Tuesday, November 17th started out like any other Tuesday morning. I woke up way too early and made my way to the gym for a workout. After a great workout, I showered, got dressed, made a quick Starbucks run and started the drive to work. H and I have had a tradition for years where he calls me as soon as he wakes up in the morning and leaves me a sweet good morning message on my phone. I have gotten into the habit of listening to his messages on my drive into work because it totally makes my morning brighter. I always get so excited to hear what he has to say each morning but this Tuesday morning was just a little bit different. As I drove down the road listening to his message, I heard a sad, defeated voice come over the phone with a message that shocked me to my core and made my heart break. H started off his morning message by telling me that he had been trying to tell me something for a very long time but that he didn't have the strength to look me in the eyes and tell me what he had to say. I was so curious about what he was talking about and I could tell by the tone of his voice that this was not going to be good news. The truth slowly began to come out and H proceeded to inform me that he had a very serious drug habit that had become way more than he could handle. H was shooting a combination of cocaine and heroin into his arms in addition to using methadone and various pills. H went on to tell me that not only was he suffering from some pretty crazy medical issues but that he had also blown through all of our checking and savings accounts and had amassed huge amounts of credit card debt. To say that I was shocked would be the understatement of the century. I was literally sitting in my car shaking with fear and anger while fighting back the tears that refused to be stopped. There are really no words to explain the next few minutes of my life as I tried to absorb everything that I had just heard. I have literally had zero experience with drugs, in fact I have never smoked a cigarette and I gave up alcohol years ago. I never in a million years expected my life to be impacted this directly by drugs or addiction and yet here it was like an ugly monster trying to rip my heart out of my chest. The rest of my drive to work is all a blur as I tried to pull myself together for work. Actually, the entire day is sort of a blur but I am assuming that I made it through the day because somehow I ended up at home that evening to have a very painful conversation with H. That night H and I spent over an hour talking (read: yelling, crying and arguing) about what our options were and what we could do to fix this situation. We both felt trapped financially because although H wanted to get help, he had a business to run and there were so many people depending on him. I honestly felt like we had no options at all. Sitting there with my husband, I felt more scared and alone than I had ever felt in my life. I have always been the type of person who plans ahead and has everything under control but this entire situation, our lives and our future were all out of my hands. We both eventually passed out from exhaustion but as morning came all of the problems were still there. H and I agreed to try and make it through the rest of the work week and then we would try to figure out what our plan would be over the weekend. Neither one of us could afford to miss work because financially, we were ruined. I was completely operating on auto pilot over the next couple of days but as the week went on, things continued to grow worse and worse. H was so sick that it was painful for me to look at him. His arms were swollen from cellulitis and looked like they were rotting from the inside out. In addition to his arms, he had shrunk to 140 pounds (he is normally about 170 pounds), couldn't sleep and was literally dying right in front of my eyes. I knew in my heart what needed to be done but wasn't sure how to make it happen. After work on Thursday I drove straight to Mel and Billy's house to let them know what was going on and ask them for advice. They kindly listened to everything that I had to say and gave me their advice. Both of them knew about H's issues with pain pills over the years but like me, they had absolutely no idea how bad his addiction had become. After a lot of talking and tears, they agreed with my decision to try and get H into a detox center. As I drove home to H that night, I was dreading our conversation because I knew it would be almost impossible to convince him to check into a detox center. H absolutely loved his job and his clients and I knew it would be difficult for him to let those things go. As I walked in the door and looked over at my husband I could literally see all of the pain on his face and knew that I had no choice but to do absolutely everything in my power to get him help. My choices were to make him get help or watch him die. Surprisingly, as I brought up the subject of a detox center, H immediately agreed. I was shocked but decided to get him there before he had a chance to change his mind. I started making calls to see when I could get him admitted and with Billy's help we quickly found a place for him. Unfortunately, at this point, H started to change his mind. He began to think about his clients and how he would explain the situation and the stress of it all quickly unraveled our plans. After another hour of conversation, I convinced him that he could take a week to detox and I would call all of his clients and let them know that he was out with a medical condition for a week. I have never in my life tried so hard to convince someone of something and I was absolutely relieved and exhausted when he finally agreed and started to pack a bag. We agreed that I would take him straight to the detox center the next morning when they opened at 9:00. H convinced me that he should train a couple of clients early on Friday morning before we left and given our present financial situation, I really couldn't argue with him. To be honest, I was scared to death in regard to our finances but that was secondary in comparison to getting my husband some help. My first priority was to get him help and once he was in the hospital, I would focus on how we were going to survive financially. As we went to bed that night, I knew that our lives were about to change but I was hoping that it would eventually be better. Of course the tears that fell on my pillow that night had become a normal occurrence but at least there were a few small tears of hope mixed in with all of the usual grief.
The next morning came and as I sat at waiting for H to come home from work, I quickly realized that I was waiting in vain. I realized that there were no clients involved in H's morning plans but rather one last trip to his dealer before he suffered through a week of detox. I sat at home and contemplated all of my options. I thought about calling the police and reporting him missing or going out looking for him myself but neither of those options seemed to make much sense. I eventually called Billy and Mel to ask their advice and within 30 minutes they both were at my door to help me figure out what my next step should be. Over the next couple of hours, I waited and waited and waited. I was finally able to reach H on his cell phone and he said he was on his way home and was ready to head to detox. After another hour of waiting, he finally showed up and we put him in Mel and Billy’s car and drove straight to the detox center. It was a long, emotional drive to the hospital as we all contemplated the situation we had found ourselves in. Never in a million years did I expect this to happen. Mel and Billy have been our travel and race buddies for years and we have always had so much fun together but this was an entirely different type of trip and the weight of what was happening was slowly beginning to set in. Just a few months before this, we had taken a great trip to the Outer Banks together to celebrate Mel’s birthday. I remember thinking about that trip while driving to the detox center and wishing with all of my heart that we were headed on another fun adventure instead of where we were actually going. I also remember holding tightly to H’s hand and imagining that I could transfer all of my strength to him. I have never been through detox before but I had done some reading on the subject over the previous few days and I knew that he had a tough week ahead of him. I wanted so badly to take some of his pain away and yet there was also a part of me that felt like he deserved to suffer. I both loved and hated my husband at that moment. We finally arrived and I was hoping to get him admitted pretty quickly. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t going to happen. I had originally made arrangements to have him admitted at 9:00 am but we didn’t arrive until after 1:00. Because we were late, we had to sit in the waiting room for almost four hours. I cannot even begin to tell you how hard it was to keep H sitting in that waiting room. As his high began to wear off he grew angry and frustrated and almost walked out more than once. After a near physical fight in the hallway and quite a few arguments, he was finally admitted. He was so mad at me that he refused to even say goodbye but I had no other options at that point. I was willing to deal with his anger if it meant that he would get the help he so desperately needed. As he walked down the hallway with the nurse, all I could do was breathe a sigh of relief that he was finally somewhere that knew how to handle his situation a lot better than I did. Unfortunately, I was about to receive some news that I was definitely not expecting. Although H has great health insurance, this detox center was not covered at all by his insurance because of his addiction to opiates. The only option I had was to pay for the treatment out of my empty pockets. Let me tell you that detox centers are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. This particular hospital was $800 a day plus additional costs associated with the various psychiatrists and doctors groups that he treated with while he was there. I hadn’t imagined that our financial situation could get any worse but here I was sitting in a cold, doctor’s office with an angry addict for a husband, a huge medical bill in front of me and not even $5 to my name. I had no choice but to get help for H and so once I took care of figuring out the financial situation at the hospital, Mel and Billy drove me home so that I could start to figure out everything else. Although I was happy to have H in the treatment center, I was scared to death because the detox center is a voluntary program. I was expecting H to walk out at any moment and I could only pray from the very depths of my being that he would stay and get help. On top of all of that, I had quite a few hard phone calls to make that evening. H’s parents and the rest of our family had no idea what was going on and I wanted them to know before anything else happened. I spent the rest of that evening talking, crying, answering questions, giving hugs and trying to hold myself together through it all. As I finally crawled into an empty bed late that night, I let the tears flow freely and prayed with all of my heart that somehow we would make it through all of this. I have to admit though the future had never looked so bleak.
(I need to take a few moments to mention that Mel and Billy were instrumental in getting H into the detox center and supporting me through a very difficult situation. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without them. Not only did they leave work to help me out but they also spent the entire day waiting with me and helping me make decisions that seemed too difficult for me to make myself. They were leaving to run the Philly Marathon that weekend but they spent the entire day making sure that I had everything taken care of. Friends like this are hard to come by and they will always hold a very special place in my heart…ALWAYS!)