Sorry to keep going on and on about the dentist. But I learned some very valuable lessons the other day. Even though I will have been sober four years this month, that's still *only* four years. People go out and drink all the time. After longer periods of sobriety than myself. It frightens me sometimes, yanno? So, I take a lot of things into consideration when it comes to my healthcare. Certainly, I am not going to turn down a medication that I need if it is indicated. But I do make sure that I am covering all my bases, talking to people that can guide me, and taking the time to think it through before accepting anything of a narcotic or mood-altering variety.
I had meningitis before I got sober. But I was still terrified when my doctor told me that they had exhausted all of their resources for pain medication and that morphine was the last option. I knew I was an alcoholic at that point, I just wasn't admitting it to anyone. And the last thing I wanted to do was get hooked on narcotics, too. It was a long, tearful conversation with the doctor sitting on my bed, holding my hand and reassuring me that he would not discharge me addicted to pain medication. And I relented. But I still went home with two full bottles of little purple morphine pills. Like a good alcoholic, I stopped taking them right away so that I could drink. I knew that mixing the two was a bad idea. It was pain medication and rum that took The Dead Guy out at the end. But guess what? I didn't get rid of those bottles. I kept them. For a looooong time. I was four months sober when I called my recovery mom in tears and said, "You have to come get these. I've been staring at them for an hour." Because that's what addicts do. They think "Just one won't hurt." or "No one will know." and in those dark moments, having the option removed is a Very Good Idea.
I'm in a much different place today. I'm pretty sure that if I were in possession of medically necessary narcotics, I'd use them the way they were intended or simply get rid of them if I no longer needed them. But that's the beauty of recovery. You can be damn sure that every single one of my friends would know that I was on them and would check in with me to make sure I was okay, was still on board, and would step in at a moment's notice to help me if I found it challenging. So what could I have done differently at the dentist? I should have taken someone with me. It had been in the back of my mind to ask someone to accompany me, but I thought "I'm a big girl. I don't need anyone to hold my hand." And well? That's just stupid pride. I had a horrible experience the previous time. What would have been wrong with asking someone to come with me for a little moral support? NOTHING.
Because in that moment when I was panicking, Cowgirl could have stepped in and said, "Strap that gas on her. Stat!" Which would have saved the tearful hemming and hawing about whether or not that was the right thing to do. And once it was on, she'd tell me to "Enjoy it for all it's worth, woman! You don't get this chance very often!" Which would have stopped the panicked thoughts I was having about "OMG! This is freaking awesome! Deep breath. Deep breath. Deep breath." alternating with, "Not awesome! Nooooo!!!! Not awesome! You hate this feeling! You hate it!" And then trying desperately to breathe through my mouth to make the floaty feeling go away. And ultimately as we were driving away, she would have said to me, "Now. You're not going to drink over this, right?" And then we'd laugh. Sigh. I know better for next time, right? I take my recovery very seriously because I never ever want to go back to that life I was living before. The one where I was mediated to the hilt and shuffling around at the psychotel, holding on to the walls because the world was spinning. The one where I sat in my closet, night after night, hoping that night was going to be the one where I screwed up enough courage to end it all. Never. I never want to go back there. And that would be why I need to take someone to the dentist with me.