Lesson 1…Truth is Subjective


It is impossible to tell the truth from a lie when dealing with an addict. I don’t even know when the addiction really even started. As early as I can remember, my dad always had a beer in his hand, but that was just normal to me. Everyone drinks beer, right? A thirty pack a day was the standard in our house. No big deal. Long car ride equals pack the cooler for Dad. This is all I knew, and I was a happy child living a good life. I had two married parents who loved each other, they had jobs, paid their bills, and everything made sense from my perspective. Then, when I was around ten my dad had to get his first major back surgery, again, no big deal. Then another back surgery, which made sense, since he was a concrete finisher.

As I got into middle school, I realized that everyone else’s parents weren’t bringing beer to the football games. I didn’t realize until much later that my dad could or would never pick me up from school functions because he didn’t want to drink and drive. I respected him for this instead of being upset about it. So, I was already at phase one of dealing with an addict, making excuses. I just didn’t know it. I also didn’t know if he was already addicted to the prescription pills that he received from his back surgery. It wasn’t even on my radar. Fast forward four years, and another surgery. This time it is more serious. It is an eight hour whipple to reroute my dad’s stomach. Pancreatitis, which everyone thought was because of the drinking, but no medical professional ever confirmed this.  I’ll never know the truth.

The surgery turned out fine, and Dad was in recovery. Everything was going routine, but he had a stint put in, which caused blockage. This just led to more procedures, a longer stay in the hospital, and more prescription drugs. It started with a morphine pump and ended with refills upon refills of Oxycontin. I was only around 18 or 19, and I always asked myself, “Why would you give an alcoholic addicting drugs?” So that’s how it all started in my eyes, but I don’t know if that’s the truth. It is just my truth. The truth is subjective.

Everything got sketchy after that surgery. My dad would have “extra painful” days and double his pain medicine, so when he ran out of his first bottle early, it was a simple phone call to the doctor to get the prescription filled a day or two early. No big deal. I ask myself again, “Is this where the addiction started?” Not really a red flag when I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with narcotics or addicts. Although, I must have known in high school that things weren’t quite right considering I wrote an English essay about alcoholics.

Anyway, my dad kept milking the pain (or was the pain real?) and refilling the prescriptions needing them a little earlier each time. I always felt sorry for him because he was in so much pain, but then again he wasn’t in enough to give up the beer. He had to go in to talk to the doctors about responsible pain management, and he already knew how to play the game. He knew he needed to say the right things to get the drugs. Doctors were willing to keep writing the scripts, so he obviously needed the pain meds, right? This went on for what seemed like a long time, but I really don’t know the exact timeline. Everything kind of turns into a haze after awhile.

My dad was one of the most honest people I ever met before he became addicted to prescription drugs, but drug addicts become expert liars. My dad convinced our whole family that everyone in the entire medical field was crazy. Although, it wasn’t hard to agree with him because there were so many unfavorable interactions with the medical staff at various facilities that helped support his stories. And again, it did seem like the doctors had no problem refilling the scripts. The people that I dealt with in the medical field NEVER treated my family like we were people who mattered. It just seemed like we were a number or a business transaction.  Once the addiction became a problem, the doctors just wrote my dad off. It wasn’t their problem anymore, and he couldn’t force them to write scripts, so onto Plan B.

Go to different doctors in different towns complaining of pain and give a top notch acting performance (Or was it acting?) I’m not saying that my dad didn’t have pain; I do think he had physical pain, but there were layers of mental and emotional issues that he didn’t seek help for (or did he reach out?). There was always a doctor willing to give him one more refill. Trips to the ER became normal. One of the most shocking moments in my experiences with my dad’s addiction was when the ER doctor put the decision to write the script on me. I think that I was about twenty-two years old. That is another story for another time.  My experience with my dad’s addiction taught me not to trust medical professionals and to ALWAYS get a second or even a third opinion. The doctors don’t even tell the truth.

Go with your gut instincts no matter what, even when talking to someone you love or an expert in his/her field. The only person you can really trust is yourself. I am a better person, teacher, and parent because I learned that I cannot be passive in life. I have to have a voice and if something doesn’t seem right, I need to listen to myself and seek truth.

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