A few weeks ago, my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, our first born. This child is a true gift from God, a miracle, though the road to bringing her into this world was marked with constant struggles and challenges. For years my wife and I had been wondering why we had not yet conceived a child. Then a few years ago my wife underwent an
appendectomy, and a small fibroma was discovered and identified as the likely cause of the infertility. It was removed without any concerns, and her surgeon was confident that pregnancy was still a possibility. To our surprise (and the surgeon’s), my wife was pregnant less than a year later, though, painfully, that pregnancy turned out to be non-viable. It still hurts to remember my wife’s anguished reaction when she told me that no heartbeat had been detected at her first appointment. She was very resilient, and we had learned that pregnancy was possible, though my wife’s increasing age was of concern. Try as we might, however, time went by without an ensuing pregnancy, and we reluctantly allowed our hopes to diminish, deciding instead to pursue adoption. We had just been assigned to a social worker and were preparing for our home study when we were thrilled to learn we were pregnant again. This time all went well, and we were blessed with a daughter of our own. We could not be happier!
The challenges we experienced in this process were difficult, but they paled in comparison to our broader concerns. There was a much more telling reason that we did not pursue a comprehensive investigation into our infertility. You see, for a long time our marriage had been struggling, mostly because I had been struggling. My life had been deteriorating due to alcoholism and drug addiction, and everything around me had been slowly unraveling. I had purchased a dental practice, thinking it would be the answer to all my problems, that I would be financially successful and finally have the rewarding career I had been working toward. This was not the case, however, and as my life continued to crumble, I lost focus on the practice, managed the finances poorly, and slid deeper into debt.
My staff was becoming increasingly concerned with my tardiness, numerous “sick days”, and overall lack of enthusiasm for the work. Eventually, one afternoon when I could not be awakened from a lunch hour “nap”, they contacted my wife and arranged for an intervention. When confronted, I admitted I had a problem, and made false promises to change. I wanted happiness, financial success, and to be able to continue to drink and use drugs. I eventually, however, came to the conclusion that this combination was not possible for me. Still, my drinking and other drug use had become a regular part of my life, and I did not know how to live otherwise. It was clear to both me and others that I needed help, so I finally reported myself to the Minnesota Health Professionals Service Program (HPSP). In addition to their case monitoring and a formal treatment program, HPSP strongly recommended that I contact Dentists Concerned for Dentists.
With help from DCD, counselors, and the Divine power of God, I was able to turn my life around. I found, however, that life did not necessarily get easier with sobriety. My old way of seeking the “easy life” was to hide from my problems and responsibilities, but that way of addressing life’s challenges couldn’t go on forever. I was still faced with a crumbling practice that needed rebuilding, a seemingly bottomless pit of debt, and escalating threats from the IRS. I was overwhelmed with fear – mostly fear of failure. But this was no time to hide from my problems, and this was no time to fall back into old habits. It was time for me to get honest, face my troubles head-on, and reach out for the help I so desperately needed. It was as a result of my recovery and with the generous support of the caring people around me that I was able to do that.
Even though I am now a few years into my recovery, I still do not have the practice of my dreams, and I still face considerable debt. The good news is that things continue to improve. Life is steadily getting better, though I have had to learn how to be patient. Applying the principles of recovery to all aspects of my life has allowed me to gradually chip away at the problems I feared so greatly and for such a long time. I now have hope.