My name is Cece and I am an addict. I attended the inpatient chronic pain program at LVRC from May 25 to August 23, 2011. I always said I would never go to Vegas on purpose, but here I am. Then when I got out here, I said I could never live out here, but here I remain to this day. It's funny how sometimes I think to myself, “I wonder what I will be doing and where I will be one year from now?"
I knew my addiction was taking me to a deep, dark place. But I didn't know what to do to stop it. Even though I had been through treatment before (ultra-rapid detox under anesthesia in August 2004 and Hazelden in Minnesota in October 2009) something was missing. I was treated for the chemical dependency but there was a huge shame monster on my back that paralyzed me with fear in seeking treatment once again. I thought I had “done it wrong.” Why wasn't it sticking? At LVRC, I majored in chemical dependency with a minor in pain recovery.
My journey with addiction started with 14 surgeries. Actually, it started way before. I was very sensitive and emotional. At times, you could blow in my direction and I would topple over. I turned inward when my feelings were hurt, and I did not let anyone in. I noticed quickly after my first brain surgery that the narcotic pills I was given post-operatively very effectively took away the physical AND emotional/mental pain. I was sort of lured in by this, unaware that addiction was taking hold back in 1997. I was assaulted the summer of 1995 and my memory of this event was dispersed by the pills I was ingesting. A lot of other hurtful memories were also killed by the narcotics: losing someone close to me in a plane crash in Poland in May of 1987; losing someone else in my church family on PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988; losing people on September 11; discovering a friend after her suicide; my house foreclosing in Minnesota and having to surrender my three beloved cats in the process.
I drowned my sorrows and pain in Oxycodone and Ativan. They became my new best friends. And with them by my side (literally), I didn't have to feel anything. I was able to manipulate my doctor in Minnesota into giving me all the meds for my physical pain. It is true what they say, that the more narcotics you take, the WORSE your physical pain gets. Then you take more because the pain IS worse.
One day in May of 2011, I went to my regularly scheduled appointment. My doctor (who I also knew because I used to work with her) cut me off cold turkey from the insanely high dosage of Oxycodone and Ativan. This sent me into a panic and within the hour I was feeling the beginning effects of withdrawal.
I tried desperately to get back to Hazelden, as this is where I was in October of 2009. I got halfway through the admit process and they looked at my history of chronic pain and traumas and recommended Las Vegas Recovery Center because of their stellar chronic pain program.(Ironically enough, it was my counselor at Hazelden in Minnesota that recommended Dr Pohl's book, A Day Without Pain. I got it at the Hazelden bookstore!)
This weekend was absolute h***. Chazzy, the LVRC admissions coordinator, was my lifeline that weekend and was nothing but absolutely supportive and encouraging! On Monday May 23, I was at the airport to fly to Las Vegas. The captain of my flight saw how much I was sweating and vomiting and said, “You're not getting on my plane.” I was in severe withdrawal. I told him what I was doing there and he was very empathetic. He told me to try again in the next few days and wished me well. I did make it onto a plane Wednesday, May 25 . . . and a few hours later began my journey with Pain Recovery at LVRC.
Arriving there was a breath of fresh air (105-degree air, mind you, but refreshing all the same). The entire staff was SO generous, kind, accepting, loving-I could go on and on. Thank you, Dr. Pohl and John, Carline, Lynda, Nance, James, Reva, Michele, George, Gail, Kelly and Kelly, Hortensia, Teri, Alvin, Greg, Kristin, Christina, Blake, Kilian, Keith, Jake, Eddie, Emanuel, Angela, Paul, Travis, Derek and others I may have forgotten. Never before in my history of rehabs has anyone addressed my chronic pain as they have at LVRC. The total package—groups, outside NA meetings, peer and staff support, gentle detox from opiates, acupuncture, Reiki, massage, chiropractic, physical therapy, Yoga, Chi Kung—helped me learn to deal with my pain in a natural way and prompted me to seek out other alternative methods of pain control. LVRC planted the seed of effective coping mechanisms. It doesn't end with discharge from the facility. It is ongoing ... AND I am still living in Las Vegas.
Staying connected with LVRC's Alumi Program has been paramount in my recovery. Every Wednesday at 5:30pm, I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief at the alumni support group. I feel like I am home, and I feel comfortable. These are my peeps, after all. The first alumni event I went to was the staff/alumni softball game in October. It was a BLAST and I got to be the photographer for the fun day. It was so much fun to interact with these folks (on both teams) outside of the office.
Hey, thanks for letting me share!