... it's day 4.
Can't breathe anymore
An ocean has opened
These scars need to heal over"
("The Burning Red" – Machine Head)
A/N: Aww shit. I don't know what to say about Day 4, other than it fucking sucked. Also, I hate doctors.
DAY 4: SOMETIME IN THE MORNING
My t-shirt was practically soaked through. I'd woken up in a cold sweat again. I didn't know if I was shaking because of that, or if my muscles were continuing their rebellion against me. I zeroed in on my heart rate. I could feel the organ pumping harder than usual inside my chest. That really rattled me. I'd never fixated on my heartbeat before. Over the last few days it seemed to be a constant in my life – thudding beneath my rib cage ... thumping in my ear drums ... pounding in my temples. Between the heartbeat issue and the night terrors I felt like I was trapped in an Edgar Allen Poe story or something.
Worm had dumped me off at my mom's house after the airport. Mikey ended up spending the night with his girlfriend. I wasn't ready to face Kat just yet. I figured I would call her later on in the day ... after I could at least attempt, and probably fail, to pull myself together. When I got home, my mom noticed how bad I looked and asked me if I was okay. Yeah, right, I thought. I told her the truth – sort of. I told her I was swearing off booze. I don't think she believed me, but she put on a good mom show for me. She made me some chicken noodle soup too. I tried my best to eat it all, and not fucking sit at the table trembling. A couple times I dropped the spoon. She didn't judge me. She did want to hear all about Japan though and I didn't know what the fuck to say to her. I barely remember anything except feeling like utter shit for two days. And that plane ride – well, I wasn't even gonna go there. In fact, I was still trying to recover from that. All I wanted to do was go downstairs and crawl into bed. I was also secretly hoping I could escape before my dad got home and I had to look him in the eyes. I finally just left the half-eaten soup, got a big glass of water, gave my mom a hug, and said goodnight.
I did not sleep well. In fact, I spent a large portion of the night curled up in a fetal position contemplating how utterly alone and helpless I felt. I didn't know why I felt like that. Maybe it was the drugs? I had a network of friends and family who would stand by me and help me get through this, but they didn't know what I was going through. My mind felt torn in two – one half was ready to just sink within myself, give up and die and the other was struggling to climb out of the pit I had dug, desperate to change my life around and live.
I sat up in bed. My intestines rumbled. I took off running for the toilet. I seriously wondered how many days I could wake up to a fresh nightmare, cold sweats, nausea and the shits. My mouth felt like a desert so when I saw the half filled water glass from last night sitting on the sink in the bathroom room I gulped it down without thinking twice. It was a mistake of course. I'd become so used to making them lately. I felt my stomach lurch as it ejected the liquid right back up on me. I shot up and didn't have time to turn around to the toilet so I leaned over and puked in the sink.
Somehow over the last few days the shower became like my safe place. It also kept me and everyone else from having to smell me. As if I didn't get to smelling bad enough on a regular basis, this was almost unbearable to me. The hot water hitting my body was the only thing that felt remotely comforting. I sat down in the tub and pulled my knees up to my chest. I closed my eyes then let my forehead rest on my knee caps. I was trying my best to not think ... of anything ... to just blank my mind. It wasn't working. All the fucked up physical sensations, the aches, the pains, my damn heartbeat – those were all vying for attention in my brain. Then there was all the emotional shit. Every dark, cobweb infested corner I could have possibly gone to in my head, I was visiting – repeatedly. There were too many "what if" scenarios playing themselves out.
I kept trying to cling to something – anything – that could be my virtual life preserver in the days, weeks, months ... years ... ahead. Yeah there were always those things and people in my life that mattered to me, but it obviously didn't seem to be enough. I'd always had those, yet I was still fucking depressed. Fuck, it was even worse now. I was becoming a fucking rock star – living out a dream that few ever get to. I needed to will myself to be thankful. How fucked up is that, I thought? I couldn't do this for anyone else. I had to WANT to do it for ME. Even the thought of it felt opposite to me. Up until recent history, I really thought helping myself meant downing more booze and pills – just getting as far from reality as I could ... escaping to my own self-made purgatory where I punished my mind and body for not being able to cope.
DAY 4: AT 1:11PM
"Hey, it's me."
"Fuck! Gerard! Where have you been? I knew you got in last night, but I've been calling your phone and it was going straight to voice mail."
"I know. I'm sorry I had it shut off. Actually, the battery kind of died too."
"Baby, I've been worried about you. You were so fucked up when you left, I didn't know if you were coming back or what."
"I know. I almost didn't."
"What? What the fuck happened?"
"I ended up in the hospital after the show."
"Oh my god."
"Yeah, I really outdid myself. I guess I had alcohol poisoning or something. Look, Brain set up some fucking doctor's appointment for me today and if I don't go he'll have my ass. Can I come over after that?"
"Shit. Oh, of course. But god ... please tell me you're going to quit."
"I'm really trying ... I'm trying to beat this shit. I want to get clean, for real. Okay I gotta run. I'll give you a call when I'm on my way over."
"Okay. I love you."
"I love you, bye."
DAY 4: AT 1:55PM
"Hi. Could you just sign in please."
Don't shake. Just sign your name ... that's it ... be normal ...
"We just need you to fill out this paperwork and then the doctor will see you."
Fuck. Think about being still ... think about being still. Just sit down. Don't freak out. Don't look at anybody ... even if they're all looking at you. Don't make this worse on yourself. God, what if there's something really fucking wrong with me?
Okay. Just focus. Just read the paperwork. Fuck, they wanna know any symptoms I'm having. I shouldn't leave anything out. I fucking hate doctor questionnaires. Ha! Are you pregnant? Yeah, guess I could skip that one. Oh, pay attention to the heading idiot – FOR FEMALES ONLY. Shit. Okay, where do these start up again. Oh, here we go. What the fuck, man? Why do they always ask shit like this? Are you sexually active? Who the fuck cares? I'm not here for that shit. I'm not answering these. Fuck. What the fuck is this paper? Alcohol Screening Test? Jeez. Someone must have tipped them off. I think it's safe to say I have a fucking problem with that. I'm skipping this shit.
Shit. I'm not ready. I don't wanna go in there. Just get up. Get the fuck up and get it over with.
"Come on back."
Yeah, sure, smile. How fucking helpful.
"How are you doing today?"
Fuck. I shouldn't get mad at her. She's just doing her job. I'm sure she gets tons of people who don't want to be here.
"I've been better."
"Oh, well, hopefully we can help in that department."
She's too fuckin' chipper though.
"I'm just going to take a quick measurement of your height and weight and then take your temperature and your blood pressure."
"Just take your shoes off for me and step up there."
"Let's see ... five foot ... eight inches and ... one hundred ... seventy ... nine pounds. Okay, you can follow me right into this room."
Just breath. Take deep breaths. No one's busted out any needles. Just chill. Don't shake. Fuck. I'm shaking.
"Oh don't be nervous, this is the easy part. I'm just going to take your temperature."
I wish I could control this. Why can't I get a fucking grip? I just wanna bolt out the door.
"Okay, that's normal. Now for the blood pressure ... can you take off your jacket for me?"
She's gonna notice how fucking fast my heart is beating. Shit shit shit ...
"Okay, that's slightly high, but if you're nervous that will effect that. If I can just get you to come in this other room now ... just have a seat and the doctor will be right in."
Great. They're gonna ask me to take off my fucking clothes aren't they? I fucking hate doctors. Everything they do makes you uncomfortable. I don't want to talk to them, I don't want to look at them, I don't want to be anywhere near them. I need some water. Why is my mouth so fucking dry?
"Hi! You must be Gerard?"
Shit. She fucking scared me!
"Okay, well my name is Dr. Rand. Why don't we just go over your paperwork here and then we'll discuss why you're here."
Fuck. Here we go. Just act normal. Shit. I'm wringing my hands. Breathe ...
"You left a lot of the form blank ..."
Fucking doctors. God, why did I have to come here again? Can I just make a mad dash for the door?
"I-I didn't think those mattered to, uh, why I'm in here."
"Well, Gerard, I like to look at the person as a whole. Sometimes symptoms in one area might seem like they're unrelated to a main cause, but in reality, they might have a lot to do with it or help me make a better diagnosis. I know that it can be difficult to discuss some of these things, but just know that I'm a medical professional and I'm just trying to help you."
Just say as little as possible. Fuck, my hands are sweating. I feel like I can't control my breathing.
"Okay, so let's just run through these really fast and then we'll move on."
"So the first question was, are you sexually active?"
Fuck I hate this.
"How many partners in the last 6 months?"
God this is fucking embarrassing. Why does this shit matter?
"Have you had any sexually transmitted diseases?"
"Do you have any trouble with sexual function or libido?"
"I ... uh ..."
Fuck. I paused! Oh shit ... don't choke. Motherfucker.
"Is that a yes, or a no?"
"Well, I ...look ... I'm in here because I'm an alcoholic. I want to get clean. I don't think asking me about having sex with my girlfriend really makes a difference here."
"Well, things such as decreased sexual drive or inability to achieve or maintain an erection are both side effects of alcoholism as well as alcohol withdraw. I notice you didn't fill out the Alcohol Screening Test, so why don't we go over that."
Fuck, I'm sweating. She's totally noticed. She's a fucking doctor for fuck's sake, of course she's gonna notice.
"Look ... I already know I have a problem. That's why I'm here. You don't need to ask a bunch of questions. I admit it."
"Okay. When was your last drink?"
Fuck. When was that? I emptied that bottle that was in my suitcase ... in the hotel. That was the middle of the night ... two days ago? Shit, I got all screwed up on the time. I'm fucking jet lagged to boot.
"I think it was two days ago ... I had maybe a quarter of a bottle of vodka."
"You don't remember?"
"I just got back from Japan ... I lost track of the days."
"I see you noted a number of the classic withdraw symptoms here on the questionnaire – tremors, cold sweats, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, body aches, racing heart, palpitations, dizziness ... are there any other symptoms you're experiencing?"
"I haven't been sleeping well. I've had nightmares. I feel really anxious, sometimes paranoid – like I can't shut off my mind."
"I see you've noted that you've been taking Xanax ..."
"Yeah, it doesn't work."
"It doesn't work – meaning you don't feel better when you take it?"
"No. In fact, I want off of that. I don't want to be on any medications. I have a problem abusing those too. I just want completely off of them."
"What was the dosage of the Xanax and when was the last time you took it?"
Shit. I think that was at the hotel too.
"It's .5 milligrams I think. I think I took half a one when I had the vodka."
Don't give me a disapproving look. I'm in here for fucking help. That's right, look back down at the fucking papers and take some notes. Fucking doctors.
"Are you currently prescribed any other medications or have you taken any others that weren't prescribed to you?"
"I've taken a few vicodins ...a valium here and there."
"Have you used any illegal narcotics?"
"Cocaine ... but I haven't had any in a few weeks. After this one night I swore I wouldn't do that stuff again."
"Well, that's good. I'm going to need to perform a physical examination and then I'd like to run some tests on you. When we get the lab results of those we'll know better where you're at. If it's only been within 48 hours since you're last drink, you may still experience some severe withdraw symptoms. What would you say was your average alcohol consumption before you stopped?"
Where I'm at? What is that supposed to mean? And average? Fuck I don't know.
"I don't know. I'd get to a point where I really didn't know ... maybe after a bottle of vodka and a few beers."
"I see you're 27 now, how long have you been drinking for?"
"Well, it's been bad the last 3 years, but I've been drinking off and on since I was 16 or so."
"Have you ever been hospitalized for drinking?"
Shit. The hospital.
"Um, well, actually, while I was in Japan. I guess they said I had alcohol poisoning."
"This was several days ago?"
"Okay. If you can just get undressed and put this on and I'll be back in a few minuets."
Fuck. I hate this. I'd almost rather go to the dentist. At least the dentist doesn't make you take your fucking clothes off. There's no way I'm taking off my underwear. Just calm down. Pretend you're somewhere else. Stop shaking! Oh shit, here she comes. Just breathe ...
"Okay, I'm just going to check a few things here ... So what do you do, Gerard?"
"What do you mean what do I do?"
Oh I get it, she's trying to distract me ... because I'm a fucking stress case.
"Where do you work?"
"I'm in a band."
"Oh, that's interesting. A rock band?"
"That's what you were doing in Japan?"
"That must be exciting."
"Do you have any hobbies?"
Of course I have fucking hobbies. Who doesn't? Fuck I hate small talk sometimes.
"I like to draw."
"Oh that's good. I'm a painter myself. Did you go to school for that?"
"Can I get you to lay down? I'm going to press under your ribs here and you tell me if you feel any pain, okay?"
"Okay. Ow! Yeah, that hurts."
"Okay. How about if I press here ..."
"A little. My stomach muscles are all messed up. I think from puking so much."
"Well, that does put a strain on the abdominal muscles, but where I've been pressing is liver and kidney. Would you say you eat healthy at all?"
"Do you skip meals?"
"Before you leave, I'm going to suggest not a diet, but an eating plan for you to help your body detox from the alcohol and chemicals, okay?"
"You can sit back up again."
Oh shit. She's got the stethoscope out. God please let there not be anything wrong with my heart ...
"Take a deep breath ... good. And one more ... good. And one final one ... excellent."
"Is everything okay there?"
"Yes, your heart seems fine."
"Do you have any questions for me?"
Questions? Fuck, I dunno. Do I?
"Um, well, am I gonna be alright? If I don't have any more alcohol, how long will these symptoms last?"
"Well, when we're done here, I'm going to have the nurse come in to take a blood sample and then I'm going to get a urine sample so we can run some tests and make sure everything is alright. There's not a set timeline for withdraw symptoms however. They can last a matter of days, or continue on for a month or more. So far, it sounds like your symptoms have been mild to moderate, but if they start to get any worse, you need to call me right away. Also, you need to keep your fluid intake up – water, tea or sports drinks are fine. Stay away from soda and coffee for the time being. As I said, I'll give you a sheet with some food and vitamin suggestions to help ease your symptoms and help your body detox as well."
Blood test. Fuck. They're gonna stick me with a fucking needle.
"What about the Xanax?"
"Well, Xanax itself can have some pretty intense withdraw symptoms if you stop taking it abruptly. Were you taking it regularly previously?"
"Well, I'd try to. Sometimes I'd forget. But like I said it seemed to stop working awhile ago."
"I usually recommend stepping down slowly with any anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication. I think in your case, some of the symptoms of withdraw might have been masked by your alcohol abuse. I want you to keep a close eye on your symptoms either way and let me know of any changes, okay?"
"It was nice meeting you, Gerard. We'll call you when these tests results are in and then schedule a follow up appointment."
"I'll send the nurse back in."
Fuck fuck fuck fuck ... just breathe. Fucking blood test. Oh shit. Here comes the nurse.
"Okay, well this should be pretty easy. We just need to draw a little blood."
"Uh, look ... I have this ... well, this phobia of needles ..."
"Honey, we get that all the time! You're just gonna have to be tough for me, because the faster I can fill these two little vials, the faster the needle part will be over."
Fuck. How the fuck did I get a needle phobia anyway? It seems like I've always had it. Just don't hyperventilate. Breath. Don't look. Fuck. Stop shaking! I'll just close my eyes. Fuck I can totally feel it going into my arm. Oh shit ... don't pass out. Aww fuck ... my heart is just pounding ...
"There! You made it! Good job. Now I think all we need is the urine sample and we'll be done. In the bathroom there you'll find the cups in the cabinet in the wall. On the sink are some wipes, just wipe your penis off and then fill one of the cups. Easy, right?"
"Um, sure, yeah."
"When you're done, leave the cup on the sink, go ahead and get dressed and come on back out to the front deck."
Super. Piss in a cup. Yea. I just wanna get out of here.
DAY 4: AT 2:48PM
God my head feels like there's a marching band stuck in there. I need some fucking aspirin. I better call Kat back.
"Hey, it's me again."
"Hey. How'd the doctor go?"
"I fuckin' hate doctors."
"I know. But did they say anything?"
"Not really. They're running some lab tests to see how bad I've fucked up."
"I'm sure you'll be okay. So are you coming over?"
"Yeah, I'll be on my way in a few minutes. Hey, do you have any aspirin?"
"I think I have some ibuprofen."
"Okay, whatever, my fucking head is killing me."
"Do you want me to make you something to eat?"
"I dunno. I haven't had much of an appetite lately. The doctor gave me a list of foods to eat though. Maybe I can pick something off that when I get over there?"
"Okay, I'll see you soon then. Bye."
DAY 4: AT 5:09PM
"Thanks for making me dinner. I'm sorry that I didn't eat all of it. My stomach's still fucked."
"It's okay. You don't have to push yourself. You wanna watch some tv."
"I dunno. I just feel really fucked up."
"You wanna talk about it? C'mon, let's go sit down."
"I don't know if I can do this, Kat. All I've wanted all day is a fucking drink. I swear I circled the liquor store twice before I finally drove over here. It's fucking painful. It actually hurts ... my whole body just feels ... well, I just feel like shit. I keep getting the shakes ... I'm all sweaty all the time."
"What did the doctor say?"
"She said I have moderate withdraw symptoms."
"Did she prescribe you anything?"
"Fuck no – I don't want any more pills, Kat. I wanna stop all of this shit. I just don't know if I'm a strong enough person to do it."
Fuck. She's hugging me. She has to feel my muscles twitching ... I sure as fuck can't ignore it. At least it's not a constant thing today ... just off and on. But I just want to curl up in a ball. I'm so fucking self conscious right now.
"You're strong enough, Gerard. You've already done things in your life that a lot of people couldn't do. You'll make it through it."
I should be happy right now. Why am I not happy? Why can't I feel good about anything?
"Gerard? Tell me what you're feeling ..."
Great. She wants to talk about feelings. I just want to pass the fuck out and wake up when all this shit is over. If only it could be that easy.
"I can't even put it into words ... I've never felt this low ... this drained. It feels like I just want to sleep ... but I can't. I've been having these crazy nightmares. And I'll wake up in a cold sweat just panting. Then I'll get sick."
"C'mon ... let's go into the bedroom and lay down."
Fuck. She seriously doesn't want to fool around right now, does she? I can't do this right now. Fuck. What the fuck is wrong with me?
"Kat, I don't think I could do this right now ..."
"It's okay. Gerard, just lay down and relax."
"I can't relax right now. Please ... I just want ... I just want to sit here. I'm like ... fucking freaking out."
"It's just symptoms ... just remember that ... there's nothing wrong with you."
"I don't know what's what right now."
"Well I know you're muscles are all in knots right now ... just lay down and I'll give you a massage ... or if you really want, you can sit, it's just I figured it would be more relaxing to lay down."
Just focus ... you like Kat touching you ... just relax. This has to be good. Why do I still not feel good, though?
A/N Part II: Damn. There was a lot of dialog in this one. Yeah. Day 4. Still shitty. That whole bit at the end? That's something that I felt needed to be in there – 'cause when the thought of fooling around actually turns you off? Well, you're fucked ... but not in a good way. And that's a big ol' side-effect of not just withdraw (from both Xanax and alcohol), but alcoholism itself.
And did I mention I fucking hate going to the doctor? I think I did. Well, I fucking hate that shit. I like my acupuncturist though. How fucking insane as that? Now that's something Gerard would never say, ha! I can have needles stuck all through my body ... as long as they're not injecting me with shit, or pulling shit out, I'm okay.
Oh and before I forget – happy new years! Party responsibly. You wanna remember it, right?