02 May A Second Chance at Life: From Coma to Recovery
On October 17, 2013 Sean woke up from a coma. He had been in a coma for 3 days after a heroin overdose. The doctors didn’t believe that he was ever going to wake up. Sean knew he was in the hospital but didn’t know how he got there. For days he was conscious but unable to articulate his thoughts. He had no control over his body. He remembers trying to break through the restraints that secured him to the hospital bed. It was a miracle that he was alive but Sean admits a sad truth: his first thought when he woke up was to run.
Sean had been running from his addiction for years. He had been to 17 different treatment centers. Before this final relapse Sean had acquired 5 ½ months of sobriety at New Life House Los Angeles. Sean shared that although he was sober he was unwilling to turn his will over. He admitted to being entitled, arrogant and unwilling to accept constructive criticism from others. He often isolated from others and chose not to discuss what he was thinking or feeling. While working on his fourth step he stopped. When it came time to look at his own responsibility he was again unwilling to look at himself. Sean made the impulsive decision to leave New Life House LA. He didn’t want to draw attention to the fact he was leaving so he quietly made a call to his then girlfriend to pick him up. Sean overdosed 6 hours after leaving the sober living.
As Sean was being driven away from the sober living he made the decision to meet up with some old friends. He quickly reverted back to his old behavior and went to a bar. That night his using progressed quickly. Drinking turned into smoking weed, which led to using cocaine, which then resulted in shooting heroin. Sean shared that when he saw his friends shooting heroin he remembered not wanting to. Within minutes he completely disregarded that brief moment of clarity and chose to use with them. “I knew what I was doing. It’s part of the disease. I knew the risks involved. The first shot got me high but like always I wanted more,” remembered Sean. The second shot of heroin resulted in Sean overdosing. The last thing Sean remembered was his friend telling him that they were going to take him to the hospital. He remembered saying that he didn’t need to go and that he was fine. His main concern at the time was his probation officer finding out he had used rather than being concerned about his own safety. From there everything went black.
Sean remembers nothing from the 3 days he was in the coma. He was told that his mom was there by his side speaking to him every day. The first thing Sean remembered was waking up to his best friend Rory feeding him apple sauce. Sean shared, “this is the same guy who I visited in the hospital after he was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident back in 2008 and here he was taking care of me 5 years later.” While in the hospital he was surrounded by his mom, friends, and the guys from his sober living. Sean described feeling as if he had been hit by a truck. Every part of his body hurt and he had dislocated his shoulder. He believed this must have occurred while trying to break free from the restraints at the hospital. The doctors told him that it was a miracle he was alive. They told him that his organ functioning had shut down and he had suffered lack of oxygen to his brain. They were skeptical as to whether he would ever wake up.
The support Sean received while in the hospital provided him the motivation to heal and embrace recovery. Sean was never alone in the hospital. He had visitors every day. All the guys from New Life House LA wrote him letters describing how they felt about him leaving, the bonds they had with him, and their hopes for him if he woke up. These letters provided Sean with hope for both himself and his sobriety. Sean admits that he initially felt that he needed to go to a new program and start over, again. “One morning while I was in the hospital I realized I couldn’t keep running. My running is what got me into a coma. I decided New Life House LA was exactly what I needed,” remembered Sean. He made the decision to return to New Life House LA once released from the hospital. The support continued when he got back to the sober living. Guys helped him make his bed, assisted him with his chores and ultimately allowed him the time to heal at his own pace.
Today, Sean’s perspective on his addiction and recovery has dramatically changed. Sean now believes his addiction wants him dead and he must be willing to do anything to stay sober. He attends therapy sessions and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings regularly, shares his experience with others and is working on living an honest and transparent life. He has committed to focusing on both his emotional and physical health. Exercise has become an integral part of his recovery. Previously, Sean had never made it past his 4th step. He is now on his 9th Step and is making amends to his mother this week. He admitted that in the 17 treatment centers he had been in he had never read the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous until now. Sean has 6 months of sobriety today. He feels that this is the first time in his life that he has been truly honest. Sean shares what it is like now:
“When I feel like running I read the letters that were written to me by the guys in the house. It reminds me where I was and where I don’t want to go back to. I try to take guys under my wing, just doing what was done for me. I feel like I’ve been given a second chance. I believe that my Higher Power loves me. I have had a lot of friends die from this disease. I don’t know why I was given a second chance, but it fuels my motivation to continue moving forward. I get the chance to make something with my life. I get to be an example. I get the chance to be a good father to my son. My advice for someone who wants to use one more time is to never act on emotions and to remember this too shall pass.”