Thursday, April 14, 2016
The word addiction by itself can change the world in a single moment. I know first hand on that summer day when I found out my son was a heroin addict. My beautiful world of sunshine and rainbows came to a crash halt. The earlier denials which turned out to be lies should have clued me in. Now I look back and I figuratively hit myself for being so blind. Why didn't I stop it? I'm sure I am not the first parent to have these questions in my mind night and day. If only I would have been stricter, been more aggressive on my questions, treated him with no respect. And that is when I stop it. I didn't treat him like a baby, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I didn't ask him to roll up his sleeves instead I took his word. Little did I know he was lying. And that is what a heroin addict does. He lies. She lies. The lies start right away, we don't notice. I am not sure they notice. But eventually the lies take over much like heroin. It's the big lie. Heroin tells them "I will take you away from all this bullshit, and I will show you the way to a beautiful life where pain is no longer." That is the big fat lie. And the first time it must seem like it is nirvana. And each subsequent time I've read. But little by little, the drug takes more and more of the user and the user gets less and less of nirvana. Sounds like shit to me. It sounds like the biggest rip off ever. My son said his life was better when he was using. He said he had it all. He thought he had it all. The trouble was he couldn't keep it all. Heroin plays a big game. At first you can have it all, remember the nirvana moment? But with each draw the user gives Heroin what it wants drop by drop until it finally takes over. I must admit that first time must be amazing, but I've never been desparate enough to escape my life. When I was a kid, intravenous drug users were someplace far away, alley ways in New York city or the streets of Los Angelos. The rich and the famous and the fallen rock starts were the only people I had known who were addicted to heroin. It was not a drug that made its way into the high schools of the midwest. And now thirty some years later its in our high schools, its on our streets, and the dealers are deliverying right to my son's apartment. The drug dealers will even give you a couple of balloons extra for buying more. Or hey, if you are quitting here's some to remember me by. Really. Thanks drug dealer for giving my son a freebie when he is quitting. I'm not cool enough to street talk and at moment's this could sound like a mother rambling. It is. Guilty. Addiction is a family matter, everyone gets to play. How did I contribute? How do I change the game plan midway through? I have so many questions and I've called treatment centers and the one thing I've figured out is there is no one answer to solve this. In fact, the solution is not really the correct term. Addiction is a disease, and that disease is in my son's body. He must work on the disease and how it has taken over his well-being. And I will stand by and continue to pray for his recovery to become the son he used to be. But even that doesn't even seem clear to me anymore because I'm not sure who he was.
The last time I posted to this blog was 2011. Who would have known within five years my life would be turned inside out. No need to recap the last five years that would take too much time. Here is where I am at today. I have my 20-year old son 90 days sober. Everyday it is a new experience for me, my emotions are all over the place. Yesterday morning's quiet pre-sunrise walk was depressing and signs of hopelessness met me along the path. I generally never used to feel sad and depressed in the mornings, usually upbeat and full of optimism. But since I learned of my son's heroin addiction that has changed my moods. I wrote down for the first eight days one word to describe what i was feeling. I am not sure why that word came to my mind, and why it went in this order but here is what i came up with. Day 1-Reality. Day 2-Overwhelmed Day 3-tired Day 4-Worried Day 5-Fight Day 6-Hope Day 7-Isolation Day 8-Patience There are only seven days in a week, but from my viewpoint, living with an addiction we've managed to squeeze in eight days. And you can see the roller coaster of my life. If you find yourself in my shoes the first thing I would recommend is to immediately seek advice from your doctor. Had we done this, we possibly could have gotten my son in treatment sooner and had our insurance cover the cost of residential treatment. Instead I seeked help from treatment centers all around the country and had no idea that without that doctor's permission I would be paying a lot more in costs. But my son is 90-days sober, so that was money well spent. Find support groups so you have people who are going thru the same thing or have been there, to talk about and try to help you manage your life. You are not alone. Sometimes it felt like no one else cared. And they do care but people are not going to come up and say, "Sorry to hear about your junkie son." In fact, there is such a stigma attached to heroin that no one wants to talk about it until now. I'm talking and I hope people start listening. More people today die in an opioid overdose than die in an auto accident. Wow. That's insane! The dope hitting the streets is laced with stuff no one knows about. It's all illegal and there is not control on how it is cut, if at all and with whatever other types of drugs. Basically the user is playing a form of Russian roulette. Living on the edge is scary for the loved one's family. Every time I got a call from an unknown number I worried is this it? My son has overdosed and they are telling me he is gone? Words like that creep into my mind at all hours, usually when I am trying to sleep. Get help. You need help. That is what everyone says and they are not wrong. Find people to talk with, your own support team. You need help as much as your addicted loved one. Believe me, still today, the hooks are thrown out there and the last time I heard one it took me three days to figure it out. It takes me awhile to process our visits. The more you learn about heroin and opioids the more you will be willing to talk about it and realize we have a problem in our country and we have to deal with it. Treatment for all our loved ones is first and foremost. Let's concentrate on that. Fortunately, Iowa just passed a law making Naloxene or Narcan available to family's of loved ones as well as first responders, police and lay people. My son is not living with us now, but knowing this is available for when or if we ever need to use it is a good thing. Some people think it is a safety net. It is not. It is similar to having syrup of ipecac available in the home for accidental poisoning.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
It seems like it was only last week when Tim and I were riding our bikes every day to ready ourselves for RAGBRAI and now it is practically mid-August and my summer run season is over. I have not had a run since June so I am calling it done and in the books. However, I recently signed up for the Swamp Fox 5k in Marion on September 6th. The only other race I have done in Marion is the Turkey Trot and that is usually a fun race/run so I am looking forward to this one. Plus, one of my former students asked me to run it with her since she was doing the couch to 5k training. She will probably run past me, they do that, but I will give it my best shot. Don't get me wrong, I still run every other day or so, at least 4 times per week, but I don't have anything on my schedule. So this is why I said I am done with summer. The season went pretty good for me. I started my first race in April, the Color Run in Iowa City. It turned out not to be a 5k more like 2.5 miles. But it was fun, ran with another one of my former students and her boyfriend and there were people from work there as well. Next year I won't run for time, instead just walk/run with a group and try to laugh! Then the next weekend I did the Demon Dash in Washington, Iowa. It is a 4-mile run and proceeds go to the PE department at Washington Community schools. I believe I placed in my age-division just can't remember which one. I will have to look it up. Then the end of April was the River Run in Iowa City. It's a 10k race and I won first place in my age group. There were only three women in my age group but I wasn't last! In May three of my students and myself drove out to Lake McBride and ran the trails out there. We were able to get 10-miles which I need more but it had some killer hills so I was ok with that. The next race I had was the Dam to Dam in Des Moines. That was warm. By 5 a.m. it was already 72 degrees. I knew I would have to be careful and not overheat. I think I did ok until we got home and I was really exhausted and thirsty. Did nothing the rest of the day and by Sunday felt ok. The next weekend I decided to do another half-marathon since I had trained for it I thought I would be fine. I was ok until mile 11 or so and then by mile 12 I had really burned everything up. I did not have much left to finish, I ran a better time than the Dam to Dam but I sure felt like I was much slower. Weird how that goes. The stupid humidity does it do me every time. By the following week I entered a Friday night race in Kalona, 5k and the next morning a 10K in Keota. I did pretty good in both, got 2nd place in my age group. Not first but I medaled. My time in Keota was good, I will have to look back to compare to River Run but I think it was faster. And then the last race I had was the Swinging Bridge 5k in Columbus Junction. Finished first in my age group and I think I was the either second or third woman in. So I was pretty happy to have a good season overall. Seemed much longer but after writing it up it seems like I did not do a lot of races. Training for September. Best of luck to all you runners out there and if you are not a runner just trying jogging a block. See how it goes. And then go a little farther the next time. Eventually you will be out there hitting the pavement, gravel, or dirt roads and loving every minute of it. It is therapy I can't live without. -Angie
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
It really doesn't matter where you are at, someone has an opinion about Facebook. People like it, others think it is the devil works. Teachers seem irked when students are not paying attention to them and are scrolling thru status reports. Grandparents, friends and old flames are now all connected. What a world we live in! I am amazed by it all. I don't have to write letters that my recipient can't read because of my poor handwriting skills. I used to be able to write legibly but somewhere about 15 years or so, give or take, my skill left me. I can't print, it takes too long. And my brain forgets the words the moment I write it down so I must go faster but the fingers won't go faster so it starts to blend together. I find myself posting all kinds of pictures to facebook. As soon as I snap I post. It's called Immediate photo gratification for me. I read on someone's post today they apologized for posting all their sorority pictures. Why I don't put a disclaimer on my kitten shots, my sunset shots or even my old family photo shots. If you are my friend you get what you get from me. So for me the whole For or Against Facebook is pretty simple-it's been a wonderful connection tool. A little self control is probably a good thing to have but I will never know what that is like. Keep enjoying all my crazy family photos and sunset shots. Who knows when my next race will be but for sure I will have some self indulgent photo uploaded as quickly as possible. -Angie
Friday, June 27, 2014
It hit me as I was driving home from Waterloo the other night. It took approximately 2 hours but I believe I have got it all firgured out. People say "Our country is going down the toilet!" Or "Our bowls are overflowing." I think I may have the right answers to figure out how to keep our country out of the toilet. Let's try a new way of looking at it. I believe my ideas are nothing new, but old ideas crafted to a "new, cutting edge" way of promoting it. Let's see if people gather together and say "Hey, we don't want it to work this way and we want it to work Angie's way!" I think we could have an awesome country. But the thing is we all need to work together on this. We have to realize we are all in the same life's ship and to harm another is like harming ourself. We are the world. Remember that song? It is basically like the song says. So here is how this is going down. First thing is to legalize marijuana. Tax the crap out of it. Just like tobacco. Everything is taxed. And it would be absolutely necessary that those marijuana cigarettes that the company (job opportunities) only use natural casings. No paper dipped in fourmaldyide, no addictive additives or other chemicals will be added to the marijuana cigarettes. And did I say tax these cigarettes and other products made from this? Tax, tax, tax. Part of those tax dollars gathered (more jobs) would go to health care. Out of the tax dollars, 25% would go to US health care. This would be put into the country's healthcare system. The other 75% would go to each state's health related programs. Those state programs would receive 75% of the tax dollar so they could take care of patients that come thru their health care facilities. These percentages could be changed or inter-changed but you get the idea. And speaking of clean papers, tobacoo companies would be required by law (we have to do this) to use natural casings on cigarettes. No more filters, paper dipped in formaldiyde, nor additives such as nicotine and anything else. Natural tobacco. Again, the same taxes would be applied cigarettes and all tobacco products. Right now the legal age to purchase tobacco products is 18. So let's make the marijuana products 18 years old to purchase. And while we are at it, we need to change the age of alocohol related products to 18. Oh, now you think I have lost my marbles. But realistically, the more you push stuff to the backroom it becomes more pleasurable and wanting. Parents need to realize if their college student never consummed alochol in high school, they are going to find it on a college campus and it won't be a small high-school kegger party. Yes, too much alochol is a bad thing. Drinking and driving is a bad thing. Smoking pot and driving is a bad thing. Smoking cigarettes is a bad habit but it is not illegal to smoke and drive. But that smoking while driving is considered distracting driving. So is texting while driving and so is eating while driving. So is putting on makeup while driving. There is a lot of distracted driving. What needs to be done is have our smart car developers make cars that operate only when the driver's hands are on the wheel and it senses from the driver's fingers foods, smoke, alcohol at the touch, the vehicle will not start. Now, I realize everyone is shouting at me like I am a liberal hippie and unrealistic commie. But think of it. With all the distractions taken away, the highways will be safer. Cars would not drive if we were eating in them. Cars won't run if we were drinking alochol or smoking pot. Or cigarette products. But you may say, "I have to drink my morning coffee while driving to work?" Take a train to work. Ride the bus. Walk to work. Ride a bike. Carpool. You may say we don't have enough money to pay for public transportation. And I ask you, don't you want safer streets and highways? We have to rethink how we are using our great earth. There are not unlimited supplies. We have to be in conservation mode. What we do to our earth affects us. So we need new high-tech vehicles. That means new jobs. And here is my a big revolation, companies that take their manufacturing jobs out of the country will pay double in taxes. No way around it. If they keep their manufacturing jobs in the country, they will pay a flat 10% income-tax. Their workers will be a flat 10% income tax. We all will pay a flat 10% income tax. Regardless of what we earn, we all will pay 10% income-tax. No one will cheat. Why would you? We all pay the same amount. But what if I can't work? Then you would be considered a "patient" and your job would be "patient" status. As a patient you would have certain responsiblites. Those would be defined as restricted as defined as "unable, either physcically or mentality to be held accountable." Under those circumstances, they would not be able to live without supervision. Supervisors would be qualified medical assistants and professionals. More jobs. How would we as a country pay for this? We would pay for it out of our 10% incomes tax. Think of Warren Buffet or Bill Gates. Their 10% would surely cover the cost of hiring medical assistants for these type of positions. But you think someone will cheat the system. When this would happen, the person who is caught would be forced to clean sidewalks, public-bathrooms, work in trash piles and recyclable plants. They would never be allowed to work at a desk job. Their punishment would be to clean up our waste. Period. If a bank president, city clerk, school secretary, CF0, anyone would is in a position of managing other people's money and financial abilities were found to be unlawfully using money this is what they would be required to do. Those people who operate ponsi schemes would be collecting trash for the rest of their life. They would work in sewers sytems, not at a desk-job. They would be cleaning walls of septic systems, collecting boxes, bottles etc. Prisons would no longer be a place where the prisoner sits in a room watching TV. Prisons would be a place where prisoners would be required to work. Prisons would be required to come up with a business plan to generate a service/product that the country/state would benefit from having. So depending upon where the prpison is located would dependent upon what service they could provide. Everyone would be expected to work. Everyone has some skill that they bring to the table. They would be expected to use that skill while being incarecerated. Even sex offenders, murderers, and other hardcore criminals. We have to stop products that are being imported cheaply. Those items would risk double tax. We have got to get back to having ourselves produce items our country uses. In the beginning, stores that buy/sell USA made product would only pay 10% income tax. If they were selling products manufactured/imported from other country, they would pay double. That is only 20% income tax but you can see what the cost-cutting measure would be. And what if you were an immigrant? Apply to become a US citizen, fill out an application form and send in your application fee. Just like applying for college, a flat rate of $50 or $100 and you have your application form in. Then as an applicant you would be responsible for paying 10% income-tax on your income. Remember, everyone pays a flat 10%. From rich to poor, you earn money you pay 10% of that. Oh, churches and any religious organziation would pay 10% of earned-income. So all citizens living in the US under religious protection would be paying 10% income tax. And the native people of the US would be given their reservation property and would manage their land as they see fit. They would be able to build or see as they see fit to their reservation property. They would be required to pay 10% income tax. Our borders would not be an armed fortress but a business of application process center. Homes, businesses and schools would be sprouting up along border towns as people from Mexico seek refuge from the Mexican government. Those people, would apply for citizenship, pay 10% of their income-tax and would be part of US. What about businesses or people that claim the did not earn any money in the taxable year? Easy, every business person would be resonsible for paying 10% tax-earned income. Even if they show they did not make money but lost money they would be forced to sell. Someone else could come in to buy their business. That way small, first time businesses could open up and see if they could earn some money and make a "go of it." It would be noted that not one corporation, company or individual could own a majority of said businesses. It would be up to only 30% of the total market. That way we would encourage growth and competition. And everyone would still be required to pay 10% income-tax. People who would be caught trying to own control of more than 30% of that business would be considered unlawful and would be considered criminals and be forced to work in garbage, sidewalk cleaning, public bathroom cleaning etc. We are all in this together, we can work together to have a society that not only takes care of ourselves, but we take care of each other and our great resource Earth.
It's hard to believe but we are days away from my birthday which means we are now in the summer season full blown. Wow. My sister will celebrate her birthday the day after mine. I always went first. What happened to spring? Winter was long and cold. Spring was barely here. I usually enjoy the flowers, the days of a little warm sunshine followed by some soggy days. This year they were all cold and damp and windy. I swear we live on the windy place in the state. We have had two bonfires this year and if we are lucky maybe one more before the summer is out. If the wind doesn't stop blowing we won't have any.