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Unlock Hope

Unlock Hope

Unlocking Hope with An Autistic Child Requires Acceptance

Unlocking hope with an autistic child sometimes requires giving up hope and accepting the the gains your child makes. Allowing your child’s accomplishments to be be their success. This allows you to live in the beauty of their own expression.

My Youngest Hope Was Born

My dear Luke was born April 12, 2006 at nearly 10 pounds and arrived a very healthy baby. He is the youngest of my three boys and developed quite normally in his infancy, reaching all the expected milestones in his growth and development. Having been a mother to two other children to compare my experience, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. At around 18 months Luke was beginning to speak, I remember the day clearly when he had sang the word “Dorothy” mirroring the children’s band and television show from Australia called “The Wiggles”. He would occasionally say the word “Dada”, and I had hope his first “Mama” would surely come in short order.

A Suspicion That Something Was Dreadfully Wrong

  Around 20 months I began to notice something peculiar. He was not making eye contact as frequently, and seemed obsessed with turning door handles and flipping light switches on and off in rapid succession. I also became greatly concerned that he not only did not develop new words in his vocabulary but the two that he had just two months prior were no longer being said. Luke’s father and I have been in the medical profession for many years, we both intuitively knew that something was dreadfully wrong with our child. We had hope that this could be simply speech delay, but I had a strong suspicion that was not what we were dealing with. We made an appointment with a developmental pediatrician and were seen within weeks. That was a day that I will without a doubt remember always.

Diagnosis Of Autism

The doctor had a kind disposition, and a gentle nature as he placed Luke on his knee to gain an attentive audience from my son. He waved his hands slowly in front of Luke’s face to see if Luke would look up and into his eyes. He did not. Instead he pushed off his knee and went to the closest light switch and began his ritual of turning it on and off. Then Luke twirled in circles and did the excited arm flapping motion that I noticed was a new habit as of late. The doctor reached into his desk and pulled out printed off literature and I saw the heading even before he handed it over to us. Autism. It was what I feared and yet expected. My hope was dwindling.

What Does This Diagnosis Mean?

The literature bore a bold dark font for all to see. So impersonal and cold. Those six letters changed the course of our family’s life. He began going over the statistics, my then husband asking if he was certain of the diagnosis, and in the middle of this discussion I asked abruptly “What do I as his mother need to do to give my son a chance at normalcy doctor?, that is what I am most concerned with, not the statistics at this point”. This interruption was curt and I instantly felt badly for doing it in such a fashion. 

Compassion

The doctor smiled and had a look of empathy and compassion in his eyes. He seemed to understand that this is the reaction of a mother that just received devastating news, and I just wanted to hear solutions, if there were any. Even as he continued discussing the diagnosis, I began thinking about Luke’s future. Will he be able to attend a normal school? Will he have friends? Or willhe drive? Can he have a career? Is he denied falling in love? Surely he is not robbed of marriage and children. Will I ever hear the word “Mom” come from his lips?

Living In All Possible Solutions

We were told that after the age of five if the child has not developed speech then they likely will not. Intense early intervention was of paramount importance, and thus began my quest to “fix” this “problem” and give Luke a chance. I began taking my son to therapists (speech, occupational, and physical therapist respectively, along with other modalities of care employed in his treatment plan) spread across the valley. We rose at 6am and did not return home until 5pm,  We did this Monday through Friday.

Moving And The Toll On Our Family

This took its eventual toll on the family and I began to look into consolidation of his services within one entity. My then husband and I could not find such a place in our city or the surrounding area so I researched out of our state. I found a private school for children with autism. It seemed to be the solution and the key to unlocking my son’s mind. We made the decision to move across the country to enroll Luke. The move was a challenge for all. My then husband only visited once monthly as he had to sell the medical practice and continue to see his patients until the practice exchanged hands.  Luke began school immediately.

Results And Acceptance

Progress was slowly coming along, exceedingly slow. His fifth year of life came and went. No speech had developed. I began the process as a mother of accepting that my son would not mainstream into a class with normally developed children.  Speaking may never come to Luke. Once I came to accept this, I began to appreciate what Luke could do.  I no longer compared him to other children. My son was successful with toilet training. He learned how to use eating utensils. Luke began communicating with an iPad with software that allowed him to make requests. He even formed full sentences.

Decreased Frustration Created Better Connections

These tools greatly decreased his frustration, and made life infinitely easier for all that cared for Luke. I also accepted that I may not hear my son verbalize the words “I love you Mommy”. His non verbal communication was just as effective in conveying love.  We shared love when I held his hands. Luke and I swayed and danced. We shared connection when he ran over to kiss me. He would get almost nose to nose and look into my eyes.  All of this and so much more spoke volumes of his ability to connect and show love. Only when we let go of what we feel life should be, we can simply appreciate all the beauty and love that presently is before us.  We let go and allow the fears to fade.  This allows the pain to cease.  Freely loving to unlock hope.
I dedicate this blog to my precious Luke David. I love you with everything that I am baby.

Working The Steps Has Helped Me In My Recovery

Recovery Beyond Meetings

Working the steps is the difference in my recovery today.  What keeps me clean is far more beyond myself and my own choices. I used to think that to stay clean all I had to do was go sit in the meeting and come home and that was it. It is far more beyond that. I’ve been in the rooms quite a few times and I’ve learned that my way is not the way to keep me clean.

Working The Steps

The first suggestion that I took this time around coming into the rooms is to work the steps. I never thought that working the steps would help me at all. I mean why would I want to dig up Old Wounds? But as I have started working the steps and I’m currently on step 6 I have begun to learn a lot about myself. Yes there’s a lot more work to do on myself but I got to dig deep in the fourth step and uncover issues that were affecting me that I thought I had gotten rid of. Currently I am on step 6 and facing my Character defects which seems to make them all come out at once.

Meeting Makers Make It

Another thing I heard is meeting makers make it. Anything that I put before my recovery I will lose. I learned that when I’m too tired or don’t want to go to a meeting that’s when my ass has to get to a meeting. I may not always hear something in a meeting but I may just be helping another addict by being at that meeting.

Service In Sponsorship

I just celebrated a year clean and my sponsor told me that it’s time for me to start sponsoring.  She suggested this since I have worked my fourth step and have a year clean now. And within the same week a girl that just moved into my house, who I’ve known for a very long time, asked me to sponsor her. I told her to give me a gratitude list every day for a week, and then I would sponsor her. The type of happiness I got when she asked me is unexplainable. I believe this will definitely help me in my recovery and help me stay clean.

Giving Back

Giving back what was given to me. Without recovery today I’d be that hopeless helpless girl out there searching for more ways and means to get more. Today I found the light at the end of the tunnel. I love my life and myself today. My name is Lauren, and I am a grateful recovering addict.

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Self Esteem Proves Difficult To Recover

Self Esteem Proves Difficult To Recover

My self esteem is one of the things I have lost in my active addiction.  It has proven more difficult to get back than a job or drivers license. I never considered myself to be superficial, but I was happy with myself on the inside and on the outside.

Life Changed In Two Hours

On June 15, 2016 I relapsed, and those 2 short hours, on that one single day, changed my whole outlook on life. That night I was intoxicated, and I jumped of the roof of my apartment complex. My boyfriend at the time locked me out of our apartment because I relapsed and he didn’t want to deal with my drunken escapades. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking, but I do remember climbing up there and consciously knowing what I was doing and I didn’t care what happened to me.

A Constant Reminder

Til this day I told my parents I must have fell and I don’t remember what happened, but I do, very clearly actually. I’m pretty sure they know it wasn’t accidental, but we don’t ever talk about it. I had to get reconstructive surgery on my nose. Additionally, I broke my patella (knee cap) so I had to have surgery and have to have a second surgery to replace the screw.  I am going to have issues with my knee for the rest of my life and the pain is a constant reminder of what I have done.

Conflict Of Selves

This whole ordeal has made me immensely self-conscious about my looks. One of my teeth were knocked out during the fall.  So I never want to smile and when I do smile, I think everyone is looking at my teeth. I am also embarrassed about the scar that goes right down the middle of my nose, and my nose is crooked. I will never take a picture with my head straight because I think it is way more noticeable.  It is hard for me to feel good about myself on the inside when I have so many insecurities on the outside.

I Am A Valuable Person

Some days are worse than others, but I try not to wallow in self pity because it could have been a lot worse. Had I fallen backward instead of falling forward that night I could have died or even been paralyzed. I did learn from that experience that I do not want to die. To help with my self esteem I think positive and challenge all of my negative thoughts.  Thoughts like I am ugly, I am a loser or even no-one likes me. I remind myself that I am a valuable person and I deserve to feel good about myself. I am working on myself to acquire more self confidence. Some days I struggle more than others. I just need to always remember to:

“Love yourself. Enough to take the actions required for your happiness. Enough to cut yourself loose from the drama-filled past. Enough to set a high standard for relationships. Enough to feed your mind and body in a healthy manner. Enough to forgive yourself. Enough to move on.” – Steve Maraboli

~ Anonymous

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Pregnant In Active Addiction

Getting Pregnant In Active Addiction

Getting pregnant with my son was not planned.  And, being a mother wasn’t a choice.  I got with my son’s father and after 3 months I was pregnant. We went to the hospital because I was having really bad stomach pains and throwing up. They did tests and came back and told me that I was pregnant. I couldn’t even explain the type of emotions I was having. Especially because I was still using at times.

Easier To Stop Being Pregnant

Once I found out I was pregnant with my son it was a lot easier to stop.  I had already stopped doing it as frequently when I got with my son’s father. The thoughts I had throughout the pregnancy were up and down. At first I was like I don’t think that I am in any condition to raise a child. And then I was very excited to have a family of my own, with my son’s father. My pregnancy was exhausting.  Several times I was hospitalized for dehydration.

Introduction To Unconditional Love

Once I had my child and held him in my hands I knew what unconditional love felt like. Once I looked my son in the eyes I knew that I had made the right choice. Everything was going good for a while, but I started building a resentment against my son’s father.   He wasn’t helping much with my child.

A Mom’s Desire To Quit Using

After about a year or so when I stopped breastfeeding my child I started to use drugs again. That’s when I felt like I was incapable of being a good mother. I slacked on teaching my kid some things that I should have been teaching him. I was there when he started walking, crawling, eating regular Foods. But I wasn’t actually there in the moment. The drugs were consuming me. And many times I thought I could quit for the sake of my kid and I just couldn’t.

A Mom’s Insanity

I love my child and he was very important to me but he still couldn’t stop me from using. My child went through a lot because of me.  I brought him with me on drug deals and drug dealers houses and so on and so forth. I went through that Insanity for a couple years in my kid’s life.

Desire To Be Reunited

I went to Ace in 2015, and that’s when Ayden started staying with Justin, his father, regularly. I figured once I graduated I would be able to get my son back. When I did graduate Justin actually started letting me take him regularly to where I was staying because I was staying clean. I started to see where I slacked with being a mother, and the things that I should have been teaching my son. I opened my eyes  to how much this kid has grown, and it was amazing.

Growing Through Milestones

I thought that that was going to be my chance to be a real mother. After about 17 months I went back out for a few months. I felt like I had given up on myself and my kid. After the insanity of a few months I came to a transitional house because I knew it was time to surrender. I was sick and tired, but I was also emotionally less. My son was doing all these great things and growing through milestones in his life around that age, and I felt like I just couldn’t enjoy them because the drugs had made me feel nothing anymore.

A Mom’s Awakening

My son’s father kept my son from me for almost 2 months. My heart felt as though it was broken into pieces. When I started seeing my son again that love filled the void that I had. And I opened my eyes and realized that I was putting him through what my mom put me through. I was introducing him to the chaos I had in my life at such a young age.

There For My Son

In the past year we went through some battles. My son got diagnosed with absence seizures, and since being diagnosed we’ve been to a couple appointments for testing. I realize that I’m not a bad mother. I’ve just made bad choices. Today I’m able to be here for my son. I’m able to recognize his growth and be there and cheer him on when he notices the accomplishments that he has made. I was able to be there for my son this past weekend when he swallowed batteries. I was actually able to drive him to the hospital to find out what was wrong and then stay the night with him and make sure that he was okay.

A Lovable Connection

Today me and my son have a lovable connection. He’s such a lovable kid and very smart. I get to be there a hundred percent today and In the moment. I’m not continuously ditching my responsibilities as a mother to go get high. My son starts kindergarten very soon and I get to be there to send them off to school on his first day.

Blessed By Unconditional Love

Now back to what I said about I didn’t choose to be a mother, but I’m sure glad that I am Ayden’s mom today. I couldn’t even begin to explain the unconditional love that we have. And that’s a blessing all in its own. Being a parent isn’t always fun and games it comes with responsibility, stress, and other factors. But being able to teach this little human being that came from me and watch him grow into such a handsome well mannered young man makes it well worth it.  My name is Lauren, and I am an addict.

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Advocate For Addicts Needed In Hospitals

This is a mother and daughter sharing a story, and the hopes are that it brings awareness to help in Ending the Stigma of Addiction. To help get an Advocate for addicts in the hospitals to give “us” a voice.

A Hospitalization Nightmare

Here is My Mother’s Nightmare when she needed to just be by her daughter’s side.
Recently my daughter (who has been battling addiction for 17 years) was hospitalized due to Endocarditis, pneumonia, pulmonary embolisms, and sepsis – all due to her heroin addiction.  Once admitted, she ended up coding but was ultimately revived. Throughout her six-week hospital stay, some of the medical staff treated her like they would any other patient. However, many doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel treated us both like we were pariahs.  The emergency room physician had immediately put her on IV morphine because he knew that she was in excruciating and unbearable pain due to her life-threatening condition, but things changed dramatically once she was admitted and transferred to a room.

Taking The Edge Off

The very first doctor that was assigned to my daughter walked into her room with a huge frown on his face. Without even introducing himself, he started berating her.  The first words out of his mouth were “I am NOT giving you any more pain medication because you are a drug addict!”  She was so sick, she could hardly move, let alone speak.  I politely said that she is in horrible pain, and that because of her high tolerance to opiates – the little bit of morphine the ER doctor put her on was at least helping to take the edge off.

Choice Of Illness?

I begged him not to deprive her of that small comfort, and he literally yelled back at me, “Are you aware of all of the drugs she tested positive for?”  I politely replied “Yes, she/we have been dealing with her disease since her father tragically died many years ago.”  I told him that she had put together many years of clean time before this relapse, and that she was just as worthy as any other patient he may treat.  He continued to argue that he didn’t care how much pain she was in, and that he wasn’t going to give her medication that is reserved for someone who didn’t “choose” their illness.

Compassion Denied

As upset as I was, I tried to reason with him that she is a wonderful person with a horrible disease and should be treated like any other patient who comes under his care.  He yelled, “If you know so much, what have YOU done about it?… Do you even know about AA?”  I was flabbergasted and told him that not only have I learned all I ever wanted to know about this disease through the many years of her rehabs and hospitalizations, but that I was also going to college for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling, so “Yes, I know all about AA, NA, and many other treatment approaches that are out there.”

Advocate Rather Than Bully

Not considering that my daughter and I were told that she most likely would not survive her current medical condition, this doctor continued to belittle us both until he stormed out of the room making it clear that he wasn’t budging on the subject.  I was in utter shock, and something needed to be done. Therefore, I went to the front desk and asked a volunteer if they would kindly direct me to the office for a patient advocate.  I was told that there was no such office, and no such advocate for addicts on or around the premises.  So, I proceeded to hunt down the Director of Physicians, and calmly informed him of our experience.  He said he would see what he could do.  By the time I collected myself and made my way back up to her room, she whispered that the same doctor had come back into her room, leaned over her bed, and said “so your mom had me removed from your case, I hope you’re happy!”.  He was nothing but a bully!

Worthy Of Saving?

The next doctor disclosed that he had a niece who suffered from the same disease.   He put her back on what little pain medication that was originally prescribed and was wonderful for the next three days. Unfortunately, for the rest of her six-week stay, my daughter was assigned a different doctor every two or three days.  Some were compassionate, but most weren’t.  Some treated her like she was worthy of saving, and others treated her as if they were wasting her time.  We both kept asking if there was anyone on staff that was educated or knowledgeable about addiction, an advocate for addicts.  Unfortunately the answer was always a big “No”.

Minimal Education In Addiction

We finally asked if she could speak to a psychiatrist.  A few days later one came to see her, and we both explained to him what was happening. We also told him how the heart doctors who originally said that my daughter would need emergency open-heart surgery had all but disappeared.  To our surprise, the psychiatrist went to great lengths to explain to us what was happening.  He said that he wished there were addiction specialists at the hospital because medical doctors are only required to dedicate a few hours of their entire education to learning about substance use disorders, but there weren’t any on staff.   There was no one to advocate for addicts on staff.

“Hard To Fix” Addicts

He went on to explain that since many doctors don’t understand the disease, they would rather not have addicts as patients. He said they are used to fixing” their patients, and that addicts are “hard to fix”, and “most of them leave to go back to using anyways”.  We were surprised (but grateful) that he was being so frank with us.

ZERO Help For Addicts

It was then that he disclosed that one of his family members were also suffering from addiction.  He went on to say how frustrated he was that there was ZERO help for addicts in the hospital.  Additionally, that this was a huge problem not only in this state, but the entire country. It was sad to hear this reality, but it has given my daughter and I the motivation and determination to help eradicate the stigma by dispelling inaccurate information, and countering pessimistic mindsets regarding substance use disorders.

The Addicted Daughter

This is My Experience while in the Hospital.
My first memory when I was in the hospital was me slowly opening my eyes to find a doctor leaning over my bed.  I can still see his face in mine saying with a belittling and intimidating attitude “Have you had enough yet!?”. At this point I was very “grave” and in excruciating pain and facing the possibility of death.

I Actually May Die, This Time

I was still trying to comprehend everything that was going on.  All the while trying to accept the fact that this may be the time that I actually may die as a result of my disease. I had already beaten myself mentally and physically bad enough.  And then finding myself hearing a doctor’s attitude, a doctor whom has my life is his hands belittle me even further. It truly frightened me.

Helplessly Watching

Honestly, I even believed I deserved to be treated that way. He began to scold my mother as I laid there. He began saying things like “Are you the Enabler?” “What have you done to help?!”. I felt helpless as I watched him completely berate and teardown my mother as she was ALSO possibly facing the fact that HER daughter may too be dying.

Great Lengths Of A Mother’s Love

He had NO idea of our story. He had no idea the great lengths my mother has gone to find help for me while I was in the deepest part of my addiction. She is a mother WHO has done everything to try to help me achieve sobriety. As badly as he was treating me he was also treating my mother just as badly. Someone who did not deserve to be treated that way. I was the addict.

Undeserving Addict

He proceeded to yell at me, “I am not going to give you pain medication that I give to Cancer Patients.” However, I was in the middle of dying from MRSA that was painfully eating away at my organs. Pulmonary embolisms that were lodged in my lungs causing fluid to capacitate my breathing inflaming my lungs and embolisms in my ankle eating way at the joints. The list goes on for my pain all the while dreadfully beginning to detox on my literal death bed.  This doctor let me know with no hesitation that I did this to myself.  Additionally, how he had no intentions of letting me be even slightly comfortable. I remember my mom hearing my breathing and seeing the amount of pain I was in. My body had been in such pain that I finally had fell asleep for a little.

A Mother’s Search For Help

When I woke up I remember my mom walking through the door, and I could hardly talk.  But I was able to muster out “Where did you go?”.   She began to tell me that she went to talk to the Director of Doctors, to explain my situation.  Her intention was to also have that doctor removed from my case.

A Human Being Receives Care

In the meantime, we were informed that pain medications were very necessary for me at that point regardless of being an addict or not. It was doing more damage, and even lessening the possibility of having the antibiotics help restore and remove the vegetation from from heart.  The pain medications would also help me to not go into cardiac arrest.  Finally we had somebody, a doctor, on our side that saw me as a human being that was in dire pain. That was a start. Eventually the antibiotics began to work, and the pain medication helped my breathing become a little more bearable.  Soon after I began physical therapy to start walking again.

Inconsistent Medical Treatment

Every couple day the Doctors would switch. I finally got one doctor that was compassionate and understood a little bit more.  With time he got to see that I was a good person too, and not just an addict. So then I would feel hopeful. But then, 2-3 days later I got another doctor who would just immediately cut me off the morphine without a tapper or warning. Without even reading my file and learning the backwards effect it would have on my progression. Then a few days later another would look beyond my addiction.

Realization To Want To Live

This went back and forth every couple days. I knew that my luck would run out, and I would have to face another doctor or nurse that would be rude to me. A medical professional that would treat me differently or sometimes not even acknowledge me. That treatment, or lack of would literally shatter me. I had to accept that I am the addict. That I did this to myself.  And, I deserved it anyways.  But as I got better, I realized that didn’t want to die.

A Mountain Too Big

I wanted to be the happy and heathy person I was when I was clean and sober. But, I was so filled with hate for myself and disappointment.  And that mountain seemed too big. And I was isolated in the hospital with 0% percent of encouragement from the staff there. In my own crazy, sick mind with only a TV and 24 hours a day to think about everything I’ve done.  Everything I’ve done to myself and to the people I love. My thinking was the same as when I came in while in the grip of active addiction. That same thinking that got me there in the first place.

Anything Is Possible

My mom and another family member put together a collage poster of pictures of my first sobriety.  The collage was placed on the wall to remind me of the sober path I’ve led before.  To remind me this path was still possible. When they put them on my wall in the hospital the Doctors and the nurse started looking at my pictures of me.  Pictures of me with my family and my son. Just a few started asking questions. I saw them become curious of my disease. They saw that I was your average women when was I healthy. I was a vibrant, smart.  Yes, even a well mannered human being.  Some of their attitudes and they way that they treated me started to change for the better. A psychiatrist came in for a total of maybe 15-20 mins to enlighten us on the perspective from the doctors.  And that perspective was a little scary, but at the same time understandable. Doctors and nurses are very busy.

A Plan For Rehab

I finished my 6-week course of antibiotics by the skin of my teeth. It was very hard.   Being an addict, and having to sit there for 6 weeks, with my frame of mind and with no support, was almost impossible to bear. I had a plan to go to rehab after… but that was only possible if I hung on to finish the 6 weeks of the antibiotic treatment.

Advocate For Addicts Needed

I may be an addict, but I am still human.  Our Bodies still operate the same. I always wonder to myself, “what if I hadn’t had my mother there?”, to be my voice when I couldn’t speak. Or even because I am an addict that I deserve this.  There is a need for an advocate for addicts in our Hospitals.  Someone to help the doctors and nurses to communicate on our behalf, because let’s face it…. Nobody listens to “Us”.
End the stigma.