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Day 18 at rehab for my husband, time for a story

Old 10-14-2017, 07:12 AM
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Day 18 at rehab for my husband, time for a story

Things are still pretty rollercoastery for me in terms of my emotions. I would definitely be OK with that slowing down anytime now. I listen to a lot of music and have realized that a lot of songs I have listened to for years have to do with addiction, or are applicable I guess, but I didn't realize it.

I made an appointment with a therapist for Tuesday morning. Cleared it with my boss and she was absolutely a sweetheart about it (she knows what is going on). I've been at this job for quite a long time, 11 years, so she knows me pretty well. I don't have a lot of drama unless it's an ill/dying family member type situation. I'm the rock, man. Yay. Al-Anon meeting on Tuesday as well. It will be my first one.

When my husband's therapist called for the first time a couple of weeks ago, she encouraged me to find a therapist and said something like "We have to get you back to being the wife and not the mom." Yes. That would be awesome. I mean, I am a mom, I have adult children, and being a mom is something that is at the very core of my being, but it would be delightful not to have to be the mom to my husband. It would be great if we could get to that point.

I've read a lot here, both on the forums and some of the links that were provided (thanks for that...dandylion maybe?). It's been very helpful. I can definitely see that I need for my husband's recovery (or not) to be in his hands and that that is the only way. According to the paperwork they sent his boss, he is scheduled to be there until the beginning of December, which is a good thing. It's very far away in California, and the staff:client ratio is 2:1. He is through with detox and now is in the house for men with lots of therapy and group stuff, other holistic things too. It's 100% covered by our insurance, which I found very surprising.

I can't remember if I mentioned what his situation is/has been, but he has a chronic pain situation and got hooked on prescribed opiates quite some time ago. Years...maybe 10? I found a prescription bag and empty bottle in the car one time and there should have been a lot left in the bottle, so that pissed me off and I told him if he was going to be prescribed narcotics for his medical condition, I had to hold onto them and dispense them and it was a marriage deal breaker. Over the years the 10 mg hydrocodone had gone all the way up to 30 mg oxycodone with a 50 mpg fentanyl patch on top of it. I was absolutely horrified when the docs increased it to this point. At one point they even put him on morphine but he didn't like that so they switched back to oxycodone, I think. Anyway, I have felt trapped by this asinine situation for quite a number of years. The meds were legitimately prescribed for legitimate pain but I used to just be astounded that they were doing it. They don't anymore.

Anyway, so over the years he has gotten into his meds many times and lied about it. I can't tell you how much I hated being in that position, but I felt like I was between a rock and a hard place. It wasn't like he was taking them illegally, we had kids in the house, and his pain condition is legitimate. But he would also take his mother's leftover pain pills when he went to visit, etc. He has always done stuff like that when the opportunity arose.

There came a point when the prescribing people (the VA) figured out that all these years of throwing narcotics at all these veterans was probably not a good idea so they started the process of knocking that off. My husband was very angry and resistant at first, but ultimately he did come to realize that he needed to try to get off the narcotics. He worked with his docs and got off fentanyl first (thank God--I hated that) and then weaned way down from 120 mg of oxycodone to 20 mg a day. The plan was that the last bottle they sent, which arrived the day before he left for rehab, would be the last.

Over the years, I basically would keep the bottle in a hidden place and just put the meds on his dresser the night before and then whatever he decided to do with them for that day was up to him. Occasionally he would ask for an extra.

He would search for and find the bottle often, which is one of the ways I knew he had an addiction to them, but I felt trapped between the fact that he had a medical condition and a legal prescription and the fact that I knew he had a problem. Then my mother, who lived with us, grew ill and was on hospice services. I bought a small safe for all of her end-of-life meds on the hospice people's recommendations. That was mostly morphine and Ativan. From that point on, I kept my husband's meds in the safe. When my mother died in 2014, the hospice people helped me dispose of the morphine and ativan, but there was still some ativan left in the safe that I mostly forgot about.

My husband even managed to get into the safe by "coming across" the key. Lots of denial and then finally admitting it. The gaslighting thing, I guess. The second time he found the key I just left it where he found it and stopped keeping his meds in the safe. That was probably over the summer.

The alcohol part comes in at around the time the VA started weaning my husband down on his pain meds, I would say maybe 1.5 years ago? Not sure. We had a lot of alcohol in the house for the first time really in our married life, left over from a wedding. I hadn't realized that he was slowly draining it, which I guess goes back about 3 years now. It became a real problem, though, about 1.5 years ago. He started to get drunk at social events....I particularly remember a totally drunken Thanksgiving last year. I was mortified and very puzzled. My husband is a pretty happy drunk...or he was, I guess.

My daughter came home to live with us for a few months last year and she really noticed there was something wrong. I remember she had to clean up his man cave to get ready for guests for her wedding (different wedding) and she pulled out a few bottles of champagne from under the guest bed in there. She and I were like WTH? I questioned him about it and then moved on. Then she came back at Christmas time and was pretty alarmed and concerned. By this time, I was too. Lots of isolation and another drunken Christmas Eve, then New Year's Eve...he was passed out by 7 or 8 on NYE. I decided that having alcohol in the house was a failed experiment and gave it away to the adult children, and I had a talk with my husband about it. I asked him if he had a problem and needed help, maybe rehab. No no no, he said. I'm sure he didn't think he did have a problem.

So out went the alcohol and I think there were a few more drunken social events but he mostly kept it together...mostly. However, he started isolating himself. I didn't realize what was happening at the time because I was very busy finishing a bachelor's degree at long last. He was supportive...but odd. Soo odd. I realize now that my many hours cloistered away studying played right into his hands, but at the time he would complain about it and do the "poor me" thing, while also being supportive. It was just odd.

I had an idea something was not right and on the few occasions we had people over with wine/beer I watched him carefully and kept an eye on the alcohol, but he seemed to mostly leave that alone. But I knew something was not right. There was a lot of sleeping and weirdness.

What he had started doing was buying a fifth of rum "every 2-3 days" and drinking it outside in the backyard, and keeping it stored in a shed. I should mention that he had bariatric surgery about three years ago, so a fifth of rum for him every few days is a LOT. Maybe it's a lot for everybody. I am not an alcohol person and don't really know. I had NO idea that this is what was happening. Not until over the summer, after I had finished my degree and was around more. Then I knew something was up, but I still didn't know what. I remember about a month before everything went down, I went outside and he was in the shed. I was like "What are you DOING?" and he said "Sitting in my shed. I like to sit in my shed." I said "There's something going on in that shed and I will find out, you know" but just walking back inside.

So the isolation and separation kept going and then in mid-July he provoked an argument with me, which is quite unusual. He asked me to use my new degree to install a modem that he insisted we needed because he couldn't get a signal in his man cave, where he works from home three days a week. So I didn't really want to because who does want to do that, but I decided that was kind of immature of me and so I started to do it. Then I ran into a problem and he came over and laughed at me in a very kind of awful way. I got mad, fight ensued. Later that night he said "We need to talk tomorrow." I said "Well I don't think I like the sound of that but OK let's do it right now." So then he told me he was very unhappy, that it was all my fault, and he wanted to separate, that it's always my way and all the stuff around the house that he wants to do I am not interested in (kind of true, he had a point there) and that he would move out. I was stunned. I said that I did not want that. Then ultimately he said it was all a test because he thought I would jump at the chance for him to leave, or something like that. We have been married 33 years. Nothing like that has ever happened. I was devastated. I realize now what was happening but then I was just completely shocked and heartbroken and felt so bad. Just totally clueless.

Things continued on a sort of slow-train-to-disaster way with a worsening of the cognitive impairment that had sort of taken over. I mean, it was really bad. The children pretty much stopped interacting with him in a meaningful way because it was useless. To a lesser extent I had too, but I was with him all the time and there were more moments of clear-ish relating with me. The children are all grown and off on their own, so their interaction was much more limited.

Then one day I realized he had driven under the influence just before taking a week off from work. He claimed that he had had "two tall boys," which for him might actually be a lot with his altered gastric absorption, but who knows what it really was.

I was absolutely freaked out about that and then I started watching things a little more closely. More stuff happened, such as my husband getting drunk on his birthday when he knew we were going to be taken to dinner by my daughter and her boyfriend with obnoxious behavior at the restaurant, and then came my birthday weekend. My daughter and her boyfriend and his son came over and she was very sweet and bought us dinner from a curbside to-go place and brought it back (my choice). He picked out what he wanted and we went to get him from the deck in the backyard (that's been his project the entire summer--working on the deck. Really the project was pickling his guts but this was apparently the cover story). We started eating and I got all the way done and was like "where IS he?" What was worse than him not coming in was basically that none of us really noticed or cared until that point. So I went back and said "She bought dinner for us and it is my birthday. What the H is wrong with you?" Well....NOW I know. Anyway, then the next day my sister came to take me out for my birthday and I knew I would go home to some sort of disaster and yup. I don't actually leave the house very much because I work from home and am kind of a hermit anyway and usually quite happy to be home.

I came home and he was sitting on his chair in the living room and had all the fixings of a sandwich around him. A squeeze bottle of mayo on the end table. A package of baby swiss on the floor next to him. Empty bread bag on the coffee table. Package of ham next to that. Butter knife. I was kind of astounded but for once he didn't seem totally hammered, as he usually would be when I would go out and come back home. When we had one of our discussions about the alcohol situation, we had worked out that getting a six-pack of beer and having a few when he was working on the deck and yard on the weekends didn't seem unreasonable, although I did wonder at the levels of intoxication on just 2 or 3 beers, but put it to the gastric surgery.

My daughter came back over to pick something up right around then and she said "Why is there swiss cheese on the floor?" and was totally baffled.

Another daughter had come home about a month earlier and was horrified at the steep decline in her father. She was very alarmed. Apparently she blamed me for it for not fixing the problem. Hahahaha. Now I see how funny that really is. To her credit, this kid is the one who has known there was a big problem for a lot longer than the rest of us. She is very close to her father but she also has watched every single episode of Intervention there ever was, so she has a really good level of insight, I think. Her plan was to come back last month and have "the talk," I think the "intervention" talk, but she ended up having to cancel her trip at the last minute because of one of the hurricanes.

So then the day after the weird sandwich making incident (more weird stuff happened that night), I woke up and got to work. I ended up having to wake up my husband for him to start work, which was not that unusual but kind of was for lately because he had been having trouble sleeping (another sign that I was oblivious to).

Sometimes I know things, like they drop fully formed in my head is the only way I can describe it. It's probably my subconscious working on stuff and then finally going "You idiot, it's THIS" or something. Anyway, I had one of those moments, which don't happen all that often, where all of a sudden the thought was there. I needed to look in his pants pocket. He at this point was in the bathroom. I reached in and pulled out something crinkly. "What the F is this?" It was still dark so I had to go outside the bedroom and look at it in the room where my office is. It was what I believe is a hospice pack of lorazepam 0.5 mg tablets, expired in 2015. Now. Lorazepam is NOT something he is prescribed. So back into the bedroom and bathroom I go, roaring at this point. My son-in-law later remarked that this was a great strategy because there was nowhere for my husband to go. That made me laugh. But it just happened to be where he was at the time. I said that I was not sure what was going on, but if he was out buying drugs on the street then that was going to be the end of him bringing it home here, that the car actually is mine and in my name only and he's driven it for the last time because if he hurts somebody I will be partially responsible too now that I know he's doing it etc etc. I told him he'd better figure out what he wanted to do because this was not a situation I was going to be a part of, absolutely no way.

Oh, and this was our 33rd wedding anniversary.

So a little while later he said that he needed help and wanted to go to rehab. I asked if he would let me do what I do to help identify one. I have a pretty good amount of medical knowledge from my job. His mental abilities at this point were in the tank anyway, and he kind of NEEDED help to even figure out how to get it done.

I tried to keep working but ultimately figured out that I needed take the rest of the day off (ya think?) and got to work trying to figure out how all this rehab stuff works. I ultimately figured out he needs a dual diagnosis center and googled that plus the type of health insurance he has, and the first place to come up looked ok so I started vetting and researching it. All that checked out so I filled out their form. A guy called me in 10 or 15 minutes and did everything right. He was very very careful to first make sure that rehab was a good call right now, called my husband and spoke to him, verified the insurance, all of it. Told me how it was going to be, told me not to over-promise anything to my husband because it was essential that everything my husband was told about and by them was the 100% truth, asked how he would be able to maintain a sober lifestyle on his return home and that he needed a peaceful environment. I just about died laughing at that point because this house is the definition of that when my husband is not doing his weird crap. Throughout the last 33 years, we mostly did NOT have alcohol in the house. I don't do any drugs of any kind and will not be around them, just not my thing. I rarely drink and can easily go the rest of my life without drinking.

I will say I do have an affinity for alcoholics usually for some reason, although they also annoy me. REALLY annoy me. That explains a lot. I've not really wanted to be around my husband for the last year or two. I just was completely oblivious/allowing myself to be in denial about why.

After we set up the rehab plan, we were both extremely relieved. He said he has been thinking he needs to go for 8 or 9 months but he didn't want to admit it and didn't know how to go about it. I believe that. He is so foggy as to not even really be the same person anymore. I would not be remotely surprised if he had some encephalopathy from the drinking because of his malabsorption from the bariatric surgery. Probably what saved him was that he was very diligent about taking all the vitamins.

Anyway, he left for detox and rehab two days after the phone call to the treatment center. He has been there for 18 days. We have had some very bad news here at home that the therapist told him about this week (my sister is dying and will likely not be around when he gets home). I have spoken to him twice since he has been gone, both times I think maybe not really in the plan but once it was because the therapist did not have my number right and he had to give it to her and I think was very upset at not having any contact with me, so she let him say hi. The other time was after telling him about my sister. I think they will probably call me again next week and then in a few weeks he gets his cell phone back.

He left his iPad here and it goes off when he gets email. That is how I discovered that he had signed up for some kind of apparent hooker site called hookup . com or something like that. He did that the day before my birthday, when I know for sure he was completely drunk because he went out with my daughter and our grand niece to a high school football game, and our daughter was texting me about how he had straight alcohol on his breath and was annoying the crap out of her. I am sure he did not actually DO anything with the site, but I am 100% sure he did it because of the email (it had log in information that were names and passwords he would use). So I am not happy about that. I've actually been kind of devastated about that. I don't do a lot of checking up on him or snooping around. He has had his own spending money account for several years now and I never once went on there until after he left for rehab, and that was because they said his card was declined when they used it for copays for the pharmacy, so I had to get in there and add money.

So I don't know whether this is all ultimately going to work out. From reading here, I have realized that it has to be his deal from this point on. And that I need to finish preparing for the apparently strong possibility that it is not going to work out. If he decides he doesn't want to be sober down the close or far road, I would like the fallout for me to be as minimal as possible, so I am continuing to prepare for that possibility. I think it's pretty obvious that on some level I knew I needed to get myself into a better position. We have paid off debt, reduced expenses, and I am two weeks into a graduate program that I think I can finish pretty quickly. Going forward, I think I am going to need to be able to carry the load on my own, which I nearly can right now. Not without sacrifices, but that's not that important.

So that's my story. Thanks for reading it, if you even made it down to this part.
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honeypig (10-14-2017)
Old 10-14-2017, 08:50 AM
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Thanks for sharing your story, NotAPeach.
Hugs and support to you.
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