Archive for nurse advocate

It’S A NEW DAY

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 6, 2020 by Her Broken Wing

I can’t believe it’s been 10 long years since I earned (and I mean earned) my sobriety. When I first started AA, I sat in the back of the room, I was angry. I was in denial. I was also forced to be there by the Nursing Board.

Before, I remember lying in the bathroom floor begging God to take this addiction from me. I remember thinking that if I could just get sober, life would be perfect (But be Gentle)! I sat in the back of the AA, when I heard one of the old timers say that days ahead would be some of the hardest days. Little did I know how right he was.

I had to learn how to find emotions I never had. I also heard,” you think you’ve hit bottom, watch out, those bottoms have trap doors.” At the time I did not know what they meant. I do now.

How did this happen? I was a hospice nurse. I was a good, dedicated and a caring nurse. I worked 40 years as a nurse until I lost my job. No going away party. My Nursing identity was my shattered. I was so devastated. I was lost. I mean as the AA group said, most either get a DUI, end up in jail or die. But I only lost a job. I didn’t do those things. But I was told, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” Yes thinking back!

Yes, true my heart and my soul had died!

Looking back like forever ago, I had migraines so I was given prescription drugs. The doctors gave them to me. After all, I thought it was ok, right!? I’d started with one pill, then two, then I don’t know how many I took. In my mind I made up headaches, pain,etc. This went on for years.

Then one day my boss called me in her office. “If you need, we can help you..”. Another day she said,”if you need help I will help you.” I was still in denial. But I decided to call my friend, he said the same, it’s time to get help.

How did I meet my friend? Working at hospice and not unusual, I attended a patient’s funeral. There was a man in front of me. He turned around and said, “Well, I guess you were her nurse ? ” He said, “I guess you are caring, compassionate,and Christian —with sarcasm? “ I got defensive. ” Yes I am!” Then he pulled out a card. The card had small flames on it. I knew it, he was a Satan worshipper.

I looked at it. It was a 12 step recovery program. I didn’t know much about that. But I did know God was sitting next to me.

I told the man after the funeral, ” hey, I have a “friend!” So I asked more. We arranged a meeting to talk about my friend. I met him at McDonald’s to get more info for my friend. We talked and then he said, ” What are you taking?” I busted out crying. I had be drinking and taking ” Prescribed meds” a long time.


Later I thought, (I was at least sober the day my dad died!) There was a long time of grief, shame and guilt. I hated myself. My dad warned me. I had let him down.

My dad died years ago before he knew how bad it was. At his funeral, I had written his eulogy —sober In honor of my dad. I was a daddy’ girl, well, so was my sister.

My sister picked out the song, “To Sir With Love.” (He had taught us so much about being a lady. Other than being a mean deep sea fishermen. He tried to get me from a (Tom-boy to a lady.) I had someone read the eulogy, I wrote Sober as I could not do read it. He deserved the words from my heart. I, however, knew I could not read it.

Not that it matters (well, yea maybe it does). I was told that, 3 of my grandparents where alcoholics ( my grandma died in the DT’s at age 53.) I’m going to respect my parents anonymity. One day, my dad told said, ” Be careful.” Ah I thought, I won’t do that. Never say never! How, did it happen? So tenuous, I’m sitting in an AA room. The disease is cunning, baffling, and powerful. I hear my dads voice.

The day I revealed my addiction, I devastated my family. I went into out patient rehab. Reported to the Nursing Board. Lost my job. Did I mention how angry I was. Later I realized I was angry at myself.

With my tail tucked, I walked through the doors of the beginning of a life changing event. The nursing board was a 4 year program of a weekly nursing program and the rest which consisted of seeing an addictionologist, a counselor weekly, a nurses group weekly, AA 3 x week, and random drug test that I had to pay for. Oh gosh I could go on. I was incensed .

I had to get a sponsor (someone to walk me through me through the 12 steps and the program), I went to AA at least 3 times a week. (The 1st 90 days I went everyday. It’s called 90 in 90.) My sponsor said 3-things, 1.) the disease is outside doing push-ups waiting for you and 2.) secrets keep us sick ( rigorously honest). 3.) and one drink is too many and 1000 is not enough..

Resentment, was an understatement of transformation of my soul. Finding my spirit. I mean it was everyone’s fault.

Today I look back, 10 years later, this was hard work but it saved my life. It saved the convergence of my family. It taught me how to live and feel. And I’ve met some of my best friends from this group. They get me.

I know to change playgrounds and playmates. I also know I had no one to blame but me.

Want a drug, I think noT!

10 years proud….but I can’t get complacent.

I’m Connie, I’m an addict.

The Tainted Flower

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 12, 2012 by Her Broken Wing

This past weekend I went to visit my best friend. We go a long ways back, back to the days of nursing school. We were more acquaintances at that time but I knew who she was. I’m sure I hung out in the cool crowd and I probably talked to her on occasions. 🙂 After nursing school though, we worked close in proximity and became best of friends.

Over thirty years have passed with a lot of tears and laughter along the way. We have been there for each other through the good and the bad. She knows everything about me.

This past weekend was no different from any other. It was filled with surprises, reminiscing and laughter. We were sharing how she almost left me at a convenient store because she thought it was being robbed. She was literally pulling out of the store when I came out. I had to run and jump in her convertible as she was leaving the store. I have not let her live that one down.

Or the millions of times we have sung Stayin Alive by the Bee Gee’s totally out of tune. There was also the time we had people following us in the store saying, “This is the best day of my life” as they heard us saying it and because we were laughing so hard over our pig findings (she collects the little curly tail things—for whatever reason).

We are forever making memories and this weekend was no different. She had fixed dinner and fixed a great salad. I did all but lick the bowl. Now that I think of it, I might have. I asked her about the dressing and she said raspberry something…. I said, “No way, I hate raspberries.” So she went and got the bottle out of the refrigerator. She brought it out to where we were sitting in the living room floor. We were having a picnic. And there it was, “Raspberry Vinaigrette with …” “GOOD GOD.” I YELLED. It has poppy seeds in it. She sort of gave me this blank what-I’d-do-look and shrugged her shoulders. I was still yelling. “I’m going down. I’m going straight to poppy-seed hell. I’m busted. I’m… “I don’t know what all I said but I think I began talking in tongue. Her face was blank.

Finally, I said, “poppy seeds will give me a positive drug screen if I’m tested.” Then she started screaming. So we were both screaming. I grabbed my phone and started an engine search on my smart phone Google that was apparently smarter than me at the moment. But eventually I could say, thank goodness for Google. Yep, one bagel can give you a positive drug screen. I’m sure I ingested a bagel’s worth; after all, I licked the bowl.

So Iwas frantically calling every possible person I knew in the program. One said, don’t eat the poppy seeds. Well duh. By then, everyone was friggin freaking out. Yes, you’ll test positive.

The next 48 hours were hell. I waited for a phone call to go test, which never came. I don’t know how I was going to explain this.

So now my friend and I can remember the time she fed me an opium plant.

Love, Connie

My To-Do List

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 20, 2010 by Her Broken Wing

I remember my first meeting to my now required licensure nurse group (it consists of a group of nurses with addictions lead by a recovering nurse monitored by the board of nursing –whew). I should be nervous, right? But leave it to me to be ignorant and arrogant. I went in and sat down with my to-do and has-done list of things to check of. This meeting was to be the first thing I checked off. Let me add that I was quite proud of how together I presented myself. I was hoping to maybe get time off for good behavior.  I was C.L.U.E.L.E.S.S.

Remember….. addicts are good at this kind of stuff…

Anyway–At that time, I still had my job.  And my world had not yet started to unravel.

So as I sat there, I listened to nurse’s talk calmly about not having jobs like they broke a fingernail, or how they were sitting back–waiting on God’s timing. I remember thinking the other nurses just “needed a plan” like me.

All the way around the room, those other drug addicts we  shared where we were in our life. Some of the nurses had been there one, two and five years down the road from their initial meeting, so they spoke of how they found jobs they now loved, and some even changed careers. Others downsized their way of life and others found peace with God.

Then my turn came and I pulled out my “list” (I believe I heard a snicker around the room as if they had seen this scenario before) and I began discussing what all I had done. First, I attended meetings, saw my doctor, told my boss and all is well. The room became very quiet. I heard the word “Newbie” come from somewhere.  At last, my advocate (she too is a recovering nurse that liaisons to the nursing board for us) spoke up and said, “First, you will have to quit your job. The nursing board will not allow you to work around narcotics in your job.”

My world started spinning. And I remember thinking this will not happen. I am not quitting. This job was all I knew. I had done this work for so long that I didn’t know what else I was going to do. I could feel myself start to hyperventilate. The other nurses that had previously snickered now saw my pain. They knew what it was like to be new and have your world suddenly turn upside down. This group had once been new to the journey not so long ago.  In their compassion, they started to console me as best they could but the tears broke loose no matter how hard I tried to conceal them. Little by little, my to-do list chiseled away to nothing.

Why was I being punished? Was I singled out to suffer this thorn in the flesh like Paul? (2 Corinthians 12:7) Why this one? Can I choose another one God? I remember saying those very words to God.

Oh yes, I do understand the consequences of my behavior and that isn’t what I am asking. Why this struggle?

The truth is in the beginning, I wanted my life back before the drugs. But now, I don’t ever want to go to the life I had before or during my time with drugs. For God has something much bigger in my life.

I have to learn to live life on life’s terms.

Just as with any journey, it requires a certain degree of travel on bumpy and treacherous roads.

I just have to learn which path to follow.

Mirror Mirror On The Windshield

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 13, 2010 by Her Broken Wing

I ran into a “friend” the other day at the grand Ol’ Publix while I was listening to some Grand Ol’ Opry music playing in the background and trying to focus on my much-needed grocery shopping. Fate would have it of course as this would be the one time I chose not to wear make-up, looking my very worse. Why does this always happen? I Knew the minute I jumped into my car, I would look in the mirror to see how bad it really was!!

Anyway, I hadn’t talked to my friend since she tried to help me find a job. She must have felt bad because she tried to avoid me. Make-up or not, I was going to take her down approach her. I was curious to what had transpired since our last conversation.  Truth is I had been hurt. I would rather someone call me and tell me ‘no’, than not call me. It’s the not knowing that drives me crazy.

Today, she said she had been thinking about me and was still working on the Director of Nursing.  But as of now, the Director of Nursing was firm in her stance that she would not hire another “Impaired nurse.” When those two words rolled out of her mouth, they came with such might; it felt like an army of terrorists, they shot down every last humbled soldier in my body.

Humbled!   Humiliated! Stripped of my dignity…My identity had always been that I was a great nurse. And in a split second that changed. I became “damaged goods” because of a label, a disease—treatable if monitored like any other malady but at this point who cared.

Standing in front of my friend, speechless–“Impaired nurse”—echoed in my head!! I’m not sure I heard anything else she said. A visual before me of someone on crutches, bandaged up and quite retarded. Although I have been known to fit this description on occasions, I don’t think this is a true account of my disease …

Looking up the definition, this is what I came up with for I.N. (impaired nurse) — Impaired nurses are considered the victims of chemical substance abuse such as alcohol, narcotics, drugs or any other substances that support mood alteration. Notice the word “Victim.” Nowhere does it say moral defect, flaw in character, a criminal, or traitor to the profession.

The unspoken definition is we are fragile merchandise; tender spirits, high achievers and we are victims to a disease that just needs to be managed. Yes, some of us have committed crimes by diverting (someone who steals drugs from patients, pharmacies or other sources)drugs, or come to work intoxicated.  But guys, that is the drugs—the disease…having been clean now, I am appalled myself at things I used to do. I needed help. I need help. I will always need help.

I am learning through my experience the employer’s standpoint. They fear litigation which often makes it easier to not bother with saving a great nurse with many years of experience.

The current punitive system creates barriers to reporting and keeps impaired nurses from getting help. This is distressing. Sadly, if I knew what I know now, I would have definitely gone a different route. I have been persecuted for a crime of saying, “I need help.” The system in place is not a true “advocacy” program.

As I got back into my car and looked in the mirror (remember I had to check on my make-up situation or lack of) and it finally hit me, I was seeing where I had been and I don’t want to forget that. But it is time to move forward, shift gears, to drive and to change the course of my life, maybe I will find something even bigger.

Someday I hope to be able to change the world’s image of us—the impaired nurse, God willing.

For today, my saving grace to this new passage was and will be filtered through my Father’s hand for He is working this to His good…Romans 8:28

Today, I am a better person for it…