September 30, 2011

Great time hearing Max!

(for details on my evening with Max Weinberg and Bill Champlin, check out Layla's Classic Rock)

It was good to get out.  Music is my high.  My sister even accused me of being high (she knew I wasn't) because I am always so animated and excited and slightly weird after hearing some good live music.

I highly recommend it over booze or drugs.

But....there was a time when I used both those things and I've decided to share about it here.  For now...bedtime.

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

Had a great time watching Max!

You can read aboutPeace, Hope and Love, Barbara

Beware of Bath Salts!

The Pat Moore Foundation put together this great infographic on the dangers of using the "Bath Salts" (aka mephadrone).  You can click on this image to make it larger, and if that's still not large enough for you, click on it again from PMF's site.

I know Keven has used this.  Its very easy to buy and its LEGAL!

Bath Salt Abuse Infographic, created by Pat Moore Foundation, a drug rehabCreated by Pat Moore Foundation

 Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

Beware of Bath Salts !!!

Bath Salt Abuse Infographic, created by Pat Moore Foundation, a drug rehabCreated by Pat Moore Foundation Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

September 29, 2011

Something for Me

Max Weinberg is playing at the community center near my house tomorrow night!  Wild, huh?  So I am going to "follow my joy" and go see him perform.  Also performing is the exceptional vocalist/guitarist, Bill Champlin (formerly of Chicago).

It will be fun to see Max in the spotlight playing his own stuff vs. in the background making Bruce's songs sound great.

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

September 27, 2011

He's Smart, He Thinks Too Much

I just called Unidos to let them know Kev has a dr. apt. Thursday.  I spoke with one of his roommates and we had a nice chat.  I asked how Keven was these past few days and he said that he's been kind of down but that he's okay.  I guess he banged his finger a few times and that really hurts.

He also told me that Keven is a very smart, very cool person, but that he thinks way too much and makes things much more complicated than they need to be.  Boy, that's an understatement.  I think that's the crux of a lot of his problems.  His mind won't let him relax, he's always stressed out and worried.  I don't know what to do for him other than get him more counseling (which costs money I don't have).

I feel sad for him right now.  I am not sure why its so hard for him.  Is it something I did? Did I fail to provide him with the life skills he needs to cope?  I'm not blaming myself, just sad that he has been this way for most of his life.

I love my son more than anything.  I miss him.  I want him to be a survivor, to experience freedom and peace and a sense of self worth.

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

September 25, 2011

So Much for a Peaceful Day

When I went to see Keven today I felt worried, something didn't feel right.  I just know he's up to something.

I'm doing my best not to worry.

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

My Birthday Wish

Today is my actual birthday.  Ron wished me a happy birthday in yesterday's comments and said "may all your dreams come true".  My first thought was that I only had one dream - and if you read here, you know what that is.

But this year I've made a commitment to myself to put myself first.  Just writing that makes me feel selfish and like a horrible person.  That's how my mind works - putting myself first is not natural to me, even though its healthy and not at all selfish. If I don't put myself first then I can not be my BEST SELF and therefore all the people I love and care about don't get the best me.   Shoot, I don't know.  I just know I want to have a good year, have some fun, experience some peace.

My BFF wished me a happy "peaceful" birthday - that's what I want, peace.

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

P.S.  As of today I am knocking five years off my age.  This way I can celebrate my 50th birthday in three years.  Age is not how old you ARE, its how old you feel!

P.S. S. Last year's birthday:  I was trying to find a new rehab for Keven, he had just had a "breakdown" and spent a few days in the mental health hospital.  Anthony was in prison begging me for money.  The year before that Keven was in jail and I don't remember what Ant was up to but I can guess.

September 24, 2011

Birthday Drawing from Anthony

This drawing and an equally colorful letter was in the mail for me today.  It meant a lot to me - although I don't quite get the blue thing, is it a frog?

I've never stopped loving this kid.  I don't write about him much anymore, but we talk once a week and I go see him every few weeks.  Once again he's saying all the right things, but something is different this time.  That does not mean I think he's going to make it - or not - I just see a huge difference in how he's spending his days, what he's talking about with me, and his attitude.  Time will tell.

Its nice to have one "son" that is able to articulate his feelings toward me.  I know Keven loves and appreciates me, but he doesn't say it much and sometimes a hug from him feels like hugging a stuffed animal - not very reciprocal.  So right or wrong, I admit, I enjoy that Ant's personality is a bit more like mine:  introspective, loving,  and able to express feelings openly.

Tomorrow I get to see Keven on my birthday!  Last two years I think he was in jail for it.  We are bringing a picnic lunch to Unidos.  I know he can't get me a gift or make me a card, so I am hoping for a really good hug.  But all I really want from him - is sobriety.

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

September 22, 2011

Surgery Went Well

This is Keven's leg when he was 8 years old.  He broke his leg in three places and had this lovely external fixator for three months, then casts for another month or so.  It was a long recovery with wheelchairs, walkers and crutches since he could not put any weight on that leg for four months.  As you can imagine, for an 8 year old that was tough for him, and for me!

All went well yesterday.  Dr. Marandola (same doc that did the above) is an excellent surgeon.  He had to put three pins in his finger and it also has the finger version of an external fixator - he has the pin sticking out the end of his finger with this little anchor thing on it and that part of the finger is exposed through a little hole in the bandages so he can make sure his finger is not turning blue.

Emotionally, now the challenge begins.  Challenges for me include realizing that he is capable (physically) of taking care of himself and he has help with the things he can't do (wrapping it up good for showers, it can't get wet!).  Also I need to let go of the fears of relapse.  If it happens I can deal with it then.  I can't let fear control my thoughts.

Also, the surgery was $800 (our portion after insurance) but that does not include the anesthesiologist, the use of the facility and who knows what else.

Excuse me while I get on my soapbox for a moment:

You know all this talk in the news lately about how some GOP's were recorded saying they rather have uninsured people die than use their taxes to provide them health care?  It saddens me more than it angers me.  Keven has excellent insurance (thanks to his bio "dad") and its still difficult for some of us to pay for the medical care we need.  They actually cheered when they heard a story of a man dying because he could not afford dental care and the resulting infection killed him.  I am not dissing Republicans - just stunned that any human being actually feels that way.  I guess I've always known that mentality existed, but to admit it in public!  Bottom line - not everyone who can not afford insurance is playing the system to get free care.  These days it includes many hard working Americans who no longer get benefits and don't make enough to afford the outrageous cost of private insurance!!!  Employers these days don't always offer benefits that used to be a given at most companies.  Either they can't afford it either, or they know people will take jobs without it because they are so desperate for work.  I work part-time so its not available to me and I pay $333.11 for Cobra which will run out in March.  I have no idea what I will do after that.

Off soapbox.

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

September 21, 2011

Where We Were on this Day in 2010 and 2009

WOW!  How things change in time....and how they stay the same!  Here is what I wrote on this date a year ago and two years ago:

The court he is in is called "Opportunity Court" but dang, how many opportunities does he get?
He is in jail today and then will start an "Intensive Out Patient Program for Dual Diagnosis".  He will wear a drug patch 24/7 and be monitored daily with a Breathalyzer for alcohol.  He will attend 90 NA meetings in 90 days, get a sponsor, and follow a contract.  If he does not follow the contract he is out.  They wanted me to pay for Sober Living and I am already going broke paying for all his meds, therapist, etc. etc. etc. so I said this is his one last chance and the JUDGE told him the same thing:  "One call from your mother and you're out."  I didn't want him to come home but its pretty clear that he has no room to mess up so we'll see how serious he is.
Obviously he got ANOTHER chance and is still getting them.  If I recall the opportunity above lasted a few weeks and he was back in jail.

I know for sure we are currently out of chances for good.  If he relapses again he's being terminated from court and will serve time and have a felony for life.

As I sit here fighting back tears, I know in my mind that the outcome of today's court appearance is the right one.  I am grateful for the awesome judge and public defender and others that met about K and discussed his case and determined the best route would be a 90 day in-patient treatment center (PH).  My logic, my sensibilities, my knowledge of drug addiction - all of those things are in complete agreement that this is exactly what my son needs.
My heart, on the other hand, is breaking.
The look on his face, the fear in his eyes, the realization that he was not going to be home for a long time...hurt me deeply.
He will be gone for my birthday, his birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and possible even Valentine's Day.  What really hurts is that he won't get to see D and Wyatt* when they are here to visit from Germany for Christmas.
I won't be able to see or TALK to him for his first thirty days there.
They currently have no openings so the judge sentenced him to 107 days in jail but said he would be transferred to PH at the first available opening (which typically takes 6 - 8 weeks).
I know some of you have been through this with your kids - what was it like for you?  For them?  Did it help?  Were you able to enjoy holidays without your child home?  Please let me know.I have heard of PH  both good and bad) but don't even have the desire to research it right now.  I just want to hug my son.  That's all I want to do right now.
Thanks for caring.
Why does this hurt so bad?  Its what I wanted - court ordered drug treatment.  I just can't get that look on his face out of my mind....
All I can say about this one:  WAS THAT REALLY ME THAT WROTE THIS?  Hard to imagine having any of those thoughts or feelings now.  I am not hardened, just way more knowledgeable, realistic and self-protective.  This was his first time at rehab.  Can't even count how many in and outs he's had since then.

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

September 19, 2011

Pat Moore Foundation Review

About a month ago I was invited to tour Pat Moore Foundation's recovery facility.  It was a wonderful experience and the staff were friendly and fun.

Here is the link to the article if you'd like to read it:  Pat Moore Foundation

P.S.  One thing I know Keven would like if he ever goes there is the FOOD.  This is their chef and you can see by his ink that he is serious about cooking up tasty and HEALTHY meals.  I am not complaining about where Kev is now - but as a county funded program his meals are from a food bank and not always the freshest or healthiest.

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

September 18, 2011

There's Always Something

You know what sounds good to me (other than a whole carton of B&J's Coffee Heath Bar ice cream)?  A month (or more) with nothing out of the ordinary.  Just day to day activities, nothing new to worry about, no huge decisions to make, no challenging obstacles to face.

Maybe someday life will be nice and dull again :)

I wrote on FB about how Keven is having surgery on his finger this week.  He broke it playing football and its very messed up.  There's a piece of bone floating around in his finger that needs to be reattached where it belongs using pins.

He told his doctor he was an addict and did not want opiates.  The dr. prescribed codiene.  But then Unidos said no, that was a narcotic and no narcotics allowed at all under any circumstances.  So now he's getting Taradol and is worried about pain.  Unlike his mother, he doesn't have a high pain tolerance.

So of course I am concerned that he will use this as an excuse to use.  If so, that means he's still not ready and I need to just completely step away.

I don't want to step away, he's doing so well at the moment.  Its not even his fault he broke his finger.  Its just Life happening.

So I am doing my best to let go every time I start to worry.  I will be there for his surgery in the waiting room for three hours with his escort from Unidos.  That will be interesting.  So far I've met several of them and have enjoyed their company - but three hours alone with anyone is hard for me.  Do hospital waiting rooms have wifi?

This week I will also be catching up with your blogs.  I have been reading but not commenting much.  I feel a bit overwhelmed with several things in my life.  But all we can do is live one day at a time, right?

 Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

Drug deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in U.S., data show

This is from the LA Times. I'm sure for most of us, this is not surprise. I hope it wakes up other parents and families to be aware of the dangers:

Drug deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in U.S., data show

September 13, 2011

Quick Update

Keven seems to be doing well right now except for a broken finger.  He's had it for over two weeks and finally talked them into letting him see a dr.  Now its to the point he has to have surgery to fix it.  I'm a bit upset that they didn't believe him when he told them it was broken.  Now I get to pay for whatever the insurance doesn't pay for orthopedic surgery.  Of course I'm concerned for Keven too, but he'll heal.  Financial stress is huge for me these days.

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

September 9, 2011

World Suicide Prevention Day - Sept. 10, 2011

Suicide is something very close to my heart.  That may sound weird, but what I mean is - I've lost four people to it, all for different reasons:

- One cousin came back from Vietnam addicted to heroin and with PTSD (which they didn't recognize back then) plus coming home to all the anti-war hate.  He used a gun and shot himself.

- Another cousin was depressed after a messy divorce, and I believe he may have been an alcoholic.  He tried to use carbon monoxide poisoning in his garage, but his father found him before he was completely dead.  He's been institutionalized ever since.

Both cousins were a lot older so I was not real close with them, although the second one and I were sometimes  closer than we probably should have been as cousins.

The other two suicides hurt far more because both of these guys were like brothers to me.

The first friend, Red, killed himself as a result of a combination of mental illness and abusing drugs.  He was 20 years old at the time, I was 17.  He told me that if he didn't lose his virginity by the time he was 21 he would have to kill himself because that's what the voices were telling him.  I didn't know what to think, and for years I blamed myself for not "helping him" out.  Instead I talked to his brother and we agreed that one of us would know where he was at all times and keep him nearby until after his birthday was over.  The night before his birthday we all went to a party in San Diego (it was Christmas season) and when we got there I asked his brother where he was, his face went pale and he said "he's with you" and I said "NO!  He told me he was with YOU!".  His brother drove the hour back home and found him in the bathroom.  He'd used a shotgun.

I miss you, Dougie

Lastly, and only a few years ago, I lost my wonderful friend Doug.  I loved him so much, we shared our deepest secrets - stuff we couldn't tell anyone else.  We talked almost daily for years (he lived in Canada) and I knew he was depressed.  He's admitted to me that he was suicidal but then dropped it.  After 6 months I forgot all about him saying it.  But the SIGNS were all there - he sold his condo, he was making photo albums for his kids of their lives, and he sold his little red Corvette.  I should have got it, but it was right at the time Keven started using and I was less attentive to Doug.  When I got the call, I was devastated.  He took a handful of Xanax and taped a plastic bag over his head.

Then there was Keven's two attempts that may or may not have been halfhearted.

This is copied from Debra Serani's blog and explains the purpose of World Suicide Prevention Day:

Though suicide is the most preventable kind of death, more than 3,000 people die by suicide each day—more than all the deaths caused by accidents, wars, and homicides around the world, combined.
World Suicide Prevention Day was created to help bring awareness about suicide on a global level. This awareness day is held on September 10th each year. Disseminating information, improving education and training, and decreasing stigma are important tasks in such an endeavour. This year's theme is ”Preventing Suicide in Multicultural Societies”.
So if I know 4 people who've died from it (not counting acquaintances or co-workers), then you probably know someone who has too and understand the unique grief that comes along with it.  I have a lot of empathy for those that kill themselves.  I know many say  its a selfish act, but when a person is that depressed or despondent, they are incapable of rationalizing in a healthy manner.

If you know someone contemplating it, like I did with my two friends, reach out do all you can to help.  It may not make a difference, but at least you can rest knowing you tried.  Kind of like with our addicts, we do what we can but its ultimately up to them.

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

Imagine 40 Years Ago Today

Check my music blog today if you'd like to see a slideshow I made years ago to the song, "Imagine":

September 6, 2011

Did I almost lose him the other night?

When I was alone with Keven the other day he told me something very alarming.  I wasn't going to share it here but what the hell, I share everything here.

On August 17 when he was kicked out of Unidos for using he still had heroin on him.  When I picked him up he was high, it was obvious.  I took him home and the deal was he could sleep in his bed and then report to court in the morning to turn himself in to jail.

That night he used the rest of the heroin he had on him and in his state of mind decided it would be a good idea to just die, so he also took a handful of Trazadone.  I knew something was up because I heard him up several times throwing up.  Then in the morning, I could barely wake him.  I didn't think much of it since it was typical behavior after using.

But apparently he said he was in and out of consciousness and felt like he was dying.

It took me till 2 pm that day to get him out of bed, I'd wake him and he'd immediately pass out again.  I was getting so angry at him.  I felt like something was wrong, but didn't realize how bad it was and my anger outweighed my concern.

Which makes me wonder - wouldn't it be good if  we (addicts and their friends and families)  have access to Narcan so if they did OD they would have a better chance of survival?

September 4, 2011

Men Matter to Young Boys (and to young men)

I got to visit Keven today.  It felt like it had been months since I'd seen him, but what I realize is its been months since I've seen him like this - clean shaven, bright eyes, smiling.  We had some one on one time and also some time with his grandma and aunt.

AND...his 5th grade teacher went to visit him today.  He'd been asking me about visiting him for a long time but today was the day.  I know it meant a lot to Keven that this man who knew him for one school year 14 years ago still cares about him!  It means the world to me too.

He (teacher) texted me and said "Kev is a good kid and always has been.  He said he'd like to see me again, I'm already looking forward to it".

That brought a tear to my eye.  I guess it might be hard for most parents to understand this, but having a son and raising him without a man in his life causes you to be very appreciative when a a good man takes notice and reaches out.  There have been very few that have done that over the years.

There was Jason - but he got engaged and you know how that goes (but he did have Keven in his wedding); then there was a guy that took him fishing twice but never called again.  And that's it.  Many, men from our church and fathers of his friends said they would invite him camping or dirt bike riding etc with their boys, but it never happened.

His own father was the biggest disappointment of all but I don't have the stomach for talking about him right now.  Ick.  All he gave Keven was some good-looks genes and ?????  Perhaps that's all.

I think Kev grew up with a view that men are unreliable and don't stick to their word.  That's what was demonstrated to him.

Oh yeah,  that reminds me of a firefighter that gave him a great tour of a fire truck, etc. then PROMISED him he'd let him see the hook and ladder sometimes soon.  I think he asked me every week for a year if "Chris is going to take me to see the hook and ladder" (he was only 4) .

Keven still brings that up now and then, it broke his heart and mine even though I told him not to expect it to really happen - a four year old thinks adults stick to their word.  Maybe the way men have been with him over the years have attributed to his low self esteem and lack of self worth.  I don't know.

Lesson:  Men, if you know of a kid without a father and invite that kid along - but then never follow through - you are causing pain, disappointment and maybe resentment.  So please don't offer if you aren't going to actually do it.

Other lesson:  Fathers are important.  I always thought Keven would be better off with no father than the one he had, so I didn't marry him when I got preg.  I still stand by that decision but sometimes wonder if I was wrong.  I know boys look up to their fathers to understand what a man is, as girls do with their mothers.  Its sad in today's world that there are so many kids that don't have both parents in their lives.  Mine included....and it was my own damn fault (don't worry I'm not on a guilt trip, I don't look back, only forward).

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

September 2, 2011

The Smell of Heroin


I would love some input on this.  I was reading Tori's blog and in it she mentioned how her son's clothes had that lingering smell, and someone told her it was impossible to wash out.  Her friend told her that the smell was often a trigger (wow, that would explain a lot, but I know I can't blame all his relapses on his clothes!).

Keven's clothes still have an icky black tar heroin smell - like burnt vinegar mixed with sweat and oil in a frying pan that's been left on the stove too long.  I have tried everything to wash it out.  Every time he goes to jail I jump at the chance to bring all his clothes home and wash the heck out of them but  it never leaves. I've tried every type of "odor killing" detergent and nothing has worked.

Well I just read on a forum for users* that the gross smell comes mostly when they are detoxing, it comes out in their sweat.  And that some users who know that it comes out of their pores try not to sweat to stay high longer and prevent dope sicknesses....its even why some of them choose NOT to SHOWER!!!!  (I just assumed that was cause he was too busy buying dope, getting high, being high and coming down to bother with a shower).

Does anyone know much about this?  Is there a way to get that smell out?  I was not 100% sure heroin was causing the scent but now I am.  I love hugging my son but I hate that smell.  If I had money I'd buy him new clothes just for my own sake.

Even laundry/clothing is affected by this damn drug.  Ugh.

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

*P.S.  It was very unsettling to discover a site for heroin users to talk about their love affair with it.  One guy was asking advise on how to shoot up the first time because he wanted the full affect - no smoking it for him.  He couldn't wait to try it even though he knew how dangerous it was.  SAD. Sad. sad.

Drug Test Your Kids BEFORE They Are Addicted!

Do any of you remember the story of Austin Box, the Oklahoma University linebacker who had a promising future as a football player?  He died from an OD in May.  There is an update on the story, part of it contains the results of the toxicology report.  Check this out, its alarming and sad how many drugs this young man was taking and that no one realized what was going on with him:

An autopsy found the painkillers oxymorphone, morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone and the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam in Box’s system, and cited “mixed drug toxicity” as a probable cause of death.
I've gotten to know someone at Teensavers, a company that created a comprehensive and easy to use home drug testing kit.  This is not an advertisement for them (although it may sound like one) I just firmly believe in drug testing BEFORE your child has the opportunity to get addicted.  We all know how easily it happens and the devastating results.

I know its too late for most of us, and sometimes I wonder if it would have made a difference or not, but we don't have a heck of a lot of weapons in our arsenal, and to me this is a good one.  It may seem like a drastic measure and many parents would feel uncomfortable with it, but I hope that it becomes more mainstream.  If your child, at an age you determine, knew that they would be drug tested randomly a few times a month it may PREVENT them from every trying.  And if they refuse, you know you already have a problem and can get a head start at recovery.

It just breaks my heart to know kids are dying all across our country, and from the looks of things, its not getting any better.  Most of the people I've talked to (many of  you who read here) agree that the anti-drug campaigns in schools don't make much of a difference and sometimes even spark an interest in doing drugs! (that was my boy!)

The people at Teensavers are passionate about all this as well, they understand and that's why they started this company.  So if you know of anyone looking for a good drug test, check them out - they are available at Amazon and some  pharmacies.

Do you think drug testing early is a good idea?

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

National Recovery Month & Kev Update

Kev is at the two week mark at Unidos.  He's allowed to make phone calls now.  Normally he would not be allowed visitors until 30 days is up, but they allow everyone to have visitors on holidays so I get to see him this Sunday (Labor Day).  Last time I lucked out and got to see him early too, I think for Mother's Day?

Anyhow - he seems to be doing well but its hard to tell.  It feels like a lot longer than two weeks for some reason.  I miss him.

Also, "Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration" is celebrating their 22nd annual Recovery Month.  More Info below:

SAMHSA National Helpline

National Recovery Month (Recovery Month)

National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) is a national observance that educates Americans on the fact that addiction treatment and mental health services can enable those with a substance use or mental disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life. The observance’s main focus is to laud the gains made by those in recovery from these conditions, just as we would those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma and heart disease.  Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover.
Recovery Month , now in its 22nd year, highlights individuals who have reclaimed their lives and are living happy and healthy lives in long-term recovery and also honors the treatment and recovery service providers who make recovery possible. Recovery Month promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible and also encourages citizens to take action to help expand and improve the availability of effective recovery services for those in need.
Celebrated during the month of September, Recovery Month began in 1989 as TreatmentWorks! Month, which honored the work of the treatment and recovery professionals in the field. The observance evolved to National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month (Recovery Month) in 1998, when the observance expanded to include celebrating the accomplishment of individuals in recovery from substance use disorders.  The observance is evolving once again in 2011, to include all aspects of behavioral health and will now be known as National Recovery Month (Recovery Month).

You can read more about it HERE.

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara
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