138: Chronic Illness in Recovery – Some Are Sicker Than Others (Sort Of)

What do you do when you find recovery, only to find out you have a chronic illness that will impact you the rest of your life? We have Drew join us to talk about Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and what it’s like to try to adjust to a new life after adjusting to a life without drugs. How do you deal with finding out that your life will not be the ‘normal’ life that you came into recovery to get? What new levels of acceptance are needed to shift to a new way of life all over again? Listen in and find out about the struggles of chronic illness in recovery. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

welcome back it’s recovery sort of i’m jason a guy who’s kinda i guess it’s a chronic illness i don’t know i feel petty complaining about it today and i’m billy i’m a person in long-term recovery i’m an act named drew i’m a person in long-term recovery and um i have four years clean i was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis relapsing and remitting multiple sclerosis specifically what does that mean good question um google it oh no no so progressive thanks for coming on joe yeah right here google it progressive ms and relapsing and remitting ms are the two most common diagnosis and with progressive it goes downhill super quick and with relapsing or emitting it gets bad and then it goes into remission and gets a little better you still deal with some of the problems that you accumulated and then it’ll relapse and and you know take a downward spiral again do the up and down thing so so ms multiple sclerosis yes tell us about that what is that so who doesn’t know so multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease your body attacks itself so it’s based on your nerves and the myelin coating around your nerves so imagine an extension cord the rubber coating around the actual wires is the myelin coating on your nerves so when that gets broken or open the wires are exposed and after time of using the extension cord it bends and then it gets a short in it sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t sometimes it causes a fire sometimes you can go the rest of your life without without having any problems from that extension cord and it’s pretty much like that but in your nerves in my central nervous system right so like my spine and your central nervous system as far as i understand it and i’m not a college educated guy but it pretty much controls every part of your body right is that fair yeah and um so you get lesions in your nerves all along your spine and your brain and what a legion is is that spot in the extension cord that you know is exposed and starts uh misfiring or whatnot so you get lesions in your brain and all on your spinal cord and um they say well not they say it’s it’s you’re born with ms it’s it is um hereditary but um not everybody that’s born with it it affects so it’s brought on by stress and trauma so i don’t know if you guys are familiar with an ace score but they give you like a point for every different yeah you’ve been through we did an episode yeah yeah so um apparently i got the high score on the a score yeah you know what i mean i won that’s awesome and um i also have uh ptsd from stuff that i went through as a child and um that is a is a stress stressor stress thing and um at the time i was diagnosed i had four years clean and um i was in an unhealthy relationship and we she was pregnant we were having a kid my youngest son mason and we neither of us were happy we just weren’t compatible and we were trying to make it work for the kid which wasn’t the best and um i started having vision problems and started feeling weak like come the end of the work week because i was plumbing i was doing a you know manual uh labor-intensive job come friday i’d i’d feel off and my vision would get messed up but then i would rest all weekend and i’d be like all right i’m ready to go back to work monday because like i was raised with you know a man goes to work earns paycheck swept a little bit takes care of his family and that’s what i was trying to do and um one weekend i didn’t relax though and about a month in the lights messed me up and i ended up going to hospital because i started getting real dizzy and stuff and they gave me steroids which like made me feel better instantly pretty much and i was like all right i’m ready to go like that was a sunday i was like i’m going to work tomorrow everything’s fine they were like no you got to stay for a week and get steroids in an iv and then for six months after that i was good they put me on some free medicine and um about the six month mark stuff started going downhill like i started getting dizzy um i couldn’t like piece together my my thoughts like to make it into words like i knew what i wanted to say but i couldn’t get like there was like a misfire there was it wasn’t getting from point a to point b you know what i mean and like i started slurring my words real bad like and not being able to keep my balance so like i appeared drunk all the time so they switched me medications and like stuff got better for a little bit and then it it went way down and like i couldn’t really walk i had to like relearn how to walk and and mind you at this time i had an infant you know what i mean so like if i if i would have had to have dealt with that by myself or without any support i would have i would have surely relapsed but i was so ingrained in the 12-step fellowship i go to you know sponsor sponsy family uh friends now i had a network you know i mean a support network and um they got me through that man and um i took some financial advice from my sponsor at some point and saved up six months worth of bill money and when i had to not work after the unemployment and everything ran out that six months of saved money you know um helped me and then i was still not well enough to work after that and my sponsorship family like carried me through that and then um i started instead of doing on labor-intensive jobs i figured i could do like a desk job or or like you know something like that so i i started working for a non-profit and um did good for a while but then like i got more legions in my brain and um i started for like i have really bad memory issues now like short-term memory is horrible and um i get over stimulated and overwhelmed real easy so like a simple task like that i’ve done 50 times on the computer on like a google form or whatever i know how to do it but like i can’t i can’t i get overstimulated and just like and like the anger just like skyrockets you know what i mean like i’ve always had anger issues and been and been an [ __ ] but like the ms just amplifies that so drew you you typically a pretty funny guy and i’m like yeah i’m gonna make this episode entertaining and now i’m all sad so like i should have been dead a long time ago and if ms is what i got to deal with i’ll deal with it man like i uh like i said i have four years clean when i got diagnosed man and um like nobody thought i was gonna make it dude like i was bottom of the barrel i was you know i mean a junkie like a lot of people say oh well you didn’t have it that bad i’m like no yeah i did i was homeless for years and made a lot of really poor decisions

and i’m lucky i’m still here but like like this is good man i really ain’t got no complaints now so did you have any like looking back like did you have signs early on that something might have been wrong or was the addiction to control that it didn’t really yeah no when i was using there was no signs i just always thought i was dope sick when i got clean after i’ve been clean for a little bit i did notice little things like um like out of nowhere i wouldn’t have any energy like none or like like when i got a cut it wouldn’t heal as as well as i thought it should and like some of that might have been had something to do with like hep c which i got using which i’m like cured for now i got they gave me the harbony or whatever but um like there’s different little things like um i noticed like when i was younger i did all the skating and snowboarding and stuff and i could like and just like with anybody when you’re younger you fall down you bounce right back up and you get a little older it’s not the case but like i noticed it seemed to me like i didn’t bounce back as quick as people my age like my friend my friend because you’re still not a young guy i mean yeah i’m clean i’m 35 20s right i’m 35. thank you that’s that’s flattering yeah for you to think i was in my 20s yes no i mean no i meant when you got clean yeah i was in my in my mid late 20s like i was like 27 i think yeah but um i did notice like i kind of didn’t think i’d bounce back as quick you know what i mean i feel like that’s hard to navigate or figure out when something’s wrong because some of the things you’ve described like not bouncing back as quick or being tired at the end of the work week i feel like i would be arguing with myself like is this something wrong where is this and i was and i was and a lot of commits

a lot of people do and like that’s why like a lot of people go undiagnosed for a long time until they have a really big flare up like i did you know i mean like when i couldn’t see i mean when i had the flare up that took me to the hospital to get diagnosed i literally couldn’t see barely anything i could see like figures but they were way blurry you know what i mean and um like you see me wearing glasses now but that’s because like i have astigmatism i’ve always had bad vision but i didn’t know that until like you know having ms going to the doctors i’m checking every inch of my body and 100 mris and blood work and spinal taps and all that so i now know that i need glasses but i knew it wasn’t definitely wasn’t normal you know what i mean like there was no arguing like oh this could just be you know from working hard so is that like uh well we talked with dave about spiritual bypassing i’m picturing this story of like well look how great it was drew that you got ms now you know you needed glasses you didn’t even know that before yeah no what a lucky thing i think it was a bad hand dealt but i got i can’t so with ms stress you have immediate side effects right so like if i get stressed out so i’m dealing with like a custody issue of my oldest son and dealing with his mother i get stressed and stress has an immediate physical side effect like everybody has an immediate side effect physically from stress but with me it’s to the extreme and by that i mean like i stumble i can’t walk i fall i start slowing my words and and not being able to function normally you know i mean well my new norm you know what i mean i picture your girlfriend being like drew are you stressed and you’re like no and you just fall over that’s like you liar that’s accurate that’s accurate i see i went the other whole way and be like using that as an excuse all the time like oh you got to stop bitching you’re making me stressed i’m stressed i can’t do nothing so you better stop right so like a lot of times like people invite me to do something or ask me to do something like i can’t my ms and they’ll be like well that’s that’s an excuse i’m like yeah okay like you don’t have ms man you don’t you don’t know like a lot of people are like well you don’t you don’t look sick ooh i’m like well you don’t look stupid either but here we are did the the doctor that gave you the uh the extension cord analogy was he over 60 or she no i came up with that oh did you yeah are you over 60 so the doctor told me when i was diagnosed that i needed to treat my body like a 75 year old man well maybe that’s what it is and i told him that i didn’t know how to do that i’m just picturing like when you were given that analogy i was picturing the modern generation and like everyone has that phone charging cable that’s [ __ ] up because it’s been too much and i’m like everybody would understand that that’s under 40. but we went with the extension cord all right so no yeah i get it oh yeah so i he’s saying upgrade your analogy drew

so i think the thing that really um i don’t wanna say it’s mind-blowing or it’s hard to wrap my head around is people you know who come into recovery i’m picturing me coming into recovery i have these dreams these you know new dreams arise and lost dreams awaken and all that great [  ] and i’m like yeah i’m going to do this in my life i’m going to have family i’m going to work i’m going to blobbity [  ] blood whatever i’m going to do right and then to get smacked in the face four years in right when i think i know every [  ] thing right with oh yeah bro you ain’t doing none of that right so that’s gotta be traumatized and just to kind of set that up though what did your recovery look like like before your flare-up and your diagnosis like what was your life in your recovery what did that look like in that four years okay so i went to um a long term i’ve been trying to get clean for five years and i went to a long term program it was a year long i was there for 13 months 4 days 9 hours and 36 minutes not that i was counting and went from there to managing a recovery house in a close area but a different area was about to start a job doing electric actually in baltimore city and then my oldest son’s mother got it got charged with robbing a bank so i had to put i had to drop everything and move back and um then i went through some other stuff in life like my dad died and so like life started showing up right after i got like my first year clean right and life continued to show up up till before the diagnosis and um growing up my life was kind of always chaotic i’m used to i’m used to that i think a lot of addicts are just used to the chaos but um like i i knew because i had been coming around for five years like i knew i had to get connected you know what i mean i knew i had to get you know all the stuff they say the home group to sponsor all that like i really i i dove in like with both feet you know i mean and wanted something better you know what i mean so then after moving back and and starting the custody battle and all that i i ended up going from job to job and landed on something that i love like i loved i started plumbing and um i was about to go for my journeymans and everything when i was diagnosed but like i loved my job you know what i mean because i was always raised like that should have been an indication that something is wrong plumbing sucks plumbing sucks but it was i was making a good living like i was making good money and i could do side jobs in a couple of hours and make you know what i mean a nice pocket full of money and like i was in route to like buy a house and [  ] and like that’s a big deal you know what i mean especially coming from my family of using addicts most of them don’t own houses or have anything going for themselves like i thought i had arrived you know i mean i was like king kong you know i mean i [ __ ] rolls downhill payday’s on friday don’t bite your nails damn skippy i’m sorry i interrupted you working hard found a career you loved yeah yeah and then um i got diagnosed with ms and i took my vacation when i was in the hospital getting the steroids and then stuff was good for like six months after so did they immediately diagnose it as ms oh yeah they looked in my eye and told me yeah they look in their eyes so they like shine light or whatever so what it is is um there’s something that blocks what they call blue light it’s not like the color blue i’m sure you’ve heard of it if you’ve got kids and they want to blue light glasses whatever blue light yeah yeah yeah so there’s something in your eye behind your retina that blocks the blue light from penetrating straight back to your brain so that burns out when you have ms when when you get a big flare up it it goes away yeah so you got to watch out for blue light now so it’ll damage your brain it it doesn’t damage it so much as it it just strains it so like a muscle like when you lift a bunch of weights it gets tired and then so like if the blue light if blue light keeps coming or whatever through it like stresses and strains my brain and i just don’t function as well i gotta be like canceling stuff on my glasses oh okay i’m gonna say isn’t that in the computers and the games oh yeah i’m on this you got blue blockers yeah i got the blockers you are like a 70 year old man i’m okay with it i’m comfortable with myself enough to know and be completely fine with it like so you’re you’re king kong in it you got the world by the balls you’re about to buy a house you’re you’re plumbing your heart’s content making all this loot you got some kids your girlfriend here and there whatever custody you’re you’re going out and doing events you’re hiking whatever the hell and then you get hit with this yep and so like my boss is in recovery too so like he and he had had somebody in his family that had ims if you understood it a little bit he kept me working a lot longer than i should have as soon as i started like getting balance issues that’s when he should have cut me you know anything but he let me work a lot longer and he put me on less strenuous jobs like he he kind of babied me you know what i mean but on one day the last day i worked it was uh we were all on the same job we were trying to finish this job up and i’m the young guy i’m the smallest and i’m loading on the totem pole so i always did the climbing and um i got up in the eve or whatever and was hanging a plumb bob to a three inch fitting which is something i’d done a thousand times this particular day my vision and everything was off and i the three inch fitting was here and i was hanging the plumb bob over here but it looked to me like it was like close so i was like trying and they were like what are you doing i’m like they’re like drew you’ve done this a million times like what are you doing i’m like it’s in there like mark it like give me this all can you you know what i mean and they were like no dude get down like this and then when i got back to the shop the boss was like can you come into the office like talk to you and i went in there i was like look i know man i get it thank you like it wasn’t i knew it was coming i seen it coming because like i had started to deteriorate you know what i mean and um i had been to see a specialist at that point and then he told me that i was at some point it was going to get worse and i thought yeah you say that but like i don’t know you all know me you know i’m young i’m invincible i’m good and i quickly found out that i was not

so i feel like that’s a place where and when our vision of what our life is supposed to be gets robbed from us in this kind of way like i you know me i’m the guy who struggles with depression like i start thinking immediately i’m going into a depression i’m thinking about not being here no more like i can only imagine yeah no i went through that um i mean you’re talking to me four years after diagnosis and i’m at a spot where i’m okay with it and i’ve learned to cope with certain things but like i haven’t always been like that you know i mean it was it was hard because like especially and the physical part is it’s like um what’s the word like uh emasculating right like i was always raised like a man can do this and they can do that i can’t even now i can’t even like i’ve got to get somebody to help me put an ac in a window or like move the dryer so i can get something behind i can’t do that you know i mean open a pickle jar you know what i mean a woman’s always like here honey can you open this and you’re like yeah boom done no i’ve got to go to my wife and ask her to help me open something like a bottle of soda that hasn’t been opened yet sometimes i can’t you know i mean sometimes i got the hand strength to do it and sometimes i don’t i definitely don’t have the hand strength to like crank on wrenches anymore please help me get this pickle yeah yeah sometimes like my i can’t sometimes they just don’t work right man things just don’t work right like i wear a brace for um i get dropped foot like and most of the problems are on the left side of my body but like i can’t i can’t run no more i used to um for a little while i was trying to be healthy and like i would run and stop throwing that ain’t going on no more you know what i mean right well in our picture i think that day is coming for every last one of us when we have to face this ego that we’ve been hiding behind and can no longer open the soda bottle or the pickle jar right but i think the age that it’s coming for you is a heart a lot harder to accept yeah at 30 31 i was 31 when i was diagnosed no i might have been through i don’t know whatever i was 30 early 30s so like when i’m talking to other people and they’re like oh i did i’m like yeah i can’t i can’t do that like man you’re you’re 30 you’re you’re good i’m like no no no like i’m fighting for disability still been uh denied a couple times got a lawyer and stuff so like it’s going well now but um they don’t want to give disability to somebody’s 35 years old right i mean i’m working class i’m working age mayo i’m not so i mean i don’t i don’t get no easy road on that you know what i mean well and even the other parts of your story you shared right so you you come up against this uh realization i am not going to be able to live my life the way i thought i was this is not gonna look like it was but even after that okay there’s these glimmers of hope well all right maybe i won’t be a plumber but i can work at this desk job and help people out trying to get into recovery like that’s cool i’ll associate with this non-profit and then almost getting that shut down it’s like no it it got shut down it did so i started getting legions on my brain and um so i’ve got 13 legends in my brain and i’m not sure how many are actually leaking now but at one point like it the frustration of not being able to do something and thinking that it should be able to be done a certain way you know what i mean and like uh asking my boss for telling my boss who’s a friend that i you know what i mean i respect and love dearly you know what i mean like no it you do it this way and he’s like no you don’t i’m like listen i’m not stupid it’s done this way and then he clicks one button and shows me i’m like all right my bad or like when i start forgetting stuff and forgetting to fill out certain forms or whatever and he’s like look man i think maybe treatment coordination isn’t you know i mean what we can utilize you for maybe move you to like harm reduction like i lose my [  ] say some real inappropriate and mean things you know i mean but due to it being a organization that’s you know i mean a lot of us are friends and um in recovery themselves and understanding they worked with me but like i completely lost my [  ] i was like [  ] you you know what i mean and um and then with with the more legions and and the longer it progressed and then like the relapses so like when the ms relapses you get you i acquired certain problems and they never go away even after like it comes out of relapse and like starts to get better you still are stuck with a little bit of that problem you know what i mean so like the energy and and and the strength to do stuff or the mental capacity to not be like over stimulated or overwhelmed on doing stuff just isn’t there i can’t be held to a schedule so like i can’t i can’t work because like some days i wake up mornings are really rough in general but some days i just wake up and i can’t do nothing you know i mean except laying on the couch what are the expectations now like now that you’re here you’ve kind of come to some piece with like these are things that my life will not look like what’s the anticipation for the rest of your life like what does it look like best case scenario best case scenario i would hope that uh like i die from natural causes not ms related worst case scenario that it’d kill me in my late 40s and and and what’s your life look like until that day so it’s all on uh like life choices you know i mean so so the more stress i go under or i go put myself through the worse it’s gonna affect me right so like i try to live a a less stressful life and um i’m very fortunate um i left my ex and and i say my ex and and of course when you split up with somebody you always have like oh screw her blah blah whatever but like we just weren’t right for each other and like we we’ve moved on she’s married um i’m about to get married uh we co-parent well you know what i mean so that stress is gone i’m with uh my fiance now is very understanding and supportive and i’m kind of like a trophy husband i’m a cat man i don’t have to work i like stay home with the kids and she like pays all the bills which is something i’ve never had before like a team player and a relationship never had that so like my life is is a lot less stressful even with four kids we’ve got three full-time and one 50-50 and um it’s a [  ] show it’s crazy in my house but like it’s not i’m not really stressed like i was previously and people have kinda in my people in my life like uh different family members or different friends have kind of come to accept the fact that like i can’t do certain things you know what i mean and before like when i was first diagnosed like a lot of people um like my ex my youngest son’s mother at first was like oh well i want to take mason to the beach or i want to um travel or do this or that and like i couldn’t do those things and if i did like it would just stress me out and overwhelm me and like my body would get run down and it would just it just sucked i’d be miserable the whole time you know what i mean and like people in my life don’t expect me to do those kind of things today if i’m not up to it i can do those things but like not like i used to like i won’t go trick-or-treating i use a wheelchair which is a big hit to the manhood too but like i got tired of not doing stuff so i got a wheelchair i even got a fancy one now it’s like powered and really quick fast got a turbo on it it did yeah dude it’s quick it works like a zero radius mower it’s pretty badass so with all this avoidance of stress what’s your meditation schedule look like i have four kids billy it’s a meditation schedule shoot like things i do to like to center myself and de-stress is like i i do meetings and um a lot of people give me crap for it but like i’m a nerd and i play video games and like fantasy was my first drug anyway when i was young i got a batman belt and a mask and i was batman there was no convincing me otherwise fantasy was my escape as a kid comic books video games all that so like i do i do i play video games and like i stream on twitch and um it’s like a hobby that keeps me kinda you know what i mean busy besides the kids when the kids aren’t everything while they’re awake or whatever like i try to keep myself busy and not with things that are like quote-unquote hassle or responsibility you know what i mean so i kind of try to give myself time hmm what’s your uh what’s your how do you find you when you’re streaming phoenix gaming858 on twitch tv so anybody that wants to make sure drew’s kids don’t starve no i’m just kidding feel free to check them out um i stream with my eight-year-old we have a lot of arguments about old-school games or what he considers old schools he’s the entertainment there this episode has been brought to you in part by voices of hope inc a non-profit recovery organization made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the dignity of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment harm reduction and support resources and mentoring please visit us at www.voicesofhopemaryland.org

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so what do you i do you think the thing that’s helped you most with stress is just the fact of going through this and having to accept the situation as it is i feel like that could be such a a huge acceptance to one’s life so going into recovery you know they tell you except your powerlessness on the other and i had an easy time with that like it was real it was real rel it was completely obvious in relation to the using right exactly completely obvious i was a [  ] show but like being raised to you know i mean like i was raised with a good work at work ethic and and like this is what a man does like that was hard like so now i’m to a point where i’m i’ve reached the acceptance piece of it but like that that’s real recent dude that’s like six months six a year ago the conversation would not be going like this you know what i mean but like i’ve i’ve come to understand that like that’s just not gonna happen and anybody that can’t accept it it’s just not relevant in my life really like i okay i don’t i don’t deal with them if that’s the way you feel go ahead so i have a around 37 i got diagnosed with dermatitis which is why i said i feel petty and stupid in this conversation about my chronic illness um if it’s a problem it’s a problem i i struggle with acceptance of it you know so what happens with with mine uh my face starts to get red and then it starts if i don’t do anything long enough it starts to get like itchy and painful and then beyond that if i keep not doing nothing it’ll start being like scaly and flaking off and [  ] which i mean you know there’s some ego hits there like i like to be pretty right it makes me a little less that um so i got some creams that i can put on which are a pain in the ass because i put them on i look like i’m wearing [  ] white makeup or something all day long and blah blah and they kind of burn and sting my face all day and give me a headache and but then i put them on and then the next day it’s like well it’s not itchy but now it’s like bright [  ] red and i look like an idiot and these blotchy parts of my face and then but it it all comes from the same place of like my body attacking itself right right body deciding that some of that some of it is not being recognized as it i guess and and wanting to fix that you know there’s there’s some suggestions uh online about dietary changes i can make to help that or lifestyle changes and and you know i i toy with some of them but it’s hard to be completely all in because you know i got a cream that i can use and that’ll help me mostly and and it’s not debilitating it doesn’t stop me from a lot of [  ] it just doesn’t look that good have you had to struggle with any kind of dietary changes i feel like it’s more immediate for your so they tell you um to try keto go keto light at first you can’t make any like drastic changes the sugars love to try keto and like i have cut out a lot of soda i still drink it um like i don’t do energy drinks anymore because another lovely side effect is becoming like caffeine sensitive you know what i mean and no energy and don’t have caffeine well i mean i still do coffee you can still drink a little bit of coffee just not a lot and i still do energy but that’s like a sugar-free drink or whatever and it’s got caffeine in it but the sugar mixed with the caffeine is real bad you can’t eat like whole wheat bread is is bad for me it like makes me real sluggish and like fast food like real extremely processed foods is bad but like i still eat those things but like a little less like i try to um because like i’m a stay-at-home husband or whatever i’m a trophy husband i do all the cooking so like sometimes like i try to feed chicken feet to fit chicken and stuff into my diet and not have all that processed easy freezer aisle food just throw in the oven i try and i and i do eat better than i have but like i still it’s like you said it’s hard to be all in you know what i mean i got four kids sometimes i need to just throw some nuggets in the oven right and eat a couple while i’m getting them all squared away you know what i mean i get it uh in some of my attempts to do some of my dieting to help myself out like it’s pretty restrictive to really really go all in on it and i and i’ve tried it at times but it makes it even twice as tough because my kids are like we ain’t eating that [  ] so now it’s like you got to make two dinners and two lunches and then you know at the end of the night i put my kid to bed and i’m walking past the the [  ] cupboard that’s got all the goddamn snack cakes that they want to eat and i’m like oh that looks so good late at night i want an oatmeal cream pie oh yeah okay so okay did uh after your diagnosis like did that if how did that affect your recovery your engagement in recovery or what your recovery looked like so i couldn’t so right around the time it started getting real bad the covet happened stuff started shutting down anyway but before that before before covet hit like i was to the point where i couldn’t walk and stuff so like i tried so there’s always been zoom meetings people don’t realize that before kova there was zoom meetings but like i couldn’t find any good ones they were all like in other languages or not you know i mean very uh right far away places where they didn’t have regulators so you have two people online trying right not very not super helpful well and and you know this is a critical judging statement but they were also those kind of people that went to online meetings which was that you know before covid that was a certain type of person right right so no you’re you’re right and then a lot of my like and i couldn’t work and i couldn’t go anywhere and some of my friends that are you know still busting their ass working every day they’re like man you’re lucky you got it you got it made you collect unemployment you get to sit home all day i’m like yeah [  ] you guys this is not cool and then and then quarantine happened from kovid they’re like man this sucks i’m like i [  ] told you man i’ve been here for six months already this not but then the zoom meeting started getting you know what i mean i started seeing people that i knew and like that was awesome and during that time like is when i as i was going through the process of like learning how to like walk better you know what i mean and when i say learning how to walk it’s not that i couldn’t walk it’s just that i look like a crazy person when i did it you know like my muscles weren’t weren’t weren’t doing what they were supposed to do you know what i mean i went through some um i think it’s called incontinence right yourself yeah yeah you just shoot yourself on here right yeah okay but um so i went through all that i was i was coming out the other end of the tunnel on that stuff you know what i mean and getting better with getting changed from medication to medication or whatever and and making some life changes lifestyle changes i think everybody went through the the change in your recovery from having to do the zoom means but even more so with me like even after meeting started to open up and stuff like i can’t really go to man you know i mean and i i got i kind of got this whole autoimmune thing going on i ain’t got an immune system after i take my medicine they’re uh i don’t mean suppressants so like after i get the infusion i can’t you know i mean for three months after the medicine i’m on now for three months after i get it i have no immune system you know what i mean and i get it every six months so like there’s six months out of the year that i have a close to normal quote-unquote close to normal immune system so like i stopped i had to stop going like so many means like because early in my i went to a lot of meetings i went as much as i could i mean my first year i went to like two or three a day because i was in baltimore city and they were so accessible you know what i mean and even after i moved uh to like glenn bernier back here to cecil county like i went pretty frequently and like i had to not go as much but um i had these relationships established with like my sponsor and different friends so like i still interacted with those people and they came over we would go out to do certain things like eat or hang out or whatever but it definitely slowed down my recovery certain aspects of it slow down man like big time have you attempted to like you know because your particular brand of recovery is the 12-step version have you attempted to work the 12 steps about this specific look man i’m still working through my 12 steps just for addiction so after after i go through that you know i mean i’m on step 10 now so like after maybe but like as far as writing on like a specific it’s writing all this stuff specifically for ms i haven’t but like i i do apply it to that you know what i mean like powerlessness like i’m powerless you know i mean i’ve got it now like i’ve got to deal with it you know what i mean and um working the acceptance piece and like a six step the character defects so like all my character defects are pretty much the same but they’re like amplified or exacerbated you know what i mean like i’ve always been a smart ass and an but like and i’ve always had anger issues but like the ms when i get over stimulated or whatever like okay so i have well there’s a four-year-old and two three-year-olds now they were all three at one point whatever we’ve got three toddlers and they you know i mean dad dad dad i want i want a waffle i want a waffle but if you repeatedly say the same thing to me that gets annoying to everybody right but i will lose my [  ] you know what i will lose it like it over stimulates me it just it hurts my brain like i don’t know how else to explain it besides like it just jacks me up man well it took me 45 minutes billy but i too now have ms you see i i knew i had it he just gave me another template right but he’s annoying right so but like normally it’s like on this level but like with the ms it like just fries you dude like if you can’t hack it sometimes so if we were gonna talk about uh which is you know kind of where we hope to get to anybody else that’s gonna come into recovery get the experience of you know having these lost dreams raise up and new dreams awaken only to find through you know maybe it’s chronic illness as well which is the topic of sort of this episode but maybe it’s some other reason but all that gets shattered and crushed away what are some helpful ways or or things that maybe if you knew them beforehand would have helped you in the process that’s that’s a hard one because like at first i i went into the kicking and screaming like i was not okay with it you know what i mean i pushed myself too much and made things worse harder on myself with ms specifically i would just say like try to cut stressors out of your life you know what i mean find out why those things are stressing you and that’s with a lot of autoimmune diseases out of all autoimmune diseases stress makes things worse right and and really with everything in life stress makes things worse so like really i had to look at what were like key stressors in my life and the things that i would stress about that were like inevitable or i couldn’t take them out of my life i had to look at why that stresses me and work on that you know what i mean and it’s easier said than done but like that’s what i had to do and that’s what i did so like not being able to work and provide and like have my own money to to do things that sucks for anybody not to be able to take care of yourself because like in life and in a 12-step fellowship like they tell you like be fully self-sufficient you know i mean take care of yourself and and to better yourself you have to you know take care of yourself and do certain things so like i kind of had to reevaluate that because you know what i mean like i just can’t do certain things and i had to come to acceptance and and as far as tips to to come to that i wouldn’t know what key thing to tell somebody you know what i mean well i think what you gave us there was definitely this idea of like self-reflection right i feel like this has almost pushed you into a place of really having to sit here and reflect on man what stresses me out why do these things stress me out right which ones how can i set my life up in a way that’s meaningful and make sense to me and stop living up to these expectations that i was either given from my family of origin or whether i was giving them from society like [  ] all them stupid-ass expectations what is life for me right like that’s a deep thing all in itself yeah so like societal norms or whatever like oh by 35 you should have like 3.5 kids in a house and this time the other and i’m so not only with uh you know being an addict and then coming into recovery like i already got a late start on life and when i it feels like like right when i really got the gears turned and i was about to start accomplishing all these things the rug was pulled out from underneath me so like i had to reach another level of acceptance like i had worked on acceptance with coming into recovery like look i didn’t adult very well for the first 27 years of my life or whatever like i’m gonna start to try to do good now and then when i finally start to like stuff starts to click like it’s like no reset button you gotta you gotta figure it out and then like i went to like being a peer and i got my certification and everything and like things were going good there and i was making good money doing that too and i was good at it you know i mean i had some like life experience and job experience quote-unquote job experience before i started working in that field but then again the ms took that away from me like it’s been levels like i had to reach acceptance to here to this level and then to this level like i just had had to keep like adapting you know what i mean and i’m sure at some point in the future hopefully not near future but i’m gonna have to keep adapting and um i tell people all the time like if i didn’t have four years clean when i was diagnosed i would not be here like if i didn’t learn those tools being clean for that long i wouldn’t be able to deal with having that you know i mean you talk about having to cut out sugar and lower energy and not noticing some of the symptoms while you were using i think the answer right now is cocaine obviously a lot of energy no sugar added like methamphetamine you know i mean that could work too yeah you know uh when dave was on here talking about meditation um he’s really into this zen process he’s a zen priest he goes specifically to his practice and his mentors for the rug to be pulled out from under him which is like an interesting idea right he kind of that doesn’t sound interesting i wouldn’t want to do that well the zen process is about like having the illusion shattered and you know all this deepness and everything and i’m just wondering like what his thoughts would be on literal i mean i guess not literal i mean if i actually took a rogue out from under you but like you know a more physical piece of having the rug pulled out from under you in your life like his is more like you know people showing him psychologically where his ego does like you know what i mean like i’m just wondering what his take on this would be like i i i could see him seeing some of the benefits of it just because you get to a level of like acceptance or understanding of life that other people don’t ever have to really dig to yeah okay i see what you’re saying but like no like if i could not do it i’d just rather not do it right rather not have ms but i mean it was the hand i was dealt i i wasn’t trying to paint it pretty i know i know i know but no yeah and i guess there is benefits to the acceptance but yeah and you mentioned your sponsor or sponsorship family being a big part of your support early on yeah was that peace already there as a result of work you did or when you were diagnosed did you reach out and build that relationship that was that was already there and that’s why i say like if i didn’t have an established recovery with my first four years you know what i mean i wouldn’t have made it to today well because i previously one of the pieces of advice i got that i always kind of stick with now is that like i need to keep myself sort of grounded in my recovery because i don’t know when the storm is going to come you know anybody in recovery we’ve been through our trials and shits come up in life that kind of smacks you blindsided and all of a sudden you know you’re like it’s sort of flipped upside down and it’s like what do you do with that and it’s you know the recovery process being fundamental in my life has helped me from making it worse absolutely yeah no i had i had all those relationships just well established when i was diagnosed you know and just from taking suggestions you know what i mean keeping close and always letting know letting people in your network know what’s going on yeah which i also think gives a more realistic version of what happens in the program i mean i’ve sponsored a lot of people over the years and my likelihood to reach out to a guy that’s kept in touch with me on a regular basis and that i’m friends with and that you know i’m as a [  ] human being i gotta be honest i’m probably willing to do a little more for that sponsee that’s kept in touch with me that’s been my friend that showed up to maintain that relationship than a guy that never [  ] calls me and then all of a sudden out of the blue gives me a phone call and says oh by the way i’m getting kicked out of my house and can you help me with rent like i don’t know that i’m as likely to i mean and i hate to say that but i’m just as human being that’s the truth like i’m gonna be way more willing to help a guy that i sort of am in communication with and build a relationship with and a guy that we just have a relationship based on you asked me to help you one time two years ago right well you’re more invested right yeah i mean you’re more tied in i i think one of the things drew that you also said in this idea of like how to cope or or what to do when this kind of life-changing situation happens there was a lot of personal reflection mentioned but also this idea of like giving yourself permission for things and yourself to be different than what you expected and i find like that’s a challenge i’ve run into in my life right i set up an expectation about a situation sometimes subconsciously and i have struggled to give permission to life to be what the [  ] it is which is not looking like what i want it to be and then i struggle giving myself permission to be wherever it is i’m at right like oh well i thought i was or i want to be this other thing this model citizen or whatever the [ __ ] and like guess what i i’m not that right now i’m this you know whatever i may be in that moment i always go to like being a pervert or like in titties or something i don’t know why but that’s like i guess one of my things i don’t know but i’m like that’s who i am right now let me not try to be this pillar of the community let me give myself permission to feel how i feel yes i um you know i mean have to uh take it take it easy myself and not have so many expectations you know what i mean as far as like with the whole community piece that you were talking about like i i still i still volunteer with that nonprofit that i worked for and um well they still let me volunteer i guess whatever but like they understand that like okay maybe somewhere where drew needs to be politically correct is not the setting for him let’s let’s put him with the people that are closer to the dirt that are

that are trying to get up out of it so they don’t give a [  ] if he says something that’s like inappropriate i don’t think the people closer to the dirt is the politically correct right exactly exactly definitely prove you know i was even picturing and maybe this is a piece where like the the part of you that was an [  ] already actually came in handy but like that piece where people are telling you you know when you were telling them early on like oh i i can’t do those kind of things or i can’t come to that or i can’t participate in this and they were like oh what the [  ] you know you look healthy you look fine come on you’re 31 what whatever maybe i mean that would have been a challenging piece to give myself permission to like not try to live up to what other people were expecting of me but i almost feel like that’s a piece where being an [  ] ahead of time kind of prepared you to be like my balls man whatever yeah like a lesser person would try harder and make themselves sicker you know i did i did try at first to do things but um people that were my real friends that like so like say we went trick-or-treating with our kids or something and they see me walking on crazy you actually see me when i tried to do trick-or-treating when i was when i first got back to where i could walk but then after walking a lot up and down main street you know what i mean you see me struggling and walking with my with my family and my then girlfriend and like she was asking me are you okay i’m like no i’m not okay like my legs are flailing about and i can barely think straight but like after doing that a couple times it got to the point where i was like no [  ] you i’m not i’m i’m not doing it man i’m just not doing it you can go do whatever you want but i’m i’m good right here on the couch or you know wherever so challenging man it’s so challenging so what is your uh do you have like a new god i feel like i’m buying into society’s [  ] now with like aspirations and success like what what are you looking forward to how have you changed because i feel like we all need some kind of either hope or dream or ambition yeah i hate to use ambition but like what do you what do you got your mindset on like what is your next journey so i’m a stay-at-home dad right now beautiful i’m okay with it i feel like such a boomer saying like i just hope my kids have respect and hold the door for the ladies but like that’s it i just want to raise kids that are not little [  ] you know what i mean and like have respect for their elders and community and um just aren’t pieces of [  ] right you know what i mean and i’m focused on that right now hmm i think that’s beautiful i’m almost you’re like fighting yourself to make them not [ __ ] though i know it’s really hard not to laugh at your kid when they do something and it’s like yeah it gets that from me there i am

oh that’s great any final thoughts or anything that you were thinking about this episode that we ended up not getting to or anything else you think is pertinent information for somebody who’s maybe just entering this realization in their life as far as like the with with the chronic illness or whatever like find you a good specialist man and uh don’t be afraid to take the medicine i’m not talking like take the pain pills they try to push on you or none of that but i’m saying like at first you know i mean there’s there were some some issues with uh sex drive and you know i mean certain things not working the doctor offered me viagra and i was like i don’t need that i’m 30 years old i’m good take the medicine man like they offer it for a reason you know what i mean and um i gotta be honest when you were talking about walking kind of wonky and your nerves not acting right i was like i wonder if that made him mad at sex i don’t know why i thought that but because we’re men and like so we’re mammals and like adults have sex with their significant other right and that’s a thing and like that’s a quality of life thing so like if you’re ever in like a bad car accident and you can’t perform sexually they give you more money in the settlement because it’s a qui it’s a staple on a quality of life like they that like the the the man or the professionals or the feds or whatever right like staples like can you eat normally can you walk normally can you play with your kids can you work can you have sex yeah i mean with no issues wow you know what i mean so like that was a big issue and like i’m just now to the point where like i can have sex and not feel like i’m dying

this goes back to the whole girl on top thing for me i’m like perfect man check

this is too stressful i’m just going to lay here and you need to do all the work yeah stress i mean maybe it maybe it made you better maybe you’re a little like wiggly now where you weren’t before or something i don’t know i think it moved you didn’t even know right uh all right drew i i thank you so much for coming on man of course of course my pleasure i mean your your story is is inspiring to me i i know i can see where if i was in that position i wouldn’t feel like that’s an inspiration but to me it’s like the ability to accept and find acceptance with some of the hardest circumstances i can imagine right like that’s just [ __ ] inspiring that i can continue on my journey of of accepting life and you know getting rid of this illusion of ego and and be a better guy i love it all right okay have a good week out there guys thank you

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