Journey's blog

Is Someone You Love an Addict?

Every now and then, I enjoy sharing posts that other blog writers send to my blog www.albertasequeira.wordpress.com. Today, I'd like to send Carly Fierro's article. 

Guest Post by Carly Fierro, who is a young freelance writer whose life has been touched by substance abuse. She is extremely interested in health and self-growth and writes about these issues whenever she can.

During my undergraduate years, my roommate became addicted to cocaine. I’d never dealt with addiction before and had no idea what the signs were. However, knowing when someone has an addiction problem is actually a pretty innate instinct. If you suspect someone close to you may be an addict, you’re probably right.

The warning signs are usually the same for drug addicts. They get lazy and leave their paraphernalia around, such as straight razors and flat surfaces like mirrors or cooking spoons. They sleep all day and their personality shifts drastically, sometimes seemingly overnight. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you think someone may be an addict.

<strong>You Can’t Force Help on Them</strong>
If someone is an adult, you can’t force them into rehab. They’ll need to want help on their own, and it’s true that most people need to hit rock bottom before they even think of getting help. It’s scary and intimidating to broach the subject with someone you love about their addiction. Expect denial, not a breakthrough, and understand that you’re simply opening the door for a discussion.

If you’re enabling the person, the hardest thing for you to do is stop. Many people fall into the trap of giving an addict a (free) place to stay, and of course a means to continue their destructive path. They think it’s better than putting them on the street where they might start using dirty needles and resort to dangerous activities, like prostitution, to get their fix money. Realize that if you enable them, you’re both hurting them and putting yourself in a dangerous situation.

<strong>What You Can Do</strong>
Tough love is the key to keeping yourself safe, which means stepping back and letting them hit rock bottom. This isn’t easy. It’s not like when you buy ecigs online, and the process is straightforward and simple. They are an adult, even if they are an addict, and you can’t control their behavior.

If possible, keep in contact with them and let them know you love them and are there to help them no matter what. Of course, this doesn’t include giving them money or a place to stay. Let them know you worry, and remind them of how their choices are impacting the people they love. There’s not much you can do beyond that.

<strong>When it’s Time for Rehab </strong>
If they’re ready to get help, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the options for rehab. Not all facilities are created equal, and the right one has an ongoing support network. Ask for the credentials of the director and the staff. Understand exactly how long the program is and what safety nets are in place for slips.

Tour the facility before committing to anything. Know when visiting hours are, the success rate of the facility and what type of counseling is offered. You might want to rush into the first opening you find, but that might be a mistake. Do your research, talk to the staff in person, and make sure it’s the right fit.
 

I'll Die Before I Change.............and You May!

How many of us fear making changes? Quite a few. Imagine what an alcoholic or addict goes through? I'm not one, but I remember my poor daughter, Lori, with her shakes, weight loss from being bulemic, no appetite and all the suffering one goes through with this horrible disease. Try to make changes for the better when you are shaking in your skin!

Fear can overwhelm us, until we do absolutely nothing. I knew Lori wanted to be sober and it was so sad when we all saw that she couldn't on her own, and at the same time, she wouldn't let us help her. Our hands were tied. If I could have jumped into her body to do the work for her, I would have done it in a minute.

I hate it when people say she chose to die. No she didn't, and neither do others. They get beyond being in a healthy physical and mental stage to make decisions or many think their habit won't kill them.

You have to decide if you plan to stay stuck or reach out for help. If not, you will die like Lori and her father and every addict who lives in denial. Don't allow that demon to hold its grip on you.

By taking action, you head toward your dreams. Break your pattern with your actions and break away from your substance abuse friends. This is your battle to live. They are not going to help you. In fact, they help dig your grave.

Your dreams, with your effort, can become your reality.

We Survived the Nemo Blizzard

My husband, Al Sequeira and I who live in Rochester, Massachusetts and tried to survive the Nemo Blizzard that arrived, Friday, February 8, 2013.  We were determined to wait for the power to come back on when it went off at 11pm.  With high winds of hurricane force that was not to be. 


Saturday morning, the freezing air hit me full force when I pulled the covers off to get out of bed.  It was only 34 degrees in the house.  I couldn't bring myself to take off my warm pajamas so I kept them on layered with a pair of winter fleece slacks.  My housecoat was not going to leave my body for any reason so I kept it over the clothes.  An added cardigan sweater and sweatshirt made it bearable to get out of bed, but not until I overlapped them with my hospital socks I wore to bed with another cold pair of socks.  You can’t be a candidate for Miss USA during storms of this sort.
 

Twenty minutes after Al and I weren't downstairs in the kitchen, our fingers felt numb so we put our winter gloves on feeling sort of silly.  Our daily morning hot cup of coffee was not going to happen so we took a cold drink and some muffins from the counter.  Our bodies craved something hot.
 

Within a half hour, our heads were so cold that Al pulled his Patriot's hat out and I found a white winter hat that I pulled down below my ears.  Our goal was to get warm so I tore out the winter blankets and Al sat in his recliner while I cuddled on the couch.  All our thickness of clothes and blankets didn't help our nose from being painful in the freezing temperature.
 

My next move was to take off our hats and I dug for two ski masks to keep our nose warm to prevent frostbite.  At the time looking hilarious, we took pictures of ourselves.  The moment seemed comical on how we were dressed being in our house.  Within two hours, nothing was funny.  By late afternoon, I felt I'd go out of my mind if our heat didn't come back on to thaw my body.
 

Al casually mentioned that he should have thought to bring our Colman propane stove in last night.  My eyes widen with hope of survival, "We have a propane stove!" Instantly, my thought went to hot tea, soup, grilled cheese…anything HOT. 
 

Al had completed two months of back to back surgery so he couldn’t shovel through almost two feet of snow to get to the stove in the barn out back.  Our son, John, arrived a half hour later and saved our insanity by getting the stove.  At 5pm, I had my first hot anything!  I don’t know which was better; the hot tea going into my cold body or just holding the cup in my hands.  We followed with a hot cup of soup. I thought I died and went to Heaven.
 

Our yard had been plowed out during the early morning hours Saturday morning and we were waiting for a second swing to clear the remaining heavy snow that drifted back onto the driveway.  We were blocked in with snow and getting outside was impossible.
 

The Rochester Counseling on Aging Senior Center offered a shelter for people with no power and we were both getting ready to prepare for the move once we could get out. Our garage doors were electric so we thoughts of calling the Rochester Police once we could walk to the street to get picked up.  Our driveway didn’t get plowed until the next morning. 
 

By 7pm, we just wanted to be warm and thought cuddling in bed would be the next sensible move.  We honestly thought we could suffer one night and survive and the power would return by morning. 
 

Nothing in the world was going to make me peel off my four-layered clothing to get into bed.  I ran my hand over the cold mattress and stared at it for a good ten minutes trying to mentally prepare myself to jump into something so bone-chilling.  Was this going to be worse?
 

I added two comforters on the bedcover and got depressed seeing the switch to our electric blanket.  How spoiled we become and take a push of a button for granted.  Al took off his winter snow pants thinking he’d be too hot during the night. Too hot!  I advised him not to remove anything warm but he was sure he’s sweat. Sweat comes from too much heat and we had none!  Within ten minutes, he pulled his snow pants back on that became numbing from being off his body.
 

We looked at each other seeing strangers in bed with ski masks, gloves, our winter four-layered clothes and thought we were out-of-our-minds fighting this disaster that could kill us staying in temperatures in the thirties.  He was congested from a cold and we were both heart patients with my added problems with diabetes. I wanted to cry from the mental frustration but the tears would have turned to ice going down my face.
 

By morning my prayers weren’t answered.  Everyone we knew in Rochester had no power.  Within two hours, our friends, Bob and Rachel Constant from New Bedford, had regained their power and invited us to stay with them.  Our daughter, Debbie Dutra from Berkley opened their doors to us, but we wanted to be close to home with so many doctors’ appointments facing us that week in Dartmouth.  We had to make a trip home to get food out of our freezer and into the Constant’s to save it.
 

Our dreams of just a few days with no power turned from Friday night the 8th to Wednesday morning on the 13th.  We are so thankful for not having our pipes freeze on us.  I thank God we had loving friends to take us in for a longer period than any of us expected.  We discovered our friendship was strong and enjoyed the time together. 
 

I will never forget this nightmare experience and will forever feel for every person suffering from any catastrophes from storms.  I can’t imagine the pain and heartbreak with people who lose their homes.  We never know until we walk in someone else’s shoes.  


 

The Frustration of Families with Alcoholics and Drug Addicts

 By Alberta Sequeira

 

        (Excerpt taken from What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict: In Their Own Words, due to be published by Ms. Sequeira in the late spring or early summer of 2013. This Narrative Non-Fiction is written by thirty-four alcoholics and drug addicts from all walks of life).


        You hear and read that alcohol abuse is a Family Disease and yet it’s not treated that way.  We have AA, Al-Anon and Alateen meetings daily, with the family members going to their separate meetings behind closed doors; the alcoholic to the AA meeting, the parents and siblings to the Al-Anon meeting, and the teens to the Alateen meeting.

        They group together and keep everything that was discussed to themselves; they don’t share what they’ve learned with each other, or discuss their feelings about what they’ve heard, or especially what each person needs to help them understand how they enable the abuser, and what to do to show the addict that he/she is loved and has the support of the family.  Some professionals only work with the alcoholic abuser, cutting out the family entirely, leaving the addicted to fight their own battle, even when they’re not in enough of a healthy emotional state to make a good choice with their lives.  

        What is a family member taught behind these so-called closed door meetings? “The alcoholic has to do it on their own.  They have to reach rock bottom.  Don’t worry about them, take care of yourself.  Go on with your life as normally as you can.  Separate yourself.”  This is actually teaching every family member not to communicate and work together with their loved one who is on a death path.
       

        This belief, which we’ve been taught for years, that “they have to reach rock bottom” is so sad.  Lori and Richie’s rock bottom were their deaths.  There is no need to let a person get so deep into their addiction that they reach the stage of dying.  They suffer emotional and mental pain, which can institutionalize them and lead to suicide, when a family can pull together as a unit to give the love and support from the very moment of the discovery that there is a problem.  Alcohol and drugs become a problem when they cause serious disruptions in any form with their lives or others.
 

        On April 11, 2011, my husband, Al, and I met with Steven Meunier, Policy Advisor to Senator John Kerry in Boston, Massachusetts, to modify a change in the Patient Privacy Act, to allow immediate family (parents, and/or siblings), access to medical information which can be used to help a substance abuse patient get the proper treatment, primarily when a physician determines that the patient may be in a life-threatening situation because of their addiction.  We believe that the patient should have the “right to privacy,” but as the law stands now, it can actually be detrimental to their health and well-being.  We believe it defeats the purpose.  In my opinion, the Patient Privacy Act is as much an enabler as family.
 

        Our legal four-page letter with the modification steps was sent to the Substance Abuse and Mental Administration in Maryland.  The letter is now in Washington, D. C. waiting an appointment to be scheduled with the Senate and House of Representatives to hear our case.  In October of 2012, we met with Maria Connor, the District Liaison for Massachusetts Senator Michael J. Rodrigues, to help us move our case sooner.  This is still in progress.
 

        I truly believe that if something is not working, a change has to come.  This is an epidemic that has taken over the family unit around the world.  Families need to get more involved with their loved one’s treatment, before they are at the final stage of killing themselves.


 

STOP! You're running too fast.

I think we are all running too fast without taking the time to think about what we are doing with our lives or where we are actualy going. A lot of us like to follow the crowd. No one wants to be left behind. In fact, we do it so often, we may have forgotten that we have a mind of our own.

Like college kids going to parties and drinking or taking drugs until they pass out. I guess that’s wild fun. How many sign up with the excitement of upcoming parties instead of studies? Is it something you figure can be done the last minute at night, rushing the homework or copying the answers from someone so you have time for the wipeout? I often wonder how many people in college actually take out a loan and pay for it on their own. What is the percentage of parents struggling to pay for the courses for four years? My reasoning is from thinking that maybe education isn’t taken seriously to get ahead in life when it’s paid for by someone else.


Why is an adult experience wasted because we don’t realize our mistakes until we are older. Our children don’t listen to our mistakes because they know it all. “We’re too old to understand them,” they say. There has to be a high percent of people who would give anything to go back and make that other decision that we thought was right when we were younger. Events we thought were fun, distroyed our lives, families and relationships.

Many counselors, doctors and motivational speakers are trying so often to reach the substance abusers that the addicted must block their eyes to our life-saving messages because our kids don’t know how to live without a drink or taking drugs. No one wants to solve a problem on their own, talk about their past, what is depressing them in life or feeling abandon. Too many pills are passed out from doctors and pharmacies to numb us so we don’t have to deal with our problems. Walk-in clinics or emergency rooms are loaded with people complaining of pain so they can walk out with the drugs, instead of pleading for help.

How do we stop all this? Too many families are losing loved ones from this disease, children left to face a world with a parent who died from this demon, which causes them to follow the same path. No one communicates anymore. We’re all too busy rushing to work, fighting silently with harrassment in classes, bullying, or living in confusion, fear and abuse in an alcoholic family. We become ashamed to talk about it, when actually, facing and sharing your pain and abusive family life, saves you and stops the merry-go-round. Someone has to speak up to stop it from continuing.

I think we need to start with grammar school kids with a class on this. Kids learning abuse when they shouldn’t have it in their world at this young age. Our world and families have taken God out of it, there is no interest in what each family member is up to, or whatever blind events coming our way. We need time to catch up.

I hope my new book What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict: In Their Own Words helps young people to see where they are heading when it’s published. Until then, read my two other alcoholic books; Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcoholic Family in Crisis and its sequel Please, God, Not Two; This Killer Called Alcoholism to learn the many lessons I’ve left in both books. Read all the mistakes I had to admit so I could try and help all of you; read my private talks to the addicted. These are not just memoirs; they are books you could title What Not to Do. You have a choice of paperback or Kindle on Amazon.

 

A New Year of Hope and Recovery

Make 2013 your year to get out of denial

How many of us are going to remember to add the year 2013 on our checks or any event planning? I swear the older I get, the faster the years fly by quietly.

Everyone is making their New Year’s resolutions. I guess the most popular one is our diet. We promise ourselves to get our bodies and our minds healthy and develop the energy from the good foods to help us get there. Even as little as ten pounds can put a tremendous amount of pressure on our organs. Our brains may not function as well when we are far off from what is considered to be our normal weight for our height and frame.

I wonder how many substance abusers consider changing their habit and actions to get into the same frame of mind to recover. Do you still omit that desire because it’s too much fun following the crowd? Are you too weak to do it alone but refuse to reach out to professionals to help you? In other words, living in denial is better than doing anything about the drinking or drug use. You say it’s too hard and you’ve tried many times to only fail at the struggle.

It all stems from looking honestly at where you are heading and getting out of that denial. This disease will kill. No one thinks death from their action can happen to them. Do not give in to hopelessness; instead you have to grab onto hope. If you have faith in yourself and the professional process, you will come to trust and believe strongly in recovery.   

You have to focus on the end result in order to reach it. Do whatever it takes. What matters is that you develop the desire to return to a life without using. It’s a step that is done one moment at a time.

Doing something that is scary, or not believing you can achieve it, is the scary part. The solution is going forward with that fear because you will come to see that the first step lessens your fright. Having the want to get better and starting the process probably made you think doing so would kill you. Slowly, you are gaining wisdom. Once you realize that the walk toward recovery or not giving in to the temptation to drink or take that drug was not that hard, you can keep going down that path with being healthy. You worry about giving up what you think is your security or your need for that daily drink, drugs or prescription pills is actually the negative part that holds you back. It’s not going to be easy but the rewards outweigh the chances of dying.

Your minds are programmed to think that you can’t change so the negativity keeps you at the distance of accomplishing your recovery. You’re drinking friends may laugh at you for saying you are again going to quit drinking. Family members maybe tired of hearing you will stop but you have continued the same pattern with substance abuse. This is your battle. Family can support you but you have to take the action.

The negative thoughts show up when you want to stop; confrontations, the shakes, the aloneness, or other feelings from coming off your addiction. What happens from the fear is that you stay stuck.

 Stop and study where you’re stuck; observe your behavior and thinking so you can change it. Recognizing where and what your fear is will change your reprograming level so that change will occur. Believe in the professionals who want to help you. A high percent are recovering alcoholics and drug users are counselors. They know all your fears and weaknesses.

Work with your family members who have suffered in their own ways. No one comes out a winner in an alcoholic family because it’s a family disease affecting every one of us. Talking about your problems and past is what heals you. Don’t be like my husband and daughter who refused to talk about their hurts and emotions and choose to die than face them.  

I’ve completed a book titled What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict; In Their Own Words. I’m having it edited and hoping for an agent or publisher to believe in the book written by thirty-four addicts telling their stories on how they recovered. They are from all walks of life. It’s a research book not only to help other addicts, but family members wanting to know what your loved one needs from you to help them recover. It’s a book for doctors and counselors to study to see a different path to help the substance abuser.

I’ll end by posting what one woman wrote in What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict that had her take the first step to recover. I’m sure you will relate to her fears and emotions because my daughter, Lori, had the exact same physical symptoms.

I was tired of getting sick, my hands shaking, my vision deteriorating, my nose bleeding, my bowels moving sporadically, the violence and running from many situations being paranoid to the point of staying home all day (I had a job, a husband, family), not sleeping and not feeling safe. ~CW

Make 2013 your year to get out of denial. Watch for What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict coming soon.  I will post the publication and the contributors are hoping to help me launch my book with telling “their” stories!

Conversion is an act of opening our hearts up to let God enter

Conversion Testimony Of Famous Spanish Author Maria Vallejo Nagera at Medjugorje

 
Maria Vallego Nagera

(Alberta Sequeira) It seems to me that "Faith" is a very touchy subject to a lot of people in our world. Since it's the Christmas season, I want to keep Jesus in our hearts.  Here is a site on youtube for you to listen to with the conversion of this author who also had lost her meaning of believing and keeping God in her heart.

 

Video
.
Excerpt of Maria's witness given in Medjugorje at the 2009 youth festival.
I have to admit that at that time, even having been considered a Catholic all my life, my faith was tepid. I was a “Sunday Catholic”, always bored at the celebration of the Mass, not really understanding most of its parts, and always trying to make excuses to avoid going to the church. My parents have raised me Catholic, the schools I attended were Catholic, but no real feeling of God lived in our family or in our hearts. I like to describe my family as “social Catholics”: we attended Mass every Sunday, yes, but with no real feelings, only going through the motions, flowing with the Spanish catholic crowd. If all of our friends and family members were churchgoers in Madrid, we were going to do the same no matter what. I remember trying fiercely to convince my two friends during that trendy lunch that they were going to explore a senseless, ridiculous way to approach God. We were rich, we were young, we were happy healthy mothers of beautiful children, we had attractive husbands that adored us. In other words, we had the world in our hands.

Medjugorje Christmas Message: Jesus speaks and Our Lady Remains Silent

                     

Our Lady’s Message to the visionaries in Medjugorje

December 25, 2012

“Our Lady came with little Jesus in her arms and she did not give a message, but little Jesus began to speak and said: "I am your peace, live my commandments." With a sign of the cross, Our Lady and little Jesus blessed us together.”

 By Alberta Sequeira

Christmas is a time of excitement with each person waiting for that special gift; Kindles, cameras, videos games, engagement rings, a trip, clothes, suitcases, jewelry, cars and our list can go on forever.

I wonder how many wake up and just say, “Happy Birthday, Jesus?”  Do we thank Him for all he has given us throughout the year? Al and I lost our daughter, Lori, but I know God has blessed us with our family members. My father always told me, “Alberta, family is the most important thing in life. I guess we learn that after we lose a loved one, especially when the world watched the tragedy of innocent lives taken at the Sandy Hook Elementary School or a sick individual who killed two fire fighters who had responded to a call in Webster, New York. Our world is full of mentally disturbed people who go unnoticed or their family isn’t aware how they can cause harm to others.

There are thousands of families who have serious problems with their young sons or daughters. I read the message from Jesus on Christmas day to the visionaries, “I am your peace, live my commandments.”

Peace will come to families once we all open our eyes to what is missing in our children lives and our own; prayer and God! Individuals may have accomplished taking the word God out of documents, religious writings on school walls  , sayings prayers in schools, but He and His name won’t be erased from this world.  Why? Because it’s His World, not ours!

It doesn’t matter what our religion is but we have allowed our children to rule us. They give us excuses like, “I’m too tired from celebrating with friends to get up early to attend Mass, it’s boring, or I just don’ want to go,” and parents allow it. Heaven forbid we should make them do something they don’t want to do!  

I can’t count how many times, especially in the winter, when my parents made my brothers and sister and I go to church. I dreaded getting out of that warm bed. My parents are both gone but when I look back, I think of how special they made Sundays. Returning home from Mass, our house was full of the wonderful aroma of our mother’s Sunday dinners that she had cooking in the stove, while Dad turned on the lively Polka music (Mom was Polish) on the stereo. He would read his Sunday newspaper and we talked for hours over dinner when it was served. It was a must for all family members to be seated at the table. It was there that we leaned who did what all week and bonded as a family. Sundays always started with bringing Jesus into our hearts and many unseen graces after receiving Communion. It were those graces that helped us during the rest of the week to turn to God when we needed His guidance.     

We are cheating our children of one of the greatest gifts on Earth; faith. I’m not talking about just the Catholic belief. Your sons and daughters are missing the important closeness to God in their lives; a practicing faith to know He is always there for them when tragedy arrives or to know God is there when we need strength to make decisions from right and wrong. Without realizing it, you could be giving your children the blessing of knowing that they are never alone with a God they can turn to when they feel alone.

Without my parent's teaching of a loving and merciful God, I don’t think I would have made it through the loss of our daughter, Lori Cahill, in 2006 at thirty-nine years old from her addiction to alcohol abuse. My trust in God helps me remember that He has a reason for everything in our lives. We just don’t understand it while we are here on Earth.  

The last remark Jesus stated was, “Live my commandments.”  Do our kids even know what commandments God gave us? My belief is that so many of them and their actions with alcohol and drug abuse, violent crimes including murders, rapes, stealing, break-ins and more, could highly be related to no guilt or consequences from doing wrong. They have no one to account to for their wrong doings. They fear no one in authority anymore.

I use to wonder reading the bible why it continuously said, “Fear the Lord!”  I’d got so confused and thought Why would you fear a God Who is supposed to be all loving and merciful? It took years for me to understand that remark. Out of the blue, it hit me. If we all feared the Lord, we would think twice before harming others or doing criminal acts because we would have the knowledge that at the end of our lives, we would face God with the commandments we didn't keep. Children would realize that there is going to be punishment. Not having God in their hearts, or sadly the training or education on Him even existing, they don’t fear Him or know they are sinning.

There are other monthly messages from Our Lady to six visionaries in Medjugorje, which is a tiny, remote village in Bosnia. Since 1981, from the young ages of ten to sixteen, they have all been given daily messages from the Blessed Mother and they are still seeing Her. She is giving each of them ten secrets that will be revealed to the world by a priest who they have already chosen to deliver them when each receives all ten. There are two visionaries left to get one more secret. To keep up with this information on this world event that will open up to the world, go to http://ingodscompany2.blogspot.com. This is a wonderful Catholic site for anyone from any faith to learn why millions are flocking to Medjugorje; a village that I was blessed to have been called to in 1998.  A village I call “A Sample of Heaven.”

View Alberta Sequeira's websites at www.albertasequeira.com or www.albertasequeira.wordpress.com or email her at [email protected]

 

 

 

Doctors are Human

Doctors and their mistakes

When the medical team makes a serious mistake that can actually kill us

Today, I’m touching on the topic with doctors and their mistakes. Why? Because a week ago, it hit home! Isn’t it true? Anything that affects us personally makes us sit up and take notice when the medical team makes a serious mistake that can actually kill us.

Something as simple as detecting a gallbladder attack has to be a normal routine exam for doctors. Only my husband’s wasn’t discovered for over a year, if not longer. He had been constantly told by three doctors that his discomfort in his stomach and vomiting numerous times was from his hiatal hernia that had pushed half his stomach into his chest. Maalox and a special diet were to be followed. These special instructions never stopped his symptoms: throwing up, chills for over an hour followed by sweats, leaving his pajamas and bed sheets drenched. No fever seemed to show up. He had multiple hospital stays from aspiration pneumonia from so much vomiting.

Late the next afternoon, he suddenly got nauseated, vomited four times and had severe stomach pain. From his having had a heart attack two years ago, I rushed him to the Emergency Room. November 27th, my husband was to start a series of three tests to have the surgery to bring his stomach down to where it belonged. After an endoscopy and colonoscopy, he came home feeling good with no bad symptoms.

Late the next afternoon, he suddenly got nauseated, vomited four times and had severe stomach pain. From his having had a heart attack two years ago, I rushed him to the Emergency Room.

If it wasn’t for the doctor on call, we might have been at square one sending him home with the same results for over a year; acid reflex. My husband’s blood pressure was 253/115 and my fears rose when morphine didn’t touch his pain for over five hours and three pills of nitroglycerin under his tongue didn’t drop his blood pressure. 

The doctor ordered the same regular past tests he’s had over and over again: EKG’s, blood test, chest x-rays, etc.  With no results, she went one step further and ordered him to take a drink for a cats-scan. The results: a serious inflamed and infected gallbladder that had been over-looked for a year.

Someone might say to us, “Well, at least they found the problem.” But it goes deeper than that. Five days in the hospital with antibiotics in an IV and a day set for surgery. What a relief!  The infected organ would finally be out of his body never to cause him to suffer with this undetected illness.

Only it wasn’t that simple. I arrived at the hospital hoping to see a smile on my husband’s face after surgery showing he was ready to get on with life from a bad nightmare. 

Instead, I met the surgeon and found out that his gallbladder was so infected, swollen and inflamed they had to close him up with two drains. Eight weeks is the plan with these two drains before surgery can be attempted again. The surgeon also informed me that my husband had a mild second heart attack from the infection.

We are the only ones responsible for our bodies and healthcare. I understand doctors are human, but how long does one continue down the same path believing a patient has a certain problem, even if their treatment isn’t making them better? Why does one doctor believe the other after a year of no relief? Shouldn’t the first reaction be to get deeper test to find why this patient has been so sick?

I truly believe, if the ER doctor wasn’t determined to get an answer why my husband was so sick, he might have died from a heart attack or from the infection that had traveled through him for a year. I thank God she was on call that afternoon.

 I am writing this to make you aware that we are the only ones responsible for our bodies and healthcare. If an illness is not getting better with medicine, look elsewhere with another doctor or demand further tests. Loving our doctors personally will not save us.

Faith. What turns us away from it?

A reality that we have to face; death.

I think I maybe hitting on a subject people get uncomfortable talking about in our world today; faith, spirituality and belief in God. I myself had stepped away from the church for over fifteen years after I had a panic attack in church.

In thje 1970s I was struggling with trying to control my marriage with an alcoholic husband.In the 1970’s, I was struggling with trying to control my marriage with an alcoholic husband. At the time, I didn’t realize that I pushed my body and mind beyond what it could handle; living in abuse and a daily life of confusion.

From experiencing my first panic attack, I spent many months in fear being in an enclosed area or event that I couldn’t get up and leave. I even had a small breakdown one morning, and I walked in slow motion and could only talk above a whisper. Isn’t it sad what we put ourselves into because a person doesn’t want to change or get help, and we stay locked in doing nothing. I look back and see how much sicker I was than my husband.

In March of 2012, I wrote A Spiritual Renewal; A Journey to Medjugorje for many reasons. First it was to share my relationship with my father, Brigadier General, Albert L. Gramm. He was one of the commanding officers of the 26th Yankee Division in WWII, and he fought throughout Europe in some of the famous battles like Metz, Lorraine and The Battle of the Bulge.

He had promised the Blessed Mother during the war that if she got him home safely to his family; he would say the Rosary every day for the rest of his life.In 1990, my parents were living in South Dennis with my brother, Joe and his family. Dad was dying of cancer. I watched him struggle everyday trying to say the rosary. I didn’t know that he had promised The Blessed Mother during the war that if she got him home safely to his family; he would say the devotion the rest of his life.

He got weaker and couldn’t concentrate on his prayer and our family started said it for him. It was the first time that I learned the beautiful devotion and came to realize that it was the story of Jesus and Mary’s life.

Each day I watched my father come closer to leaving this world. His death brought me back to my faith and God. It was a reality that we have to face; death.

Miracles happened to me after he died, and it brought me to a tiny remote village in Bosnia called Medjugorje. It’s there that Our Lady has been appearing to six visionaries daily since 1981 giving them ten secrets. When they all receive them, the secrets will be revealed to the world by the priest they already chose. There are two visionaries waiting for one more secret. I believe my pilgrimage to Medjugorje made me see a “Sampler of Heaven.” I believe I was called by Our Lady and given the faith and strength to go down an unfamiliar path; a painful one from losing a husband and daughter to their addiction.

I became a four-time award winning author and an Awareness Coach who is now reaching out to other substance abusers. I talk at women’s organizations, church functions and to the public on “My Spiritual Change Within” from my trip.

A Spiritual Renewal is about family, love and miracles. It touches on how we wait too long to learn who a loved one is all about. I had let my father’s great military status go with him.

For believers, especially those who have strayed from their faith, this book could be the key needed to open a door to a journey back to God. In a world that is learning how not to believe, disillusioned by church scandals, distracted by TV, the Internet, and a busy lifestyle, A Spiritual Renewal; A Journey to Medjugorje could be just what is needed to get those from all spiritual viewpoints back on track.

A Spiritual Renewal is available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon.

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