Independence Day

July 4, 2014. 

This was the day, maybe the exact moment even, when the last of my last tiny opiate dose metabolized out.

For the first time in many years, I had no opium in my body. No real opium. No fake opium. All. Gone. How many years had it been continuously circulating through my body? More than 5. Less than 10. A lady doesn’t say.

Exhausted but proud. In Orange County, before an Angel's game, July 4, 2014.

Exhausted but proud. In Orange County, before an Angel's game, July 4, 2014.

I had chocolate cake for breakfast that day.

I tried to drink some beer at this restaurant, but my stomach burned too much. Even water burned my stomach.

Dr. Plance and I were texting that day. He sent me pics of the July 4th parade he was at. He was so happy for me. That was the best part.

All the fake happy gone. Hello fake sad. That was the worst part.

Gone was my brain’s ability to register pleasure. Me, the person who could laugh anywhere at anything, and felt so glad to be alive, most of the time. I couldn’t believe it. The low is not possible to imagine unless you have been there. I understand why people leave heroin detox and overdose and die.

This day was the beginning of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, when all the drugs are gone, and your body is trying to right itself, like a listing ship battered against rocks in a storm. It needs to heal now, and good luck with that. Pleasure came back very slowly. I thought I was tough. I thought I could dig deep. I had to dig deeper to get through this.

Mostly I just kept going. I can endure. I have Ehlers-Danlos.

I could not soothe myself. I felt every emotion so strongly and so negatively. I burst into tears frequently, out of nowhere, for no good reason. My stomach was a mess. I was either dying from nuclear stomach aches or eating mountains of sugar. I was waking from night terrors every night. More on that later.

Right. That’s what the doctor meant when he said I might not be able to get off.

The next chunk of time was the worst. I shut off my Facebook page. I spoke to no one. I went to physical therapy. I went to samba class. I yelled at my husband. I yelled at Dr. Plance. I drank whiskey and read fashion magazines. I read memoirs of drug addicts. Ooooo I loved Bill Clegg’s 90 Days!!!!!!

I read Marc Lewis' The Biology of Desire over and over. It gave me hope my brain would heal.

I ticked days off the calendar until I got to 90, which is when I was told I would start to feel better.

The restaurant gave us cotton candy.

The restaurant gave us cotton candy.

This is a difficult time to think about.

I am crying as I am writing this. 

Madora Pennington