Posted Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:58 AM
In the 1980s and 1990s I was a partyer. Mostly booze, some weed, and rarely the "hard stuff." I thought that leaving the hard stuff alone and sticking to booze and pot would be "safe". I thought I kept my habits in check though. A few beers at night except when I was off the next day. Then it would be more than a few. Sometimes as much as a case. A little weed every now and then. Nothing that affected my job performance. So I thought.
I was a manager in 1999 for a large pizza chain. Sales were sliding and my labor costs were high because I was going in late and leaving early leaving my hourly assistant managers to run the place. I almost never closed as managers were required to so I could go home and have a few beers and chill. Then I would go in late the next afternoon. Not really because I was hungover, just because I was substituting beer for food and had no energy. I wasnt drinking too heavily. Yet.
Toward the end of 1999 my performance was slipping. I was forgetting to order food properly and was working way below the 48 hours a week we managers were required to work. I wasnt worried though. The supervisor was a friend of mine. A week before thanksgiving in 1999 he came to visit me at work and laid it on the line: Start working the required hours and doing your job properly or you're gone. I had a month.
I started working more but also drinking more and my performace continued to slide. So when the supervisor came to my job 2 days before Christmas I knew it wasnt to wish me Seasons Greetings. "Im gonna have to let you go" he said simply. I nodded, and wordlessly handed over my keys and left without a word to anyone. But all was well. I landed another job after New Years as a pizza maker in a family owned pizzeria. And the owner didnt mind if we had a drink or two. I could make pizzas blindfolded back then(and still can now). A few drinks wasnt going to slow me up.
I started really fucking up in April. Being late for work or missing work altogether because my drinking was now at an all time high. My sister Pam let me move in to her house for "whatever I could afford to pay." My other sister Cindy, who was a deputy in my city at the time, warned me, "you are gonna kill yourself."
The pizzeria closed for a week late April for remodeling and Vinny the owner strongly suggested that I "get my shit together" on my week off. I sure did. Stayed drunk most of the time. Well until the day before I was supposed to go back to work.
There was a knock on my bedroom door that saturday evening. It was Pam. "Gary theres some people her that want to talk to you" she said. Then the door opened and three police officers stepped inside. "Gary we have a detention order for you buddy" the oldest one of the three said. I was laying on my bed in my underwear and instinctively covered up. "Your family is worried about you buddy" he continued. "And we are going to take you to get you some help. Can you stand up for us Gary?"
I got up and I saw Pam out in the hall and then a female in a brown uniform stepped into the room. It was Cindy and she was holding a piece of paper. "Girls can you excuse me?" I called out weakly.
"Like we aint never seen you in your underwear before" Cindy quipped dryly. "You obviously dont give a shit about yourself anymore, Well me and Pam do. As a law enforcement officer I believe you are a danger to yourself Gary. And the magistrate agreed. We are taking you to the detox unit in the hospital and you are going to be there for a while. Now get dressed". I started to go into my closet but an officer stepped in front of me. "Just for our protection we gotta look" he said calmly.
"All hes gonna need is pajamas. We can bring him some clothes later" Pam called out from the doorway. "I will get you a clean pair." she continued as she went down the hall. Meanwhile I had to pee and had to do so with 3 police officers and my sister standing just outside the bathroom door.
I got dressed and the younger of the officers produced an alcosensor and asked me to blow into it. It had been awhile since my last drink and the officer showed the reading to the other 2 and my sister. "Gonna check your pulse bro" Cindy said as she held my wrist. "Thready" she said. "Better get the fire department here".
Minutes later I had 2 paramedics and an engine crew there. I was in the early stages of shock and didnt even know it. "Gary we arent going to handcuff you but dont you be giving anyone a hard time. Do you understand me? Cindy said, marshalling an official tone. I nodded.
"I know you can still talk" she said, giving me a hard stare. "Yes" I croaked out.
The two medics eased me onto the stretcher and the accompanying firefighters helped them manuever the stretcher down the stairs and outside. Then I was loaded in the back of the ambulance and the older EMT who would make sure I didnt die on the way to the hospital took my vitals again and hooked me to an IV and an ekg. "Blood pressure is looking better and your heart rate is coming back up. This isnt the end of the world for you buddy." The back door opened and Cindy climbed aboard and looked at my vitals. She grabbed my hand and squeezed it and said "you are going to be fine". She is not an affectionate type of person by any stretch of the imagination so this was out of character for her. "Since you are in custody one of us is going have to ride with you. Might as well be me" she shrugged.
We got to the ER and I heard the EMT say "alcohol poisioning" and "coming out of shock." I remember a lot of people being in the room and me getting very sleepy. "Cant let you sleep yet honey until your BAC drops" a nurse yelled shaking me.
Pam evenually showed up and I was sweating profusely. I was sobering up, and going into withdrawals. A doctor came in and said "Well it looks like you are going to make it this time. Next time you may not be so lucky. I see you have been committed to detox. We are gonna give you something to make you relax. Good luck."
He left and Pam, who had once been an LPN, helped me get cleaned up before the ER nurse came in with a syringe with a sedative. Before I got the dose Pam walked me across the hall to the bathroom where I peed a gallon. "Thats a good sign. Means the juice didnt kill your kidneys. And your urine is clear. Also a good sign. It was pretty dark back at the house."
I laid back down and the nurse did an "IV push" and I was wheeled upstaira to the medical ward where I would be for a couple of days before going to detox. Before I fell asleep Cindy reminded me that I was not free to leave.
I didnt want to leave. All I wanted to do was sleep.
The next day I was so tired I didnt want to even get out of bed. A social worker named Claire came to visit me. A tall thin girl with an angular face and brown hair she wore in a ponytail she got right to the point. "Late stage alcoholism. Did they tell you that you have some liver damage? You are one drink away from death. Do I have your attention?" I nodded.
"As soon as the doctor releases you from the medical ward you are going upstairs to detox. How are you feeling?"
"In damn tired of this shit"
She smiled. "Just what I wanted to hear, Means you are ready to change!" She said she would see me soon and as soon as she left Pam and Cindy walked in. "Well you are lookin better already" Cindy saId. "Yea a hell of a lot better than u did when they brought you here. We dont need a dead brother Gary" Pam said lowly. "Hope you know this is for your own good."
"Yea I know I need a smoke. But theres no smoking in here." I remembered one of the policemen grabbing my smokes for me before I was taken out of the house and they were in my nightstand next to my bed. Along with my lighter.
Cindy got me some slippers and we walked out into the courtyard and I enjoyed a smoke. "Once you go to detox you wont be able to have visitors at all on weekdays. So enjoy your time with us now." Soon I was back in my room and it was time for them to go. Got a hug from both of them. Not unusual for Pam but Cindy doesnt give hugs.
They next day I was taken upstairs to detox. Was like Army basic training all over again. Beds had to be made their way, meetings and classes all day, rules to memorize. Privileges had to be earned. Part of the rehab process is breaking down the person and then building them back up again.
There wasnt any need for that with me. I was already broken. I told Claire that and didnt get the sympathy I expected. "I will decide when you are 'broken' as you put it. Better change that woe is me attitude." Her tone then softened a little. "Look ive been in your shoes ok? Just go with the flow."
I went with the flow and 4 weeks later I walked out of there and went home. Went to aftercare 4 nites a week and to this day I go to support meetings twice weekly. My job at the pizzeria was gone and I got a job sweeping floors in a bakery at minimum wage. One morning one of their drivers didnt show up(and never came back) and I was asked if I could run a route. I was a driver there for almost 4 years before they laid us all off and then I went to my current job. I lost touch with Claire after I heard she got married and left the area.
Almost 10 years sober now.
Posted Wed Apr 21, 2010 03:37 PM
This post has been edited by cocoa70: Wed Apr 21, 2010 03:39 PM
Posted Wed Apr 21, 2010 09:07 PM
Posted Mon Apr 26, 2010 01:26 AM
I found him when I quit asking for things and just said "Thy will be done in all things and please give me the strength to accept that," Keep looking you will find him again.