Thursday, February 3, 2011

Don't look back, you can never look back

The worst thing for me about being in recovery has been trying to forgive myself for my past. The hurt I've caused other people, damaged relationships, things I've said and done, or didn't but wish I had. "Forgive yourself and move on." That's what they'll tell you. And they're right. I've spoken before about the law of attraction, and it's in this area that the concept has helped me most. The more I think about what might have been, or what I think should have been, the more I'm living in that moment, and the less I'm present in this one.

I get all that. I agree with all that. It's the cornerstone of my recovery. But it's hard, and I'm human, and today, I'm kicking the hell out of myself.

I'm having surgery Monday morning. There's a three inch stone in my left kidney that looks a lot like this:

Tomorrow, I'll go in to radiology where they'll insert a tube through my back into my left kidney. On Monday, I'll be admitted for the surgery. The doctor will enter the tube, puncture my kidney and (his words here), "Use a jackhammer to break it up and then extract the pieces. It's too big and too involved for us to handle it any other way."

A jackhammer. I love technology.

What does this have to do with being a recovering meth addict? Meth, unlike other drugs and alcohol, is metabolized by the kidneys rather than the liver. I did have a kidney stone when I was using. I remember going to the hospital (although I don't remember having a CAT scan, which I apparently did.) I know that when it passed, I refused to take it back to the hospital to have it examined for cause. In my drug soaked mind, I assumed it was made up exclusively of meth and therefore saw no reason to involve any authorities. Embarrassing, but true.

That was in 2005. I had no further problems until a year ago when one thing led to another and I ended up at a urologist who sent me for a CAT scan and X-ray, which showed the lovely image you see above. 

Lots of things can cause kidney stones - many of which are innate to the lifestyle of a chronic meth-addict. The leading cause of kidney stones is lack of water. Check.(Meth addicts are notorious for forgetting to do things like eat and drink.) Excessive use of caffeine? Check. (And when we do, it's rarely what we should be drinking. Some of us could just never get too amped.)

So I asked my doctor, as I sat looking at the twisted, gnarled thing on the X-ray: did I do this to myself? Is this the result of my meth addiction? He told me no, because it's been growing for the past five years. We know this because of the first CAT scan and stone I passed at the time. What else could he tell me? "Yes, you did this to yourself and...."

And what? What does it matter? Next Sunday, February 13th, I will have been sober for 4 years. It's pretty obvious, even to an ex meth-head like me, when I put the numbers together that it is possible that I did this to myself. But I'll never know for sure if my meth use caused this, or if it's just "one of those things." I have my suspicions, but I doubt I'll ever know.

And what if I did?

There's no way to isolate the situation. I can dwell and worry and regret and drive myself crazy with the what if's. It won't change anything. All I can do - with everything in my life - is the best I can with what I have. My past serves to inform my present choices. "I probably should make sure to drink a lot of water."

To spend my energy on regret leaves me empty for today, and today I want to play with my *bug-in-a-boy-suit before I go to the hospital tomorrow. And I want to hang out with him this weekend. Next week, I'll make his birthday cake... and on and on I'll go, doing the next right thing. Because I can't change my past, but I can try like hell to make sure that from now on, my decisions are the right ones.

*one of many nicknames for my son, Andy - for those who may not know;)

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