Thursday, June 28, 2012

Life Will Follow

"You just do your best, and life will follow. That's what my papa used to tell me."
--The Shoemaker's Wife---Adriana Trigiani

I've spent so many years worrying about whether I was doing my best, "Was I the best mother I could be? The best wife?  The best friend? The best daughter? The best anything?
All those validations and reassurances I so desperately sought were worthless.

Because I knew I wasn't.

I couldn't be.

I haven't had a drink in over 9 months and I'm just now beginning to realize the amount of will that alcohol robbed me of.  I was like a weak little kid with his hands held behind his back, struggling frantically to get free enough to fight back, until I was exhausted and defeated and hopeless, while the schoolyard bully taunted and jeered. 

Tonight I will close my eyes knowing that I did the best I could today and I can't begin to tell you how magnificent that feels, so I won't even try.

I guess I had some fight left in me after all.

Thank You God!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Steady As She Goes

I remember the exact moment it started.  It was on a morning after one of those nightly nights, a drunk night.  That goes without saying.  I was assisting on a thyroidectomy.  I felt a little rough, but hell, I always felt a little rough.  The surgeon asked me to cauterize a line of muscle between the clamps he was holding.  I'd done it dozens of times before, so I took the cautery in hand and aimed for the muscle hand shook. It trembled so bad, I couldn't do it and the scrub person had to reach over and do it for me.  There was some kidding about just how much had I had to drink the night before and everybody laughed it off the way people that don't have this atrocity are able to do.  But for me that was the day of my downfall.

Before that day I was a brash, know-it-all, seen-it-all cowgirl of a nurse.  As a matter of fact, that morning I was in a small neighboring town's hospital, I had quit the hospital I had worked at for years and taken my act on the road, out to save the OR's of rural Southwest Kansas.

That day changed all of that.  From then on I would pack a little something extra in my medicine bag as I went from town to town, a charlatan playing the role of a seasoned, professional nurse.  From then on, I never left home without an ample supply of self-doubt.

I continued to ply my trade sporadically.  Sometimes I would shake, sometimes I didn't. I got real good at covering it up.  I told myself it was all in my head, but a seed planted in the fertile ground of your cerebellum takes root readily, especially if it is the seed of an invasive variety.  Soon it chokes out all the good things that you've planted and cultivated, its tendrils snaking out to curl its way into ever new territory. And it grows and it grows and it grows.

The fear was debilitating.

But I kept on drinking.

The morning of my downfall was 15 years ago.

 A little less than a year ago, I refused to inquire about a job where the cap'n was working as I always had in the past.  I wasn't being lazy.  I was being petrified.

A little less than a year ago, I quit drinking.

The insidious doubt didn't shrivel up and die, the sumbitch is still there and I'm still scared.  But ever since I quit fertilizing it with Jack Daniel's Special Paralyzing Self-Doubt Compost (Yes, I was shitbrained), it's growth has been severely stunted, and I've been able to hack it back a bit.

So I guess what I've been trying to tell you guys is...I haven't shook once at work this week!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Days of Sobriety:  282

Just wanted to let you know that I haven't slid face first into a relapse, I'm back at work and because my old over-achiever self made a reappearance and volunteered to go in after hours for any emergency cases (I can do that since I don't drink anymore), I am POOPED!  I've been going full steam on not enough gas.

But this morning as I was walking into the hospital, I felt rejuvenated and confident and appreciated, so different than how I have felt in too many recent years.  I needed to come back here to my home town to pick up some pieces of me I left behind and to leave some better memories in their place.

P.S.  I'm sure when I get more settled, and the cap'n takes off for his stent in a neighboring state, I'll find more time to blog, I've got a lot to tell you guys.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Putting My Foot Down

Day?  I still haven't gone back and counted my sobriety days but I know if I was pregnant I would be overdue.

There she is, my new ride!  No, it's not a cherry red, smokin' hot sports car but I love her. She's my chosen one.

All along the way driving over the mountains to the car dealerships on the other side, I was alternately telling myself to grow up and then sitting there feeling sorry for myself and trying to remember when the last time was that I made a decision for myself. (Oh yeah, I decided to quit drinking 9 months and some days ago. How could I forget that?)

As we neared the top of Hoosier Daddy Pass (not its real name) I had an epiphany.  It wasn't the fact that I wasn't going to get an impractical, totally ego driven hot little car that was pissing me off, it was the fact that I wanted to be the one to make that decision.  So my head told my stubborn, arms crossed, pouty-lipped heart to make another choice and to stick to her guns for once.

"Can you give me a hint of what you're looking for?" the cap'n asked, very tentatively.

Shit! I knew this question was coming.  He'd shot down my hot rod dreams but now he was very gingerly placing the matter back in my llap.  The problem was, I didn't know what I wanted, I wasn't even sure how to figure out what it was I wanted. My brain reverted back to its old survival instinct and started scrambling for what kind of vehicle it thought the cap'n wanted me to want. But then my heart stood up and stomped her feet.

"I don't want a station wagon," I blurted out.

So of course, the only body make of vehicle that seemed to be available in my price range on the one day I went car shopping was, you guessed it,  the mom pants wearing, prolapsed uterus dragging, hemmorhoidal/varicose veins popping, iconic station wagon.

Dealer #1 proudly boasted not one, but three Subaru Outback Station Wagons.

Dealer #2 boasted one Subaru Outback and one Audi family truckster i.e. station wagon.

Dealer #3 boasted the requisite Subaru Outback and a Volkswagon rabbit which is really just a little people's hatchback station wagon.

About this time I'm thinking maybe I should go find a couple of beers to knock back.  That's always been the crucial decision making factor in any of my former life changing decisions.  After my two beers transformed themselves magically, through no power of my own, into two pitchers, I'd be painting racing stripes on that inadequately endowed rascally little Volkswagon rabbit and convincing myself it was the car of my dreams.  It's happened before, just ask my first husband.

My heart, with her arms still crossed, gave me the evil eye.  Never mind. It was just a fleeting thought, I wasn't seriously considering it.

Dealer #4 quickly recognized the dangerous look in my eye when he led me toward my sixth Subaru Outback of the day and quickly changed direction and steered me toward my destiny.

There she was, everything I ever wanted that I didn't know I wanted.

"I'll take it," I told the salesman, before I could change my mind. Before I started worrying that I might be wrong.  That she might be a lemon and I'd have no one to blame but myself.  Before I turned to the cap'n and ask, "What do you think?" putting the decision and any possible fall out such as exploding batteries or leaky valves back in his lap.

And just like that, she was mine.

You know what her best attribute is?

She has heated leather seats, so I still got my "hot ass car"......and they'll sure feel good on those old hemorrhoids.

Vroom! Vroom!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Spoiled Brat!

I really need to dig out my sobriety calendar and count days, but no matter, today is another sober day for me, thank you, Jesus!

I need my bottom paddled, especially in light of my last blog.  I should be thankful for all the wonderful people I have in my life and that should be enough.  And it is.  My cup runneth over.


I've never had a cherry red sports car.  I went from having the car that my parents thought was suitable for a capricious teenager to the cars that my husbands thought suitable.  Vans with lots of room for kids and all their paraphernalia and then my last car, an Olds Cutlass that just refused to die no matter how hard I tried to kill it.  By the time I married the cap'n he'd already gone through the midlife crisis hot car era of his life and loved to regal me with tales of his E-type Jag, the matching BMW's he and his first and second wife had (that's another blog), or the 1957 T-bird convertible he didn't remember buying on a party weekend in Taos.

When I married him, he was done with cars.  I got a f'ing sailboat and we didn't even own a car for several years.

When we bought our place here in CO, we also needed to buy a vehicle.  Well, you can't swing a squirrel here in CO without hitting a Subaru, so that's what we bought.

When we bought the place in MX (Yes, I am fully aware of what a spoiled brat I am. Spank me. Harder!) we needed a car to take down there and all of a sudden the cap'n was pulling up to a house in Denver and we bought a PT cruiser.  I don't remember any discussion of what kind of car we wanted to buy, of course, I might have been drunk when the conversation was held.  Scratch that.  Of course, I was drunk.

So now I'm going back to work and I need a car.  And I've been pouting for a week, make that weeks, because I know exactly what I'm going to end up with, something sensible, something safe, something reasonable, something incredibly boring. Last night, I hinted at a cute little BMW roadster that is listed as an incredible buy on car gurus.  The cap'n said, "How do you think it will handle up here in four feet of snow?"  He's right, of course.  But I don't care.  I'm 50 years old and I want to have my midlife crisis hot little number.  No matter how stupid and meaningless it is.

We're heading out in about an hour to car shop.  I'll post a pic and I'll try to put it in it's most flattering light.  And I'll try not to pout.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Another Wreck On The Side Of The Road

"Should we stop?" the cap'n asked.

 "Yeah, we should," I replied.

 There was already a handful of people gathered around the SUV that had come to rest in the middle of a field, the dust was still swirling. The top was collapsed and the driver's side was smashed in, I could see her pale face through the door's broken window and from my distance I could see the violet shadow ringing her lips.

 "Too late," I mutter to the cap'n.

 But as we draw closer, I can hear her labored breathing.

 "I'm a nurse," I tell the man who is trying to wrestle the door open, it's not budging and he moves aside. There are two other passengers in the vehicle, young men, one is dazed but sitting up and already struggling to get out, the other has somehow been thrown face down over the front seat, his bare foot hanging out the front passenger door window. I had noticed a lone tennis shoe laying in the weeds as we walked up. We can hear his gurgling breath, the other young man's legs are entangled around this one's torso and the cap'n directs the other men to help him move them, so the man can breathe easier.

 "Watch his neck. Don't move him."

 I let the others take care of the young men and I focus on the girl. My fingers go to her neck, "Ah there it is, faint and thready."

 I peel back her eyelids, I don't see her pupils constrict but I don't watch for long, there is nothing I can do about it anyway. I assess what I can see without moving her, there is no clear liquid coming from her nose or the ear I can see, her sputum is just slightly blood tinged, there is a small laceration and swelling above her left eye, her nail beds are cyanotic, her right arm that is lying free is not moving but she is moving the forearm of her right arm even though the upper part is pinned by the crushed door. Her abdomen feels taut but not tight, but she definitely looks like she is bleeding somewhere but there is no blood that I can see, it must be internal, perhaps the spleen since that is the side that is impacted, perhaps a lot of things. I see all of this in a matter of seconds.

 She is young. Her eyes are light blue.

 There is really nothing I can do.

 A single tear trickles down her cheek and I brush it away with my thumb.

 There is a mode that we healthcare workers go into. I don't know where we learn it, it isn't taught in school. Maybe we learn it from watching those that go before us, maybe it is inborn.

 It is matter of fact.

 It is calm.

 It is as though we see this everyday. You're not that bad, we've seen worse.

 It is as much an act for us, as it is for them.

 It just comes forth.

 "Okay Sweetie, this is what I need you to do." (Hail Mary, Full of Grace)"Keep on breathing just like you're doing, you're going to be fine." (The Lord is with you) "Help is on the way but I need you to keep breathing, okay" Just like that. You're doing great." (Blessed art thou amongst women)"Hang in there, Sweetie. Just a little longer. Help is almost here. Just keep breathing." (And Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.)"No, no, no, don't do that, Honey. Come on, breathe for me. Breathe for me. There you go, there you go. Don't give up. Help is almost here. I need you to hang on."(Holy Mary, Mother of God)"You're doing great. That's the way. Let's get some pink in those cheeks. I know your scared. I'm here. I'm not going to leave you. Help's almost here. Can you hear the sirens? Keep breathing. Just a little longer."(Pray for us sinners now)"Okay, Sweetie, help's here. They're going to take good care of you. Keep breathing. You're doing so good. You're going to be fine. Keep breathing Keep breathing. Just keep breathing. You're going to be fine." (Now and at the hour of our death. Amen)

 "Ma'am, we need you to move aside." I step out of the way. I've done all I can do.

 I watch as they use the jaws of life and extricate her. She's still breathing and somehow an EMT is already magically holding an IV bag aloft. God, those guys are good. They rush her to the helicopter that has landed nearby. The two young men are on gurneys being loaded into waiting ambulances.

The cap'n and I make our way back to our vehicle. They are in more capable hands now.

 The Whup-whup-whup of the helicopter rotors increases. The dust swirls up again.

 "Just keep breathing, Sweetie. Hang in there."

 P.S. In the medical field, we have a belief that all bad things come in three's, I hope not, this is the second wreck I have come upon on the side of the road since I quit drinking. Isn't it strange that this never happened when I was drinking? As with the first one, I know that if I was still drinking, I would have been hungover yesterday. Would I have told the cap'n to keep on driving?

 I don't have much of an update except that I did check the local newspaper and while it reported the wreck, it did not give a report on the victims conditions. But there were no obituaries either.

 P.P.S. Once again, I am so thankful for those that went before me that acted like they knew I was going to make it even if they didn't think I had a prayer. Thank you for telling me, " Don't give up. Just keep breathing."

Update: The young man that was thrown over the seat died yesterday evening. His name was Gavino. You manage to detach and go on and tell yourself that you did everything you could...but you always wonder.  Should we have tried to move him and given him a less obstructed airway?  Were we too worried about a neck fracture? Would anything we could have done made a difference?  We'll never know.  The two young men were brothers.  There is no other news on the other brother or the girl.

The driver, the girl, pulled out in front of a semi, he didn't even have time to apply his brakes and there were no skid marks.  None of the kids were wearing seatbelts.  The driver of the semi was wearing a seatbelt.  He was not injured.

Update 2: They girl died this morning.  Her name was Cheyanne.

Friday, June 1, 2012

On The Road Again

I forgot my sobriety calendar but I need to go recount anyway, I went to the WFS (Women For Sobriety) forum the other day and I have a ticker there and our day amount is not meshing.  Oh well, all that matters is that I'm still sober.  Amen

Took a road trip down memory lane yesterday.  We drove through Lamar Colorado and past the Cow Palace Inn where I spent my first honeymoon night some 32 years ago.  Last night we spent the night in Amarillo, TX where the cap'n and I were married 18.5 years ago.  Talk about destination weddings, huh?

 I have torn up some nights and the dance floor at the Caravan Bar and Cantina here in Amarillo wearing a green leather mini and vest and nothing underneath neither.  Stumbling back to my hotel and nodding at the security guard as I tripped past in my cowboy boots,

"G'evenin'  Occifer." Tipping my cowboy hat.

Oh Lord!

Anyway I still love country music, I couldn't listen to it after my divorce because every other song was about lying cheatin cheater' and hit a little too close to home.  And now every other song  and then some is about drinkin'.  I still listen because you may be able to change the radio station but you can't avoid life. Might as well face the music.

Some of those crooners are pretty smart, at least their lyricists are.

You ain't gotta dig too deep,
If you wanna find some dirt on me,
But I'm learning who you've been
Ain't who you gotta be.
Sammy Kershaw--Better Than I Used To Be
You step off the straight and narrow
And you don't know where you are
Use the needle of your compass
To sew up your broken heart
Ask directions from a genie
In a bottle of Jim Beam
And she lies to you
That's when you learn the truth
Rodney Atkins  "If You're Going Through Hell

You can't escape your past,
But you don't have to let it hold you prisoner.
Kary May--I Ain't No Song Writer