Wednesday, April 1, 2009

HAPPY (re)BIRTHDAY TO ME!

*hums the happy birthday song, the Stevie Wonder, black folks celebration edition*

Approximately 365 days ago at this exact time, I was in Kaiser Permanente's emergency room. My body had basically become entirely too heavy for me to do anything with. My vision was blurry, & I felt the weakest I'd ever felt in 32 years. I knew I had been sick, for several years, but I had no idea to what extent. See, I have this saying; "Something doesn't happen until it happens". Well, it happened. When I arrived (with my wife & two closest friends), the ER docs asked me what was wrong. I didn't have any idea where to begin. Long story short, I "woke up" in the Intensive Care Unit.

Now, prior to this night, I had been drunk. For about 13 years. Everyday. Hard liquor. Up until I was wheel-chaired into that depressing hospital, I had no problems with drinking. Just as long as I could do it. If you're thinking "wow, he's an alcoholic", congratulations; you've won a cookie.

My post-examination diagnosis was as follows; liver failure (it was operating at 20%-in need of being replaced), pneumonia, malnutrition, dehydration, colon infection, brain damage, & various muscle atrophy. This was before they'd looked inside of my body to see the lining of my stomach was eaten away by backed up bile & noticed mild kidney damage. Yep, I was certifiably screwed.

My medical dilemma was caused by my drinking, yet my drinking was removed from my medical dilemma. In other words, I had to detox, immediately, while beginning the treatment for my multiple illnesses. Talk about an uphill climb. & trust me, you'd have to go through it to get it.

So, after 3 weeks in the hospital, fully medicated, undeniably sober, no cigarettes, blood transfusions, doctors in & out (of the room as well as my person), horrible food, unwanted visitors, & excruciating pain, I was back in the same wheelchair headed back to the world. I weighed 127 lbs & could barely walk. The sun hit my bruise covered body & I was born. Again.

The next day I enrolled in rehab/therapy. That lasted about 9 months. Those people are blessings manifested to poor schlubs like me.

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol will destroy you. At the very least, it will deconstruct you to the extent of possible annihilation. & that's not necessarily a bad thing. In my case, it was the best possible thing that could've happened. I needed that wake up call, alarm clocks be damned.

*fast forward*

So, here I am, right now, one year later, as sober as a 10 year old quaker on Christmas eve. I don't have the slightest urge to ever taste liquor again. By the grace of God, my liver got healthier, & I have a habit of not spitting in the wind or slap boxing with God. I'm still working through some things physically, but substance dependency isn't one of them. & I weigh 170 lbs now.

I left out a few details, but the human mind has a habit of blocking out harmful memories, so I'll just take the doctors' word for it. Point is, if I could basically destroy myself, survive the aftermath (with God's help of course), weather the recouperation & come out on top better, bigger, faster & stronger than I was before, then you can too.

Whatever needs to be revamped, just do it. Whatever wrongs that need to be righted, just do it. Life is short, but it's long when you make the wrong decisions. I had to hear state board certified doctors of medicine tell me that I may not live long enough to get better for me to decide enough is enough. That life is far behind me, & U-turns aren't an option.

I was supposed to die in that place. But I didn't. I was actually reborn from the bullshit, kinda like the scene in The Matrix where Neo had to suffer intensely to be birthed again in righteousness. Now, that movie is one of my top 3 ever, because I understand it.

Take what you can from my story & use it at your disposal.

6 comments:

Master CHeef said...

damn, that's some crazy shit. the human ability to recuperate is amazing, isn't it? congratulations on beating the devil. I've had my issues with sauce in the past, but nothing like what you went through. Now, I just stay higher than the cost of living.

Keep fighting the good fight. If Matrix ain't on your top 3, kill yo selph.

Phlip said...

Wow, I guess our stories are more similar than one could fathom on the surface...
Sure there are differences, but we were in the same corner as a result of what we'd been in and through. Now we're trading near-death experiences like Oprah and Jay-Z.
Good shit, Grands.
My lesson has served to a major slowdown in how I live, while I have not QUIT drinking, just not every night, and definitely to to the point of utter fitshacedness, nor will I get behind the wheel or allow anyone in my collective to either. I was 245 when I went in the hospital, 205 when I came home, balooned back to 275 last year and I am BACK down to 205 now, I work out constantly and I am in the best shape I have been in since high school.
I like to think I am better since (and because of) my accident.

david@viceuk.com said...

Jesus Christ Tony, I had no idea. That is freaking intense. Not to sound like a shit head, but the reason for my sabbatical from drinking, is the realisation that one day I could get to the level you got to. I've been getting drunk since I was 16 (I'm 25 now) and it's always seemed so normal, not a dependency thing at all i.e. rarely drinking alone, not hiding it from anyone etc. but it has always been a constant without me even realising it. I sat down the other day and thought, fuck, I've got drunk almost every day for the last 3 or 4 months. That's why I've stopped, to prove to myself that it's not controlling me. When I was younger, I had a real problem with certain drugs and I always made promises to stop and it took something awful to actually get me off them. But anyway, I digress, that's for a whole other blog post. I'd just like to give you a serious thank you for your support, even though my little problem seems very minor compared to what you've overcome. You have a real inspirational story man, something to be immensely proud about.

Vee (Scratch) said...

Thanks for sharing this. I think I will take a full week off from the sauce and drink my teas and plain old water.

I never hit that wall before but I do remember blacking out and not recalling the night before. That's just not cool at all.

Again, thanks for sharing this, you probably helped out a number of people reading this.

Good Health is true wealth.

Matt said...

I replied at XXL, but it may get filtered...

It's all good Tony. Whatever I or anyone else says, you know it's all about what you can do yourself. I've never dealt with alcoholism, personally. My experience with the subject, like my experience in most all aspects of life, comes from watching other humans and being wary of what I see in others begin to appear in my own life. I saw a few people fall to that shit back when I was in school. It was pitiful to see people act like that. It wasn't a graceful fall, either, it was a stuttering, stumbling, shoelaces-tied-together fall on your face type shit. I think seeing people act like that with alcohol actually pushed me to smoke weed instead.

Weed used to be my thing. I spent a majority of my college life high and still sailed through. I smoked every day, ALL day. I didn't see it as an evil back when I had no responsibilities and was just fucking around. Then I realized it was time to make a decision to let my life take off and move forward or allow it to remain stagnant and continue fucking around and getting high all the time. It freaked me out that it was time to be making some tough decisions, but I was too high to even think straight. Anxieties of the day infiltrated and ruined my high. I got burned out and since I quit, my mental clarity has magnified. Great things have happened in my life.

What I mean by moral fiber is that for some, their knowledge of self isn't strong enough to recognize their problem. They don't realize the stupor that they're in. I knew this dude that used to piss himself on the regular when he was drunk! Right there in the dorm room, chilling with folks and homey just pissed himself! I had to say to myself that I was never gonna be THAT guy. For me, pissing myself drunk would be rock bottom whereas for that dude, it was nothing.

You got it though, Tony. You seem to have your head on your shoulders and God-willing you keep counting those days until your own clock stops. If that's your method, make it work for you. I can't say that I don't want to smoke weed, but I know with my type of personality, it wouldn't be just one more time...I might get back to doing it for months or years again--but this time I know that I couldn't cope with my life if I were getting high every day. There are big things I'd miss out on or straight fuck up if I did. Peace...

--OG Matt Herbz--

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