Thursday, June 24, 2010

On the loss of a beloved family member and an short update on my son

Ever since I was a little girl, who read "Black Beauty", I longed to have a horse.  I still have a plastic "Black Beauty" horse neatly tucked in a box, that I used to play with and pretend it was real.  At the age of 24, I got my first horse. I finally got one, then another and then Savannah Sue came into my life, at her tender age of one. I loved all of my horses, but Savvy has a special place in my heart. When my son was born, I had fantasies of him riding her in horse shows. I used to clean her stall, with B tucked into his stroller in the breezeway... he'd watch in fascination but he never really bonded with wanting to be an equestrian.   Because of my divorce from B's dad, I lost our horse property.  Long story short, boarding her was a financial burden for me, but I loved this horse.  Working two jobs, I managed to support myself, my son and provided my horse with the quality of life that this loyal horse deserved.  She had earned her share of trophies and ribbons, as a stock horse and she was an excellent trail horse.  I could not bear to sell her, for fear she would not be treated with the kindness she deserved.  I had moved her 120 miles away, two years ago, on a friend's ranch.  The board was affordable and I wanted her to finish her years in retirement.  Her saddle was put away, as she had earned her miles as a trail horse. She was retired.  Fast forwarding past all my sentimental thoughts-- I had a deep longing in my heart to bring Savannah home. The Lord made it all happen, with the right ranch, the right price and 10 miles from my house.  Savvy came home on May 31st of this year. I could finally go see her on a daily basis, brush her, bring her carrots and appreciate the magnificent beauty of an Arabian horse.

I took this shot of her about 2 weeks ago, on a windy afternoon. I noticed how wrinkled her muzzle was, and that her lip had become loser. Savvy had finally grown old. She was 27 years old.  I owned her for almost half of my life.  Just this last Saturday, June 29th,  Savvy colicked so severely that I had to put her down.  While a part of me knew her days were numbered, I was dreading this moment.  She is buried on the ranch where I moved her just three weeks ago. Writing this today, I'm finally able to share about her without crying. I cried for two days.  I'm sharing this with all of you, because of my grief.  I wanted to blog sooner, but was unable to. Now, I can.  My son shares my sorrow, because he knew her all of his life.  He rode her a few times, but he much preferred skate boarding.  Thanks for reading this. I just wanted to share her with you.  She is still in my daily thoughts, and always will be.  I was there (with my husband) to help her take her last breath, and to slowly lay down that 900 pound body into a peaceful sleep.  It made us both realize how life can so quickly slip away.


I am reminded to love and appreciate those who are around me, because we never know when our days on Earth are finished.  I've never found anything in the bible that says where animals go, when they die.  I cannot imagine that God's creatures can leave such a profound impact in our hearts and lives, that we will never see them again. It is my deepest hope that when I pass from this life, that Savannah will be on the "other side", waiting to carry me home to my Heavenly Father's promised home for me.  I long to be free of the arthritis that prevented me from climbing on to Savvy's back, one more time. How I long to feel her powerful legs running and carrying me, with the wind blowing in my hair.  Horses are amazing creatures.  She is the last horse I will ever own, though.  She was the best of the best.

I just had to write this, as it's also very healing for me. There's no smooth transition from talking about a horse to my son.  So, how is he?  I will not say that he's clean.  How can I really know?  Unless I have my son take a drug test, at a hospital, that is closely monitored and testing for every drug on the planet, I cannot say with 100% conviction that he is clean.  He admitted that he started to chip, in May, when his methadone dose was cut way back.  He's on 40mg of methadone now. 

I am reading about methadone, and I'm sad to say that my son is dependent on it.  I had a fear this would happen, but I just kept hoping that it wouldn't.  My son says he needs methadone to help him feel "normal".   What a classic question this is-- what is really normal? 

My husband accepts my son's honest answer. He was withdrawing and feeling sick.  He couldn't find methadone on the street, so he bought heroin. He says he stretched it out, smoking just enough to feel "normal" so he could work. He's working two jobs, seven days a week.  We didn't throw him out, but we altered the rules a bit.  He's week-by-week staying with us.  My son's relapse is a reminder how fragile sobriety can be. 

I just looked at the time, and I need to go.  I debated deleting about my horse, but I'm leaving it. I hope I didn't bore anyone, and I'm not asking for sympathy.  I've had so much support from people. I wrote a more extensive eulogy for her on my other food blog. The outpouring of love was so comforting.  I'm better now, and I'm healing with my grief.  Seeing her photos and writing about her makes me feel a sense of gratitude. I'll miss her "horse medicine", though. Sometimes, when I felt angry or hurting, I'd go to her barn and hug her and talk to her. She was a good listener. The pain is easing.   I'll try to share more on my thoughts of methadone when I blog tomorrow. I'm on vacation.


21 comments:

Dad and Mom said...

There are animals and things we all connect with during this time in our life while our children are in distress. Yours was a horse and it gave you more than you could repay.

The value of those things is not in it material value. The value is measured in peace. I am sure your horse will continue to pay you dividends even with her passing. Although it may be hard to see now.

I am sorry for your loss.

Em said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful Savannah Sue.

Her Big Sad said...

You might think it's nuts, but in Revelations, there is mention of Jesus returning on a horse.

I know a lot of Revelations is symbolic, but my best friend has always used that verse to maintain her hope that animals exist in heaven too. :)

My dad (a pastor) always said that he figured that God knows what makes our hearts happy, and that it's just not that much of a stretch to think that if in fact, heaven does exist, why wouldn't it would be filled with those we love, both human and animal??

I'm so sorry you lost your Savannah!

Fractalmom said...

I figure it this way. God created all of the things that walk/fly/swim this planet. I imagine He takes us all to Heaven, where we are all reunited. Although, I'm not sure I'm gonna be pleased with cockroaches being in Heaven....

Bristolvol said...

It is tough to lose anything you love. I am sorry to hear about your beloved horse.

Heather's Mom said...

What a beautiful girl - I am so sorry to hear about your loss. It wasn't boring, it was worth sharing and a nice tribute. Our animals are a big part of our lives. They take care of us as much as we take care of them.
I am so sorry for your loss.
Animals & Heaven - I have to believe it is true. Oddly getting my dogs ready for their walk this afternoon I thought about just that. I think God does take care of them in Heaven too!
God bless.

Barbara said...

OH DEBBY!!!! I am so sorry. You have mentioned your horse before so I know the love you have for her (have in the present, that will not leave just because she is no longer with you). I am sad and crying for you. Of course you should have written this! This is a major life event. She was a beautiful animal...and very loved. You gave her a wonderful life.

Thanks for the update on B too. Its tough no matter what.

Tom at Recovery Helpdeks said...

I grew up around horses and once you have an appreciation for them it stays with you...they are magnificent. I'm glad you had a chance to be together again for a little while.

I'm really interested to hear your thoughts about methadone...I've noticed over the years that for many people their feelings about methadone are complicated. This is especially true of many methadone patients.

I've put quite a bit of time into my methadone information page at recoveryhelpdesk.com/methadone/ and I'd like to see it be useful to as many people as possible.

I hope you will consider linking to it from your blog. There's quite a bit to know about methadone and most people don't have the information they need to make informed decisions about methadone.

What I've been asking is that people think about linking to my methadone page the first time they use the word methadone in a post so that people can click on the word methadone and get the kind of in depth information that can't be included in every post, but will be of interest to many readers of the post.

I'm glad your family was able to do such a nice job of responding to your son's relapse. Nobody ignored it, and nobody overreacted. The response furthered stability in recovery. Some of the alternative responses could have furthered instability. Good for you!

Mary LA said...

Such a beautiful horse, thanks for sharing that.

parentofanaddictcdcb said...

So sorry for your loss. Thank you so much for sharing the memories and your pain with us.

Cheri said...

GRR... just tried to post a comment and Blogger flubbed! Hope it doesn't end up posting twice...

Thanks for sharing about Savvy with us, and I am glad that your sharing helped you to begin healing. Losing a pet is hard, especially one you've had for over twenty years!

We had to put our Lhasa apso to sleep last December, and I posted about her too: http://blog.cherihardaway.com/2009/12/in-loving-memory.html.

Just a few weeks ago, we got a new pup. When I get the book off to the publisher, I plan to post about our new addition.

Have a wonderful vacation. You are in our prayers.

Cheri

A Mom's Serious Blunder said...

I am so sorry for your loss...it is hard to lose anyone we love so fiercely. I am also sad about your son and your dilemma because I live that everyday. Is he really sober? He slept late again?hmmm Why does he have dark circles under his eyes? Hmmmm etc... I really want to get off that roller coaster and sometimes I can but sometimes...I just can't.

clean and crazy said...

thank you for sharing such a magnificent being with us. this beautiful creature had a wonderful life because of you and you were there for her for a long time. that is a miracle. take care of you

Just Be Real said...

Debby, I am truly touched from this post and I am so very sorry for your precious loss. ((((Debby))))

Anonymous said...

Hi Debby

firstly, very sorry to hear about your beautiful horse--what a lovely animal. My condolences to you.

I have been reading the last several entries regarding your son's relapse, etc and wanted to comment an a couple of things.

Firstly, your boy is on a VERY VERY LOW dose of methadone. Even at 40mgs, he is only on half of the lowest end of the average range of methadone. Most pts need between 80-120mgs. There are a few who need less, and quite a few who need more, but 40mgs for a heroin user is a very low dose and I am truly not at all surprised he was using. I would investigate thoroughly to determine how this 40mgs is holding him. He should not be experiencing ANY withdrawal symptoms for a FULL 24 hours after dosing. If he wakes up in the morning with watery eyes, repeated sneezing, runny nose, etc and wants to dose first thing, he's not at the right dose.

Another aspect in those who relapse on opiates is that they often require what is called a blocking dose of methadone. This is usually around 80mgs or more. At this level, the euphoric effects of other opiates are blocked--the patient feels nothing if they use heroin or other opiates. This compels them to find another way to deal with stress, etc. Some patients know this and deliberately keep their dose below 80mgs so they can continue to use. Your son may benefit from a blocking dose.

Many family members and patients believe that if they keep their dose as low as they can, it will make it easier to taper off--this is untrue. You may be aware that the success rate for those leaving MMT is very very low to begin with--about 90% relapse within the first year. Therefore, it is crucial to give yourself the best possible chance of success if you decide to leave treatment. Starting a taper from a position of instability--where the patient is already in mild daily withdrawals from a too-low dose, and already battling cravings, almost certainly dooms them to failure. It's very important NOT to get hung up on the numbers and to ensure that your dose is the right one for you, whatever that dose may be.

I am going to split my message into two posts so it will fit.

Anonymous said...

One other thing I wanted to mention. I saw where your son missed a dose and became ill. Firstly I wanted to say that, had he been on an adequate dose, it is very unlikely that a single day's missed dose would have had much effect on him. Methadone is very long acting, and most stable patients can miss a day without any serious consequences or withdrawals. Not that one SHOULD miss a dose, but if it does occur, it's usually not a big deal, as serious withdrawals won't usually set in for several days.

You mentioned the feeling that your son was on "poison" and that you wished he could purge it from his body. Though I can understand your feelings, I did want to give you another way of looking at this.

Let's say your son were schizophrenic and needed a daily dose of an anti psychotic to stabilize his brain chemistry and allow him to feel normal. However, one day you go on a camp out and the medication is forgotten. Very soon, your son begin's to display symptoms from going without his medications, and becomes more and more uncontrollable. The trip has to be cut short and you must return to get his medication.

In this case, would you think of his medication as a "poison"? Or, is it the disease itself that causes the problems and the medication is what controls it? Or, what if it were diabetes instead, and the insulin were left at home? WOuld you think of the insulin as a poison, because your son needs it to live?

Methadone is treating the brain chemistry alteration that results from opioid abuse. It is a substitute, NOT for the heroin, but for the missing endorphins no longer manufactured by the brain. For many opioid addicts, this is a permanent condition, and long term--even life long--supplementation with methadone will be required to stabilize the brain chemistry. Thinking of it as a "poison" to which your son is "addicted" is an attitude that, while understandable due to the false information so often heard about methadone, simply adds to the prejudice and convinces the patient that they are being poisoned, that methadone is "bad", that methadone is the cause of, rather than the treatment for, their disease, and that the only way they will ever earn their loved ones' respect again is to get off methadone.

Yes, your son is dependent on methadone--anyone who takes ANY "habit forming" drug for more than a week or two will develop a dependence on it, but this is NOT the same thing as an addiction. Many medications produce dependence and must be tapered to avoid withdrawal symptoms--most antidepressants fall into this category, certain blood pressure medications, anxiety meds, Bi polar and anti psychotic meds, Lithium, etc. This does not make them bad, evil, etc--it's just the way that particular medication works, and you have to taper people off instead of stopping it suddenly, but that's that.

At any rate, I wish you and your son all the best. I am a Certified Methadone Advocate and do a lot of patient advocacy work, including teaching orientation classes at my local clinic, and if I can help in any way please let me know. you can reach me at

rwolf8@austin.rr.com

My name is Zenith

Anonymous said...

One other thing I wanted to mention. I saw where your son missed a dose and became ill. Firstly I wanted to say that, had he been on an adequate dose, it is very unlikely that a single day's missed dose would have had much effect on him. Methadone is very long acting, and most stable patients can miss a day without any serious consequences or withdrawals. Not that one SHOULD miss a dose, but if it does occur, it's usually not a big deal, as serious withdrawals won't usually set in for several days.

You mentioned the feeling that your son was on "poison" and that you wished he could purge it from his body. Though I can understand your feelings, I did want to give you another way of looking at this.

Let's say your son were schizophrenic and needed a daily dose of an anti psychotic to stabilize his brain chemistry and allow him to feel normal. However, one day you go on a camp out and the medication is forgotten. Very soon, your son begin's to display symptoms from going without his medications, and becomes more and more uncontrollable. The trip has to be cut short and you must return to get his medication.

In this case, would you think of his medication as a "poison"? Or, is it the disease itself that causes the problems and the medication is what controls it? Or, what if it were diabetes instead, and the insulin were left at home? WOuld you think of the insulin as a poison, because your son needs it to live?

Methadone is treating the brain chemistry alteration that results from opioid abuse. It is a substitute, NOT for the heroin, but for the missing endorphins no longer manufactured by the brain. For many opioid addicts, this is a permanent condition, and long term--even life long--supplementation with methadone will be required to stabilize the brain chemistry. Thinking of it as a "poison" to which your son is "addicted" is an attitude that, while understandable due to the false information so often heard about methadone, simply adds to the prejudice and convinces the patient that they are being poisoned, that methadone is "bad", that methadone is the cause of, rather than the treatment for, their disease, and that the only way they will ever earn their loved ones' respect again is to get off methadone.

Yes, your son is dependent on methadone--anyone who takes ANY "habit forming" drug for more than a week or two will develop a dependence on it, but this is NOT the same thing as an addiction. Many medications produce dependence and must be tapered to avoid withdrawal symptoms--most antidepressants fall into this category, certain blood pressure medications, anxiety meds, Bi polar and anti psychotic meds, Lithium, etc. This does not make them bad, evil, etc--it's just the way that particular medication works, and you have to taper people off instead of stopping it suddenly, but that's that.

At any rate, I wish you and your son all the best. I am a Certified Methadone Advocate and do a lot of patient advocacy work, including teaching orientation classes at my local clinic, and if I can help in any way please let me know. you can reach me at

rwolf8@austin.rr.com

My name is Zenith

Anonymous said...

One other thing I wanted to mention. I saw where your son missed a dose and became ill. Firstly I wanted to say that, had he been on an adequate dose, it is very unlikely that a single day's missed dose would have had much effect on him. Methadone is very long acting, and most stable patients can miss a day without any serious consequences or withdrawals. Not that one SHOULD miss a dose, but if it does occur, it's usually not a big deal, as serious withdrawals won't usually set in for several days.

You mentioned the feeling that your son was on "poison" and that you wished he could purge it from his body. Though I can understand your feelings, I did want to give you another way of looking at this.

Let's say your son were schizophrenic and needed a daily dose of an anti psychotic to stabilize his brain chemistry and allow him to feel normal. However, one day you go on a camp out and the medication is forgotten. Very soon, your son begin's to display symptoms from going without his medications, and becomes more and more uncontrollable. The trip has to be cut short and you must return to get his medication.

In this case, would you think of his medication as a "poison"? Or, is it the disease itself that causes the problems and the medication is what controls it? Or, what if it were diabetes instead, and the insulin were left at home? WOuld you think of the insulin as a poison, because your son needs it to live?

Methadone is treating the brain chemistry alteration that results from opioid abuse. It is a substitute, NOT for the heroin, but for the missing endorphins no longer manufactured by the brain. For many opioid addicts, this is a permanent condition, and long term--even life long--supplementation with methadone will be required to stabilize the brain chemistry. Thinking of it as a "poison" to which your son is "addicted" is an attitude that, while understandable due to the false information so often heard about methadone, simply adds to the prejudice and convinces the patient that they are being poisoned, that methadone is "bad", that methadone is the cause of, rather than the treatment for, their disease, and that the only way they will ever earn their loved ones' respect again is to get off methadone.

Yes, your son is dependent on methadone--anyone who takes ANY "habit forming" drug for more than a week or two will develop a dependence on it, but this is NOT the same thing as an addiction. Many medications produce dependence and must be tapered to avoid withdrawal symptoms--most antidepressants fall into this category, certain blood pressure medications, anxiety meds, Bi polar and anti psychotic meds, Lithium, etc. This does not make them bad, evil, etc--it's just the way that particular medication works, and you have to taper people off instead of stopping it suddenly, but that's that.

At any rate, I wish you and your son all the best. I am a Certified Methadone Advocate and do a lot of patient advocacy work, including teaching orientation classes at my local clinic, and if I can help in any way please let me know. you can reach me at

rwolf8@austin.rr.com

My name is Zenith

Anonymous said...

One other thing I wanted to mention. I saw where your son missed a dose and became ill. Firstly I wanted to say that, had he been on an adequate dose, it is very unlikely that a single day's missed dose would have had much effect on him. Methadone is very long acting, and most stable patients can miss a day without any serious consequences or withdrawals. Not that one SHOULD miss a dose, but if it does occur, it's usually not a big deal, as serious withdrawals won't usually set in for several days.

You mentioned the feeling that your son was on "poison" and that you wished he could purge it from his body. Though I can understand your feelings, I did want to give you another way of looking at this.

Let's say your son were schizophrenic and needed a daily dose of an anti psychotic to stabilize his brain chemistry and allow him to feel normal. However, one day you go on a camp out and the medication is forgotten. Very soon, your son begin's to display symptoms from going without his medications, and becomes more and more uncontrollable. The trip has to be cut short and you must return to get his medication.

In this case, would you think of his medication as a "poison"? Or, is it the disease itself that causes the problems and the medication is what controls it? Or, what if it were diabetes instead, and the insulin were left at home? WOuld you think of the insulin as a poison, because your son needs it to live?

Methadone is treating the brain chemistry alteration that results from opioid abuse. It is a substitute, NOT for the heroin, but for the missing endorphins no longer manufactured by the brain. For many opioid addicts, this is a permanent condition, and long term--even life long--supplementation with methadone will be required to stabilize the brain chemistry. Thinking of it as a "poison" to which your son is "addicted" is an attitude that, while understandable due to the false information so often heard about methadone, simply adds to the prejudice and convinces the patient that they are being poisoned, that methadone is "bad", that methadone is the cause of, rather than the treatment for, their disease, and that the only way they will ever earn their loved ones' respect again is to get off methadone.

Yes, your son is dependent on methadone--anyone who takes ANY "habit forming" drug for more than a week or two will develop a dependence on it, but this is NOT the same thing as an addiction. Many medications produce dependence and must be tapered to avoid withdrawal symptoms--most antidepressants fall into this category, certain blood pressure medications, anxiety meds, Bi polar and anti psychotic meds, Lithium, etc. This does not make them bad, evil, etc--it's just the way that particular medication works, and you have to taper people off instead of stopping it suddenly, but that's that.

At any rate, I wish you and your son all the best. I am a Certified Methadone Advocate and do a lot of patient advocacy work, including teaching orientation classes at my local clinic, and if I can help in any way please let me know.

My name is Zenith

Anonymous said...

One other thing I wanted to mention. I saw where your son missed a dose and became ill. Firstly I wanted to say that, had he been on an adequate dose, it is very unlikely that a single day's missed dose would have had much effect on him. Methadone is very long acting, and most stable patients can miss a day without any serious consequences or withdrawals. Not that one SHOULD miss a dose, but if it does occur, it's usually not a big deal, as serious withdrawals won't usually set in for several days.

You mentioned the feeling that your son was on "poison" and that you wished he could purge it from his body. Though I can understand your feelings, I did want to give you another way of looking at this.

Let's say your son were schizophrenic and needed a daily dose of an anti psychotic to stabilize his brain chemistry and allow him to feel normal. However, one day you go on a camp out and the medication is forgotten. Very soon, your son begin's to display symptoms from going without his medications, and becomes more and more uncontrollable. The trip has to be cut short and you must return to get his medication.

In this case, would you think of his medication as a "poison"? Or, is it the disease itself that causes the problems and the medication is what controls it? Or, what if it were diabetes instead, and the insulin were left at home? WOuld you think of the insulin as a poison, because your son needs it to live?

Methadone is treating the brain chemistry alteration that results from opioid abuse. It is a substitute, NOT for the heroin, but for the missing endorphins no longer manufactured by the brain. For many opioid addicts, this is a permanent condition, and long term--even life long--supplementation with methadone will be required to stabilize the brain chemistry. Thinking of it as a "poison" to which your son is "addicted" is an attitude that, while understandable due to the false information so often heard about methadone, simply adds to the prejudice and convinces the patient that they are being poisoned, that methadone is "bad", that methadone is the cause of, rather than the treatment for, their disease, and that the only way they will ever earn their loved ones' respect again is to get off methadone.


At any rate, I wish you and your son all the best. I am a Certified Methadone Advocate and do a lot of patient advocacy work, including teaching orientation classes at my local clinic, and if I can help in any way please let me know.

My name is Zenith

Anonymous said...

Debby I keep trying to post the rest of my comment here but every time I submit it it keeps saying the "requested URI is too large." I have no idea what that means--the comment itself was just a couple paragraphs.

Anyhow I wrote essentially the same thing on Tom's RecoveryHelpDesk article entitled "Our Complicated Relationship with Methadone" in the comment section, so if you would like to read my thoughts on methadone being a "poison" you can read them there. Thanks again and best wishes to you and your family.