Tag Archives: addiction

Who Benefit$?

Insurance companies dictate what medications we can and can’t take or tests we can or can’t have. Thirty plus different medications. Side effects. Drug/drug interactions, FDA. Big Pharma. Generic vs. brand name. Chemicals. Plants.  Quality Measures. MTHFR. Pharmacogentics. Addiction. Bad outcomes.

Don’t you see the craziness? Do you see the connection?  Because the craziness and the way we just go with it…are eating me up.

We do dumb stuff! Really dumb!

Essential oils

I can’t talk about my essential oils (distilled from plants)…not for real and in an open forum. I can’t tell you all of the reasons why I love them.  I can’t tell you the amazing things they have done for my family.  No chemicals.  I could…but I’d be in trouble. They gave us a list of words we can’t use…which are the very reasons most of us use the oils to begin with.  Things like…antibacterial, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, arthritis and so many more.  I’m a nurse for crying out loud.  These words are in my everyday vocabulary.  But yet I can’t say them when speaking about my beloved essential oils.  The same oils I have witnessed do amazing things without chemicals and side effects or worrying about addiction issues.

I can’t tell you that just recently I rubbed lemon oil on my husband’s upper right quadrant after days (week) of intense, sudden, sharp cramping and pain discomfort (I’m not allowed to say pain when referring to my essential oils). The pain discomfort stopped immediately and hasn’t returned.  It’s been 4 days.  But it would have been appropriate for me to tell you if we had gone to the urgent care and received a narcotic to help with the pain. We couldn’t have gotten in to see his physician so quickly.  We could have had to go to urgent care.  However, unless there isn’t really another option- urgent care isn’t something I’m fond of using for my family – for several reasons related to my nursing career…people use them as their primary physician, meds are over-prescribed/over-used/abused, care isn’t coordinated well, etc.  But absolutely…sometimes urgent care is needed.  But if I can wait – I go to the appropriate physician I have a history with.

We could have gone and had him examined and gotten some medication (narcotics for the pain?) and we would have been told to follow up with our primary care physician. Instead, I rubbed lemon oil on the spot that was bothering him.  It stopped.  It hasn’t occurred again in 4 days.  This was happening multiple times a day.    No narcotics. No unnecessary prescriptions or costs.  No side effects. No medication interactions. I’m not proposing we don’t see physicians. We need them.  They are smart.  They diagnose and treat.  But we can treat differently…without always prescribing medications.  But isn’t that why we go to the doctor?  Are we looking for a pill? A quick fix? He will see his primary care physician because we believe in wellness appointments and getting to the root cause. We have a choice. We are empowered.

There are so many things we could learn about using essential oils and so many healthcare issues including addiction. Truly. There are things that could possibly help with so many of the underlying causes of addiction.

Who benefits when more and more pharmaceuticals are prescribed creating side effects and drug /drug interactions?

Medical marijuana

Up until about 3 years ago – I NEVER would have said it…but I support the use of medical marijuana. I wouldn’t have supported it because…my mother was an addict and I was always told it was a gateway drug.  True. It can be.  Just like Lortab, Percocet, Xanax, Klonopin, OxyContin, Oxycodone Ativan, etc. …

I’m certainly not advocating the recreational use of marijuana just like I’m not advocating the recreational use of Lortab, Percocet, Xanax or any of the prescription medications we know could be an issue.

It’s a plant. People have had great results with treating anxiety, nausea, and so many other things.

Who benefits when pharmaceuticals are used even if medical marijuana would be better for the individual person?

Health Care Quality Measures

Quality measures are items that Medicare reimbursement will eventually be based upon. Some of the quality measures include things like…Tobacco use assessment and cessation intervention, weight screening, depression screening, vaccination information, etc.  Really tobacco cessation?  Healthcare providers are judged on whether their patient’s smoke or not? How successful has this program been in all the years that it is been measured?  In my experience, most of the smokers will tell you – “I don’t want to quit smoking.  I enjoy it.”  Tying Medicare reimbursement to physicians/agencies/organizations providing health care to smokers who don’t want to quit smoking – is craziness!

What about tying reimbursement to physician’s/agencies/organizations who perform pharmacogenetics testing, MTHFR testing or other testing they actually have some control over and could see positive results from?

Medication reconciliation is another quality measure for ACO’s – I’m a HUGE supporter of medication reconciliation.  But come on!  How is it truly measured?  The process is complicated.  How often is it truly done correctly?  How many people actually care that the patient is taking so many different medications and they can barely afford them.  Or some even have to choose between food and medication. There are over the counter medications to consider.  Several different physician’s ordering medications (primary, urgent care, specialists, etc.) for the same patient.  So many pharmacies being used…Wal-Mart or Walgreen’s $4 meds, mail order VA making it impossible for pharmacy’s to check for interactions for all of the medications. When interactions are identified – we are required to notify the physician (rightfully so). They are bombarded with so many interaction notifications because almost every medication has an interaction.  But yet our hands are tied.  Our elderly patients are falling, confused, having bad outcomes and taking so many different medications.  It’s not unusual to for them to take thirty plus different medications. Chemical interactions?

Where is the pharmaceutical company in all of this? Advocating the use of more medications…the newer more expensive ones?

How about a quality measure for reducing the amount of medications a patient takes? How about trying to eliminate some instead of just adding more and more.

Who benefits from less meds, less side effects, less drug/drug interactions, etc.?


Insurance companies’ control what medications can be ordered and what can’t by what they are willing to pay for. They don’t always pay for the medication that was proven to be the most efficacious but sometimes they go for the cheapest. Never mind what the physician has ordered and deemed most appropriate for the patient.  Sometimes it’s all based on cost…only.

Then there is the whole generic vs brand and the cost savings or profit pushing? Is there a bigger profit margin for generic medications for pharmacies? Will the person experience a different outcome using generic vs brand?

Insurance will pay for Lortab, Percocet, OxyContin, Oxycodone, Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan and so many other medications that have helped so many but also because of addiction…have turned lives into shambles. So we can easily get our hands on cheap potentially devastating medications but we can’t talk real about oils that are known to relieve pain discomfort.  Why?

I can get the above medications paid for by our insurance company. No problem. But Deplin a medical food that treats some of the underlying causes of the reasons the above medications are prescribed for symptom control isn’t paid for by a lot of the insurance companies! This particular medicine, Deplin has helped someone close to me.  It significantly decreased panic attacks and anxiety.  Now our insurance refused to pay for it.  But they will pay for medicines that are used to treat the symptoms and are addictive.  Why? Too costly despite the potentially better outcome? What if the use of pain medication and benzodiazepines led to addiction problems…wouldn’t the cost of addiction treatment far out way the cost of the medication?

Who benefits when additional medication is needed and root causes aren’t treated?

Pharmacogenetics testing

Here’s more information on pharmacogenetics.

Medicare, Insurance and Veterans Administration were going to pay for this amazing testing to help get patients on the right medications from the beginning. Less error in prescribing the wrong antidepressant, antianxiety, pain medications and so much more because the test assesses the persons DNA to see which medications their body can most easily metabolize.

Who benefits when wrong medications are prescribed? Lots of them…?


Here is more information on MTHFR$%&!

This isn’t being utilized enough to help treat root causes for things like anxiety, depression, heart disease, arthritis…etc.

Who benefits when root causes aren’t identified/treated and more and more medications are ordered?

Think about this….who loses a profit if people are using essential oils when appropriate, growing their own medical marijuana, taking less medication which in turn means combining less chemicals, less medication interactions/side effects, being prescribed the right medications (based on pharmacogenetics testing and their DNA) so millions of dollars aren’t wasted on the wrong ones and avoiding hospitalizations?

I’m not advocating that we don’t need medications or pharmaceutical companies. We need them. They save lives.  But let’s stop the crazy behavior and do what is right.  We would have decreased costs (profits too) and people would benefit more.

Let’s acknowledge the benefits of essential oils without having to worry about the FDA trying to regulate and the pharmaceutical industry getting their hands in it for their cut.

Let’s pay for beneficial testing like pharmacogenetics and MTHFR so we can have better outcomes and treat root causes.

Let’s pay for medications that treat root causes instead of just cheaper more addictive medications that allow for more profit.

Let’s stop treating addicts like criminals. Let’s quit doing dumb stuff where the people in need aren’t benefiting.

Let’s quit doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results – Insanity!!

We have to treat the underlying cause…properly and most accurately.

We have a huge problem. It’s bigger than the FDA, Big Pharma…it’s the insurance companies, health care systems, us and so much more.  Sick people make someone a lot of money.

Be your own advocate. Find a great physician. Do your research.  Fight for yourself and others.  Get informed and empowered.

Do you see the craziness?







Your biggest struggle can be your greatest success!

“You have a 75% chance of becoming an addict.” My mother’s sister (my aunt who helped raise me) was the one who shared those most valuable words with me.

I don’t remember how old I was when I first heard those words. They didn’t sting or hurt. They were a gift. They were meant to be used as a tool for being aware and making good decisions. They made a huge impact on me. I understood the significance. I understood the power behind those words. I understood through those words I had the ability to help change a generational curse. I had to take action. I had to be proactive. I understood it wasn’t just my future that would be impacted…but my kid’s future…their kid’s future. So many generations stood to be impacted by choices I made and continue to make each day. Our choices don’t just impact the here and now – they can forever alter the course of our path. Our family’s path. Good and bad.

My family had been plagued with addiction for many years. My mother, my father and so many other loved ones have been terrorized by addiction. Too many have lost their lives because of this disease.

I knew from the moment I got pregnant I would be fighting for my children’s future. Looking back through my family’s history, genetically and statistically – one of my two most precious gifts from God would have to battle things that could lead them to addiction. For me, I only saw war. Me fighting with all I had…to save one or both of my precious gifts. I tried to tell Scott but I don’t think he ever really understood. Not the significance. How could he? He hadn’t been robbed by the devastating disease like I had. His heart hadn’t ached from addiction the way mine had. He didn’t really understand we were in a war against Satan to save our boys. He didn’t understand Satan was waiting and watching for the perfect opportunity to strike.

I watched. I prayed. I reflected. I analyzed. I learned. I educated. I talked. I prayed some more. I talked some more. I was open and honest about addiction. About my mother. About my pain. About mother’s pain. About other family members. About anything and everything that could help save my boys. Because that’s what I was doing – trying to save their life. I needed to give them tools. I needed them to see differently… to be watching and be on alert for the thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy. Because he was waiting. He was waiting and watching for the perfect opportunity to strike.

I watched. I waited. And then it began….

Suddenly what seemed like out of nowhere, in the ninth grade my precious son started exhibiting different behavior. At first it just seemed like worrying. It would start on Sunday nights…he would begin to tell us how he didn’t want to go to school the next day. Not your normal fussing about school. It was hours and hours of excruciating worrying. Shaking, rocking and tears. He would make himself so sick with worry that he would throw up. We were worried and at a loss. We tried everything…listening, redirecting, and being stern…anything we could think of. We were worn out, frustrated and at a complete loss. We had no clue. It continued to escalate each week. Something was wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I questioned. Did something happen? What is going on? “No, nothing happened,” was always his reply. He couldn’t explain it. We couldn’t understand it. There was no rhyme or reason. It was sporadic and paralyzing. Then we started getting phone calls from him while he was at school. He was panicked and tearful…he was begging one of us to come and get him. He said he couldn’t stay there. It was heartbreaking! Scott was stern with him. He even went to the school and tried to line him out. We tried babying him. We spoke to one of our friends who had gone through something similar with her son. Her information was helpful. We researched. We spoke to so many. We tried every possible thing we could think of. Day after day, week after week, month after month…it continued. Nothing worked. He was scared. We were scared. Then I knew…we were in the battle. This was the war I had been preparing for. I had to fight with everything I had to save my sweet boy. He had inherited my mother’s anxiety. I was devastated. I cried. I was angry. God, how can you allow this to happen? My parents and my son?

I knew it was something far beyond his control. Both my parents suffered from anxiety. I believe they both self-medicated which had contributed to their life path and journey of addiction. My sweet boy wasn’t going to be taken without a fight. I would fight with everything I had to change the course of his future. I knew if he didn’t find some relief – he would eventually look for relief on his own in the form of drugs and alcohol. This could be deadly for him. Our family isn’t like others. One drink can hook us and create a dependence making us powerless. I wasn’t going to watch him as I had watched my mother. My heart ached.

After nothing we did was effective, we sought medical attention. But even as a nurse it was excruciating to maneuver through the process. Not any doctor was good enough to care for one of my most precious gifts. It had to be one who specialized in this kind of thing. It had to be the perfect one. One who would listen. One who would spend time with us and with him. One who would take the time to understand our family history. One who wasn’t just pushing pills. We needed help. Root cause help. We needed someone who would care. Really care. Not just care for the 20-40 minute appointment but about his life and future. After much searching and many tears…we found a doctor who helped us a lot and then not so much.

And then a couple of bad choices were made and God allowed consequences to happen. We worked through those consequences to create positive change in our lives. Those bad things ended up being great blessings. And then during a very scary thing – God sent us an angel in the form of a beautiful caring doctor. One who got it, who understood and truly cared. She is one of the most understanding, knowledgeable, caring, compassionate doctor’s I have ever met. We were in the middle of a crisis. She helped us more than I could ever express. I love her!  We are forever grateful for her.  She helped us change the path we could have been on.

We’ve learned a lot. I have learned a lot. It has taught me more about mother and what may have contributed or led to her life of addiction. Mother’s addiction and all that was lost is still painful. But it allowed me to have more empathy instead of judgement. We believe sometimes God allows you to go through things so you can help others. That’s our reason for sharing…to help others.

I am so proud of him. He seeks to learn and researches. He isn’t perfect and has made mistakes just as I have. He is thoughtful, kind and considerate. He has a heart of gold. He is loyal and compassionate. He stands up for what is right. He has taught me so much. He loves his family. He tells his brother he loves him before he goes to bed or leaves the house. I don’t know very many young men who so freely give the “L” word – especially to their brother. They both tell each other they love each other. I love my boys. They warm my heart and make me proud.

Learning to tame his anxiety will be one of his greatest life accomplishments. Something to be proud of not embarrassed of. It will be far greater than any job, education or high paying salary he could ever strive to obtain. It will be one of his greatest life successes. He is changing the course of his future, the future for his kids and generations to come. We are right by his side cheering, guiding and loving him.  We are so proud of him.

Anxiety and Panic Attacks can be debilitating. They are so misunderstood. They can stop you dead in your tracks.

It’s been 5 years since it started and we’ve learned a lot. We will share…as my sweet guy is ready. He is still battling. We are still battling. But we’re on a great path and we will win!

John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (NIV)

Finding the sweet side of crazy!


My scars tell a story


I opened my eyes. Scott was sitting in a chair beside me. Facing me. Where was I? I looked around. I was lying in a dimly lit room in a bed that wasn’t mine. Then I saw the doctor. He stepped around where I could see him. He started explaining…everything looked good. You have a little red irritation so I’m writing a prescription. You won’t need another EGD/Colonoscopy for ten years. However, I would like for you to follow up with a physician at the Liver Transplant Unit. WAIT! Hold up! WHAT???

He repeated. I don’t know what he said after that because my mind got crazy…foggy. Like someone had set off a smoke bomb and things were all smoky and mixed up in my head. Huh? You want me to see a liver specialist? Really? What’s up God? Seriously? I honestly laughed. My mother and father both had substance abuse issues. I had always been scared I would end up just like my mother, so after I had my kids I avoided things that might lead me down that direction. Sure, I did crazy things I wasn’t supposed to in high school and pre-kids. But since then I lived a pretty straight and narrow life. Now, I was the one being told to follow up with a liver specialist. Wow! What a mix-up!

I played along…just in case…but I laughed every time I told someone I was going to see a liver specialist. I know! That’s the crazy part of the sweet. I have a warped sense of humor. I laugh at the craziest things! For instance, one of my favorite movies is – August: Osage County. I laugh almost the whole way through the movie. It’s really a sad dysfunctional movie. Most people turn it off. It’s too crazy for them. But I get it. I understand the craziness. In a weird sort of way, it makes me feel more normal.

I did as the GI doctor instructed and followed up with the liver specialist. I met his nurse first. She was lovely…kind, caring, knowledgeable, compassionate and sweet. Then I met him. He was also kind, caring, knowledgeable, compassionate and humble. I loved them both and I knew I was in the right place. He looked over my information and asked me questions. So I filled him in as best as I could remember…

…about 3 years prior to having the EGD/Colonoscopy, I went to see my primary care physician and explained to him that I thought I might have a brain tumor AND an abdominal aneurysm. He and his nurse are also wonderful. I love them too. His nurse is my friend and she knows my sweet and my crazy. Those are good friends to have – ones who know the good and the bad and still love you. He could have treated me like I was crazy. But he didn’t. He just kindly smiled and asked me why and I gave him my symptoms. Honestly – nurses can be the worst patients. We know just enough to get us in trouble. Sometimes we convince ourselves we have some terrible debilitating disease or diagnosis. He listened and then he ordered some tests. At the follow up appointment, he reported good news – I didn’t have a brain tumor or an abdominal aneurysm. However, they did find a lesion on my liver. Lesion is a scary word. Lesion on my liver – sounded to me like “cancer on my liver.” But it wasn’t. Over the next several weeks, months and couple of years – my doctor ordered more tests to monitor for growth and to determine exactly what it was. The radiologists hadn’t ever thought it was anything to worry about.

The liver specialist listened patiently then took me to the computer and showed me my images and explained them to me the best he could. He told me normally a simple cyst is smooth on all edges but this one had “fingers” on one side. He didn’t think the cyst was anything to worry but he couldn’t be sure which was worrisome. I liked him. He explained things to me in a way I could understand and he took time with me. I appreciated him and knew he was really good. I continued to follow up with him. So every 6 months I would follow up with him and then I’d have more images done to check for differences. I saw him for a year and a half and there were no significant changes. However, those “fingers” were still a concern. We discussed numerous options and concerns. He wasn’t comfortable releasing me just yet. Then he asked me to do something that truly amazed me…he asked me if I’d go to the hospital where I had always had my images done and get the images on a disk. Not the reports that had been interpreted by the other hospital’s radiologists but the images. He was going to have his radiologists review them. As long as they agreed with the previous findings – he thought he would be comfortable releasing me. So that’s what I did. I got the images on disk and took them to him. I liked him! But more importantly I trusted him. I knew he was going above and beyond.

So up until the day the gastroenterologist told me to follow up with the Liver specialist all worry had subsided. The truth was – even when he referred me, I wasn’t ever worried. I had a sense of peace and I thought someone made a huge mistake but whatever – I’d follow up. I called my mother and told her. She had a warped since of humor too. I said can you believe I’M the one going to the transplant unit? Mother had been through interferon treatments because the alcohol had damaged her liver so much. She sounded worried. I made a couple of more jokes and we hung up. I was seeing a liver specialist. Not my mother the addict. But me the one who was too scared to drink much.

A couple of days after dropping off the images I received a phone call from his sweet nurse. She let me know the liver specialist’s radiologists disagreed with the other hospital’s radiologists. The liver specialist wanted to aspirate the cyst and run tests on the fluid. They wanted to specifically check for cancer tumor markers and levels. I still couldn’t fathom that I was seeing a liver specialist. I talked to his nurse for some time. She was always so knowledgeable and I trusted them both. I agreed to the aspiration. Scott took the day off and drove me up there and took great care of me. I knew it would be nothing and didn’t really worry. It was an outpatient procedure. They would call me in a couple of days and let me know everything was fine. At least that’s what I thought.

Then my life changed…in more than one way…

July 23rd 2013 – the worst day of my life. I was a little over 2 hours away from home orienting one of our new registered nurses when I received the devastating phone call from my son telling me my nephew had passed away. I was crushed. Devastated. We all were. My heart hurt, my mind swirled, my thoughts were with my family, his mom, step dad, fiancé, daughter, brother, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins and all who loved him. My liver issues were nothing compared to this devastation. I somehow managed to compose myself and get through the orientation before loading up and traveling the two hours back to our office. I had ridden with my boss and another Director that day which was unusual.   They tried to get me to head back right after I got the news but I knew people were counting on me to get the orientation completed. I knew I would need time off for the funeral and to help as best I could…so I shoved my feelings and emotions in a box and put it aside until I could deal with them when I got home. I learned to do that at an early age. It was part of what I had learned from my mother’s addiction. File away hard feelings and deal with them later. I was dying on the inside…I prayed.

We were headed back to the corporate office (and home) when my phone rang again. I expected it to be from my family but as I looked at the number I realized it was from the office of my liver doctor. I answered the phone waiting to hear his nurse’s voice. I was surprised to hear the doctor himself. Up until that day, he had never called me. He said “Kandy, we got the results from the aspiration and your results were extremely high. Extremely high. The cyst needs to come out. We need to know for sure what it is.” What? This couldn’t be happening. My brain couldn’t wrap itself around the two major events I had just been slammed with in only a couple of hours. My sweet 27 year old nephew had passed away. That was devastating. And now I needed liver surgery? Me? I’d never had any surgery in my life and now I was facing a major surgery. I tried to make sense of it. My poor doctor knew nothing of the day’s events that had unfolded earlier. I know I sounded crazy…“okay – when does it need to be done?” I asked. “Can I wait several months?” My head was swirling. Nothing was making any sense. I kept talking…” I just started this exercise program and need to finish it.” My boss, who knew about my liver issues was sitting in the front driver’s seat and as I spoke, I saw his head flip around and he looked at me…several times. He is a kind, intelligent man whom I trust a great deal. I knew I must sound crazy. I explained to the doctor – I’m so sorry, I just found out a couple of hours ago that my nephew passed away. I think the doctor realized I couldn’t comprehend all that was being thrown at me. He asked if I could come in and see him in a couple of days after the funeral. My nephew’s passing was devastating for my family and me.

After the funeral, I went to my appt. He asked me where my husband was. I told him I didn’t bring him. I don’t’ think I still fully understood the enormity of the situation or maybe I was just trying to get through it so I minimized it. He went on to explain his thoughts and recommendations. After speaking with him at great length and consulting several other trusted and knowledgeable people, I decided to have the surgery to remove the cyst. There was a chance it could be or could turn into cancer and I didn’t want to take any chances. So, my very first and only surgery was a liver resection. The left lobe of my liver was removed. You know what’s amazing? Our liver regenerates. So after he removed the left lobe – it grew back. Isn’t that amazing? I also elected to have my gall bladder removed. My doctor prepared me well. He said I’d be in the hospital for about 5-7 days and be off work for 3 months. The surgery went well. I was released from the hospital after 3 nights.  I was back working half days after three weeks. Scott took three weeks off to take care of me and was continuously by my side. He was an amazing caregiver. Much better than me. My sweet friends and family cooked me meals, visited the hospital, checked on me and took excellent care of me. The cyst ended up not being cancerous but he told me there was a very good chance in 7-10 years it would have been. My surgery was a blessing. In 7-10, surgery might have been too late. I was thankful.

After I got home from the hospital, I googled liver resection recovery. Had I done that prior to surgery -I’m not sure I would have so easily agreed. The internet was full of people’s devastating recovery stories. The thing that amazed me most was that I hadn’t googled or researched the recovery of a liver resection at all. I google everything. I mean everything. I didn’t google one thing about liver resection until after I had already had the surgery. That wasn’t an accident but it wasn’t something I did on purpose either. Divine intervention.  After reading everything I read – I would have been scared and I’m sure those things would have affected my own outcome.

I’m still not sure why the gastroenterologist sent me to the liver specialist in the first place. What did he see that others hadn’t?  I went to see him not to long ago thinking he might tell me some divine reason he referred me. He didn’t really remember and since we were there for Scott’s appointment he didn’t have my chart in front of him. I didn’t need him to tell me anyway. I knew it was a divine intervention. All of it – from the very start.

I’m still blown away that I had a liver resection. I wouldn’t believe it but I have a huge scar to prove it.

I can’t explain all the ugliness in the world. I can’t explain about why and when someone passes away. But I do know God is good. And when we look hard enough – there is always sweetness.

“My scars tell a story. They are a reminder of times when life tried to break me, but failed. They are markings of where the structure of my character was welded.” Steve Maraboli

Finding the sweet side of crazy!






“MugShot of the Day!!!


I google most everything. Google knows everything…all the important stuff and the junk.

April 6, 2015, five days after Mother was found dead on her couch from years of binge drinking…with trails of blood that had drained from her nose –  I googled her name. I’m not sure why.  I think I expected to see some kind of death notice. But I didn’t. There was nothing that let the world know my Mother had died a brutal slow death from her own powerless actions.  Her addiction killed her. And even though she had died just five days prior – I had lost her over 40 years ago when I was just a little girl.

I knew the obituary wouldn’t be there. That’s the family’s responsibility. My responsibility. I hadn’t written it yet. And still haven’t. I will. I’m trying to make sense of all of it. Trying to do something positive with such a tragedy. No, I knew a big fancy well written obituary outlining all of her loves and accomplishments wouldn’t be there. But I thought there would at least be something listing her name, age, city and date of death. Maybe I expected to see some kind of article about how she was found and how she lived. I’m not exactly sure what I was looking for.

But I did find something. It was such a strange feeling. It made me sad, cry and mad.  And in a very crazy way – it brought me a speckle of comfort.  It reminded me of the misery and devastating life she had been living but was now free from. It reminded me that I no longer had to worry about her.  Or that I would no longer be getting the crazy drunk phone calls…powerless to the craziness.   It was a mugshot. Mother’s mugshot. MY mother’s mugshot. The whole thing was heartbreaking really.   It was dated October 2012. The title read…”MugShot of the Day!!!” Just like that. Three exclamation marks!!! Making fun of my mother during such a heartbreaking time. It listed her full name, age, arrest date, city she was arrested in and charges. I looked at the picture. She was drunk. I could tell just by looking. She had on her glasses and the picture captured the tears that rolled down her cheek. It showed the misery her addiction had brought into her life. It made me sad. It made me cry. I sat looking at the picture of my crying sad drunk mother as the mugshot of the day.  I saw a broken, sad, hurt, out of control, devastated woman.  I cried.

Then I noticed the comments. Heartless cruel comments. People were making fun of her. The people writing those comments obviously hadn’t experienced the heartache of addiction like I had.  They hadn’t had their mother stolen from them at a very young age and watched as she spiraled out of control over and over again.  They hadn’t watched as their mother continually fell further and further into darkness.  They hadn’t tried to stop the out of control spinning only to realize the more you tried to stop it the faster things would spin and spiral further and further into ugliness.

I’m sure they had no idea her daughter would one day read those things. Especially not just after she died. Or maybe they wouldn’t care. Maybe they couldn’t understand the devastation and heartbreak addiction brings to the addict and those who love them. I don’t really know why they took the time to write ugly comments about a person who was already miserable. It made me mad. Then it just made me sad and cry some more.

People are mean. Making fun of someone when they are at their worst…when they are hurting and obviously in a very bad way is just cruel. I get it. She wasn’t there. They weren’t doing it in front of her. They were hiding behind a computer typing ugliness not facing those who were affected.

Some people still think addiction is a moral issue instead of the brain disease that it is.  They don’t realize how much power addiction has over a person.  That it devours the person as much as the person devours the alcohol or drug.  They wouldn’t make fun of someone who had another disease such as dementia, cancer, diabetes or heart disease but yet we are cruel to addicts…and their families.

I saved the picture to my phone. I knew I would need to be able to look at it in the future.

I looked past the hurt and the ugly comments. It was strange. I found comfort. When I looked at that picture…I was and I am reminded of how miserable my mother was. How miserable I was. How helpless we both were. She had been in a bad way for a very long time. I was thankful she finally had peace. Of course I would have rather she beat the disease. I would have rather had my Mother. Not like she was but like I dreamed she could have been. I would have loved for her to have known me. To have known my boys. I would have rather she would have known the simple joys in life. But the disease controlled her. She was ate up with it and had been for far too long. It had weakened her. Stolen her strength. Stolen her family. Stolen her joy. Stolen her life. The picture reminded me of how sad she had been and brought me peace knowing she was no longer living like that. Besides, what choice did I have? Be miserable and give the disease more power than it already had. Allow it to take even more from me than it already had?

It’s the younger picture of her that made me sad.  I looked at that picture, before she was controlled – all I could see was a beautiful girl who lost so much. I saw what could have been.

So tonight, as I was typing this – I googled to see what else I could find. Surprisingly, the Mugshot is gone. I looked and looked and can’t find it. I have it. I know it existed. I have proof. I looked to see what day I saved the picture – It was April 6th, 2015. Tonight when I googled her name, I found the death notice that I was originally looking for. It was posted April 6th. The very day I was originally searching for it. The day I found the mug shot instead. Strange.

It’s as if God erased that sad, heartbreaking photo where people were making fun of my mother. It made me smile.

Addiction is a devastating brain disease.  It affects not only the addict but the whole family.  It is heartbreaking and tragic.  Please be kind, empathetic and compassionate.  You never know another’s struggles.  Your kindness may be the only thing that helps someone get through the day.  Show love. Love does.

Finding the sweet side of crazy!



Were You Loved Enough?

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”        – Mother Teresa

Remember Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood? I love that movie! A line in the movie has been stuck in my head so I watched it again last night.

So the story goes – four childhood friends who made up their own secret society, the Ya-Ya Sisterhood are now woman in their 70’s. They are spunky, scandalous and spirited.  Through joy, devastation and heartache – they are always there for each other giving love and support.  One of the Ya-Ya sisters, Vivi has a troubled relationship with her grown daughter Sidalee.   Vivi struggled with mental breakdowns and alcohol. The Ya-Ya’s are determined to fix the struggling relationship. So they kidnap Sidalee and in an effort to help her understand her mother, they share stories of Vivi’s heartache, struggles, disappointments, mistakes and childhood.

It’s great really. They kidnap their friend’s daughter and tell her things about her mom.  Things she lived through that were devastating, disappointing and heartbreaking.  Instead of Sidalee focusing on her own disappointments and what she suffered as a child, it allows her to see and feel what her mother experienced. It allows her to find empathy for her mom instead of just judgment.

One of the most profound lines in the movie is when Sidalee is talking to her dad who is a gentle and quiet man. She asks him…“Daddy, did you get loved enough? He replies…”What’s enough? My question is, did you?

That’s the question that’s been on my mind – Did you get loved enough? Or more appropriately did Mother got loved enough? Do most addicts feel loved enough?

Because of mother’s choices and how she lived her life, it was hard to be around her. The endless drunk phone calls, trips to jail and the hospital, time with her supplier and all of the crazy insanity that goes along with addiction. She had one childhood friend who she loved like a sister but she had died years ago. I wonder what that must have been like for Mother. Her choices and behavior alienated her from most people including myself. It was too hard for us to watch her devastating actions and be around her as she remained powerless to her addiction. Her choices and the consequences of those choices were heartbreaking. Sometimes, I had to get far away from her. Thankfully there were people who showed Mother love when I couldn’t. I am forever thankful for them. I understand those who couldn’t…it’s hard. I had to set boundaries too.  Addiction causes so much destruction.

Mother had always struggled with her relationship with her own mother. I wonder if mother saw the similarities. History repeats itself. I’ve always tried to be mindful of this. I think most of us take a real and a critical look at other people. But when it comes to ourselves, we wear rose colored glasses and view our own actions in a more flattering light or justify them in some way. Or we shift the story to make it what we want it to be not what it actually was. We don’t get real with ourselves because to do so would mean we might have to make some big changes. It’s easier to blame others and keep pointing fingers. It takes the focus off of ourselves. I’m trying to be more real to look at things more objectively – from all sides and views. Not just from my view. That’s how we learn and how we grow….looking at things from all views because they are so different. You will see things differently, in ways you couldn’t see from the view you once had. It’s like looking at a beautiful scenery full of trees and nature and a big building being in your way – you can only see so much. Step around the building so you can see behind it and around it. There are things you couldn’t see before. Change your view…you’ll see differently.

I think it’s important to identify, understand and work through our struggles, we can’t allow ourselves to get stuck in them. We have to keep moving forward, experiencing life, giving love, spreading goodness.

We tend to be selfish creatures and focus on our own disappointments and struggles. How often do we truly strive to know another person’s hurt? We usually want to make sure everyone knows our struggles instead of first seeking to understand someone else’s. We sometimes feel unloved and unwanted. But you know what…

When we get to heaven, I don’t think God will ask us if we were loved enough. I think he will ask us “Did you love enough? Did you take the time to understand someone else? Did you take the time to show love?”

You feel love by giving love. How do we love enough when we don’t feel we were loved enough ourselves? Empathy! When we realize – the lack of love they gave had nothing to do with us. It was about them and their own struggles.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

So the real question is – Do you strive to know another person’s struggles and pain? Do you get real with yourself? Do you show empathy or judgment? Do you love enough?

Finding the sweet side of crazy!