"Knock knock." "Who's there?" "Your disease."
"Shit." Until 2 nights ago, I hadn't had a using dream in so long that I'd forgotten they could even happen. The first 6 months of my sobriety were literally plagued by those bad boys. I would wake up with my jaw clenched and my heart pounding after having nightmares that I had either gotten loaded, or even worse, gone crazy in an attempt to do so. Then I would go to a meeting and the speaker would talk about how the obsession was immediately lifted upon getting sober and I'd think "Damn you!" Sometimes I worried that it was going to be something I would just have to learn to live with. And then they stopped. I went to the doctor to have a physical a little over one month ago and they insisted on doing blood panels. I can't tell you how stressful this is for me. The last time I had blood drawn, they had to use an ultrasound to find a vein due to years of intravenous drug use. It was with great shame that I relayed this information to the phlebotomist, only to have them tell me how good they are at their job, while I mentally prepared myself to become a human pin cushion. At some point in the last 15 years, they made it a rule that a single lab tech is only allowed to poke you 3 times before they give up and pass the torch on to one of their coworkers. Before this rule existed, I'm guessing from personal experience that there were lots of fights and threats of lawsuits as former addicts (and maybe some normal people without veins) shouted "I'm telling you, that's an artery!!!" It took 5 lab techs to find a vein on me. That's 15 pokes, in case you're wondering. 15 pokes and many little tricks, including putting a bag of hot water in my hand and having me squeeze it. Hey, whatever works. I walked out of that appointment feeling a lot of shame. My doctor knows that I'm a sober alcoholic and a recovering addict. Still, the amount of scar tissue I have on my arms and neck makes feel embarrassed. A lot of the embarrassment likely came from the fact that I had to wear long sleeves to cover my arms that night when I went out. I had forgotten what that felt like. Amazingly my blood panels all came back fine (even my liver is in good shape!!!!) and the feelings I had on that day subsided. Or so I thought. Cut to 2 nights ago and my using dream. In this dream, I used the exact same vein that the lab techs took 40 minutes to discover. I even used the same tricks, including the bag of hot water. In the dream I was repeatedly injecting heroin into that one vein and wondering how long I had until it would collapse. And then I woke up. The point of this story is that my alcoholism/disease or whatever you want to call it, took an event in my life that wasn't important to me and filed it away for later. While I was feeling shame about the blood draw, my disease was keeping track of where that vein was. Just in case. And that scares me to death. I've heard it said that while you're sitting in a meeting, your disease is outside in the parking lot doing push-ups. This is why I can't afford to relax or take breaks with my program. Because my disease doesn't take breaks ever. It's like I have to be one step ahead of something that wants to kill me all of the time. That one using dream reminded me that I'm still an addict and that I have a disease. And that's why I'm going to a meeting as soon as I'm done writing this. I hope this helps someone. Love, Dayna
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