Travels with Mikey, Day One, Detox

I have been feeling sad for the past several days; a sadness that I had thought couldn’t bottom out more than it already had.  I was wrong.

My youngest came home from out west where he lives and dropped an emotional bombshell on us just yesterday.  I cannot say I was totally shocked; inklings of the possibility were incessantly in the air and strange occurrences only exaggerated them.  He comes home very ill with a “cold” and we found out yesterday that he was in fact “coming down” in a withdrawal from some drugs he has been taking for the past several months.

Initially I wasn’t going to write about it.  I realized, however, that in the spirit of my philosophy that I truly had no choice.  I have to document what is going on and what led to our placing him in a county facility just this morning at 9:00 am in order for him to get help with the detoxification.

Tonight we are going to the “Family Education Night” at the facility.  This is is first full day of four of detox.  That is to be followed by ten days of rehabilitation.

Yesterday was a nightmare. 

I could repeat the proverbial, “I should have seen it coming.”  Sometimes, though, you just don’t think it will arrive on your doorstep.  I always knew it could, and it did.

There were some major indicators of the coming maelstrom.  That time, not too long ago, when he went verbally ballistic on me for no reason.  It was uncharacteristic, but not every reaction fits into a box.  I actually pretty much hung up on him, told him that we would talk later when he could be civil. We talked later and apologized.  Then there were the several times I had to change the flight for him that we had purchased for him to come home.  Always at the last minute and seemingly odd reasons for the change.

When I did see him last Thursday, he greeted me with a frenetic hello when he got off the train from the airport and had an urgent need to get to the bank because he had lost his ATM card resulting in someone getting money out of his account. He wasn’t feeling well and the first few days were pretty much spent in bed and sleeping, or as we found out, trying to sleep. Monday morning arrives, we really haven’t had a chance to enjoy him, he calls us into the bedroom and says that he has been oxycontin for several months.  He came home with the intent of quitting it, realized that the withdrawal scene was more than he could handle.

Could this be true?

Yes!  He and his girlfriend, the girl with a dubious background were doing it together.  We knew we didn’t like her. Some sort of dancer…oh no!  More and more details come out that make us less than happy campers.  He cannot handle the withdrawal, he cannot sleep, he cannot relax, and his heart is racing.

I set about changing his flight back to California, Mary Kay researches detox options.  I call our doctor as we find out that we might have a spot for him in the county clinic, what do we do until then, the ER?  We luckily get him a spot at the clinic and our doctor suggests the ER for the interim.  Off we go to the hospital, a place we know all too well from our recent experiences with our parents.  They finally settle on sedatives to calm him down and we fax all the demanded info to the county clinic.  The family, meanwhile, has assembled and readies for the battle plan.

Family trauma of this nature brings other feelings out of the woodwork.  Fireworks erupt at the dinner table as we dine on our take out from the local grill.  Not only are we focusing on the problem at hand, but also on the difficulties from the recent dissolution of the family business. Meanwhile, a snowstorm prepares to attack and Richie needs to ready himself for that.  Will this group survive?


We continue dialoguing, on the phone, in person, at dinner. We text, we e-mail, we are going to make sure that Mikey is okay.  Tears, sorrow, anger, we have it all.  We have our issues, we care, and we will get through it.

Mary Kay and I attend the Family Education Night and it is like a nightmare, Mary Kay’s hand over her nose as she tries to fend off the smell of the person next to her.  We listen to the hour long speech of the counselor.  He talks of families, support, success with fighting addiction, relapse, as we sit with Mikey and absorb the info. We then have half an hour with our son and he begs us for his girlfriend’s phone number.  We talk to the people in charge and they counsel us to not do that as they “used” together. 

Thus ended day one of the fourteen day program: four days of detox, ten of rehab.


9 responses to “Travels with Mikey, Day One, Detox

  1. Koerner family- my thoughts and prayers Are with y’all. Please let me know if there is anything I can possibly do.
    Much love from Texas,

  2. Rich has so eloquently described our trauma. Not exactly the way we wanted to spend our Christmastide, but we will forge ahead through our sadness and have the element of joy that Michael got on a plane and basically cold turkeyed his habit. We pray for his strength and ours now. No family is equipped with the skills to handle this without help and an extraordinary amount of courage. We have both. After our initial shock and dismay we are mustering our forces. Rich and I, Chris, Richie our daughter in-law Laura and almost daughter in-law Emily are united in our efforts. We are glad to have Mike back in Illinois, but wish it were under other circumstances. He essentlally has four siblings (five if you count Charlie our “4th” son.) I will tell you that it was very hard to sit at family education in rehab and look around at the other young and old people and have to count our son as a member of that group of addicts. Nothing every prepared us for that, but as Winston Churchill said, ” When you are going through hell, keep going” And we will do that. Even though Rich and I are not at this point institutional church-goers, we and our family have a very strong faith in the goodness of life and family. Mikey has the steel in him too. That will prevail. It was courageous of him to come home and admit to us what happened. I won’t lie we are also all angry that this happened. The one thing we can control right now is our support of him. That is unwaivering. Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers. We need them!

  3. My heart and prayers go out to you and the family. You are all strong and the family ties will help weather the storm! Big hug to you and Mary Kay!

  4. Dear MK & Rich,

    Loren filled me in some, and I want you to know I’m here for all of you as well. I know that facing this head on is the best thing you can do for Mikey since family support is so important. Getting him on the right track surrounded by those he loves and who love him will be exactly what he needs. Times of adversity make us stronger…and I always say as a parent it’s a learning experience there is no manual we do the best that we can. Even though the holidays are here…you still have Mikey in IL…that’s something to be grateful for and he’s wanting the help…which is even more important.

    Please know we’re thinking of all of you!


  5. Mary Kay and Rich- much love and even more hugs….. Your torment must have made you feel so sick. Your courage and mutual support are strengthening you to Put one foot in front of the other. We love and support you. Love, Lynn Hiller

  6. Pingback: 2010 in review « Thoughts of a pretired French Teacher

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