Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Broken Heart

Among the many lies I've told myself through the years, the one that "...I'm not hurting anyone but myself..." has come up a lot the past few weeks.  I hear something similar from lots of drunks so I know I'm not alone in this idea.

My wife has a sponsee who has a sister-in-law she's very close to.  The sort of relationship that you hear of often in the rooms - after she sobered up about 30 years ago, she met the sister-in-law who led to the husband (which is how she became the sister-in-law) so they're close - like sisters - now.  They have been for a long time.

About 16 years ago, sister figured out she and her hubby couldn't have kids so they adopted a beautiful baby daughter.  This completed something in them and they devoted their lives to this gift in their home.  It's probably telling too much where this story is going to suggest they might have checked the ingredients label a little more closely if they were concerned for their well being...

The baby grew into a child with some behavior problems but, in talking with other parents, they felt (and feel) there is nothing this child won't outgrow - the challenges just seemed to get progressively more serious though until, at 13, this girl was now completely out of their control.  She was running away from home often, was clearly on a path that included drugs and alcohol and was starting to suffer from some of the physical and legal consequences in a serious way.

Occasionally, daughter would "come to her senses" and submit to treatment centers, go with her aunt to an AA or NA meeting. and really talk like prodigal daughter headed toward starting over.  They tried several modes of treatment.  Joined a church with an active, supportive youth program.  They went through family counseling.  They "did it all."

About two years ago, on one of her escapades, the daughter (then 14) wound up pregnant.  In the course of one her more lucid moments, she convinced the family that she really wanted to have and raise this baby.  This was what would give her the sense of direction and purpose she despaired of finding on the streets.

Again, we know the familiar story.  Shortly after the birth, the daughter was running and gunning again and sister and hubby had to go through the difficult process of suing for custody of their granddaughter since daughter was dealing with increasingly complicated legal consequences of her choices.  The cycle continued to repeat itself (every few months coming home and "this time really meaning it" that she wanted to restart her life).

Our state is trying some "new" things with youth offenders and hope fared high around Thanksgiving last year when the daughter (now 16) "gave herself up" to the authorities and they offered her a plea whereby she could check herself into a new treatment program and be released (with no record) in  a year - maybe 6 months if she really did well.  It was not exactly Courier and Ives when the sister, hubby and, granddaughter showed up at the treatment facility on Christmas Eve for their family Christmas celebration, but for the first time in several years, it seemed like there was hope that at least they would know their daughter was safe on the holidays.

The guard might have been less than polite when he informed them at the door that the daughter had left an hour before they got there.  She had said she just couldn't abide by their silly rules about smoking and she couldn't stay.  So she ran.

Sister collapsed as they were leaving.  The ambulance was there almost immediately but they said that, by the time they got  her to the hospital a few minute later, she'd had two major heart attacks.  Since she's 55 years old and had no history of heart disease (her or her family), they ran her through all the tests and found, well, nothing.  The only thing the doctor could suggest that caused it was that it must have been stress in her life.

While she was in a coma in intensive care on Christmas day, her kidneys started to shut down.  The doctor said it was time to call in the family.  The day after Christmas, when pressed as to what was really going on, the doctor shook his head and said she was "...dying of a broken heart."  That was his medical diagnosis.

She rallied for a couple of days but signs took a turn for the worse on the 29th.  The family has been in constant vigil with her but she hadn't regained consciousness since Christmas Eve.

Yesterday, on 1/2, she woke up for the first time, recognized her sister-in-law and said "I love you."  As of this writing, she is still in intensive care.  Since there is still nothing deemed physically wrong with her, she could be released at any time - or, well, who knows...

No one has heard from the daughter.

God is a big God but...


Little M said...

I truly believe that spiritual/mental/emotional issues can make themselves known in the physical realm of our bodies. In fact, I think that it is probably common. My husband and I separated for a few months last year and within the first few weeks I was suffering chest pains that were scary enough for me to seek a medical opinion. Nothing was found and since our reconciliation I have had no further "heart" pains.

You can call it stress if you want, but the truth is, life with my husband was much more stressful than life without him (at that time.)

Stress is a cop-out in my opinion. We need to investigate the emotional/physical link more in the health/science community.

Syd said...

Sad stuff. I hope that she will recover, get to an Al-Anon meeting, and discover that there is a Higher Power for her and for her daughter too. I hate what I put myself through for so many years. Now I know better.

Mary Christine said...

To read this, I had to put the football game on mute, I had to leave the computer to stuff some reeses peanut butter cups in my mouth, and mostly I had to cry.

I pray. That is all I can do.

It does remind me of something I heard though - that alcoholism is the only disease that can actually kill people who don't have it.

Sounds like my life with my precious daughter for so so so so many years. Only I didn't have a heart attack. I thank God I had AA in my life or I think I would have died or at least have wanted to.

I am so sorry. All I can do is pray, but that I will do.

Steve E said...

Ed, you lay this story out to be so easily followed, and I became more sad at every turn. This is the kind of saga which leads some to wonder, "Where is God? Does God really care?"

Since I can never know the outcome, or the reasons behind God's Plan, I rely on Faith, belief in my Higher Power, God.

But faith alone is not enough, I am finding. I also must TRUST God, that all is/will be right in His worls.

I ended up praying for all those involved here, and for Peeps all over the world in like situations. And there are many....

Love, and PEACE!

Pam said...

Like Mary, I was thinking of my daughter as well.
Love just equals pain as far as I'm concerned.
But I will hit "publish your comment", then I will say a quick prayer for this family I don't know with a story that I do.

dAAve said...

Nothing I can say here.