An alcoholic’s last chance at rehabilitation. Part one
|The young woman sat in the taxi outside the Rehab hospital and took a deep breath. The traffic in the city had been crazy, and the foreign driver, being unsure of where to find this place, had caused her further anxiety as she became late for her admission appointment. Fear and anxiety filled her body, she shuddered. How had it come to this?
“I may as well get this over,” she murmured, she paid the driver and stepped from the car. She saw a man standing outside the entrance to the facility. He’s probably waiting for a handout. He looked at her as she approached, his jacket was torn and filthy, matted hair hung down, covering his face. He could have been any age, dirt etched into skin that hadn’t seen soap and water for a long time. His shoulders slumped, he seemed defeated by life. “You got a fag?” He asked her, his voice raspy.
“No!” She replied. As she walked past his unwashed body, she held her breath, thinking as she did so, at least I’ve not sunk that low
An hour or so later she was escorted to a shared room at the facility. “This is your room, I’ll leave you to settle in, shall I?”
Jane gave a cursory glance around the small space, noticing the institutional pale green paintwork. She dropped her bag onto the narrow bed. “Thanks,” she whispered.
The nurse left her alone. The other bed was carelessly made, white hospital blankets pulled up hurriedly, as if the occupant had found something more urgent to attend to. There were other signs of her room mate, a magazine, a bowl of fruit, with a half eaten apple, and a box of tissues on the white bedside cabinet.
“Oh, Christ, am I really doing this?” Jane murmured. She shifted her bag onto the floor, and dropped down on the bed, rolling over onto her stomach, covering her head under the thin pillow.
The following three days were a blur. Time which had made Jane acutely aware of the hold alcohol had on her, as she battled the effects of going cold turkey. In spite of the medication, she suffered withdrawal symptoms. Fevers, hot and cold chills, stomach pains, nausea and extreme anxiety plagued her throughout the long days.
“How are you feeling today?” A quiet voice from behind the dividing curtain asked.
“Hello,” Jane slurred a reply, “I’m sorry you’ve had to put with me these last few days, I’ve not been well.”
The curtain opened half way, and her room mate peered around cautiously. She was very young and pasty white, “It’s okay, we’ve all been there. I’m Serena,” she said, holding out a thin white hand.
“Alcohol?” Jane asked.
“No, never touched the stuff, it’s other drugs. My parents put me in here, they say it’s my last chance.”
“You’re lucky, you have support, I think I’ve left it all a bit too late.” Her face showed no emotion.
Serena took in Jane’s haggard appearance. “I’m sorry,” was all she said as she slipped quietly back into her side of the room.
“No, I haven’t got the test results back yet,” Jane ran her fingers through her greasy hair as she spoke to her husband on the phone. “I know how you feel Sam, please don’t give up on me,” she cried.
Her long suffering husband had left her; for over ten years he’d pleaded with his wife to stop her reckless behaviour. Their children and their marriage had suffered from her drinking and they all agreed that rehab was her last chance.
“Jane, can I have a word?” The doctor came into her room, “ Serena can you give us a minute?”
Serena smiled at the young medic, giving him a flirty smile, “Sure thing doc. I’ll see you downstairs at lunch Jane.”
After Serena left the room, the doctor sat on Jane’s bed, he took her hand, “ There’s no easy way to say this my dear.”
Jane looked into his eyes, seeing the bad news written in them, “ Not good then?” She asked.
After he’d left she lay staring at the ceiling, “So this is what they call rock bottom,” she whispered.
Returning from Group Therapy later that day she felt no hope, despite what the doctor had said she must do. He’d told her straight, she had to stop drinking, her body was damaged, her life in danger. His voice had held no sympathy.
Matthew called. Hearing his voice always gave Jane comfort. He’d been there for her for over a year now, ever since she’d found the courage to go to her first meeting. She’d sat at the back of the room, hoping no one would speak to her as she watched and waited. She saw others stand and declare their addiction, all the time her mind was screaming to her to run.
Then she saw Matthew. “ My name’s Matthew,” he said, “and I’m an Alcoholic.” He proceeded to tell his story, and Jane listened.
After the meeting Matthew spoke to her and asked if she needed a sponsor and offered his help.
“Call me when ever you want, I’m always on the end of the phone.”
Jane felt she’d disappointed him once too often, and one day he’d turn around and say he’d given up on her, as everyone else had. He had never done that, he was her one constant in a world of confusion.
“Hi Jane,” he said, his voice as usual full of hope, “it’s great to hear you’ve decided to try rehab. I’ve had an idea, I’ll come and sign you out for a couple of hours on Sunday, there’s someone I’d like you to meet. Are you up for it?”
“Hi Matty, I’m sorry, I let you down again. I think this is my last chance, the doc said I was killing myself.”
After the call, Jane went into the bathroom to wash her tear ravaged face, she stared into the mirror, shocked at her appearance. The whites of her eyes had a yellow tinge, her hair was lank and lifeless and despite her slim build, her abdomen swollen.
They drove out into the countryside, the weather was perfect and the fields were aglow with masses of yellow canola flowers. “Where are you taking me?” Jane asked as they drove further away from the city.
“You’ll see,” Matthew smiled. He pointed out the new spring lambs, the blue sky and the wonderful smell of eucalyptus as they sped along the narrow roads.
In her depressed frame of mind Jane was unable to appreciate anything, she sat with her face half covered by her black beanie.
At last they pulled in to a farm gate, Matthew got out of the car and opened the gate, closing it behind them before driving up the long gravel driveway. The tyres crunched to a halt outside a big old farmhouse. He tooted his horn and waited. A young woman in her thirties came out to greet them, she smiled at Matthew. “Mat! You found us,” giving him a warm smile, she pecked him on the cheek, “ You must be Jane, I’m Lizzy,” she said, holding her hand out to give Jane a firm handshake. “Matthew told us he’d bring you for a visit, he said you loved horses?”
Jane gave a quick look in Matthew’s direction, “I do love animals, not had much to do with horses really,”
“Come on, I’ll take you to the stables.” Lizzy led the way across the yard, Jane and Matthew followed her, ducks and geese scattering noisily as they walked. About a hundred yards away Jane could see a long, low, grey stone building and as they neared, she heard a horse neighing and snorting in the stable. “That’s Black Velvet,” Lizzy said, as she walked past the half open stable door, “he’s very unsettled, we think he’s been ill treated. He’s only been with us a week, not very sociable I’m afraid.”
Lizzy moved on,”I’ll show you our new foal, he’s gorgeous.”
But Jane had stopped, she was stroking Black Velvet’s face, his long eyelashes were closed against her hand as she stroked him gently. It was as if he knew a fellow sufferer, someone who needed something more than words.
Lizzy turned and stared at the sight of Jane and the previously angry horse, communicating in such a way. “I can’t believe it!” She exclaimed, staring at the scene, “no one has been able to get near him,”
“Lizzy runs classes in equine therapy, it was she who suggested time with horses may be helpful to you,” Matthew explained his reason for coming out to the farm.
Jane smiled for the first time in what seemed forever, “ Maybe she’s right.” she said, resting her forehead on Black Velvet’s face.
Word count 1423