Practicing Principles in Life

I’m not one to celebrate minor milestones like the eleven months of sobriety I have today. When I turn to quiet introspection of “what it use to be like, what happened and what is like now” for myself, it always happens to be on a monthly anniversary. The world around me has changed drastically in the last month. Most importantly, I have changed. Isn’t that the whole point of sobriety?

The hardest lesson for me during the last eleven months of sobriety is watching ego and pride. Isn’t that what go me here in the first place? I became so selfish and self-centered. Nothing else mattered; I wanted what I wanted, when I wanted it, I wanted it two weeks ago and I would do anything to get it. There was a feeling of entitlement; I deserved it for all the hard work I put in or the pain I went through. Complete and utter BULLSHIT!

After going through the Fourth (4th) Step I began to understand again where I had done. All that guilt, shame, fear, insecurity, etc. was brought to the forefront – again. There were “defects” I didn’t address the last time I was sober. I knew they existed but did nothing about them. This time I have made a point of working on them. Thus I have seen a definite change, a needed change.

As I continue to do what I need for my sobriety, I see others shy away from me. Recently, both roommates have just gotten very distant. Today, I’m actually okay with the whole change of scenery. I’m no longer wanting companionship, approval, friendship from those people who are not allowing me to move forward. They have their own problems. They are walking down their own paths to recovery or relapse. I would offer my help but both are unwilling, close minded and just reverting back to their selfish self-centered behaviors. I don’t want to use the cliche, “Been there, done that” but its true. It lead me to path I never (and don’t have to) ever travel down again.

Today I’m more aware of myself and those around me. It’s important for me to USE to “spiritual tools laid at my feet”. If I don’t, I just have to look at my past. Instead, as instructed, I look at myself and the part I played daily. Had I been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking or afraid? If not, I move on. If so, I know what I need to do immediately. Do I get hurt my others? Yes. However, today I’m not angry or resentful. It is what it is.

I have a sense of peace and serenity in my life. I’m happy to be where I am today. I’m grateful to be alive, sober and “practicing these principles in all my affairs”.

Consequences of A Drunkard

In active addiction, many of us don’t take of ourselves. Why? Because our addictions, whatever they are (alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, food, etc.) are more important. Many of us don’t see a doctor or dentist on a regular basis. I was just one of those people. High blood pressure and cholesterol are now managed through my primary care provider. My dental hygiene was another story. Now I’ve taken the steps to start taking better care of my oral hygiene. However, the consequences of a drunkard (me) are quite serious now. By using what people have taught me in Alcoholics Anonymous I can get through this. It’s going to be a bumpy road ahead.

After the whole fiasco trying to get this oral surgery done, I ended up talking to other people who said, “Why don’t you go somewhere else and get a second opinion?” Duh! The worst outcome is I would be responsible for an office visit charge. However, another oral surgeon may have other options for me. This was so true which leads to a bumpy road ahead.

I called in the insurance company finding another oral surgeon in my area. After scheduling an appointment at the end of September, they also put me on the cancellation list. To my surprise I ended up seeing the oral surgeon on Friday.

My dentist noted seven teeth need to be extracted.

Black X – missing Red X – needs extraction

It’s unbelievable what technology can show you these days. Usually you get single films of teeth or a panoramic x-ray. These days some oral surgeons do CT scans. Honestly, this may have saved a lot of complications for both the oral surgeon and myself in the future.

First, the oral surgeon(OS) says I have really strong teeth. Thanks Mom for making me drink all that milk when I was growing up! Then he got into the meat of all my problems. It’s not a pretty picture.

Teeth #2 and #15, the molars on the upper right and upper left have two complications. The roots are fused to the bone and “extremely close to the sinus cavity. Short story – lots of drilling and he may have to do some extra work if the sinus cavity is breached.

Tooth #10 is in the front of my mouth which use to have a crown. The crown fell off several years ago and is now decayed to the gum line. While looking at it the OS noticed something going on with #8 and #9. Both have crowns on them, however he noticed both have large abscesses too. His suggestion, “Both of those teeth need to get pulled too! Now rather than later because the infection can get a lot worse, real quick!” Therefore, he wants me to see my primary dentist to discuss replacing them with a partial denture after surgery.

The OS is also NOT going to use general anesthesia but “lots of Novocaine”. Scary, yes. But instead of doing all at once, he is going to do all this surgery in the series of five visits. So I’m looking at a couple months of going back and forth.

To be honest, this plan is fine with me. It is important I take care of this now while I have the opportunity. Whatever I have to do to ensure this happens is what I must do. The chemical dependency program I live in may not like it, nor Department of Social Services (an assumption). I’ll cross those bridges when and if it happens.

Another reminder for me to live “One Day at a Time”!

The Ping Pong Game

As mentioned on many occasions, I’ve set a priority to get better grip on my dental hygiene. During my addiction I didn’t take care of myself. Now in recovery I am dealing with those consequences. It frustrating when its obvious I need services and can’t get them done because dentists want to shuffle me from one place to another.

With any provider I see I also disclose past medical programs: 70% loss of hearing in right ear, a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or known as a “mini-stroke” in May 2011, chronic kidney disease – Stage III, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and of course, my remission of alcoholism. All medical problems are under control but I thought it would be best to let all providers know. I guess I’m wrong.

In late June, I made an appointment with a new dentist. She noticed several teeth which need to be extracted. The internal oral surgeon says, “With all these teeth, the complexity of surgery and your health condition, it is best you see another oral surgeon.” Ummm, okay.

I’m referred to Wilson Dental in Syracuse – the only oral surgeon in 50 miles to accept my insurance (Medicaid/Fedelis/Dentaquest). Despite my bias against their office in Binghamton, I reluctantly make an appointment. After the consult we make a date for the surgery.

My medical doctor calls me a week later scheduling me for an appointment for a medical release for the surgery (which Wilson Dental didn’t tell me about). Two weeks later I’m in her office. She doesn’t understand why the oral surgeon is so concerned and clears me for surgery. She warns me in the future not to disclose past medical issues, just current ones – people or other doctors get scared and confused.

Finally Wilson Dental receives my medical release, after three attempts by my medical provider. Yet, I’m told the oral surgeon wants me to see a neurologist. Why? I’ve never been under the care of a neurologist. A week later I suddenly get a call saying I’m referred to Stone Memorial Hospital Oral and Maxillary department.

Last week, I received a call from Stone Memorial asking me to call for a consultation. I delayed it for days because I was on the fence of whether I should continue on this path. I finally called them today receiving the following response, “We’re really busy and can’t schedule you right now. Someone will call you when something is available.” Ugh. Why did you call me in the first place?

I’m just done playing this ping pong game; I’m done fighting. I’m not going to be part of it.

Hard Decision We Have to Make

Perhaps I’m just talking out of my arse but it’s something I need to do right now and see what’s I’m missing on paper (or computer screen). The last couple of weeks have been – exhausting. I’m at a point where I feel like I’m “stuck in the mud”, not progressing forward in life. As of late there have been a lot of barriers thrown in my way. Something needs to change.

Goals in sobriety are important for me not just milestones in my sobriety. One of my goals was to get my dental problems taken care of while I had the coverage and time. Second was to enroll in college to increase my chances of getting better job in a field I enjoy. Lastly, I wasn’t sure to either move in to my own place or with another person.

I have ten years experience working with a dental managed care plan in California. There are very few dentists who accept it. Those dentists that do only want to see you for routine procedures. If it’s something expensive, they refer you to someone else. Fine – I get it as it all comes down to money.

Since late June I’ve been trying to get seven teeth extracted, two which require an oral surgeon(OS). Thus, for convenience why not get them all done at once? Deep down, I knew that was going to be a problem with the insurance company but I went with it.

I’m still waiting because the in-house OS referred me to another OS (who can administer general anesthesia). That oral surgeon now has referred me to yet another Oral and Maxillary Surgeon because of some health concerns which need to be addressed in a “hospital setting”. Seriously? Right now I have a case manager from Fidelis taking care of it. At this point if it gets done at all it’ll be a bonus. Otherwise, I’ve taken it off my goals. I’m done – to much unneeded stress.

I was accepted to Penn State but due to cost I can’t afford it. I was accepted to Excelisior College in Albany, NY. Again, I was biased going in because I know the reviews are bad but the cost was affordable. I’ve spent the last three weeks trying to register for class. It’s this intensive, complicated procedure of bullshit. I guess you get what you pay for? Someone brought up perhaps I should wait a year since FASFA was based on last years income when I was working having a decent income versus now which I have none. So I’ve decided to wait until next year for school.

So this leaves me with getting a job and my own place. It’s scary. I’m on welfare getting a “personal needs allowance” of $150 a month. By the time I pay for my phone and internet, I don’t have shit left. So I’ve asked for help only to be turned away because I don’t have a mental health diagnosis. However, my Fidelis case manager stated her programs I do qualify for so I put the ball in her court. But time is of the essence. Once I get a job, I have 30 days to find a place and move out.

At one point I had thought about moving in with my other roommate. It would be nice to split costs and save money. But in the end I’ve decided it wouldn’t be the best choice.

Hopes and dreams crushed? Not really – just delayed. But part of me has been slightly depressed lately. I’ve been lazy, uninterested in most things, watching a lot of nonsense on Nexflix, “end of world” movies. Sounds ridiculous I know.

My living condition isn’t really ideal either. One roommate is gone most of the day. However, when he is home its in and out. Most of the time running his mouth about this and that. Asking me to do something for him despite telling him over and over, “No”. The other roommate (I was going to move in with) just sits in his room all day, goes to a meeting and wants to be loud and obnoxious all day long. So it’s headphones for me on high volume and when I really get annoyed I just go take a walk -even in pouring rain.

In the end, I can relate all this to restless, irritable and discontent. Perhaps even hungry, angry, lonely and tired (HALT). So I’m not in a good place. But I have been going to meetings and listening. Every meeting I hear the same message – patience and Let Go, Let God. My Sponsor knows where I’m at reminding me, “It’s only temporary”.

Sometimes I just need to remember to breathe.

Moving On

At some time during the stay of a resident in a chemical dependency program it’s time to move on. The program no longer benefits us. If we choose, we have developed our own recovery plans to sustain us for the rest of our lives. All my cards may not be in place, just yet, but soon enough I’ll be moving on.

Part of me feels “stuck in the mud” right now. The waiting game is slowly eating away at me. I accept I have no control over the time it takes third parties to complete their respective processes when another is asking for help. However, I recognize the danger to me when I become stagnant in sobriety. Do I take control in my own hands? There are a few things I’m waiting to fall in place.

One priority for me is to get this major oral surgery done since I have the resources available to me. It’s scheduled for next week. Once I’ve recovered it will be another thing crossed of my list.

T has placed an application for housing with CAP. I appreciate his willingness to help me with housing. But I know I can’t wait the three to six months for their organization to get me in their system. Who knows, perhaps due to my situation, they may be able to help. However, I have learned if I don’t expect anything, I can’t be disappointed.

The Certified Peer Advocate funding, as I knew, won’t happen. I was willing to go through the process. My roommate was given a stern “no” when he went to his appointment, so why waste my time. It’s a shame you have good, honest, willing people to fill these positions, yet it all comes down to money. I get it – nothing is free.

I withdrew from Penn State due to funding. Yet, I applied at another local college who gives a discount to those with existing college credits. I’m waiting from the Financial Aid office to process my request. Again, I don’t put much hope this will work out but I still put in the effort and did my part.

Lastly, I have made a decision not to move in with my roommate. Over the last two weeks, he has exhibited intolerable, childish behavior. It’s interesting I came to this conclusion and today’s reading on codependency is about ending a relationship. Another example of how recovery works in my life.

There will be challenges in the weeks ahead for sure. But I’ve learned, this time around, to deal with them when they crop up – “One Day At A Time”. I’m at a place of peace and serenity in my life. I truly believe this is the path I should be walking down. Thus, I trust the process.

Making Mountains Out of Molehills

Here is just another example of how sobriety works in my life. On Friday nights, after we return from a meeting, my roommate and I turn on A & E’s, Live PD. My roommate really got on my nerves last night. This morning the 24 Hours a Day – Little Black Book resonated with me on all levels.

Personally, I don’t know why I’m so fascinated with the show, Live PD. Perhaps it reminds me of the insanity of my own alcoholism; giving people piles of shit (lies) believing I’ll get away with it. Yet knowing in the end I’ll get caught in my own web of lies at some point. I thought I was acting normally. It’s just so obvious these people are doing something wrong.

Back to my point . . .

My roommate doesn’t do just one thing – ever. Typically he’s on his computer playing a game AND playing a game on his phone. All the while he jabs me with this remark and that remark. Last night, he was playing a game on his computer and another on his phone. Also talking over the TV on Discord (a gamer’s voice chat program) and throwing little jabs at me – which he admits he purposely does to annoy me. It’s an emotional roller coaster for me. Do I practice tolerance and patience? Or do I just turn around and stab him with the nearest object I can get my hands on? Instead, at around 11pm, I had enough. Not saying a word, I just walked outside, walked to the corner to smoke a cigarette and played PokémonGO.

Thought for the Day

When you allow yourself to be upset over one thing, you succeed only in opening the door from the coming of hundreds of other upsetting things. Am I allowing myself to be upset over little things?

24 Hours a Day – The Little Black Book for Saturday, June 22

I know what I need to do, yet I don’t want to do it. Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with any codependent behaviors, as it’s mostly fear based thoughts. Thus, the morning readings come in to play:

Meditation for the Day

I would do well not to think of the Red Sea of difficulties that lies ahead. I am sure that when I come to that Red Sea, the waters will part and I will be given all the power I need to face and overcome many difficulties and meet what is in store for me with courage. I believe that I will pass through that Red Sea to the promised land, the land of the spirit where many souls meet in perfect comradeship. I believe that when that time comes, I will be freed of all the dross of material things and find peace.

24 Hours a Day – The Little Black Book for Saturday, June 22

We all have character defects we need to work on. For me, it’s taking things personally and getting angry over it. Through my own experience, people tend to criticize others when in actuality they are looking at themselves. Honestly, I do it all the time. But I’m learning to stop judging the other person, instead look at why this person annoys me so much. Is it something I need to change in my own life? Or is it simply something I need to “Let Go, Let God”? Sometimes I just take like to damn seriously.

When I get in these situations, I always think of this –
which puts a smile on my face:

Today, with this beautiful weekend upon me,
I will not let fear ruin the enjoyment of life!
Thank you, Yoda, for your wise words!

Anxiety and Fear

Woke up around 4 a.m. and just sat in bed. Finally got up this morning around 5 a.m., made some coffee and started my daily routine. I have three major things on my mind: oral surgery on Friday, Penn State and CRPA. I found myself depressed yesterday and it showed.

I’m not embarrassed to say I have bad oral hygiene. Perhaps “it’s in the genes” because my mother had the same problem our obsession with coffee and alcohol. During the time I was sober for ten years, I visited the dentist, Wilson Dental, three times: initial exam, deep cleaning and to have small cavities filled. It was a horrible experience, so I didn’t return. Nor, after getting employment, was I offered a low cost dental plan. I need a lot of work done, so I’m taking the opportunity to get as much done as I can.

After seeing my new dentist, he referred me to Wilson Dental in a neighboring city to remove seven teeth. While I’m not happy with any other choice in the matter, I made the appointment for Friday. I know my insurance (Fidelis – Dentaquest), as with most insurances, does not cover sedation (general anesthetic). Who knows, they might have some new method which doesn’t require GA. My anxiety level is about a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. Despite this I’m going anyway and deal with the financial repercussions later.

After I accepted my admissions offer to Penn State, there were a few things to do before registering for classes. I had to complete a New Student Orientation, as well as a math placement test. The NSO was completed quickly. The math placement test I balked for two days. Despite my knowledge of geometry, calculus and statistics, I haven’t consistently used such methods in a long, long time. The placement test reflected this, so I have to start back at College Algebra. It will take me two years of math classes just to get to the level of math needed to start my degree.

I ended up creating a schedule of classes. Apparently my Associates didn’t cover some of the general education requirements either. After I enrolled, I checked the financial aide and my fears came true. Financial aid will only cover half of the total cost. I have to come up with another $6000. So I know I have to look for scholarships but part of me doesn’t even want to bother.

Which leads me back to the Certified Recovery Peer Advocate program (CRPA). There is an organization locally offering classes but again, I would need funding. Recovering addicts are given an education support option called Access VR. I have an appointment in July to start this process again. Many of us have bad experiences with the representative but at this point I don’t have any other options.

For now, I’ve tabled Penn State until the beginning of next week. I see my case manager today to discuss the CRPA program which my roommate has also been approved. Honestly I don’t particularly want to get back in this field but everyone is telling me I should and when completed, they would hire me immediately. So why not give it a try? Lastly, I heard from another Wilson Dental does “put you completed out” for major surgery, so it lessens my anxiety a little but not by much.

Alright – meeting time at the top of the hour. I really need to go and listen.