I am writing to save my life; it’s the only thing that helps, like therapy in a way. I feel like a nurse again with a critical patient, but there is no doc on call, and the patient is me with severe chest pain. The computer desk is my stretcher, coffee is my nitro spray, cigarettes are my O2, and my pen is my IV. No morphine to numb the pain anymore though. My journal is my ECG and rhythm shows ventricular fibrillation. The laptop is my crash cart…clear…c’mon Ben…ECG still shows in v-fib…clear……/\....../\....../\......normal sinus rhythm…he’s OK...you’re…OK…it’s OK. Your family is here Ben, its over now and you’re going to be alright…I’m going to be alright…
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My name is Ben, and I'm a Nurse Addict
By Benjamin D. Cox
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Benjamin D. Cox
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe truth
The truth! As children, most of us were taught to always tell it, and we quickly found out from our parents or at least mine anyway, that there were consequences when we didn't. While growing up I quickly learned that it always felt better to be truthful about things, although I did frequently push my luck and create versions of the truth.
At the time, this seemed like a good idea and less likely to result in punishment than the whole truth surely would. However, the guilt and shame that one would experience immediately after lying was often far worse than any punishment I could have received.
My parents always said they would rather be told the truth, no matter how awful it may seem, than be lied to. When the moment that the whole truth came out (more so by means other than my admission) I remember feeling utter relief as a weight was lifted from my shoulders.
I felt good about myself again and not ashamed anymore. No more having to think ahead of what to say so not to get caught in my own lies. Instead, just being able to speak freely, relaxed, and knowing I'm a better person for being honest, even if it was about something wrong I had done.
So for those people dealing with depression, addiction, or pretending to be content with a life that deep inside you know you aren't, there is happiness within. I know because I've found it. It has cost me everything I thought was important to find, but once I rediscovered what I once felt as a child in happier times, I never want to let it go.
Better than any drug, one simple thing can change your whole way of life. By discovering it and letting it lead you rather than you hiding from it, you will gain the most important thing there is, self-worth.
The simple thing that will lead to this is truth. Complete honesty with yourself and what you are feeling. You are not alone. There is no worse feeling than not liking who you are, and dark things always follow.
For those of you reading this I want to make you a promise. I want to promise to tell the truth. This is not a fictional book and all are actual experiences from my life that I want to share with others. I am doing this in the hopes of not only healing myself and aiding in my recovery, but also to maybe reach others who are dealing with something similar in their lives.
Though I am no longer nursing and my license to practice has been suspended, I still feel I should maintain the confidentiality of the patients that were in my care. I will not mention any of them by name, nor can I go into detail about why they were seen in the ER, as it would easily identify them.
Who I am, what I have done, who I worked with, and what I have been through, however, is now public knowledge and can be easily obtained from the Territorial Court . I have plead guilty to what I had been doing and fully disclosed every detail to my family, friends, hospital investigators, RCMP, addiction councillors, and to the court on the day of my sentencing.
With that being said, I want to continue on this path of honesty, and I am ready to share with you now, the reader, the events leading up to my continuing recovery from drug addiction.
Since this is my book, I can pretty much talk about what I want, so I think I will briefly tell you about my favorite shows on television (Please be patient for those of you wondering where this is going). I love most series on HBO, The Sopranos being my all-time favorite.
But every so often a show comes along that one can relate to on a personal level, where you see yourself being portrayed by actors with an uncanny familiarity (and no, I am not in the mafia). I am referring to another series on HBO, which stars the same actress that plays Tony Sopranos wife, Carmella.
The show is called "Nurse Jackie", which centers on the life of the main character "Jackie", who struggles to try and find a balance between her family obligations as a parent, her duties as an ER nurse, and her addiction with prescription narcotics.
It would seem me and the character "Jackie" have a lot in common. Both of us work in the high stress and fast pace environment of the ER. Like her I am excellent at what I do. Like her I am a parent and I'm married. And regrettably, like her, I am addicted to narcotics.
Until recently, no one has ever known this about me, and for almost two years I have kept this a secret, a dark secret that, like "Jackie", I couldn't tell anyone. My parents, friends, the nurses and physicians I worked close with, even my wife, had no idea that I was taking drugs from work and injecting them into my body for over two years. I simply couldn't tell them. The shame and guilt would be too much to bear, as everyone thought so highly of me.
But I couldn't stop. Immediately after I injected myself I was already planning how to obtain the next one. "One is too many and a thousand never enough", as they tell us in recovery. That statement could never be more accurate.
I know something is wrong with me; I am not well, I can feel it. But I had this feeling long before I began using narcotics, and long before I moved up North.
I try and remember when I was last happy, really happy. When I was married perhaps, to the woman I have been with for over eight years. No. Maybe when my child was born, which should be the happiest moment in every father's life? No. Why can't I remember feeling happy?
I have a great job that I am good at and pays well, a beautiful home, a beautiful wife, a gorgeous little girl, supportive parents, I am educated, in good physical health, good looking, caring, friendly, funny.......why can I not remember for the life of me when I was last happy?
I try and think back further, to when I was young, when life was less complicated. I need to remember when I stopped being content with my life.
Some of my fondest memories are of when I was a child growing up in the small town of St. Anthony, NFLD, Canada. I was happy there, at least until that day when my life turned upside down, and everything changed. It was the worst day of my life. Worse than losing my license to practice, than being arrested, than going to recovery, or than standing before a judge facing jail time. And I haven't been the same since.
Chapter Two"Back home"
I have lived in Nova Scotia, Canada for almost twelve years now. I attended University in this Province, my wife is from here, my daughter was born and raised here, and we bought a home here. Nova Scotia is where started my career as a Registered Nurse, working in different hospital settings for over 3 years, until we made our move to the North.
My Mom has lived and worked here as a professor of Nursing for over twelve years, and my Dad and stepmom, both of whom work in the healthcare field, moved here with their two girls almost 10 years ago. I should call this home.
But for some reason, when someone asks me where I am from, I usually respond with the same answer; I'm from Newfoundland. And when I am asked, "what part of Newfoundland?" I always smile and proudly tell them, St. Anthony.
It has been almost twenty years since I had to move away from there, but I have never forgotten how much I loved it. I will never forget how happy I was there, and nothing compares to how painful it was to have to leave. The best years of my life and the worst day of my life took place there, in the small community located at the tip of Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula.
I was born on January 2nd 1981 in London, Ontario, and was only a few hours shy of being a New Year baby. Mom tells me it was a long hard labour and that I simply "refused to leave". Also, she really wanted the gift basket that Mothers receive if their baby is born on New Year's Day.
I don't remember anything about my place of birth as my parents moved from Ontario to Newfoundland when I was just four months old. A year and a half later my younger brother Jeff was born, making him the only authentic "Newfie" out of our family of four.
Both my parents tell me they loved this province, however due to a shortage of nursing jobs, our stay in Newfoundland would only last another year. I was three and Jeff was only a year old when we moved to my Dad's home community of Harrington Harbour, a small island located on the Lower North Shore of Quebec, Canada.
Harrington Harbour or "back home" as Dad always says, is one of those special places that you have to see to believe, and I often have a hard time describing to people how beautiful it is there.
This tiny island is one of the last thriving fishing communities along the coast, and to the roughly 400 people who live here (including most of my Dads family), it has been a place where the sea provides a livelihood to those who are willing to work hard, and has done so for many generations. It is also the only other place in the world besides St. Anthony where I always feel at home.
These days more and more tourists are making the trip to Harrington too see with their own eyes the beauty that this village has to offer, and to breath in the fresh ocean air coming from the sea that surrounds it from every direction. Several years ago a French film crew used this location to film a movie, which happened to be quite successful. When viewers discovered that the charming village on the island really existed, its popularity grew.
The film "Le Grande Seduction" is about a small village who is in competition with other communities trying to get a fish plant established. However, one of the conditions they need before they can be considered, is to have a doctor residing their full time. The villagers then proceed to try and "seduce" a big city Physician from Montreal to stay by pretending to have and enjoy all the same interests that he has, which they have found out by tapping his phone.
In the end the physician falls in love with the community and its people, just as many of those who ever visited Harrington have done.
My two uncles and my first cousin have long taken over the fishing license and the boat "The Cape Airey" that my Grandfather passed over when he could no longer fish. I know he was proud to see them continue with a way of life that he loved so much, one which had provided for him and his family for many years.
To try and put into words how special of a man my late Grandfather was, I would need to dedicate an entirely separate book to him and his many experiences. Entries from his journal he kept as a seal fisherman from 1957- 1977 were in fact published under the title "Seal Fishery Diaries".
But I think a Gentleman by the name of Fred Pratson, who is the author of a book called "The Sea in their Blood", described him best. He got to know my Grandfather or "Papa" as I call him, by spending a few days with him and he wrote the following excerpt next to a picture of Papa while he was mending his fishing nets. It reads, and I quote:
"He is a man's man; his life is not for those who are weak or lazy. He is an expert mariner, fisherman, sealer, trapper, hunter, storyteller, family man and citizen. He can fix what goes wrong in his home or at sea. He is his own boss and master of his own time. He also shares with most inshore fisherman, courage, self-reliance, mastery of various crafts, good judgment, & an adventurous spirit. He is one of a breed of men who are rare in a more sophisticated society, but one who can be readily found along the rugged North Eastern coast. The survival of their families, communities, and way of life depends on their being who they are, and nothing less" –Fred Pratson.
During that time in Harrington, both my parents were nurses in the small outpost clinic there, which also had a living area in it and is where we called home for two years. I was five when Mom was offered a position as a Public Health Nurse back in Newfoundland and even though they loved Harrington, the opportunity for a full time position doing what she loved was too much to pass up.
So, only two years after moving from Newfoundland, here we were now moving back there. I was fortunate to be too young to remember all that moving around, and I can almost hear the sound of my Dad swearing, but I am grateful that they decided to move back to St. Anthony and not somewhere else.
The next eight years of my life are what I think of as my "Wonder Years", because like the famous show, my life while growing up in St. Anthony was filled with many adventures, where everyday something new and exciting was waiting to be discovered. These years were indeed the best years of my life.
Chapter ThreeBest of friends
I was 5 years old and going to be starting kindergarten the year we arrived in St. Anthony, Newfoundland. We had moved into our new home on Gully Bank Road and I quickly made friends with the other kids on the street.
Our neighbours had a daughter my age and we instantly became buddies. She was friendly and curious, had orange hair and freckles, and talked with such a thick Newfoundland accent that first I had a hard time understanding her. She asked why my eyelashes were so long and told me I had the nicest blue eyes she has ever seen. I had a crush on her right away. It was the first of many crushes that I would have while growing up in St. Anthony.
Then I met the boy two houses down from us, and though I didn't know it at the time, we were going to be best friends. His name was Dwayne and he was a grade ahead of me, but when you are young and living in a small town, age means nothing. He was only six at the time but looked older, due to his dark complexion, jet black eyebrows and hair, and what appeared to be the start of a moustache developing.
I thought to myself that I wished I had hair on my face like him, not knowing then what a pain in the ass it is to shave. We liked each other immediately and, except for when we were in school, became inseparable.
I often wished I had kept in touch more with Dwayne, and many years ago I learnt that his mother Grace had passed away. She was one of the nicest ladies I knew and I would look forward to going over to their house because she always had something homemade to offer me.
Even if I had just ate, I would always be polite and sit at the table while she proceeded to serve homemade pea soup, fresh bread, moose stew, salt beef, and many other varieties of delicacies that are considered staples of any Newfoundland family.
She was a wonderful cook and while I ate I would pretend I could understand Dwayne's father while he talked to me, but I have yet to meet anyone who talked as fast and in such a thick Newfoundland accent as Rod.
Many times he would finish what he was saying and then look to me for a reply, but the fact was I hadn't understood one word of what he said. I knew a nod of the head just wouldn't suffice and so the only logical thing to say was "yes bye, you don't say?", as this response was very common in Newfoundland. Except when he was asking me a question of course, which was usually the case, and then everyone except me erupted into a fit of laughter, because they knew I hadn't understood a word he said.
Then Rod would say something like "Lard Jesis Ben bye, yadidntunderstand one ting dat I sid, didya?" and Dwayne and I would start laughing so hard that I almost pissed myself on several occasions.
Dwayne and I were best buddies, and when together our mischievous and adventurous nature was a force to be reckoned with. We took turns kissing all the girls in the neighbourhood; we broke into and explored the abandoned houses on our street; we built a tree house next to my house and smoked homemade cigars made of hemlock and sweet grass.
We were the kings of our neighbourhood and would defend it from anyone who didn't live on Gully Bank road (which usually meant either a brutal snowball fight, a life and death wrestling match, or in extreme cases, throwing rocks at the intruders; sorry Blair, I don't think Jeff really meant to hit you in the forehead, but it was a good throw).
We were both in karate for many years and often argued who was better than the other. He was older, bigger, had facial hair, and was probably stronger, though I would never admit it and never backed down from any challenge to a sparring match.
I always won more medals for the "kata" competitions, which is a series of techniques and karate moves combined together, and must be executed with speed, strength, agility, and precision. I'm trying to make it sound cooler and more important than the "sparring" competitions, which Dwayne would clean up in. Friggin' asshole. He didn't even know about the karate club until I told him about it.
If I knew he was going to join I probably wouldn't have told him and his older brother that I was already a black belt, because when Dwayne joined and saw that the belt I was wearing was in fact a white belt, him and his brother made fun of me for weeks.
His older brother Darryl would relentlessly tease me and say, "What color belt do you have now Ben, checkered?" Then they would start giggling. I felt like such a bull- shitter, which I was. But by the age of thirteen, Dwayne and I had our brown belts and I think that after I left St. Anthony, he went on to become a black belt.
Excerpted from My name is Ben, and I'm a Nurse Addict by Benjamin D. Cox Copyright © 2012 by Benjamin D. Cox. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Best of friends....................15
Who is Ben Cox?....................19
The New Kid (twice)....................32
No more secrets....................98
Cops are here!....................107
Detox?....wtf....for how long?....................114
30 days to find myself again....................122
Please someone, help me....................135
Welcome to Facebook!....................146