Welcome back to the sixth episode of Don’t Lose Your Balance. In today’s episode, I’d like to talk about all the doctors that came in and out of my life, for decades. Why would I spend time focusing on the doctors? Well, for a few reasons. I was never actually well diagnosed. And I was often very misdiagnosed. There were some extremely good doctors along the way, like my addiction to Vicodin doctor that helped me kick it. There were also some really terrible doctors along the way. Like the ones that prescribed all that Vicodin. I don’t think it’s easy to get into someone’s mind, especially one that had her first bout of depression at the young age of seven. I also don’t think back then anyone knew what to do with me. They only knew how to shield and protect me.
As mentioned in an earlier episode. My father, my birth father had died at the young age of 36. He dropped dead on a tennis court Memorial Day weekend. This past Memorial Day weekend was 50 years, the 50th anniversary of my birth father’s death. I don’t really think about him that much. But I did think about him for some odd reason this past Memorial Day weekend. I was so little, young when he died. But I remember that day vividly. My first reality of trauma was at seven. I came home from a birthday party and I had a party favor I wanted to share and show my parents. There were cars, up and down the street on both sides. I ran into the house and I saw my entire family, my extended family sitting in the living room. I turned to my left. I saw them sitting there. It was the oddest thing I had ever seen. I ran up the steps following my sister. I entered my parents bedroom and saw my mother sitting on the edge of her bed. There were other family members around her but she didn’t look right. I asked where’s daddy? She said nothing. I asked her again. She reached out her arms to me. She said daddy had a little accident. I asked Is he dead? She didn’t answer. I asked again. Is he dead? She replied, Yes, he’s dead. I screamed and I ran into my equally small bedroom. I had this sinking feeling. My aunt, my mother’s sister in law came into my room following me. I felt this overwhelming sense and need to be left alone. She tried to console me. I told her to leave me alone. I don’t remember anything about my family. After that.
I was in second grade school was still in session and I was taken out of school for the week and sent away to my best friend’s house. She was also taken out of school. We played at her house with our Barbies and rode our bikes like nothing had happened. I have no memory of upset, no memory of anything. Nothing. The rest of my family had a funeral to go to and I wasn’t there. I wasn’t invited. I know my mother regrets that decision. But back in 1971 what else could you possibly do with a little seven year old girl who had just lost her father? My mother was completely ill equipped to manage the death of her husband the funeral one of many I might add, and a seven year old. My sister tells me I was lucky that I didn’t go to the funeral. I didn’t have to look at him dead.
He was incredibly handsome and so so talented. I remember him as a photographer. I remember him as a singer. I remember he sang to me during my cousin’s wedding when I was a flower girl in that wedding. Wearing a dress made by my mother. A beautiful white dress with a bow made from a blue ribbon. My long hair resting on the middle of my back. I remember him asking me why I was running around on the bare floors? I liked the clicking sound of my shoes. The scattered memories are just that he was there one day gone the next. I can’t be sure but it’s likely This was my first feeling of deep and true abandonment loss being left being alone being lonely. I’m only speaking from the broken memories I can pull between the occasional tear that drops now from my eyes as I write this and falls down my cheek as I type this in 2021. As a woman that is near and closer to her 60th birthday than the one that celebrated her 50th.
There was no grief counseling. No doctors that I remember. No one. Life quickly returned to a different kind of normal back to school, summer breaks and summer camp. A new father arrived to raise this 11 year old girl. He’s a wonderful and fantastic human being still alive today as of this recording, he’s in his early 90s. And I couldn’t love that man more. I love him so much for raising me, for loving me for being my father, because mine was taken too young. It doesn’t matter. I had him now. Thanks, Mom. Thanks for the new daddy. He’s done a great job. And so have you.
It was actually around my senior year in high school that I deeply suffered again, no friends, no one. I was really depressed. I’ll get into that later. But I did have my first visit with a psychiatrist as 17. I somehow moved past it. Five years later, I was married. Jesus, so young for all of this. And I know that others have suffered way more pain than me. But this is my pain. And that’s all I know.
It was after my second child born that my familiar pain of depression returned. It was so odd because I had everything. I had dentists appointments, Vicodin. I had psychiatrist appointments, Vicodin. I had babies, Vicodin. I had everything and thatVicodin was always the driving force to my complete and utter breakdown, one part of the demise of my marriage, the disconnection from my children. One bad choice, followed by another bad choice. That fucking Vicodin. All those doctors from the local ones to the illegal ones that prescribed that Vicodin. One doctor then another than another than another, it was an endless cycle of searching for that fix to get out of pain for the next doctor to write the prescription for the Vicodin. The doctors responsible for my addiction. I don’t hold you accountable. The doctors responsible for my mental health that never really came. I don’t hold you accountable either. The counselors that treated me during and after rehab, I don’t hold you accountable. I should, but I don’t.
There was one doctor that helped me understand myself a bit better than anyone. She believed I really was at my best when I stopped the pills and the drinking. Between her and my addiction doctor, they were the two best. But there was that one doctor, that one doctor that changed me forever. He wasn’t really such a very nice doctor horrible bedside manner, but his message was very well received. Not at first. He said Mallory, if you don’t stop drinking, you will need a liver transplant. I didn’t believe him. He said you’re there you have stage four cirrhosis of the liver. What’s that? I asked. I really didn’t know. I only believed that was something that happened to alcoholics. I wasn’t an alcoholic that me I could control my drinking. My daily control. I could control it. Every day that I drank. I could control it. I didn’t need to detox. Pills were my vice after all and I gave them up 20 years ago, but not alcohol. I didn’t have a problem with alcohol. I could stop anytime. Yeah, the lies I cling to that got me through my day. What is stage four cirrhosis of the liver I asked and later Google it’s when the structure of the scar tissue has created a risk of rupture within the liver that can cause internal bleeding and become immediately life threatening – with respect to stage four cirrhosis of the liver life expectancy? Yeah, roughly 43% of patients survive past one year. Wait, wait one second, prove it. That’s what I said to the hepatologist after my MRI. That wasn’t My only problem. I had an obstruction in the bile duct. What is that bile duct obstruction is a blockage in the tubes that carry bile from the liver, to the gallbladder and the small intestine. This is going to get a little technical, but it’s the bileairy system is comprised of the organs and duct systems that create, transport and store and release bile into the Dourodenim for digestion. You know what, that’s just noise. I have no idea what that means. Wait another second. Prove it.
He also said you have some spots on your pancreas. Well, that sounded kind of bad. Do I have cancer? No, Mallory. We’re not talking about cancer. We’re talking about a very bad stage of cirrhosis of the liver. How much do you drink? I don’t know. I responded. Probably more than I should. Do you drink every day? Yes. Doesn’t everyone? How much do you drink every day? I don’t know. Maybe two or three glasses. Sometimes more. The doctor said okay, let me say this one more time. You have stage four cirrhosis of the liver. Okay. I responded. He said if you don’t stop drinking, you will need a liver transplant.
Okay, that didn’t sound good that I understood. I guess a human being would have to die for me to get a healthy liver. I would have to get on a list. I would have to find the right doc, I would have to find the right donor, a compatible donor. And that’s when shit got real. I got honest with myself. Not unlike my decision to never go to heroin after Vicodin addiction. This shit was getting too real. I knew I didn’t drink two to three glasses a day I was downing a magnum of wine on a daily basis near the end. Almost. Usually starting around four in the afternoon during the work week, sometimes early in the day on the weekends. Dates out I would suck down two Bloody Marys, followed by a glass of wine at brunch. The weekends were worse. Yeah, sometimes I would drink vodka in the morning, maybe go to sleep, wake up and drink some more. You know, I hated drinking. I hated the hangovers. I hated the taste in my mouth in the morning. I hated the spending of money on alcohol. I hated that fucking doctor.
So I went to another one. He confirmed everything but at least he was nicer. I made a very life defining change on December 30, 2019. The day my new hepatologist confirmed keep drinking Mallory. You’re going to die, early. And probably soon. I never drank and drove, but did I? Of course I did. I never got a DUI. I was so lucky. I never did. I have no idea who’s looking over me but someone is. I’m thinking it’s probably my birth father. Oh God, something I could control, choice. I had a choice. I made a choice The four magnums of white wine that still remain in the same cabinet in my apartment are still in the bags. I’ve never touched another drop of alcohol since. I got through a wedding in 2020 and a global pandemic. When everything shut down. I stayed home and lived 100% alcohol free. I love the way I feel. No more hangovers, no more bad taste in my mouth. No worries before a snowstorm, do I have enough wine?
or vodka or both? The idea of needing a liver transplant was so terrifying to me. I just stopped drinking. But something else happened. I had a vision, a thought. Who was going to take care of me if I was hooked up to machines and in hospitals? Doctors, no one that was my reality. That is my reality. I am alone. My kids are not required to take care of their mother. They have their own lives. I couldn’t live with myself if I had control over something something like drinking or dying. There was only one choice, to stop to listen to this doctor. To the doctors. The truth. I didn’t really enjoy all that drinking. I drank because I was hurting. But it made it worse. I drank to celebrate a good day. I drank to numb a bad day. Sometimes I drank because I was bored. Or it was just a habit. But anything that skewed my thinking that changed my personality was not good. The doctors were all confirming what my worst fears were, you cannot have another drink ever, ever, ever again. So I haven’t and I won’t drink again.
I didn’t have to go into treatments or take medications. I cleansed my body from all that toxicity. Finally free from addiction. Maybe I’m addicted to sobriety just maybe. Being in quarantine men. I couldn’t go see doctors. I couldn’t go into therapy. I had already been to so many therapists, psychiatrists, some that saw me at my worst and treated me while other doctors were somewhat responsible for getting me to my worst while treating me.
They say you have to hit bottom. Go Lower, lower than bottom. The lowest of bottoms. You know where that is? It’s six feet under. I was heading there but I decided no more. No more of anything, no more. I left the psychiatrists who were convinced I was bipolar. I left the doctors that treated my physical well being and took my power and said you know what? I’m good. I trust my doctors that prescribe high blood pressure medication because even after losing 60 pounds and gaining back 20 I am 100% predisposed to high blood pressure and heart attacks. I am 100% predisposed to breast cancer. Alcohol is related to breast cancer. How far was I going to push this needle? I wasn’t I was done.
Being sober has given me clarity. But more than clarity, being sober, has helped me to find balance. During a global pandemic I stayed sober. I am sober. I am very grateful for my sobriety. I am now public about my sobriety. It’s a life changing event you know, life changing to all the doctors good, bad or indifferent, thank you. I am exactly where I am. Because of each and every one of you. No matter how well intentioned, I’m taking my life into my hands and saying thank you for your support, for sometimes doing your jobs. And most of all for helping me in each way you could, help me see a new light through a new lens and a fabulous perspective on life, a balanced and healthy life.
Join me next week on Don’t Lose Your Balance. And always remember to feel grateful for everything you have and all that you are even if sad that will ease even if lonely. You’re not alone. You’ve got me and I hope I’ve got you too.
If you found value in this or any other episodes of Don’t Lose Your Balance, why not follow me, here, or on Facebook at Don’t Lose Your Balance and Instagram, which is dontloseyourbalancemsd, (M for Mary, S as in Sam, D as in David). I also have a website where you can read the transcripts, learn more about me and (find) resources for getting help along your journey of life.
Thanks so much and see you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai