My first attempt at rehab wasn’t very successful. I really thought that I was ready, and most of my drinking friends (actually, those were my only kind of friends) told me that it would be a good idea if I drank a little less. “What harm could a little rehab be, maybe you could learn how to drink right?” they said.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I got my kids taken care of and I checked myself in. Are you kidding me, 30 days? “You can leave any time that you want, but we strongly recommend that you stay the 30 days” I was told.
The intake process was fun for me; I liked to answer questions and I was an expert at embellishing and added drama for attention. If they got to know me, maybe they could tell me what’s wrong and fix me.
The place reeked of stale alcohol and I wondered what had I got myself into. For three days in detox, I watched old men in bathrobes chain smoke, drink instant coffee, read musty paperback books, or sit around and do nothing; nobody looked like they felt very good, including myself. I thought I learned a few things during my stay, but I hardly paid attention…at the meetings they kept saying the word God…a word and concept I didn’t understand.
Thirty days whizzed by and my magic cure was to take antibuse, a drug that would make me violently sick after consuming any alcohol. My friends drove up to the front door; I was excited to be going home.
The first thing I saw was a case of beer on the back seat and a couple of bottles of vodka. The car reeked of pot; they had already been smoking on the way over. “Grab a beer, make a drink.” they urged.
“But I can’t drink, I already took antibuse this morning, and it’ll make me sick if I drink… how could you guys do this to me?” I whined.
“I have pills” my friend said, and then a lot of really bad things happened.
The party in the cemetery went on into the afternoon, but it started to get dark so we went home to continue there, or so I was told.
The next memory I had was waking up on the couch to an empty house; I wondered where everyone had gone, but I had to let that thought go because I knew with absolute certainty that I was dying. They say you know when it’ll happen…and they’re right. I rolled off of the couch and crawled to the kitchen to get the phone… the black rotary phone that was on the kitchen counter. The vision of my face inches from the receiver on the floor and remembering the slow motion of my fingers desperately trying to push the numbers 9…1…1… still haunts me in my dreams.
I was surprised to see that it was daylight when the paramedics came and struggled to get the gurney with me on it down the narrow cement apartment stairs. I thought it was nighttime, weren’t we just having a party in the cemetery?
“What did you take? They seemed urgent with their question. “You better hurry, or we’re gonna have to put a tag on her toe” he said to his partner. I heard the high pitched wail of sirens. “We’re losing her.”
I’m dreaming, I thought, as I watched from the ceiling of the hospital while a doctor pumped vigorously on my chest. I took a trip down the corridor to the light, but was turned around and sent back. I guess I still had some things left in my life to do…..