STD's for $200 please Alex

By Jamie B 07/26/19

Day 73………

Having been in a recovery center’s detox and residential programs for about 5 weeks, I can tell you that we ‘Clients’, really have no idea what is going on in the outside World. Sure, I spoke to my wife every evening and saw her and my parents each Sunday for lunch and the following visitation hours, but I didn’t really know what was happening out there. Until I completed the inpatient portion of the program and was in the PHP program, I had no idea that the following had taken place while I was in detox and residential:

Apparently, British teenager Isabelle Holdaway, 17, became the 1st patient ever to receive a genetically modified phange therapy to treat a drug-resistant infection; Four commercial ships, including 2 Saudi Aramco oil tankers, were damaged near the port of Fujairah in the Gulf of Oman; Dutch singer, Duncan Laurence won the Eurovision Song Contest, held in Tel Aviv with a song called “Arcade”; The redefinition of the SI system of measurements (International System of Units), adopted by the majority of countries in the World, took effect and the British Prime Minister, Theresa May announced her resignation as Conservative leader.

However, there was one person and event the entire treatment center knew about and discussed regularly. James Holzhauer, and the remarkable run that he was achieving while appearing on the game show Jeopardy! Every day seemed to bring another broken record – the most money won for a single day, the most money won in the first 5 appearances or the quickest to $1 Million. Holzhauer won a total of $2,464,216, averaging $74,673 per day. His average winnings were almost $30,000 more than the estimated $43,000 per episode that host Alex Trebek earns.

Getting into the spirit of this pop culture phenomenon, the rehab center, as part of the weekly nursing and wellness lecture, decided that they too would have a Jeopardy! competition with STD’s being the theme of the game. Firstly, let me tell you about the normal nursing and wellness lectures. Typically, each group would start with one of the nurses, usually the Director of Nursing, telling us the importance of hand washing, especially in close knit communities like a rehab center. They would then let us know that we would be watching a video on some heath related topic. We watched a documentary about HIV and AIDS and the improvements in testing and living with the disease since the early 1980’s. We watched a documentary about the different types of drug groups and how they affected our brains and bodily functions. In short, we watched documentaries.

Before one such film, the Director of Nursing showed us a short-animated video called ‘Hi Stranger” by Kirsten Lepore. I don’t really know how to describe it, or what it is about, so I will let Adam Boult, a Daily Telegraph journalist who attempted an explanation in a column on 23rd March 2017, in which he wrote. “It features a naked, reclining figure with a bulbous bottom, murmuring reassuring words to the viewer while maintaining fixed eye contact. It’s difficult to adequately describe what makes it so compelling. Tara McGinley at Dangerous Minds had a go, saying: “The only true-life situation I can compare this to is tripping on acid with your nude genderless best friend (who has skin like uncooked sausage) at the end of a yoga class.” I highly recommend checking this out on YouTube for perhaps the most peculiar 150 seconds of animation you will see. It’s posted in the ‘Odds and Ends’ section on my website. It’s definitely worth a look!

One such Thursday at the beginning of the lecture, after the obligatory hand washing instructions, the Director of Nursing bought up a Jeopardy! game board on the TV, an extension of what he had on his laptop. The game didn’t start too auspiciously as there were ‘technical difficulties’ experienced getting the game to work properly. (This would be a theme of my entire stay as anytime a therapist or counselor attempted to show a video, use a power point, or pull up a Word document there were many moments spent twiddling with knobs, pushing buttons on both the laptop and the TV or trying differing lengths of HDMI cables.)

After calling upon technical support from one of the younger ‘clients’ in the group, the game was successfully loaded and ready to start. Or so I thought. Trying to get 34 recently sober addicts into 2 even groups was to say the least, quite challenging. People were moving all over the place. Swapping chairs with one another, wanting to be on certain people’s teams or refusing to even play the game. That was just the beginning. Each team had to appoint a team captain who would be the one to provide the final ‘question’ to the answer on the screen. No one really knew what was happening, people were vocalizing their answers even if it wasn’t their teams turn and the explanations of what they really meant if an answer was deemed wrong turned into the ridiculous. One team captain was obviously under the impression that if he shouted out the question request with amount and the actual answer, he would get more points than if he just spoke normally. Chaos reigned supreme. 

I found myself getting more and more frustrated and aggravated the longer this went on. I am someone that needs structure and I need to have order to things that are going on around me. This was a complete nightmare. The way that the game was being played and what I was looking for in how the game, in my opinion, should be played, were complete opposites. This was a vivid reminder to me of how I need my mind to be in order to function correctly. The more chaotic my surroundings, the more distracted I become to what my real goal in this sober journey is. As I pointed out in a previous writing, my goal is not, not to drink ever again. It is to live.

The more chaotic a situation becomes, the less I can hear what I need to hear in order to live this life. I need peace, I need serenity and I need calmness to succeed in my attempt to be a better person than I was yesterday.


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