It’s March 2011. Our family moves from Kentucky to Arizona. It will still be two years until I discover the strange, life-altering, pile of skulls over our wall. For now, it’s an exciting time in our lives full of anticipation and renewal. We take with us all the good, love, and amazing experiences from Kentucky as we venture into a new phase and chapter in our lives. We settle into a beautiful home, and our children hit the ground running. New friends come in droves. New opportunities cross our paths quickly, and we wake up to blue skies and sunshine every day. Everything is new, refreshing and hopeful.
I get NINE speeding tickets our first year in Arizona (no joke) because I drive all over the state checking out the lay of the land, looking for places to fly fish, to explore, and to experience. I can’t keep up with the incessant speed-limit changes; every speed trap gets me. Chalk it up to ADHD. I’m captivated by the desert landscape and the splashes of green and desert flowers. I want to climb every mountain I see. To me, the brown desert is beautiful.
We settle in, and Amy and I often go on evening walks. I remember walking 5 miles in 90-degree weather one evening. The air is light and crisp. Not one bead of sweat squeezes out of my pores. I relish the dry air. I’m in heaven.
We are coming off of 15 years of intense service and growth. We feel a sense of serenity here, like it’s a place of rest for us.
At once, I begin building our operation here from scratch, and it takes off quickly.
I find a doctor, a general, family doctor. He receives my medical records from Kentucky. He’s taken back by the high dosage of amphetamines I’m on, but after explaining to him the process of arriving there, he agrees to keep everything the same. Every day I’m still forced to deal with the demoralizing effects of the medication wearing off too early.
Overall though, I still consider the benefits of the medication as outweighing the downsides. Also, It’s just one small part of my life. As far as I’m concerned, I’m handling it. In the meantime, we’re prospering and progressing in our lives. I feel happy, motivated, and blessed in every way. I have no doubt I’ll eventually figure my way out of this quandary.
It’s a regular day. I’m driving home from work as I get this sinking feeling from my medication wearing off. I suddenly have an epiphany! What if I didn’t take any medication on the weekends? That would leave me an extra dose every day during the work week. I can get refills up to 3 days early. So, the math works. I deem it an imperfect, but also a practical, resourceful idea. I’ll be 100% all day, every day, during the week for work and family. On the weekends, when I’m less burdened, I’ll figure out a way to bear it and function without it until Monday comes back around. I enact my plan right away and it works to perfection…until…the weekend. Remember the creature…
I forgot how bad it is; abruptly stopping is worse than I remember. By Sunday mornings the transmutation to this thing is complete. Dad is officially no fun to be around. No, dad is not tolerable to be around. It’s shocking how incapable I really am of functioning. It doesn’t take long before my wife and kids begin to dread the weekends, mostly Sunday’s. In fact, Sunday’s become the worst day of the week for the entire family.
I don’t realize how much my moods and weekend change in disposition (to put it lightly) are affecting my wife and kids. In my mind, I’m the one suffering, not them. I’m trying my best to handle a very perplexing situation that I didn’t ask for. I honestly (and selfishly) think I just need more understanding and for no one to take anything I say or do personally. I think I should be given the benefit of the doubt that I’m doing my best under impossible circumstances.
That’s a lot to ask considering my best is pretty much worthless and sometimes downright abusive. I can mostly only lie around and be miserable. I can’t help Amy with anything. I shock even myself by the way I brutishly react to my wife and kids at times. I’m acting out of my own suffering, but that doesn’t lessen the injurious and draining effect it has on the family. I’m a completely different person on the weekends than during the week, and it is very confusing for my kids as they still don’t know about the medication. We are all ignorant to what’s happening, and nobody, including me, knows at the time that every Saturday and Sunday I’m experiencing acute withdrawals.
After months of tormenting my family every weekend and torturing myself, Amy makes it clear she wants me off the medication. She thinks it’s ruining our lives and controlling me.
One Sunday, I’m lying in bed wanting to die (as usual for me on the weekends). Frustrated, Amy rushes into the room and announces she’s calling my doctor, scheduling a visit, and she’s coming with me. I actually agree and think it’s a good idea. I figure the result of our meeting with the doctor will be him taking me off the medication. I’m ready to face whatever is decided.
While at the doctors, Amy learns for herself that I’ve been open and honest with him about everything. I can tell that provides her some relief. Everyone, including my doctor, has been struggling to know what to do. He strongly advises against going off the medication, especially cold turkey.
Still, we each have the opportunity to share our perspective, concerns, and feelings. Amy explains the detrimental effects the inconsistency, for lack of a better word, of the medication is having on me and our family. When all is said and done, my doctor shockingly announces he’s upping my dosage to three 70mg capsules per day (210mg). Three times the FDA maximum recommended dosage, something I wasn’t expecting, nor did I think possible. He also advises us that he is already beyond his comfort level and out of his league on this one, that he believes I’m truly an outlier, and that he thinks I need to see a well-respected specialist. Although the outcome of our doctor’s visit is different than what Amy and I expect, we both leave hoping it is the answer we’ve been looking for.
Actually, I leave thinking to myself the problem is solved forever. I am so incredibly relieved that the insufferable weekends are over. I finally have enough to really last me all day, every day, forever. I would soon find out I couldn’t be more wrong as things are about to take a turn for the worse.