An always and forever struggle

Adam Gump
Tell us about your (or your loved one's) recovery journey. What has been the most rewarding part?

Around June, 2013 (I forgot to put a date when I originally started writing my story but this is close)
Opiate addiction to all pain meds and addiction to anxiety drugs (Benzo’s) along with struggles from depression and anxiety:

My name is Adam and this is my story, my 10 year struggle with chronic pain, depression, anxiety and addiction. I will start by explaining what I did that started my back pain. I just simply over worked it, I started bailing hay and straw at a very young age, worked at a farm throughout High School, started as a Commercial Electrician my senior year and also worked at UPS. For the next 6 years I would work at L-A Electric 8 hours a day and then go work at UPS for 4-5 hours at night. Both jobs were very labor demanding but I loved it. My 4th year at UPS was in 2003 and my back was bad, I tried physical Therapy, cortisone shots, and nerve ablations, (at this time Dr. Hatch was my pain Management Doctor) Chiropractors, and Acupuncture (which was a very unique experience) Nothing worked or I should say nothing worked for more than a few weeks. I was left with working two jobs in pain and taking pain medicine to get through my days. I visited a doctor and he suggested surgery, I was 24 years old. I opted to have the surgery and so it began, an almost 10 year period that included 8 major back surgeries, over 50 cortisone shots, several nerve ablations, 4 discograms and Lord knows how much pain medicine I was flying through. I was on pain medicine 100% of the time during these 10 years. I was either in pain because I had just has a surgery or in pain because the surgery did not work. I had seen all the pain clinics in Fort Wayne by the end. My marriage through all of this was fading, fading due to my inability to function after work, due to me being “in a cloud” all the time from the pain medicine, due to our poor financial situation form all the doctors, surgeries, pain clinics, etc, and also due to no one including myself knowing what was going on. My wife and I somehow still managed to keep the marriage going although we had other tough times outside of my issues. We did have two beautiful children right in the middle of all this craziness but it was hard for me to perform my fatherly duties. During the first surgery they found that I have Degenerative Disc Disease and Spinal Stenosis on top of a bulged disc from over working it. It was finally clear why I was always in pain. My surgeries included multiple fusions and multiple hardware sets to try to stabilize the disc that were infected (L5-S1 area) after the 5th surgery it was suggested I try a Spinal Cord Neurostimulator, this was a last resort because it would not fix anything, only cover up the pain and they were hesitant to perform this surgery because I was so young. I competed a 2 week trial period with it where I wore the battery/computer unit on a belt and the wires were going through my skin with a stitched up incision. The trial period went well and it seemed to help. This unit created electrical pulses to my nerves which then tricked the nerves into not sending the pain messages to my brain. At age 31, I was preparing to have my 6th back surgery, this surgery was being performed by a different surgeon, one who specialized in Neurostimulators and I can’t remember his name but I did not care for him from the beginning. They placed the unit in my belly and the wires ran from the unit to the top part of my back where they landed them on my nerves, everything was inside of me. This was the first surgery where I did not get cut open at the bottom of my back. I now had had a 6” incision on my lower back, upper back, and belly. I will add that I had complications with all my surgeries where I had to use a catheter for a couple weeks after each one and my incisions were not always healing right, I spent extra time in the Hospital with each one. I estimate I spent a month in the hospital between the 8 surgeries. After this 6th surgery something was not right from the start, the incision in my belly was not healing at all and after 3 weeks it was infected, I was heading back to the hospital to have my 7th surgery less than a month after my 6th surgery and this surgery would be to get the stimulator out. They took the battery/computer unit out of my belly but left the wires in. 4 days after this surgery I was ready to leave the Hospital but still needed antibiotic treatments to ensure the infection was killed so they left the IV in and I went to the Hospital every morning and every evening in the ER for two weeks to receive antibiotic treatments. During the next 10 months I recovered and healed but was in a lot of pain still. I visited a new surgeon after being scared of the one before him due to my infection. He suggested I try getting the stimulator put back in me since it did seem to help. So I was preparing for my 8th surgery. This time my body accepted and I healed slow but well. After this last surgery I found myself still in a lot of pain even while using the stimulator and still taking pills. I did not understand this and was taking trips into Dr. Nolan all the time to get the stimulator tweaked, during this they would hold a wand over my stomach and be able to adjust the way the stimulator worked, sometimes this helped but it never lasted. I found myself turning the stimulator up so high that I could not walk because I was being shocked too hard. (I do strongly believe that these stimulators are an excellent thing to try, I was just in a spot that I did not realize I was in) I started to rely on the pills more and more and use the stimulator less and less. I fell into depression and anxiety deeper and deeper, missing work, taking too many pills, not sleeping well at all, feeling alone in this battle. There were lots of times I laid on the couch in much pain crying and not wanting to be in this world anymore. I had Faith in the Lord but I also thought that this was just how it was supposed to be for me even though I did not understand why, but I would think well why would the Lord take away a kid from their parents? Well It happens and this is happening too. I did not understand it but it was happening. My mind/body would wake me up at night every hour craving more drugs to take the pain away. It got to the point where the pills were not working at all and I would resort to taking more of my anxiety pills than prescribed just to pass out. The pain pill I was on was Oxycontin and I called it “the devil” and for a good reason. I wanted to get off of the devil so I decided to quit cold turkey, but it was not a good idea. I took the week off work and paced around the house and garage for four days in shock, throwing up, not eating, not sleeping, my wife kept the kids away and only had them around to sleep in their beds at night. I prayed a lot during this time and I also cried more than ever but crying did make me feel better at least. One day my sister called and gave me Bible verses over the phone and asked me to write them down. I had them laminated last year. You can tell by my handwriting that I was in shock. Those verses I wrote down gave me hope to keep going and I constantly found myself looking at them and reading them and realizing, “My sister has so much love for me” and it really gave me the push to keep going. I lasted four days and looking back I am surprised I did not last longer because during this period I was not in a lot of pain and that was because my body was in such shock from quitting the Oxy but that was very uncomfortable in itself and I was looking for a way out. I am a very lucky man to be here today because I could have died from that shock. I was on the heaviest dose of Oxy that I had heard of. I ended up finding a way out and buying some extra strength Vicodin off a drug dealer friend of a friend and that Vicodin stopped the withdrawals. I was now off the devil but still on pills and still in pain. Months went by and my marriage had failed completely, my life was a wreck, and by this time I was going through a divorce and living alone in an apartment. I made the best of the situation when I had my kids but was not myself by any means. Looking back, it is incredible to think how I must have been around my kids. I do believe they were young enough to hopefully not remember it all. I thought no one understood what I was going through except maybe other patients of chronic pain that I would see in the waiting rooms. I was the unhappiest I had ever been and did not want anything to do with this world but those kids and amazing people like my sister gave me a reason to not give up and everyone needs a reason to keep going on whether it be a friend, relative, spouse, the Lord, a reason to keep fighting and fighting. I must say my parents were awesome the whole time as were my brothers but it was my sister and the kids that seemed to get through to me the most, but not enough yet to get me out of the hell I felt I was in but enough to keep me going and that’s all I needed at the time. It was now late June 2012 and I prayed and prayed that something would change and one night while not sleeping I prayed at my bedside like I had never prayed before and cried and cried asking him to please help me and get me out of this. After praying I put in my headphones and went for a walk around town. It was early in the morning like 4 am and I listened to some of my favorites and I do not remember exactly what went through my head to make me think of it but I do remember thinking “maybe it’s the pills that are creating the pain and my body is all healed but the pills have complete control over all this.” I started to research this that morning while taking more pills, especially more anxiety pills. I remember I did find some articles backing up the theory. I believe I finally got a couple hours of sleep that morning and I got in my car to go get something up town (I was heavily medicated) not sure where I went but on the way back to my apartment I ran straight into the back of a FedEx truck. I remember being really scared and knowing I should not have been driving so I did not stop and went to my apartment, which was only halfway across town. The cop that was on duty at the time was right behind me. He asked if I knew what I just did and said you are messed up on something. He gave me a breathalyzer and I was clean for alcohol. He then said “Gump I do not know what you are on and do not care but if I see this car move today I will arrest you.” I just realized I was getting off the hook and he said the FedEx truck did not want to press charges because nothing happened to the truck. Wow what a time I was having. I went up to my apartment then came back down and started walking outside. I knew at this time that if I did not get help I would not make it much longer before I was either dead or in jail. I remembered the whole is the medication the driving force behind the pain and I knew it was the driving force behind me being really messed up so I then looked up “most beautiful rehabs in the country” and the place at the top of the page with a huge ad was Unity Recovery in Hobe Sound, FL and it looked like a vacation. I called the 800 number and remember talking and sharing my story with a gentlemen that was so understanding and I’m thinking “wow this is awesome it’s like he has been through this” and he told me I needed help immediately and I was comfortable with that. He asked me how soon I could get to the Indianapolis Airport and I told him. He asked for my insurance information and said he would call me right back. 20-30 minutes later he called me back and said your flight leaves out of Indy in 6 hours. I told him I could not drive and could not let my car move or I would get arrested. He asked if I knew someone that could drive me and I said yes my ex Sister in law (who I was still close to and to this day I am still friends with the whole ex family and friends with my ex) I knew she did not have a car or a job at the time but there was still the car not supposed to move thing so I called the police and they met me at my apartment and I called my ex sister in law and she meant us there and I took off to Indy. I was dropped off 1 ½ hours early and hugged my ex sister in law good bye and told her thanks and that she could drive my car for the next 5 weeks. I was in the air to FL and don’t remember much until I was in FL. By this time I was going through heavy withdraws and was in bad shape but I was checked into detox and they immediately took my vitals and then gave me medicine to relax me. I spent the next week in Detox safely coming off of the drugs that I had been on for 10 years and learning to live without them. It was a very tough week emotionally but I was not alone in fact I had 50 some other people in there with me going through the same thing and the most incredible thing happened to me: 2 days into detox my pain went completely away, 100%. This scared me at first because I was not used to not having pain and could not stop thinking about “what if it comes back?” but the pain stayed away and did not come back, I felt like a true miracle had happened and could not believe that what I had hoped was going on was going on, the pain medicine and anxiety medicine was creating my pain. I learned that week that my body had healed itself finally from all the trauma of all the surgeries and my mind and body was trying to tell me something and it accomplished that. After the full week in Detox I had made new friends, friends that had been addicted to pills, alcohol, and a lot of them very heavy drugs. We learned to laugh together and be sober together. We were then moved to a campus were we would spend the next 4 weeks together with addicts (I am and will always be an addict) that had been there already. There was 4 guys to a house and 4 girls to a house, 2 per room, 2 rooms in the house. Each person had his/her own queen size bed, got $75.00/week allowance for food, we shared a kitchen together were we cooked are own food. We shared a living room that had nice furniture and a huge big screen TV and we spent 9-10 hours a day attending classes off campus, learning how to live sober and we also learned Yoga, Meditation, and how to cope with our feelings. I learned that for me writing a diary helped so I wrote a lot. We had breaks during the day were we could spend an hour at the beach or an hour at the gym, some days could do both. At the end of each day we would relax around picnic tables or swim in the pool that was on campus. We would often spend the last hour watching tv shows. And on the weekends we did not have but 1-2 classes a day so we could spend half the day at the beach or around the pool and this is also when we would go shopping for our food and plan our meals with our roommates. Every Sunday we all cooked on grills that were also on campus and ate as a community. During these 4 weeks we would go to AA meetings and NA meetings and they were very eye opening. I missed my kids tremendously during my time in FL and that was the hardest part of it all. I was allowed to call them twice a day we had hours were we could call and it was the happiest but also the saddest parts of my day because my then 4 and 6 year old would ask me when I am coming home and their Mom had a calendar for them to keep track. I remember my 6 year old crying so hard saying Daddy I can’t wait that long. It was so hard but I knew they needed a healthy Daddy so I pushed through it. My 4 year old was not as conscious about the timeframe I was down there so she did not take it as hard until the 2nd-3rd week then she missed her Daddy. The whole time we told them Daddy was in FL working, boy will I ever have a story to tell them when they are all grown up. I made it through the 5 weeks and left for home the first week of August. My parents were meeting me at the Indianapolis Airport but what I did not know was that my boy was going to be with them. I will always remember standing at the top of some stairs at the airport and looking down, there was my Mom, Dad and my 6 year old son. Dawson, my Son was crying but smiling and I lost it, I had tears of joy flowing out and hugging my son after not seeing him for 5 weeks was an amazing feeling. I was driven to Busco to my ex-wife’s house to see my Daughter and as soon as we hit the driveway she was running and smiling with her hands out to hug me. I was home. I was sober. My pain was gone. I was back to the Adam that everyone missed so much. I am about 7 weeks away from being 2 years clean. I have not been in pain during the last 2 years. I am grateful. I want to share my story and hopefully help others realize that there is a way out and maybe what you are going through can be stopped. I pray for people who are in situations like I was in and I pray they find peace. I have told a little bit of my story to a couple people that needed help but have never typed my story out in full. I hope and pray that my story can help you realize that there is lots of life out there to live and lots to look forward to. Please keep Faith and know that you are not alone, you are never alone, and you just need to reach out. I am available to talk to if you would like. I want to help and be there for you if you need someone that has went through similar experiences with chronic pain, depression, anxiety and addiction. Tonight I will say a special prayer for you.

Yours truly,

Adam J. Gump

September, 2019:

Wow, I wish I did not have more to share but I do. I have a lot more to share, more of my story as it has continued. As I write this today things have calmed down and I am healed a lot and I am sober but I have went through too much the last 2 years especially, here it is:

Sometime early in 2014, Alcoholism:

I would have been about 2 years, 6 months into my sobriety, my sobriety from opiates:
I started drinking again and it was socially at first, of course. But of course I am an addict and an alcoholic so it quickly spiraled out of control and my drinking very soon became an everyday event; I would get home from work and start drinking lightly and my idea of lightly was 6-8 beers. I would then wait until I laid my kids down for bed if it was my night with them and I would then start drinking vodka or whiskey. I would drink until I was absolutely hammered drunk, many times until I woke up to a spilled drink on my lap in an uncomfortable position on my couch with movie credits rolling and me being scared as I try to remember what happened, where my kids where, did I even have my kids, is it morning and I missed work, is it early morning and time to get ready for work, etc. I was an absolute mess. I knew I had a problem but gave myself excuses like “a lot pf people I know drink every day and they are okay too” or “I will slow down when I need to” or “ I will stop if something bad happens” that last one is horrible to say to yourself but I did. I would continue drinking every night for around 3 years until I had hit “a” rock bottom. Looking back it was absolutely astonishing I had not lost my job, kids, house, my life in an accident, etc. but I had simply been lucky up to that point. It was in a morning in March of 2017 when I was showering for work when I broke down and cried and cried hard, hitting my fist against the shower wall and screaming inside my head to myself “I can’t do this anymore, I can’t continue to get so drunk every night and go to work the next day hungover, I just can’t live like this anymore” my body had seen the effects of drinking heavy as I was at my highest weight of 250 lbs, swollen face, extra pale skin, bad diet, acne, just not a healthy guy from the high carb, high alcohol diet I had been feeding myself and I was smoking a pack of cigarettes just in the evening hours as I drank. I broke down at a time when I needed to break down, I hit “a” rock bottom at a time when my health, job, house, kids, everything depended on it so heavily because there was no way I could sustain that life without something horrible happening. Call it a miracle, call it God stepping in as I still had faith at this time, call it luck or whatever it may have been but I was able to tell myself “this is it, I am done” and stay done, I managed to stay sober and stop drinking. Today is September 5th, 2019 and I have been sober from alcohol for 2 ½ years straight, I have not taken a single drink in 2 ½ years. I had withdraw symptoms that first week but I was lucky they did not need medical attention as I could have put myself in a dangerous position by stopping after drinking every day for years. I am so fortunate and I mention above that I “still had faith at this time” and I know that is sad and unfortunate and stupid you might think for me to say but as this story continues you will hopefully understand why my faith is lost right now even though I am sober today and have SO many blessings in my life. Let’s fast forward to…….

November 30th, 2017, opiate addiction to Suboxone:

I was having a rough day and was craving pain medications. The reason I was craving pain medications is because in the last year leading up to this day I had my 9th back surgery, this back surgery though was not because I was in pain, it was because I was not in pain and I wanted to get the spinal cord neurostimulator battery and computer out of my stomach and there were wires that went from the device all around to the top part of my back and all of this was internal and uncomfortable at times and itched at times so to me it was time to get all of this out and move on. I was prescribed pain medication after the surgery and took it as prescribed with my wife’s help of course and everything went good but what I did not think of was my body craving the medication later down the road even if I did not abuse it. Or…maybe this was the addict in me that was in denial, I just magically thought I could take pain medication again and not have any issues related to it. Anyway, that was my first experience again with pain medication but I had also had teeth pulled a couple times so leading up to this day of November 30th, 2019 I had been prescribed pain medication 3-4 times in the year leading up to it. I think I had called in for a refill on the Vicodin after one of my tooth extractions and it was easy to pull off. I was still of course “not abusing it” anyway back to this day I was having. It was very rough and I was craving opiates. I wanted something to “feel better” but I did not want on my conscious me finding and buying pain pills from a dealer so after failing to find a dealer of course I decided to research a newer/newish drug that I had heard of called Suboxone. After researching this drug I of course thought it would be a miracle drug for me (key word drug) so I researched how to get a hold of this drug that could help my cravings. I found a clinic just down the road from me called Lucina Treatment Center, LLC so I didn’t even call them I just left work early and drove there. Once there they asked me what was going on and I told them. They said they needed a urine sample from me so I gave it to them. my sample came up clean, whatever the last pain med was that I had taken it was cleared form my system. Instead of them referring me to a treatment center they said Suboxone would help my cravings and suggested I give it a try. It was $200 that day and I walked out with a script of suboxone. I of course drove straight to the pharmacy, handed in my script and waited until it was filled. The script was written out to take the whole suboxone strip under the tongue until it dissolves. I went home and took the whole strip. 30-45 minutes later I was high as a kite and I mean high. I was so high I was scared, I had not felt the effects of this drug before and it had me scared. I remember annoying my wife over it and eventually just falling asleep. The next day I called and told the doctor at Lucina Treatment Center what had happened and she said to cut the strip into sections and try taking it that way to avoid the high I had felt and she also said it was rare to feel a high from the medication. Rare or not I was hooked and hooked hard on Suboxone. For the next 6 months I went to the suboxone clinic for a brief 30-45 minutes class where we discussed the medicine as if it was an AA class but everyone in there was on this drug. After the session we were handed our scripts for Suboxone that we would take for the next month. Suboxone addiction was horrible for me and was worse than pain medication addiction had been and was worse than alcoholism had been. Suboxone grabbed me like the devil would grab a person who was holding their hands out saying “take me” it was insane, I couldn’t wait until my next dose and often would take anxiety medications that I would steal from loved ones or buy from “friends” to hold me off until my next dose or I would simply take suboxone when I was craving it and worry about running out of it at a later time. Suboxone changed my mood, my behaviors, absolutely everything. Suboxone turned me into a hardcore addict who lived for his next dose. Very surprisingly I had managed to keep my job through this but barely and my relationship with my wife (then my fiancé’) was fading quickly and we were fighting a lot because of my addiction of course. I had enough one day and left work early and turned myself into a hospital where I was then sent to a rehab center. I spent a week in a local rehab center here in Fort Wayne and then I took an extra 5 weeks away from work and attended classes every day at an intensive outpatient program through the local hospital. Here is where I learned again how to live with an addiction and how to stay clean. I completed I.O.P. successfully and returned to work. This was not an easy task as I had a brother who was going through a lot of hard times with depression, anxiety and alcoholism. This was hard for me but I stayed clean. I do think my brother’s situation at times gave me extra strength to stay clean because I wanted him to see that it could be done. Things only worsened for my brother and he entered a month long rehab where he successfully completed his stay. After rehab my brother stayed sober for a short while but faded quickly. I am not going into details for many reason, one being I do not want to remember everything again but my brother killed himself in January 2018. My brother’s death had a huge impact on my life and of course everyone else that loved him. Watching the pain in my parents’ life was over bearing and always uncomfortable. Everything I knew about life or thought I knew about life had changed the day my brother hung himself. This is where I lost my faith, my faith has not come back yet but I am sober. I do have my sobriety. I have been clean from alcohol for 2 ½ years and clean from suboxone for about 1 year, 4 months now. I asked myself almost daily why and how I can’t/don’t believe in God anymore and at the end of each day I conclude with I think I believe but I think I don’t. It seems odd to me that today I am blessed with sobriety, a loving wife, 2 wonderful children and 3 more step children (bonus kids, I hate the word “step”) I still have my wonderful parents who celebrated 50 years of marriage this summer, I have my sister and a brother still. I have a great job and a beautiful house and car but….I do not believe. I have lost faith. My brother’s suicide has pushed my faith away. I know my brother would not want this, heck he was closer to God in his last few months than he had probably ever been but I just can’t get myself to believe right now. This will change I believe but do not underestimate how addiction can impact lives or how a loved one’s suicide can impact lives. Today I beg anyone who suffers from depression, anxiety or any type of addiction to reach out to someone, people love you and care for you and when you are at your lowest point and it seems as if no one cares I guarantee you the people that care are not aware just how dark your times are so please reach out to someone.

Adam Gump

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