I Was A Mom Of 2 And PTA President. Nobody Knew I Was Also Popping 10 Ambien A Day.

The following is quoted from “Stash: My Life in HidingBy Laura Cathcart Robbins. Reprinted by permission of Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc.

Teatoo much Ambien and I’m sloppy; Blurred, confused and forgetful. Not enough and I can’t make eye contact, my voice gets too high pitched, and I get easily agitated. So now I’m a chemist, looking for the exact formula that allows me to operate in the world as indirectly as possible.

I know I cannot keep this cycle for long, but today is a very important day. I have to persuade Dr. Linbaum to approve my 2nd refill override that the ER doctor had written for me only four months earlier after my visit. I’m wearing my hair in a neat bun and gray Theory stretch slacks and a black Stella McCartney bodysuit. I’ve found that if I look put together enough, people tend to overlook how jumpy I am.

I’m sweating under my aviators and I’m afraid it’s a fairytale. I think about getting them removed, but I’m afraid Dr. Linnbaum will see how dilated my pupils are. And I know that my inability to make eye contact is not normal for someone who is taking medication “as prescribed.”

As I sit at his desk, he barely looks at the chart he’s reading.

He starts getting shocked hearing my voice.

“How are you, doctor?”

“Mrs. Robbins, do you know how much Ambien you’re taking?”

I’m suddenly grateful that I’m wearing my glasses.

He knows! Oh Jesus, he knows.

I try to keep my face calm as I look for the right answer. I have some great excuses, but I can’t remember which ones I’ve already used with him. I turn to a casual tone.

“Oh, are you talking about that replacement refill I got a couple weeks ago? It’s a really funny story. You see, we went to our Malibu house that weekend because our studio city house Tents were being set up in. I won’t bore you with the details.

I laugh a bit, to test the waters. He’s stone-faced, constantly reading my charts.

“Anyway, I accidentally left all my prescriptions in Studio City, and of course we couldn’t afford to go back because of the gas, so I had to get everything replaced.”

I fold my trembling hands in my lap and dig my fingernails into my palms. Doctor. Linnbaum flips through ten or fifteen pages of scribbles.

“Your previous scans showed that your brain activity is normal. There have been no seizures since February.

“Yeah,” I say, happiness in my voice. “The neurologist said everything looked good. He cleared me to drive again.”

“But here’s the thing. Two weeks ago, a pharmacist called your insurance company. They were concerned about how much Ambien they were giving you.”

Herman, that nasty bastard, I should have known he was going to make money on me.

“Mrs. Robbins. He closes my chart and leans toward me at his desk. His eyes are tired and kind, but I’m still prepared for the worst. “I’m afraid we’ll have to discontinue the Ambien. would need to be done. Safely, of course. The nurse will give you tapering instructions. And I’ll see you back here next month.

“Now, I’m not accusing you of anything.”

“But you have to understand that if you are abusing this drug, I could lose my license to prescribe it to you. I know you’re having a rough time, and I’m sorry to hear about your divorce.” It hurt

But trust me, this is the best course of action.

Back home, the neat print of the nurse seems innocent enough, but every word is like a knife in my stomach. Thirty Ambien, only refill three times. No quick refills. This is 90 Ambien for the rest of my life. I feel sweat dripping from my temples as my mind starts to race.

I was counting on filling my bag today.

My heart is beating so hard now that it makes my tongue hit my palate. I go to the bathroom, kneel barefoot on the floor and with trembling fingers start my pill list. Thirty four. I need at least nine pills for the night and at least two get me through the day. that means thirty four bullets will only last me for three days. Even if I spike each pill with alcohol and benadryl it still isn’t enough. I’m looking forward to the days of painful, humiliating withdrawal.

I lovingly collect them all in three piles, six for today, 16 remain in the bottle, but the rest need to be hidden so that I don’t accidentally bring them to brownout. I hide something in the toes of a random pair of shoes in my closet. I make a note in my Filofax to let you know once I’ve been clear enough. L for Louboutins, G for Gucci.

I need to find another source and I need it.

I’m shaking so hard my shoulders are shaking as I silently close the bedroom door. I dropped to the floor and pulled out my phone, scrolling down until I found the number of a doctor in our neighborhood, Dr. Nelson, an orthopedic surgeon whose children attend school with the boys. Although he wouldn’t play ball for a friendly, neighbor vicodin prescription for fake back injury he questioned me about my sleep and asked if I had enough Ambien.

This gave me hope that maybe he would be willing to write it for me someday when I was really desperate. like now.

I can see my heart thumping through my bodysuit as I press the call button.

What if Dr. Nelson mentions my call at his daughter’s birthday party next week? Or what if he reports me for drug seeking?

I know I’m playing Russian roulette here. A “no” is a bullet through my skull. A “yes” blocks execution. When the nurse answers I use my best white-girl voice to explain that we’re going out of town and my regular doctor is away for two weeks.

“Is Dr. Nelson brains calling in a refill for me just this one time?”

I think maybe he captured me, but after a few seconds of silence, he asked me to hold him. I move in a circle on the carpet, praying, praying, praying that I get hanged.

“Yes?” My heart stops beating.

“He wants you to come for an appointment.”

“It’s been over a year since you’ve been here. Can you come on Wednesday morning?”

I sit on the bed and deflate like a day old helium balloon.

I know what to do now.

My husband, who I’m in the process of divorcing, is sleeping here this week, so I wait until I’m sure everything is up before I walk into my office and bring up the website. Somebody is on the bed. last two weeks. Zolpidem, brand name Ambien. I have a bottle of 300 pills in my cart.

If I can control myself, three hundred pills can last me 25 days. I’ve been here before, but I’m always too chic and can’t hit the bye. If I get caught ordering drugs off the Internet, it will no longer be possible to claim that I am taking these pills as prescribed, not blaming my nervousness on lack of sleep, or trying to overcome my manic behavior. For being just overly caffeinated. I would have lost all semblance of credibility, and he would have won everything.

I hit continue, extending my ears like power antennas, listening for commotion in the darkened house. I’m waiting for that creaking of the floorboards, that shadow of the door, that hand on my shoulder. I have to keep wiping my sweaty fingers from under my pajamas between entering and re-entering debit card numbers from my secret lawyer-ordered bank account. On the next page, I pull a folded Post-It note from my coat pocket as I enter the address of my secret PO box.

If he were to come now, he’d have everything: Internet drugs, secret account, secret PO box.

My eyes scroll up and down, searching through all the words on the next screen for the delivery date.

When will they reach here???

I freeze when I hear clicking somewhere behind me. Was that a move? was he down Panic begins to overwhelm my ability to concentrate, so I click Confirm, click Exit Site, and click Clear My History.

Running on tiptoe down the hallway, I pass through the closed guest-room door where I hear her snoring softly (thank goodness) and enter the shelter of my bedroom. There the boys beat me as usual. Their bodies lie crosswise over the covers, the head of one sleeping on the ankles of the other. I slowly move a damp body over so I can slide next to it and pull the covers up to my chin.

,Stash: My Life in Hidingby Laura Cathcart Robbins is available for purchase at bookstores everywhere.

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