Renaissance Ranch

An Open Letter To Those Looking For Hope

Mar 21, 2024

I went in for what they thought was a goiter surgery that should take two hours. Instead, they had to pull in a second surgeon, and nine hours later, they wheeled me into the ICU. The underside of my thyroid was covered in tumors. In the course of the surgery, they damaged both my vocal nerves. Your vocal cords open so you can breathe and close so you can swallow. I couldn’t do either. They were paralyzed in the middle.

An Open Letter To Those Looking For Hope


I spent three days breathing through a hole the size of a straw before they decided to give me a tracheostomy, a tube in the middle of my throat that would bypass my vocal cords so I could breathe. I spent a year learning how to swallow without choking. I had nine surgeries total to cut out cancer that resisted radiation and correct some of the damage they’d done to my throat. I lost my job, apartment, car, and independence. I spent most of my time hooked to machines to help me breathe better and had to take a break walking across my living room.

The pain as I watched my life slip away was as great as anything I felt because of the cancer. I wanted to die. I told the nurse I was in pain. I wasn’t, not physically. They severed most of the nerves in my neck, and I was numb. I asked for drugs as often as they would let me because I wanted the world to go away. They sent me home with pills to help with the pain and help me sleep: muscle relaxers, narcotics, and sleeping pills. My favorite was Dilaudid, which I could only get in the hospital. As horrible as my hospital experience was, I found myself looking for reasons to go to the hospital so I could feel better.

I never meant to become an addict.

No one does.

Whether you started using drugs or alcohol to block out pain in your life, to be social, to party, or to self-medicate other conditions, you probably didn’t think it would take over your life, strain or ruin your relationships, or steal your home and livelihood. You didn’t know the lengths you would go to, the lies you would tell, the people you would hurt to get your next fix. You didn’t understand the shame you would feel when you said, “This is the last time; I’m done,” and broke your word the next day, and the next, and the next.

You deserve better.

One night, when my family was asleep, I locked myself in the hospital bathroom. I was angry at God. I told him I was done. If he didn’t end my life, I would. I couldn’t live like that anymore. I cried, choked on my tears, and cried some more.

I heard three words. “You are needed.” At the same time, a deep calm settled over me. It’s hard to describe. At that moment, I knew four things. I knew God was real, that he knew me, that he had no intention of ending my life, and I wasn’t to take matters into my own hands. I felt resigned rather than desperate. I still didn’t know how to improve things, but if God had a purpose for me, I figured he’d help me find it.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done; there is no place where the light of Christ can’t follow you. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve struggled with addiction; no drug, no liquor, no behavior is more powerful than the strength God can give you to fight it.

You deserve better than the life you are living. You deserve to be healthy, happy, in strong relationships with good people, and to sleep well, unburdened by shame, remorse, or despair.

  1. The first step is to admit you need help, not just alone in the dark of night, but aloud to another human being. Addiction is not a fight you win alone.
  2. Step two is to find a program focusing on recovery rather than the illness. It can’t be punitive or judgmental. There must be a spirit of love, support, and a willingness to fight the hard fight by your side.
  3. Step three is the most important and the most difficult. You need to turn your life over to God. That doesn’t mean you need to be a missionary. It means accepting he can do more with your life than you can do alone. He can turn pain into triumph, despair into passion, and dependence into strength. Find a program that believes God is a healer. Only a true believer, no matter their religion, can help you find God.
  4. Step four is to trust the process. You’re going to backslide. You’re going to make mistakes. The process is not a straight line from despair to victory. It’s learning to make a thousand tiny adjustments until you find what works for you. What thoughts give you strength, what people support your recovery, and what passions give you hope.

You’re not alone. If you are ready, even if you’re just hopeful that you can find a solution, reach out to a “substance abuse rehab center near me.” If you’re in the area, we have men’s or women’s addiction treatment centers in Idaho. We also have substance abuse facilities in Vernal and St. George.

(This is a factual account from a team member at Renaissance Ranch)