Monday, April 11, 2011

Happy Birthday To My Son

Yesterday, Lisa over at Loving an Addict posted that this week was her son, Bryan's 23rd birthday.

Quite a coincidence but it is Alex's 23rd birthday today. So many things in Lisa's post I could just copy and paste over to here but I am not going to repeat the obvious of hope and joy.

The last few birthdays have been such turmoil, high, rehab, or in jail. That's hard on us all but we are making the best today. Despite him being in jail he is on work release and he is here at work and he is clean. Quite a step from the last few years.

I will tell a short story today about Alex's birthday in 2007 when he was 19.

Just before his 19th birthday we got involved in one of his tragedies where we intervened and put him in a rehab about 50 miles from our home. After 4 days of detox he was allowed a small measure of freedom. What he did with that freedom was call his "buddies" and they brought him oxy to use while in rehab.

Needless to say that didn't end well and I got a call from his counselor that he was being kicked out and I needed to come and get him. My response, "I don't know what I'm going to do, take him home, take him to a homeless shelter, stop the car 15 miles down highway 7 and throw him out in the middle of nowhere or just kill him and put him out of our misery. I've got about ninety minutes to think about it before I get there." The counselor said, "Don't make any rash decisions we will talk when you get here." During that drive the counselor helped me greatly.

When I arrived Alex was sitting in the counselor's office. He looked like a kid in trouble sitting in the principals office at school. Working behind the scenes the counselor had made arrangements for Alex to be transferred to another of their facilities in "BFE", Kansas, 350 miles away. Only if Alex agreed to go. That in itself was a struggle to get him to agree. But agree he did and it was my job to deliver him to this center by 10 pm that evening. It was about noon when I got this call. Off we went to VH in western KS.

When I said earlier that the counselor helped me greatly, he also made arrangements that if I was interested I could be a parent resident at the rehab and take part in ALL of the things a patient goes through, counseling in small groups and everything as if I was an addict. I did this for four days. The most educational four days I have spent as a parent of an addict.

During my time while I was there I was known as "Dad" to nearly every person at the facility, even to a couple of people older than me. Alex and I were not in the same groups except large group but obviously I got talked about as much as I talked about Alex because I had people calling me dad I had never met. Alex wasn't happy to be at a rehab over 350 miles from home in BFE, KS. He was pretty much an ass until I left.

However, as I said this was the time for his birthday and in our family we always try to do something to recognize birthdays. What was I going to do 350 miles from home in a drug rehab to recognize his birthday? I ask the staff if it would be OK if I went and bought a giant birthday cake and several gallons of ice cream to share with everyone could we have cake and ice cream after lunch? They thought it would be wonderful so I got the cake and ice cream.

True to form that day Alex was playing the role of an ass in all areas. When the staff announced at lunch there would be cake and ice cream for Alex in the common room everyone was happy except, guess who. Several women patients and I began cutting cake, scooping ice cream and serving. Alex was really showing himself.

One patient at the facility was an enormous young man of about 25 years old. When I say enormous I mean probably 6'8" and maybe 350 pounds and not an ounce of that fat. When he stood beside you intimidation does begin to describe the way you felt. But, he was not a grizzly bear, he was a teddy bear.

While I was scooping ice cream this big guy came up to me and ask me, "Dad, would you mind if I have a talk with your son?"

After Alex ate his ice cream, he like 95% of all the patients needed a smoke. Alex started for the door to go to the smoke hut and about a 2 dozen guys, a mob, led by that big young man followed him. I could see out the windows. Alex lit up and was immediately surrounded by that mob led by the big guy. I have no idea what was said but they were around him for about 5-10 minutes and what I could see glancing out of the large windows in the common room I think each one of those guys took a turn at him.

Like I said I have no idea what was said but when the group returned inside Alex made a public apology to me and the whole group.

Maybe sometimes we all should have a big guy and about a couple dozen others to set us straight at times.

That afternoon I had to leave and return home. Alex spent a month there but was using again within a week after his release.


Syd said...

I am glad that this birthday things are a bit better with his attitude. And that you and Mom are better in how you take care of yourselves around the addict. Good for you.

Annette said...

What a great story....I think each of us could write a book with all of our stories like this one. I am also glad that things are better this birthday.

kelly said...

Must be in the air. Emily's 20th birthday is tomorrow. She has spent the last 2 in her words, "treatment facilities" and refuses to do that this year. Birthdays certainly are bitter sweet. Our story could be yours with birthdays in rehabs. I was gonna write a post too about her birthday tomorrow.

Momma said...

Happy Birthday to your son... and many more to come! What a great day is today.

Gledwood said...

It's a good thing they let him go to another facility after using at the first one.

I've always thought it was ridiculous that you'd chuck out an addict for using drugs. That's like throwing a mental petient out of hospital for hearing voices.

I never used to have that opinion until I met someone who'd been in rehab in Holland. He is half Dutch. He said he ran out and did crack and instead of presenting him with packed bags on his return they simply asked why he'd done it and let him complete the course. Holland has lower drug addiction figures than the UK, despite being thee major heroin distribution hub for all of Northern Europe.

I'm going on a course tomorrow that is said to get addicts off drugs for good (if they're ready for it, which I am). I used heroin twice yesterday and it did nothing at all for me. I only use it out of habit and because I feel miserable and feel that at least I've tried to solve my misery if I use heroin. That's always been the reasoning. Skewed I know, but I don't normally see it that way.

Alex is still very young at 23. Some kids are still in college at that age and haven't joined the real world. If he can only stay stopped he has his whole life in front of him

Barbara said...

Truly a HAPPY Birthday for Alex!!!

Tori said...

Reminds me of my friend the felon that kept B in lockdown until we could get him to detox. It didn't work to keep him clean but it helped from him using that day and being a whole lot more humble as we were dropping him off.

It is sad Alex is still in jail but thank goodness he can go work. That has got to make HIM feel much better as well.

Happy Birthday to Alex, and I wish for him (and you) a lifetime of sober birthdays to follow.