital windows, in this very same hospital, right around this same time of year. After a stretch of particularly hard living, I found myself admitted to a hospital, yet again. My addiction was completely out of control. After having a severe adverse reaction to bacteria present in a single use syringe I had been reusing, my brother brought me to the ER. Vomiting, cramping, extreme pain that caused me to writhe on the floor, unable to sit or even stand – I was in bad shape. After an intensive and rather invasive examination that included catheters and a painful spinal tap to check for meningitis, the ER nurses knocked me out with a powerful sedative.
When I came to, I was admitted to the infectious disease ward on the third floor. A doctor entered the room and informed me that I had Valley Fever and was there for observation and strong antifungal drug treatment. Obviously, my poor choices were a strong contributing factor to this diagnosis. My life was in shambles. Completely physically and mentally ill, I couldn’t draw a sober breath despite my best efforts. Ultimately, even with all these insane consequences, I still couldn’t manage to commit myself to accepting the help I so desperately needed.
When I think back on those times, I remember the pain tangibly. I remember what it felt like to suffer greatly in a time where your own mind just relentlessly attacks you on a moment-to-moment basis. I remember attempting to reconcile these terrible life choices with the consequences they inevitably resulted in: total breakdown of the mind, body and spirit. And yet, I was unable to put down the drugs, in full flight from reality at any cost.
That pain, whilst not resulting in an immediate embrace of recovery, was one of several episodes that ultimately resulted in me standing here today. Holding my newborn son. Being present and able to take care of my wife. Sending pictures to and being in communication with my parents and family. Being a homeowner. Having a solid job in the same industry that helped save my life.
The experience wasn’t for naught, despite how desperate and extreme it felt at the time. You see, those moments, those inches I was fighting for just to stay alive back then, eventually cultivated in me a sense of reasonableness. A sense of willingness. They all added up to be something far more tremendous than the sum of their parts. They brought me to a place where I accepted the help I needed and, through community support, treatment, and a renewed interest in spiritual growth, I was gradually restored in mind, body and spirit. They added up to me writing you this message in an attempt to give you some hope, and that you too could look to the future and see better days – to see the end result of adherence to programs like PAL and 12-step. Through the support and education of those programs, my parents were able to learn how to let me experience that pain and suffering all those years ago. To forgo throwing out the life preserver and rescuing me at the drop of a hat every single time something went sideways. They allowed me to have my own experience – despite how painful that was for them. PAL helped them help me in the healthiest possible way. And for that, I’ll forever be grateful.
The story doesn’t always end with jails, institutions or death. Sometimes it ends with the person standing tall, restored, working to be better one day at a time from the second floor postpartum maternity ward at Banner Thunderbird – welcoming a new life into the world with confidence and a smile. In the very same spot they previously fell down so hard, the same spot they questioned their ability to even live through another day, all those years ago.
Never lose hope –
Sean – In recovery
You can read, comment and ask questions for Sean to address in his blog on the PAL website, home page – www.Palgroup.org