Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Surgery Day

This is the place. Hermann Memorial Hospital. Located at the heart of the world renowned Houston Medical Center. The place I had my surgery. They told me to be there at 6:00 am Monday morning May 22. I arrived on-time. I had eaten nor drank anything since 9:30 or so the night before. No pain meds, no caffiene and no nicotine. I was in a wonderful mood. I checked in and was directed to a waiting area. Turns out my Doctor likes all his patients there early in case he finishes sooner. I didn't actually go in until 11:30. It was a nice wait. Great to let all of those fears stew for a while. The anesthesia people came in. Very charming. Gave me my "Cocktail" and wheeled me into the operating room. I vaguely remember talking to somone. Then I wake up in my room. I am placing a link here that will show my doc doing the same type surgery on another patient. I found this when I got home. I was very impressed. You can view it here.

Overall I have to give my Doc a ten. Memorial Hermann an eight. The nurses I had during my stay were with one exception so so. I really wanted to do a more comprehensive post on my visit but, everything is very hazy. I can't remember much LOL.


Larry


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Awake at Last!

Finally! I actually feel like writing again. I have tried to do this over the last few days but... I would get the computer up, start typing, and nothing made sense.. LOL I don't know if it was fumble fingers from the nerves or crosseyed-ness (hows that for a word) from my medication. I will just say both for now.
It has now been eight days since my surgery on my lower back. I am feeling fine. I want to thank every single person who has prayed for my safety and recovery. I needed the prayers. Not just the day of the surgery but my first day home without morphine. The first morning I woke up in my own bed my thoughts were WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, THIS HURTS!! I will give a more detailed account of my day to day since the surgery on another post.
It is amazing to me the people whom God has placed in my life. Who like and love me for who I am. I no longer have to put on airs. I don't have to act a certain way or be something I'm not. That was one of the greatest gifts I discovered since I have been down. The people who sent me a card, or came to see me in the hospital know me for me! In my own mind I am a goofy good hearted guy who wants the best for everybody. Now translating that to the outside world is an entirely different story! I make a lot of mistakes. I offend people by running my mouth before thinking. You know what though? as long as we are taking a daily inventory and sincerely make amends where they are needed thats ok!! It took me a long time in my life to get to where I could say that. Can we say good-bye codependency?

I wish.


I didn't mean to go off this way today. I just meant to come out and say Thanks for all the support. I think it's cool how this blog has turned out. My posts have been nothing like I thought they would be. It is wonderful how God moves us.


Larry

Saturday, May 27, 2006

D Day + 6

Six days since th surgery. I have peeked on here a couple of times, I want to thank everyone for their prayers and concerns. This post may not make a lick of sense. (pain meds, muscle relaxers, pain, spasms.. etc) Forgive me lol. Right now it is tough enough to go to the bathroom.. I will post some more as I get better. Hopefully I can be back to daily posts next week. Again thanks for all the great prayer and visits from friends and family.



Larry

Friday, May 26, 2006

Real Quick Post

Just wanted to let all of you know, I came home from the hospital Yesterday. Everything went great! Thanks to each one of you for your prayers. I am still fuzzy headed and in a lot of pain, so it may be a day or two before I am going at this full blast again...

Hope you guys have a great memorial day weekend!



Blessings!


Larry

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Signing Off For Now

As this will be my last post for awhile. I wanted to thank everyone who has offered their prayers for my surgery. It will be tomorrow at 8:00am. I am ready to go and get this over with. It has been a long time coming. Since October 10th, 2004 to be exact. I really knew I was going to have surgery in January but due to work commitments and some other things I had going on I couldn't schedule it until tomorrow. To be honest, I am wore out. Sore in body and anxious in spirit. Well, let me change that. Not anxious in spirit because I know that God is going to take care of me. I have so much prayer from so many people Everything is going to go perfectly. I am just tired of waiting. So I look forward to posting again when I get home from the hospital. I wish all of you the best and hope you have a blessed week.

Larry

Friday, May 19, 2006

Rocket to Relapse


Countdown to relapse.

10. Triggers
9. Anxiety/Fear
8. Isolation
7. Not calling sponsor or accountabilty partner
6. Lack of meditation and prayer
5. Resentments
4. Procrastination
3. Rationalization
2. Lack of daily inventory
1. Justification
Ignition!
Liftoff!
RELAPSE!

Thats all it took for me to light up a cigarette again. Last night I was tired, irritable and anxious. I went into my wife's purse took 20 bucks, went to the store and bought a pack of smokes. This happened about 11pm. I then proceeded to isolate into a new book, and smoked seven or eight of the devious little suckers. All of a sudden it hit me. This is old behaviour. I was reliving old using behaviour. The way I took the money could have been considered sneaky, my wife was asleep at the time. I was smoking in the back yard after everyone had gone to bed. Guilt set in. What a horrible feeling. The series of events that led to me lighting up were eerily similar to the way I used to use. With one difference. I would have never dumped my bag of dope into the fountain in the back yard and dumped it in the trash... LOL Thats what I did. I chunked the rest of the pack and was back on the gum today.

I have a real crummy attitude about this right now. When my nerves are shot they are comforting. I know they are terrible for me but dang it I like em! My goal is to be completely nicotine free when I come out of the hospital. Four days on morphine ought to do the trick. I know thats a completly idiotic way of looking at it but hey, God works in mysterious ways.

I know I am completely powerless over my addiction to cigarettes.
I know that turning them over to God is the only solution.
I feel like Paul in Romans. I want to do what is right but I just can't. It is my sinful nature.

Frustration abounds over this. I know God will keep it, my flesh wants it back.

Houston we have a problem


Larry

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Three Days and Counting

Three Days and Counting!
Till surgery time. I feel confident about it but I still have jitters. Giving yourself up to the knife is the ultimate loss of control. Not that I ever had it (powerless). But I at least try to maintain a facade.

My wife and I met a woman about my age at Wal-mart this evening. She was wearing the type of brace they give you after disc fusion surgery. We saw her riding around on one of those scooters they give people with mobility problems. If there were ever any doubt about having the surgery they are gone! I'm gonna get me one of them scooters!
How cool is that going to be?


We talked for a bit, its funny how small the world we live in. Her operation was two weeks ago. I was pleased to see how soon she was up and around. We actually have the same doctor. Coincidence? The only difference is she had two discs fused and I am having three. She told us what to expect. How good the hospital was, physical therapy, the pain etc. Her attitude was awesome. Getting to talk to her went a long way to settling my nerves. In recovery we talk about how God speaks to us through other people. I can't think of a better example than this.


Larry

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Accountability and Sponsorship

Recently I posted how my emotions can be like Texas weather. Peaceful and calm at times , scattered , fearful and frantic at others. This morning was especially frantic with some thundering anger thrown in for good measure.

My wife, daughter and I have been staying with my parents for two months, for security while I recover from my upcoming surgery. I make good money from residual income that is based on commision. In other words... I get paid when my clients pay their premium. So when one or more clients are late paying their bill (which is entirely common) my checks can go from high to low. I supplement this occasional shortfall by selling another product that pays commision immediately. However, being down for my surgery prevents me from doing this. So, long story short, living with the folks makes it safe. We have the same tensions any family has when they live together but ours is magnified because we work together. Lately there have been quite a few shortfalls for the whole agency. This affects my wife's security gland. Which in turn make my tension levels rise and fall quicker than a blog traffic meter. My wife expresses her worries to me quite often, and thats ok, but the frustration I feel of not being able to do anything about it right now causes Sheer Chaos. I am a believer who struggles with addiction and codependency. Chaos and I do not get along.
Needless to say I erupted this morning like Mount St. Helens. I was going to ditch the surgery. I was going to go back to working as hard as I could to alleviate the money problems. To hell with everything. I was going to take care the situation so I didn't have to hear about it any more. The last thing I wanted was to be flat on my back and totally helpless to "fix" it.

My first phone call ended in leaving a message. The second my accountability partner, Corey picked up on the first ring. He could tell right away I was not in a good place. He got both barrels, I unloaded it all. He didn't say anything. He let me get it all out from start to finish. Then gave me practical advice on what to do. I have known Corey for three years. He knew what to call me on and how to help. It is a relationship we never planned on having. God placed both of us in each others path. By the time we were through I had a new confidence I hadn't felt in weeks. Why?

Men have a hard time reaching out when we have a problem. We don't want to seem weak nor do we like asking for help. I usually counseled with our church pastor, but he had recently resigned. So I did it the old fashioned way... I isolated, and when I'm by myself I am in pretty poor company. I had been bottling up my frustrations for weeks.

Ecclesiastes tells us about the advantages of companionship.
"Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. And on a cold night, two under the same blanket can gain warmth from each other. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken". Ecclesiastes 4, 9-12

I thank God for connecting me with Corey and others in CR. (Celebrate Recovery)

The Road to Recovery can be long and twisty
But thank God we don't have to go it alone.


Larry



Monday, May 15, 2006

Stuck in Slow Motion

I feel like a lame duck President. Stuck in slow motion. Unable to get much accomplished. Between meds, pain and surgery my recovery is stalled. Stuck in the depths of making amends. Afraid of it I guess. Stopped like a deer in the headlights. My two biggest amends include asking for forgiveness and monetary payback to the tune of about four thousand dollars split between two people. One is a former landlord, the money owed is back rent. The other is also for rent and deeper forgiveness.
My quandry and inactivity is this. How do I ask forgiveness without money in hand? I am going into surgery next Monday, what if the worst happens and none of this is resolved? I realize this is fear and fear is not God driven. It comes from the enemy. I suppose I need to pray deeper on this. I try daily to give these fears over to God but I want them back the next day. One of my favorite verses I am getting intimately aquainted with is Matthew 5:23-24
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
Jesus is saying don't wait. If you have wronged someone run to that person and ask for forgiveness. So why am I waiting? Am I sinning by not going directly to these people now? Am I getting in deeper by procrastination? I do not like being stuck in a rut. In my mind I want to be decisive, a man of action. I can think about it, plan to do it but when when the time comes for action my spine turns into linguine. I can think of a thousand excuses of why I can't do this this week. Should I make the time to do this now? or should I wait until I am in a back brace and can get the sympathy forgiveness? LOL. Deep down inside I know the answers. I have come far in recovery and I know I will get it accomplished.
I just don't want to.
Larry

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day


Happy Mother's day to all the mom's out there. I am impressed with myself. Two posts in one day. The picture I posted is of my two favorite moms. My wife and my mother. I spent the day spoiling them as they deserve. We had a big family gathering and I grilled, cooked and cleaned all day. Of course I had lots of help from my brother Craig and my cousin Travis. We even let the moms go first in the food line. That in itself is a special gift! LOL. We did a good job taking care of them. I wanted both to have an extra special day before they ended up taking care of me for the next two months. It was also great having the whole family together. Let me think... We had seven moms at the house today with seven grandkids and nine of us sons and daughters. The women didn't have to lift a finger. I was very glad mom took a break from relaxation and made her secret recipe ranche dip. I am extremely blessed that I have such a wonderfully large family.

It is a special thing being a mom. A blessing.

So to all you moms out there
Happy Mothers day!

Splashtown

We had a blast yesterday. I had promised my daughter, Lexie, that I would take her to do something fun before my surgery. She picked Splashtown, A SixFlags water theme park in Spring, Texas. I allowed her to bring two friends, Whitney and Sara. I have to say if you are going to go to a park like this... Bring some bucks. Luckily I found a coupon on the Internet that brought the entry fee to $21.99 per person. The normal price is $34.99. Parking is ten dollars and renting a locker is nine. Needless to say the food is even more outrageous. A small dipping dots ice cream is five bucks. So we didn't eat big, we snacked and bought Mcdonalds on the way home.

What fun the slides were. The first one we hit is what I call, the toilet bowl. You drop in from a tube and slowly go round and round the bowl until it unceremoniously dumps you into the pool. They have two types one is open and the other closed. We slid down the open one. So everybody gets to see you swirl round and round. Make sure your swimsuit is on tight! The next slide was the Texas Tower. I think thats the name, It is a five story slide that drops you straight down. I couldn't ride this one (my back) but Sara did. Major tip for this one. It will give you a major underwear over the head wedgie. Sara was picking her seat for the rest of the day. The Space slide is another five story monstrosity except you slide down it on a tube. After climbing up alllll the stairs there are three tubes down the slide to choose from. Once launched, darkness envelops you as you twist and turn all the way to the bottom where you shoot out into the waiting pool. The water was freezing! Of course they have all the little things that make the park fun. The rope swing, shotgun falls, tons of kiddie pools and waterfalls. For the amount of money the park rakes in they need to maintain the place better. A lot of the bridges had loose boards. Stairs were wobbly. Most of the Machinery for slides was visible. The life guards were good- natured and added to the over all experience. Splashtown's hours are 11:00am to 6:00 pm. As much as it costs, they ought to be open till eight. I was glad however, they closed at six. I was exhausted. Chasing after three kids will wear you out! Despite the cost the day was absolutely worth it. Driving home I asked Lexie what her favorite part of the park was she said, "Hanging out with my daddy."
Totally Worth it.

Larry

Friday, May 12, 2006

Great Meeting!


Our Celebrate Recovery meeting tonight was great! Our mens group is growing by leaps and bounds. The women's group used to really out number us guys but lately it has been the other way around. Our CR meets every Friday Night at 7:00pm. The first 30 minutes is dedicated to praise and worship to get our minds right. The next 30 we have a lesson or a testimony.


The Lesson I gave tonight was on expectations. What do we do when someone we look up to in recovery or life fails us? Failure could be relapse or someone not coming through on a promise. When I first started attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings 3 1/2 years ago there were guys that wow! Just seemed so wise to me. They always had something really profound to say about recovery, the 12 steps or whatever. I was fresh out of rehab, my emotions were on a string flapping in the breeze. I really looked up to these guys. I had no idea how long they had been clean. Then one by one they started disapearing. After the meeting I would hear tales of relapse. The guys I thought had it together had gone back to their old behavior. This just messed me up completely. These guys knew the program and it seemed like they had it together. So I learned real quick not to put people in recovery on a pedestal. I learned to be discerning on whom I listened to. Soloman speaks of this in Ecclesiastes 7-5

It is better to be criticized by a wise person than to be praised by a fool!

When people ask me about choosing an accountability partner or sponsor. I point out the folks who are walking the walk. People whose words match their deeds. Are they working the steps?Are they developing their concious contact with God Daily? Are they the same person at home as they are in group? Do they serve others or only themselves? Do they take recovery and give it back? If they can quote scripture all day long and yet wallow in their hurts, habit, and hang-ups can they really help you in your recovery?

What about that person in your life that relapses? Relapse is a return to old behavior, be it chemicals, pornography or going back to that unhealthy relationship. We get angry, we want to fix, we get the if onlys. If you think about it though, does a lifeguard get angry at the person he saves? This person who relapses is running towards death. How do we save them?

  1. Realize we are powerless
  2. Turn it over to God
  3. Pray for them
  4. Be there but, do not enable. We have to maintain our boundaries

We cannot save them anymore than my wife could have saved me. My wife could not stop me from using. She tried for three years. I remember the last time I used. I had gone nuts after I was out of my drug of choice. I kept hollering I'm going to die and go to hell! I am going to die and go to hell! My wife pulled me into bed and soothed me. After I was calm she whispered into my ear, "Larry, it's time to get some help." A second after that another voice "Larry, it is time." It was God. I managed to get a little bit of sleep and when I awoke I showered and went to work and proceeded to find out which rehab my insurance company wanted me to go to. I went, and since that time I have very rarely looked back. My higher power Jesus Christ saved me. I will close post with the verse I read to the guys in our mens small group Psalms 51.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving kindness: according
Unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of your salvation; and uphold me with your Spirit.
Then I will teach other transgressors your ways; and sinners shall be converted unto You.

Larry

Hallelujah For the Gum


Hallelujah for the gum. Nicorette Gum to be exact. Yes today was the day for me to quit smoking. There are several reasons for this. None for why you would think. I have been smoking since I was 12 years old. In the last three years I have quit 2 times for more than a month. I have always kept lighting back up for various exuses. Notice I said excuses not reasons. Anyway long story short, One, It makes me nervous to be going under anesthesia as a smoker. I want to wake up after the surgery. Two, because of the nature of my surgery, disc-fusion, smoker's fusions have a higher rate of not healing. This is such an addict way of thinking. Don't quit cause smoking is bad for you, quit so your back will heal... I did smoke this morning what I thought, was the last cigarette I had and because of the gum really had a good day. I didn't get grouchy and snap my wife's head off and the physical withdrawal pain never manifested, so far so good. But I messed up this evening. I was grabbing an empty pack out of the back seat of the car to throw it away and, would you believe there were three cigarettes in it? Of course I didn't chunk-em I left them there. Tonight I went out to the car and lit one up. I took about three drags, gagged and tossed it away, then threw the rest in the sewer. So as I write my gum is parked between my cheek and gum and I feel fine.. As I said in the beginning, Hallelujah for the gum.

Larry

Thursday, May 11, 2006

What a Day



You know it never ceases to amaze me how God works in my Life. Most of the time I am unaware of what he is doing, but sometimes, like today, he reveals his gifts.
Not only am I in addiction recovery but financial recovery as well. My wife and I are in the process of buying our first home. (The picture is one of the homes we are considering.) A credit repair service has been working hard, and we have been ardently striving to payoff old debts. One of the steps we had to take was to open a bank account. We had one before but bad luck, lack of discipline, (on my part) and excessively using the debit card quickly spun us into overdraft status.
Today we set out to open a new bank account. We called around to find a place that had second chance checking, we got vague instructions and then off we went. I stepped inside the bank to ask for clarification on the second chance checking and met the manager who explained the basics of the program. The manager led us through the procedure of opening the account explaining the fees involved with second chance banking. We were a bit disapointed by this but hey, we were greatful to do it.
Would you believe when they ran our information through telecheck it came back clean? We were able to open a normal account with all the bells and whistles. Free checking, free checks, free atm fees etc. All of our past mistakes had been cleaned away.
It's kind of like when we come to Christ and invite him into our hearts isn't it. All our mistakes and sins are taken away. Of course with Jesus we don't need to pay our old bills, or use a cleaning service. We just invite him in and we are washed clean of our sins. In Christ we get somethng a lot better than free checking. We get the gift of the Holy Spirit.
By the way,
turns out the manager was a christian.
Larry

Night Owl

Night owl again. For some reason I have the hardest time making myself go to bed at night. Its not that I can't sleep. I just don't want to. Since my teen-age years it has been the same. Push myself until my bleary eyes can't stand it anymore. I suppose being alone with my thoughts bothers me. During the day I always have to have something going. In the car I am always listening to talk radio or a cd I burned that morning. At night I am either reading or doing something with my laptop.
Meditation and quiet time with God is always hard for me. I pray but, shutting up and listening to him is tough. One of our Sunday school home work assignments was to pray alone for at least 30 minutes. I think I made it through 10. The motor never shuts off.
One of the ways I like to communicate with God is by singing praise songs in the car. There is always one song that seems to really touch the spirit. Today it was Complete by Parachute Band. They are a group out of New Zealand. I discovered them At Saddleback Chuch in California. They were perfoming for the Celebrate Recovery Conference. We bought all their CDs. You can listen to their music at www.parachutemusic.com.

Here are the lyrics to Complete.

Complete
Words and Music by Andrew Ulugia
From the album “Amazing” by the Parachute Band

Here I am oh God
I bring this sacrifice
My open heart
I offer up my life
I look to You Lord
Your love that never ends
Restores me again

So, I lift my eyes to You Lord
In Your strength will I break through Lord
Touch me now, let Your love fall down on me
I know Your love dispels all my fears

Through the storm I will hold on Lord
And by faith I will walk on Lord
Then I’ll see beyond my calvary one day
And I will be complete in You


© 2001 Parachute Music, PO Box 108 223, Symonds St, Auckland, New Zealand
CCLI # 3282322
Well, I think my motor is finally running out of gas.
Till next time.
Larry

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Weary but Blessed


What a day.
I am glad it is almost over. I am sitting on the back patio listening to the wind blow through the trees. We have a cold front coming through and we are supposed to have severe thunderstorms tonight. Its amazing to me how sometimes my days can be like the weather. Peaceful and calm now, but earlier frantic, fearful and scattered. Thunderstorms here in Texas are like that. A cool breeze, wind chimes clanging softly and the next thing you know crashing thunder, sideways rain and huge gusts of wind that rattle the windows.

I would like to thank redeemed for leading me to her blog. I get so caught up in my own pain and suffering, that I forget that others are dealing with things much worse than me. I forget the suffering Christ endured. What must it have been like for him? For Paul? for all of the early Christians who were ridiculed, persecuted and killed. Suddenly my lot doesn't seem so bad. To think that they not only endured such things but they continued to carry the "Good News" to as many as they could.

So tonight I will give thanks for what I have, pain and all. I am so fortunate to have the things God has blessed me with. My loving wife, all my girls and my goofy dog Sierra. You know its a cliche but my worst day now doesn't even come close to my best day before I found Christ again. So I may be weary but I am truly blessed.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Lots to Learn


Wow, I have a lot to learn regarding blogging. Html? Code? Publishing pics to the internet? Sheesh! Oh well I will have a lot of time to figure it out in the coming days.

I spent a lot of time trying to think of something witty and cool to say my first time posting but then I thought it'll come across looking like I was trying to be witty and cool. I just decided to be cool by acting like it was no big deal to make my first post. I have often thought about doing a blog but never really took the plunge. What prompted me to finally dive in was the fact that I am going in for surgery on May 22 and I have really been struggling with it. My wife lying beside me as I write this is laughing at me because I tend to tell everybody what is going on in my life, especially the surgery. I suppose it's my way of dealing with the anxiety over the whole thing.
I also hoped to be able to share about my life in recovery. I have been clean since February 15th, 2003. I want to share how God has changed my life. Without him I would be very alone, dead, or in jail. I want to make it very clear from the beginning that I am not out to fix anybody. I am only going to share my experience strength and hope. I am going to be honest daily about my life good and bad. I am a sinner who tries be Christ-like in my daily living. I usually fail miserably but I know that God will forgive my transgessions through his Son, Jesus Christ.
I also want to share about my recovery from the triple fusion surgery I am having on May 22. My L3, 4 and 5 were damaged beyond repair in a car accident October 10 2004. As a Believer who struggles with addiction it has been very difficult managing my pain. I have been on narcotic pain medication since last November. I am in constant pain even with the medication. I don't take more than what the bottle says but that is small comfort. I am lucky that God has gifted me with excellent accountability partners and friends through our church's Celebrate Recovery Program. I pray each day that when it is time to come off the medication that God will ease the physical withdrawal. I am not worried about the mental because of my program. So I invite you to join me and my ramblings. I plan to write about whats going on in my day, my walk with Christ, what I find interesting, and maybe even some politics.

Thanks for reading
I hope you find it interesting.

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