Thursday, August 20, 2015

Recovery and the Pain Conundrum

Pain and Addiction, Pain and Addiction
They go together like dread and affliction
Bet your bottom twoonie
You can't stop both and not go loonie

Have you had the pleasure of visiting a walk-in medical clinic in a major Canadian city lately? I say pleasure, but what I really mean is desperation. No one other than hypochondriacs, citizens seeking non-emergency but somewhat urgent medical attention, or drug addicts go to walk-in clinics. I am in the "all three" category, however I have been clean and sober for a few 24 hours. To say they are depressing is making a mockery of hopelessness. Walk-in clinics are up there with government offices and collision centres, in my books.  My books have pages by the way. Actual physical pages.

A week ago my back collapsed. That's the good news. The bad news is that it has been doing a reverse four and a half somersault pike ever since. All this from falling on my ass while on a standup paddleboard. A standup paddleboard, the things that look so relaxing when gorgeous people drift peacefully on them. They are lethal weapons when boarded by an oaf in ankle deep water. Oh well. At least some kids saw me land hard on my butt and then pointed and laughed.

At the urging of loved ones and others unfortunate enough to be in my vicinity for any length of time, I inched my way over to a walk-in clinic after four days of teeth-grinding pain. I was whisked in rather quickly (an omen?) and left in an examination room, but not before I noticed the sign at reception: THIS CLINIC DOES NOT PRESCRIBE NARCOTICS. A middle aged man came in, a doctor I am happy to report, and we chitchatted for a minute until he said, "What seems to be the problem?"

Since time began, pain has been a part of life. And since time began, those suffering seek to eliminate their pain. Some do it through spiritual enlightenment. Others do it through various medical remedies. Still others do it through acquiring thousands of pairs of shoes. I have approximately eight pairs of shoes, and I say approximately because I only wear three pair. Being in recovery, I am to aim for the highest spiritual plane of being possible because I am supposed to be "awakened". I fall short. On my ass. I pick myself up, and try, and keep trying, but some days the world wins. Medical remedies have served me well when I use them as directed and for the length of time prescribed. I am okay with that. Recovery purists may argue otherwise, but there are certain medications I need.

The not-so-good doctor proceeded to grill me with questions about my history with back pain. I was not prepared for the Spanish Inquisition, although being prodded with soft pillows would have been nice. “What do you do to to deal with your back pain?” he asked, over and over again. Over and over again I explained, “I wait, take a few painkillers, and walk it off.”  
“But what do you DO?”
“I walk it off!”
“What do you mean, ‘walk it off’?”
“I WALK IT OFF. I grin and bear it until the pain subsides.”
“Why are you not ‘walking it off’ now?”
“Because this is no garden variety agony. This is different. Hey – my coworkers told me to come here – it was not my idea.”
“What do you DO?”
“What do you DO with pain?”
“Can you just examine my back please?”
“You DO what?”
“I am not going to ask you for narcotics, don’t worry.”
“DO you know what you DO?”
“I take a prescribed anti-inflammatory, but they aren’t cutting it… I’ll just leave now.”
“What do you DO when in pain.”
And that’s when I broke down in tears. I was looking for some sort of relief, assurance, anything to ease the pain. Compassion would have been nice. I do not cry often due to emotional constipation, so for me to sob was highly unusual. Maybe it had something to do with the excruciating PAIN.

And then he relented. He wrote a note for my employer. And two scripts.
And he got the hell out of the room.

I was not expecting a narcotic painkiller, but I have filled the prescription and use as directed and when essential. Is this relapse? No, this is self-care.
I really like my physio guy. 

Think I’ll just stick to standup, and leave the paddleboarding for now.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What Not To Do When In Recovery

As someone who is in long-term recovery from drugs and alcohol substance abuse, I am sometimes asked "what do you do for fun?" Many people cannot conceive of a life in which one abstains from intoxicating substances (including me on occasion). For me, the trade-off is worth it, as I do not vomit blood or wish I was dead quite as often. Still, many people in society view teetotalers and abstainers as sanctimonious bores, or worse, members of the Conservative party of Canada. I try my best to thwart stereotypes by maintaining the same dishevelled appearance and hopeless attitude from my using days. I do admit though to being guilty of bursting with gratitude while radiating health and contentment every now and then.
As a service to those living in sobriety, and to those who love them (or tolerate them) here are a few handy tips on what not to do when you are in recovery.
1)  Volunteer to be a designated driver for a frat house
2)  Wrestle the drink out of the hand of anyone over 90
3) Say to friends who invite you to their place for a meal of Coq Au Vin, "GET BEHIND ME SATAN!"
3) Lecture teens on the evils of what you used to take enormous pleasure in
5) Refuse to eat blue cheese offered to you at a reception because the last time you did you were "tripping for hours"
6) Boycott your local diner because it serves eggs with hash
7) While a priest drinks consecrated wine during communion yell out, "easy there fella!"
8) Say to the Pope  as he sips champagne at a state dinner, "I used to revere you."
9) Get kicked out of a state dinner
10) Offer to give anyone a piece of your mind. You need those precious few fragments for yourself.

May 2-4 weekend, comin' up in Canada. See you on the hiking trails!

Sunday, March 08, 2015

An Apology From Bennettworld

 Image result for save face

To: Readership
From: President & CEO,Bennettworld

Dear Stakeholders:

It has come to our attention that many of you were disappointed with the quality of the January blog entitled Pestilence.

Please accept our sincere apology for any inconvenience this may have caused you. At Bennettworld, quality writing is our top priority. No, wait -- it's safety. Safety is our top priority. No ... wait ... it's quality writing. Quality writing is our top priority, with safety being a close second.

We understand that the author of this blog, Ms. Carolyn Bennett (not the MP), suffered from severe bronchitis for several weeks during the winter. This may explain the absence of a blog entry for February (DISCLAIMER - does not, nor does not suggest, absence of blog entry was due to illness). We apologize unreservedly for the shoddy, if not hallucinatory, tone of the piece.

In the interest of transparency, we include with this correspondence a selection of letters and emails we received concerning the blog Pestilence. It is our hope that you continue to read this blog for the mild chuckles and obscure musings it provides.

President & CEO

"My wife and I were dismayed by the astounding lack of substance in the January blog. One only has to read the blog of a pre-teen to find more trenchant social commentary. We are NOT amused!"
- Mr. & Mrs. R. V. Crowley
Eau Claire, Wisconisin

"My bridge club usually enjoys sharing the latest bon mots from Ms. Bennett's blog. The piece entitled Pestilence, however, we found self-indulgent. Thankfully, the piece was brief."
- Miss Wilma L. Chalif
Tusla, Oklahoma

"Why would Ms. Bennett think anyone, besides me, would be interested in the inflamed mucous membranes of her respiratory tract?
- Ms. Pauline D. Steinmetz
Novak, South Dakota

"Phil Kessel is more of a man than you'll ever be, Bennett!"
- Dion Phaneuf

Friday, January 30, 2015


I am writing this blog on Friday January 30, 2015. Christmas Day 2014 (December 25, for anyone unfamiliar with Christmas) I contracted a viral infection. I believe I caught the bug on a plane en route to Saskatoon. I could be wrong. I could have caught it from a telephone, or a human being, or a turnstile. All I know is that for just over five weeks (has it only been five weeks?) I have had a cough that rattles everything in my vicinity.

At week three I broke down and went to my doctor. She asked if I wanted antibiotics, just to shut me up. I relented and said yes, even though I knew they wouldn't do anything. They did do something though. They made my face swell up. I looked like Phil Kessel should, every night he is on the ice trying to pretend he's a team player. I dislike Phil Kessel. In fact, I dislike the Toronto Maple Leafs. No -- I find the storied franchise and its fans preposterous. But that is another blog...

Excuse me, I just dredged up some mucus, in the shape of Phil Kessel.

My cough erupts from a gooey subterranean nether region, somewhere between Michigan and Hades. If Boris Karloff had a baby, it would look like the chunks I hork. I sound like a gunner who smoked three packs a day on the Eastern Front.

Has it only been five weeks?

I don't know why I am so sick. The human body is a marvellous thing, when it is not gross. This is not a bacterial infection, and I don't have pneumonia or whooping cough. It is simply a persistent invader. Kinda like Phil Kessel should be, in the offensive zone.

I will shake this off soon. Either that, or I will be pulling along an oxygen tank on the subway. One good thing -- people move away from me on the TTC. It's great, but a little sad.

So, don't cry for me Argentina. Cry for Leaf Fans. I will be okay.

When is Dyson going to invent a vacuum for post-nasal drip?

Stay warm.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

It Is A Wonderful LIfe

     I gauge my emotional health on how I react to It's A Wonderful Life. Most years I smile at the familiar sentimentality. On a couple of occasions I've fallen asleep before the climax (that's what she said - BOOM!) This year, I felt George Bailey's desperation. I let out a maudlin sob at the end. The fact that the film  ran on CTV last night, December 6, may say something about our nation's morale. This is the earliest I remember the movie being broadcast.
      Is it just me, or is the news really bad these days? Is anybody else troubled by what's going on in the world? Before you say "'twas ever thus", hear me out.
      The other night I was staring glassy-eyed at the telly, while Dan tapped on his phone. Peter Mansbridge, growing balder by the minute, read this off the teleprompter, in reference to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's call for action on climate change:
            "Ban Ki-moon made it clear -- he has no time for climate change deniers, and no time for any country that doesn't put the survival of the global population before its own domestic wants and needs."
     "Hey, Dan?"
     Tap, tap tappity tap. "Yeah?"
     "Did you just hear what I heard?"
     Tappity tap. "What?"
     "That the survival of the global population depends on countries taking action on climate change."
     "Ban Ki-moon has no time for Canada."
     Tappity tap tap tap.
     "Nothing we can do about it from the couch right now."
     "But. But. never mind  ... good night."
It's stuff like this that made me drink vodka from a jar on the subway. Now I shoot back the strongest chamomile tea I can brew.
     Survival of the global population, huh? I wonder what Ban Ki-moon is trying to say.
     I remember my dad being gripped by the oil crisis in the 1970s. Aged ten and wanting to appear precocious, I followed the news and attempted to express my outrage at rising oil prices. "Dad, this is a damned situation," I remember saying, it being the first time I used a curse word at home. My father responded to my trenchant commentary by grabbing me by the scruff of the neck and shoving a bar of soap in my mouth. I think I offered my opinion a year or two later about Watergate, something I had no understanding of either.
     What is a person to do about the survival of the global population, at 10:15 p.m. on a Thursday?
     Not much. 
     But as George Bailey and It's A Wonderful Life demonstrates, it can go one of two ways:
     1) Jump off a bridge.
     2) Make a difference in the lives of others through acts of courage, generosity and kindness.
     I'll take door number two, Monty.
     And I'll watch reruns of Seinfeld before bed.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Twas The Night Before Vote Time

Twas the night before vote time, and all through the ward
Not a drug dealer was stirring, not even a Ford.
The putdowns and smearing were strung out with care
In hopes the electorate soon would be there.

The children were tossing all angst in their beds
while visions of Daddy loomed in their heads
And mamma in her muumuu and Rob in Leafs cap
Had scrawled the last promise in a long list of pap

When out from the basement there arose a great clatter
Rob hoisted from his chair to see what was the matter
He shuffled to doorstep and then he did shout
"Hey Doug, vote's tomorrow -- get the fuck out!"

The stairs creaked and buckled as the big man came up
From smoking from bong and drinking from cup
He rubbed his wide face and with eyes all a glisten
He vowed he would fight, to the people he'd listen

Rob outstretched his hand to his very big brother
Then gave him a hug, and one for his mother
More sluggish than buzzards, Rob's posse they came
up from the basement; Doug called them by name:
Now Lisi! Now Loser!
Now Dixon! Now Bloods!
On, MamMo! On, Liti!
Before the street floods!

To the front of the driveway
To the wheel of car
Now dash away, dash away
Dash away all!

Doug was all dressed in sweats, from his top to his feet
His clothes were all wrinkled and stained from canned meat.
A bundle of signs he had flung on his back
and he took a big hammer from out of his pack

His eyes how they drooped, his dimples how creepy!
His cheeks were all bloated, his scars were all weepy!
His voluminous mouth flapped with a huge breeze
and sweat poured from brow, and onto his knees
His sibling young Rob planted hand on Doug's shoulder
Asked, "Make me deputy mayor, if I get older?"
Moved with compassion, and a trifle disgust,
"Rob, badass motherfucker, it's done!" Dougie did cuss.

Then no words were spoken as both got to work
They joined their ill posse, and assorted ill jerks
They planted Ford signs on lawns tidy and neat
Any person protesting is one that got beat.

Once finished they sprang and to team they did yell
And away they all flew like bats out of hell
But I heard them exclaim. 'ere they drove out of sight,
Happy Mayoral Election to all, and to all a  good night!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Rejected Business Ideas

Ministry of Government and
Consumer Services
Companies and Personal Property
Security Branch
393 University Avenue, Suite 200
Toronto Ontario
M5G 2M2

19 August 2014

RE: Business Registration

Dear Ms. Bennett:

Thank you for contacting the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, and for submitting your business ideas for registration.

After careful consideration, we have made the decision to rejected your application. You may wish to review your business plans, marketing strategies, financing, and overall concepts for your proposed enterprises. To recap, they are:

1) Bad Ass Baby Tattoo Company: Tattoos for the infants of ink aficionados.

2) Drive Thru Urinals: A complement to fast food drive thru windows. Allows the driver and passenger to relieve themselves via urinal or catheter, to save time. (You may wish to approach the Canadian Intellectual Property Office with this, as it is more of a patent)

3) Racoon A-Way: Do-It-Yourself animal removal kit. (Shovel, ax, large garbage bags)

4) Rent-A-Crank: Service provider. Acting as proxies for parents, elderly people nag and cajole successful younger adults, to keep them honest.

5) Gee-Had Me: Lighthearted greeting cards and novelties for Islamic extremists.

6) Old Tyme Movers: Environmentally friendly eco-movers, using horse drawn covered wagons. Fee charged by the hour.

7) Look Up: A computer app for mobile phones. Alerts busy texters when to raise their heads and focus on: crossing busy intersections, paying for food, buying groceries, boarding public transit, driving vehicles, engaging in conversation with a human being physically with them, swimming, bicycling, hiking etc, etc.

8)  Public Pylon: 24/7 on-call service that places traffic pylons around your vehicle, to reduce the risk of parking tickets.

9) Bad Ass Tattoo Removal Company: Hard-edged tattoo removal for the whole family. Sterilized needles optional.

10) Be Me, Be Free: Cloning service. Send replicas of yourself to events and occasions you rather not attend: e.g. board meetings, parent-teacher interviews, one man/one woman shows, family reunions, church, children's dance recitals etc..

We suggest you further investigate and develop your proposed business ideas. Not to put too fine a point on it, but we think you should abandon them all together.

Thank you for submitting your business ideas. The fee for each concept will still be applied


Faceless bureaucrat