Thursday, September 10, 2009

The final day of an accelerated opiate detox at The Coleman Institute is the longest. Our patients come in early with their support person and may stay until 4 or 5 o’clock. The support person has been instructed to bring whatever the patient may need for the day: a change of clothes, a blanket, pillow; as well as snacks for him/herself (although we always offer to provide a lunch for the support person from one of a number of nearby eateries).

Lately I have been struck by the blankets and quilts our patients bring on that last day. I have seen some of the most beautiful homemade quilts and afghans, and the coziest, snuggliest, softest blankets.

Last week it was Alex, an electrician by trade and a potter by God-given talent. He detoxed from methadone under the cover of a warm, thickly woven afghan, the colors of early fall on the Blue Ridge Parkway. His Mom had made it for him, though admittedly, it was also her ‘therapy’.

Rita and her husband came from Ohio earlier in the week. Rita had been on fentanyl patches with multiple opiate breakthrough pain meds for nearly seven years. She brought with her a kaleidoscope of comfort --squares of soft heavy flannel quilted together into a thick warm cover. I wanted to take a nap every time I walked in her room.

Leah’s blanket was a quilt she’d made for her own daughter many years earlier. Her daughter had detoxed from Oxycontin several months earlier, snuggled under the same blanket. Her daughter is now pregnant with Leah’s first grandchild. When Leah saw how beautifully her daughter was doing, and wanting to be fully present as a Grandmother, she was determined to stop using Oxycontin herself.

I remember the “blankie” my youngest daughter carried with her everywhere. I recall the incredible amount of time spent, searching when that blanket went missing. When she started Kindergarten I stitched a scrap from that blanket to the sleeping mat she’d be using for naptime. Her blanket would instantly calm and comfort her.

Someone who is a better writer than I could give this metaphor the elegance it deserves. These blankets, quilts and comforters are a symbol of the love our support people want to wrap their loved ones in. They have been through so much. They have lived through terrifying moments that turn into years of resignation, spiked with hope. So much is tied into being willing to go through a detox with a person who has been enslaved by drugs.

Please call us if you are ready to support your loved one through a detox, to a new beginning. We’ll be glad to answer any questions.

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