So after nine years of sobriety, and four solid years at the career, and what now, five years since the original release of Hippopotamus Sea: My Viral Sobriety, I have finally had a professional editor take a look at, and work on the book, and it is finished. Well everything but the title.

It will be fun to re-release and see if the more simplified title gets any better traction, and will also be therapeutic to be able to say, OK, this is now finally done.

Life is good, and just as promised, had I wished for everything I currently have in early sobriety, I would have sold myself short. I am the top software salesman in a half a billion dollar company and I travel the perfect amount of time, about once every two months to major cities, New York, LA, Vegas, Chicago and I do software presentations for an industry I enjoy, commercial construction.

My health scare of last year, the imminent Aortic heart valve leak, and 4 aneurysms, turns out to be manageable, and only prevents me from lifting weights, which is fine, tho I do miss it slightly, and gives me a pool as the next goal on the new house I bought. They really did scare me though, last year told me open heart surgery  was imminent, but I guess the issues didn’t grow in a years time so I just have large heart valves, sort of like my 17.5 inch neck, guess I’m just short and stocky, and it messes with their measurements. Whatever, I’m glad I’m not getting a new titanium heart valve that is all I know. Guess I quit cocaine and drinking and smoking not a moment too soon!

The house, has been a challenge, but one I’m almost embarrassed to talk about because it is such a first world privilege problem.  First of all I didn’t want to buy a suburban house, and so my sister turned me on to a Mid-Century Modern neighborhood in Atlanta, and I absolutely love it. The flat roofs accentuates the sound of rain and you can even hear the sound of leaves and flotsam from the trees falling. The architecture is clean lines and interior wood ceilings, tongue and groove, and to match those, I just spent a week off of work building out a cedar tongue and groove closet, and my carpentry skills aren’t quite what they used to be but again, quality problems, and in the big scheme of things, they turned out great.

I know everyone will laugh at my modern toilets, square, that I had installed, peoples first reaction is always, “Are those comfortable? Does the square hurt your ass?” This is hilarious to me because of course the actual seat you sit on isn’t square, but people are programmed to see their cookie cutter toilet, and anything outside the norm is considered weird, but I absolutely love it. The new custom bathroom has been an enormous task, and has been fraught with challenges at every turn, but we’re almost finished with it, and its all going to turn out splendidly I believe. Modern clean lines, with porcelain tile throughout the customized shower, with body spray, marble bench and a nice marble modern vanity, with clean horizontal and vertical lines on the modern lighting as well. the first attempt at cutting the marble vanity was a fail, they  split the marble piece in my driveway on Wednesday. Oh well! Shit happens, and again such a luxurious problem it’s petty even bitching about, except that I took the whole week off working on the closet, and managing the process, but such is life.

At the end of the day I am blessed beyond belief. My sobriety, and journey from Hep C to being cured has been all worth the fight and then some. I know sobriety is all about spirituality, but money in the bank, real money, also changes a lot of things for you as well, and I could have never gotten to this level of success while still drinking and drugging, or worse, while dying of Hepatitis C. Sure, the treatments are easier, less expensive and less time consuming as Interferon was 8 years ago even, but it doesn’t make my story any less poignant.

Coming from living in a rat infested shack with no health insurance, to  getting sober, beating Hep C, writing a book, launching a successful software sales career and moving into the house of my dreams, and working on it slowly but surely, is all worth telling people about. There is no lack of come backs stories in the United States, and in the world, but God’s greatness is always worth discussing, so I’ll relaunch the book here shortly, with a better, well less subtle title, and perhaps get a little more traction than last time.

And even if not, at least with a professional editor behind it this time, I’ll feel like I can go on to write the next thing, hopefully some Science Fiction I can turn into a successful series! And also under my real name.

-Jared Bryan Smith



I remember being four years old and thinking all these people are nuts.

It’s one of my first memories in fact, sitting in a church bathroom, out in Norcross, corralled with the other preschoolers and some janitor going off, I mean just really laying into us about using too much toilet paper. And I remember even as a kid thinking “Go fly a kite” this is not a real issue people. The faces of the pre-k teachers, so stern, all the other kids scared, and me just thinking, all these people are idiots.

My own dad would later lecture me and my brother and sister on the virtue of using just one toilet paper square per wipe, and again I remember vividly thinking, you are a fucking idiot. I still think that. This from the man who blew 50k on a sound recording studio he never used, and the guy who spent a hundred bucks a week on liquor, legitimately worried, and strategizing on how to make his kids use less TP. Maybe this is where my “Go Fuck Yourself” attitude comes from, because I am a born rebel still through and through.

Maybe all alcoholics are. I don’t know. But even coming up on 9 years I am still rebellious to the core.  To the point I almost got a DUI and 8.4 years sober, lol.

It started with significant chest/abdominal pains waking me up about 5 AM Friday evening. 99% of the time this happened to me in my life I’ve been able to knock them out with a simple dose or two of Pepto, right? But this was different. I could feel my pulse in my belly, and when you’ve got 4 aneurysms and one of them abdominal, this is worrisome. And being a bachelor still, having never quite bounced back from my only recovery relationship years back, I didn’t want to drop dead. Especially after the record setting sales month I’ve had, lol, I want to live to spend or invest that cash baby! So, in fear of being found rotting in my bachelor pad in a few weeks, I drove myself to the emergency room.

By the time I got to the emergency room and all IV’d up they asked if I wanted and pain medication and having been suffering an hour plus at this point I said sure. They asked if I drove myself and I said yes, but no worries, I can uber it home. So they give me what I would call a mild dose of Dilaudid, I say mild because I stayed conscious, and the room didn’t flip and put me on the ceiling which is what happened last time I took some (albeit self administered in my using days) but still, I was fine. So hours go by, blood tests, cat scans, they talk to my Vascular surgeon, they find my heart and 4 aneurysms are not yet leaking or burst, so I’m safe, probably just food poisoning. I’m not bleeding out, this is good.

But then they take an hour or so to release me, and I’m just getting more and more impatient. I am a huge asshole, so I just rip the IV out, and sneak out the door. I’m paid up, I’m insured, it’s all good I think, they can sort the paperwork later. I walk through the hospital barely able to find the entrance, and walk out to see a cop sitting there in the parking lot. Perfect I say to myself, and like an asshole ask him to cut my medical band off my wrist, he looks at me oddly, and I compliment his machoism by saying, “You look like the kind of guy that has a knife” to which he smiles and cuts the band.

I’m homefree I think, get to the beamer, open her up hop in and get to the parking attendant Arab waiting for me and he asks for 5 bucks cash. It’s 2015 and I’m leaving the emergecny room I tell him, nobody has cash these days. So he asks for my discharge papers. Discharge papers I think to myself? Man these people are assholes. I can feel a toilet paper lecture coming on. Fortunately he has opened the gate at this point, so I smile and haul ass right through the parking lot, squeeling tires and all, hit the highway and head home.

It’s not till I’m home that I put together that all that rule breaking could potentially, if they really wanted to land my ass in jail with some charges. I mean yes it would be a stretch, but now I have a terrible withdrawal headache and I’m paranoid to boot, but still technically I guess they could put it all together, and see they adminstered a narcotic at a specific time, and have the Arabs testimony I drove, not to mention the cop I HAD to talk to on the way out, and I’d be busted.

It’s a stretch, but man when something gets up someones ass there is no limit to the worlds stupidity and what people can choose to become advocates about. Still, I think the hospital knowing I need a million dollars worth of surgery will override their sense of injustice and my bolting on a 5 tab.

And incidentally, they are charging a few hundred bucks an advil in the emergency room these days, you really need an extra five bucks from a patient whose parked during his visit.

I guess someones got to cover the toilet paper cost increases. Idiots.

Thus far the swat team hasn’t come for me though. It’s only been a day though, the investigation may take a bit.

In other news, the professional editor has the book and we should be finding a good forward writer soon.

JB Smith

I have always considered myself a writer, since I was very young, had always dreamed of being one. My first attempt was when I wrote a novel at 19 or 20 or so and sent it to every publisher in the United States, and found they were polite enough to send rejection letters. That was kind, I had no idea. I lost that book in my divorce, it was probably trash. I remember feeling resentful when “Left Behind” became successful, as mine was a similar idea, however I’d attempted to create a scientific explanation for every Biblical prophecy, so the “Rapture” as it were, was going to be something quite different in my book.

I’d not intended my first book to be on Recovery, that is for sure. I’d never published anything other than an editorial about walking around ground zero after 9/11, and it was a hell of an effort. I lost my job writing it.

Publishing it pissed people off. Writing about other people, no matter how trivial or unread a writer you may be has an intense emotional effect on the other people, I truly did not know this  and continue to be amazed by it. I’m a complete unknown, the book sales are so low they almost cost me money, and yet ex’s and oh’s will get upset to this day from time to time about this books contents, of which were written 5 years ago, about the 30 years previous. We are all very sensitive though and I guess one thing it has taught me is to have more empathy for others feelings, and privacy. Thank God I published with a pen name.

I’d really hoped my autobiography work was done with the book, (and I could get to writing sci-fi) but it looks like life is going to be throwing me a few more challenges. In 8 years of sobriety I have accomplished a lot and have been more successful in my business career than I would have ever imagined, so I’m grateful, but I’d hoped to put the ever so personal and painful memoir business behind me.

The Good Book says to let your light shine, and we all shine in different ways, I’m better at writing than being one on one with people, so we all use our gifts, or we should try I believe. I had hoped I was done writing about my challenges because frankly I didn’t want anymore.

I’d thought of going back and adding the financial amends and accomplishments I’d attained but thought it would be too tacky, but this will simply be worth adding I suppose.

I have to have open heart surgery. I don’t know when, six months a year, maybe longer, but I currently have four aneurysms and they are steadily growing. Fortunately I have amazing health insurance and one of the top Cardiologists in the nation, so I will be fine in the long run, but it will be no fun.

I will be put to the test, I will be cut open, all my ribs cracked in two  places, and moved out of the way for a man’s hands to cut out my aortic valve and replace it with a mechanical one, and then have four stints shoved up my groin artery to strengthen the vascular walls. I will be on serious pain medication for some time, (my drug of choice incidentally) and I will have to enjoy, and then withdraw from them all without drinking or cheating on the medications, which is a challenge. Now I’ve already done this several times with more minor procedures, but this will be a bit more amplified and accentuated than just having a few screws removed from my ankle.

So you see, much against my will, I will have more to add to my story.

And despite the one poisonous review on my Amazon page , it really is a good story, and I have overcome quite a bit, without drinking. Furthermore, in response to said review, I’m not Hep C positive, Interferon cures it these days thank God. It’s sort of the entire point of the book, making that review especially hurtful. Additionally, while I wish this person would remove that review on Amazon and she accuses me of writing about people I have dated, A) I’ve never used even my own name, and B) I have never used another’s either. C) I have learned a lesson and will never mention, even in the abstract, another person on my blog without their explicit permission beforehand. I have removed every single instance of mentioning another person on my blog and will continue to adhere to this etiquette, and I do apologize for having hurt, however accidental, anyone I may have by writing about my own life, and those that were in it. I’ll not repeat the mistake, however subtle or anonymous.

I’m simply too tired to battle the world on this, and I’m not a tabloid journalist, but a simple writer, and this book has helped people, I know because they write me, and surely there will be additional heart patients in sobriety that could be helped as well reading about the pain I’ve endured, and still stayed sober through.

I never intended to hurt anyone with this blog or my book at all, in fact quite the opposite, and it’s still the biggest lesson I’ve learned in dipping my toe into the waters of writing and publishing, is that people’s feelings are very easily hurt, and it doesn’t matter if I intended to or not.

So for that I apologize, and I have removed, and will continue to not write about, even in anonymity, anyone I meet or is in my life on this blog. This blog is about recovery and overcoming addiction and other obstacles life throws our way.

I’ll also be creating a new blog, for a Science Fiction venture I’m going to take on, and I can assure you, having learned the lessons I have on this anonymous blog, I will damn sure not write about anyone using my real name, God only knows this has been painful enough for me.

Still I think its been worth it, no, it’s not a best seller, or a massive deluge of people who write me about my book helping them but more than one has, and while yes, it’s embarrassing having strangers know the intricate details of my life, and eccentricities, I think it’s been good for a select few, and I don’t think the work stands as an embarrassment, I think it’s overall a good, maybe unfinished effort.

I did what I could with what I had at the time, and now I have a bit more, I’m going to invest a bit more into it, and of course add the heart surgery, and be successful with that (God willing, 5% mortality rate is pretty good odds though) and apply the lessons I’ve learned.

The man who makes no mistakes never tried anything.

I appreciate the followers I have here, and more is to come, in the not too near future.

Additionally, I will relaunch later on with a new title so as to not be so subtle, Hippopotamus Sea, simply doesn’t pick up the SEO strategy something more obvious with Hepatitis C in the title would,  or something to that affect would, as much as fucking HATE that name, if it ends up getting to more people who actually need the book, well then I guess its worth the artistic sacrifice. Furthermore, it will be professionally edited, and paired down to a more palatable version and a cheaper paperback version and I’ll make an effort to get it into AA approved literature, though I don’t have any big hopes or expectations on that. Another slight complication is that people with Hep C no longer even have to do the 12  months of Interferon, I think the masses are down to  months with a much lighter load of the more harmful side effects, so that is good for humanity, but odd timing for a book about Interferon survival, lol, oh well, I’d rather they cure it with a pill than make my book a success, haha.

Seriously though, if you have Hep C and are in recovery, keep on keeping on, it gets better, and you CAN be cured, to imply that you can not, by saying I did not, which is a lie, is just cruel, no matter where it is coming from, ignore that and keep your head up, you can stay sober, and be cured of Hep C and get your amazing blessed life back!

Life is good, God is good, keep on keeping on, and write me anytime!


Jared Bryan Smith

Since I was about 12 years old I’d suffered from intermittent headaches in my right temple, however after the hell that was a year-long bout with Interferon, my recovery from the Interferon, or Post Interferon seemed to be even fucking worse. I suffered heavy headaches in my temple that felt like a golf ball lodged right into my temple and varying in intensity but ALWAYS present for no kidding the first 3-4 years. I went to a Neurologist and was then diagnosed with Hemicrania Continua , which basically means a chronic headache in your temple. I was prescribed Indomethacin or Indocet and let me tell you, it works, however makes you groggy and slow, as well as ruins your stomach in turn. And I mean if you don’t eat a ton in the morning you’re going to shit blood, hurt your stomach, which was terrible. Even when you ate a ton of food you may still end up just nauseous as hell and just plain miserable. A case of the cure being worse than the disease.

In the last year, my 5th year  Post Interferon, I was back at a corporate gig selling software, and deftly afraid the headaches would make me incapable of really giving it 100% so I got back on Interferon after getting off a few years before due to losing insurance and of course the awful side effects. However the headaches persisted, and I’d been unemployed so I just dealt with them. Going back to work in 2012 I decided I would get back on the meds, and then also flirt with and attempt to take multiple different meds to see what might balance out the side effects of the interferon. Well, at first we tried Celexa. Outside of gaining 20 lbs I’m still trying to get rid of it worked great… for about 5 months or so. And then the temple headaches returned as well as a general heavy brain fog headaches that had persisted on and off on top of the temple headache, since Post Interferon. The brain fog headache had never existed until after Interferon and is intense, prevents clear thinking and hurts even worse than the pressure type headache of the temple pain. So I quit Celexa. Moving forward from that point thru 2012 and into early 2013 I tried every single combination of Anti Depressant / Anti Anxiety on Earth and they all sucked. And my headaches persisted. And then something happened. My Neurologist, Dr. Leslie Kelman, retired. At first I panicked, but since I was getting such lousy results to begin with, I went ahead and just got off of all the meds again.

And lo and behold I was scared. I googled and found someone with the same type of headaches  Hemicrania Continua | Cure and sure enough I tried the method he talked about. The Valsalva method actually fucking worked and while not curing it entirely as it had done for him, definitely relieved a lot of the pain and pressure.

And let me just tell you, I as a sober man in recovery, coming up on 7 years, feel so much better without the meds. I wish I could have the year back I was on them, except I wouldn’t have the extensive knowledge of how much better I feel without them. I still feel some pressure, and occasionally have a brain fog headache, but nothing like before, and hell, who knows maybe all the psych meds actually did remap or rework some of the synapses up there, and rewire shit to work a bit better, I really don’t know and I can promise you the Doctors don’t. I’m convinced, that since the Valsalva method, or in effect, blowing hard with your mouth closed to make your ears pop, works so well, that it must be something to do with pressure. I remember too, when the barometric pressure does change I seem to be more susceptible to headaches as well, but again, mostly guess work.

I’m just truly grateful I began to get some relief. I am successful at work again, for the first time since Interferon, 5 years out, and while I’m still not back to 100% of my previous mind, I do feel like it has started to come back and recover, and perhaps that’s all it is with the headaches. That maybe Interferon is so powerfully devastating that it just takes time to heal. I don’t know. But I feel better, and therefore I feel hopeful, and I’m grateful I’m not having to take any meds for it as well. Perhaps there is life after Interferon afterall.

I’m on track to have my best year financially in my adult life and I was a baller before Interferon so things are looking good. I’m able to work 60 hours a week and teach Sunday school every Sunday at my church, I’m back to hitting the gym 4 times a week and starting to cut the weight I’d gained after Celexa. I’ll, God willing, be buying my first place since I was 18 in a month or two and I just pray the headaches stay at bay. I don’t know the exact cure, but I know I’m grateful they’ve retreated.

Perhaps after I get in the new place, and get a new car, I’ll go back to the drawing board on the book Hippopotamus Sea, My Viral Sobriety, and get it edited out, maybe clean out the f bombs and make it more commercially viable, and perhaps give another facelift and make an attempt to get more recovery books on there… or maybe just go for what I love in Sci-Fi Fantasy books. I used to claim not to like fantasy but my sisters have definitely dragged me into the Game of Thrones series and I’ve spent the entire summer on those books. hell I may even go digital and get an e reader… but I doubt it.

Jared Bryan Smith

Man oh man how nice it was when Celexa worked for so long in keeping the Post Interferon headaches at bay. And how disheartening when it simply stopped working about 5 months into treatment. So with my Doctors counsel I tried to first double the Celexa from 20 mg to 40 mg only to have my headaches increase in intensity almost immediately. But, since the Celexa had taken two weeks to feel somewhat positive to begin with I held on for two weeks suffering through an intense basically constant headache through the first two weeks of June, and then finally gave up on that increased dosage strategy, and went back to the 20 mg for a week, then down to 10 mg and then off for about a week, before beginning the next step in this process, to try lamictal. I had used it once a few years back and had some good luck with it however I’d stopped when laid off from my recruiting job, and losing my health insurance. The experiment of course was to try several different meds until I found one that worked, while I have the good health insurance, and before I take any major entrepreneurial risks. I just want to be fully operational, or even just find something that makes me fully functional and for a while Celexa worked, until it just didn’t. When I stopped taking the Celexa though, I was reminded of the original headaches I’d been taking it for to treat in the firstplace. I was hoping that conditions and variables had changed, or rather that my quitting drinking coffee was going to make the headaches disappear entirely and therefore make the headaches disappear, however this wasn’t the case. It was weird though, getting off Celexa, about as weird as getting on it was. I was out of sort, dizzy sometimes, and just not myself.

So Lamictal, originally suggested by my Neurologist a few years back takes about 2-3 weeks to get up to its full dosage and I’m only about 4 days into it but so far so good. First of all I didn’t have, or haven’t had any of the skin rashes they warn you about which is apparently the main reason you have to ease into it, but also I woke up with one of my headaches this morning and it was the kind that usually stays with me all freaking day, however after taking a few tylenol and going to the gym it was gone, and I’ve felt pretty good all day.

I am hopefully for Lamictal , but if it doesn’t work I’ll just try for six months like I did Celexa, then try something else. In the long run, I’ve now quit smoking cigarettes, and a full month off caffeine trying to get rid of headaches and there must be light at the end of the tunnel. The Celexa was good for a while, but it ended up just causing another kind of headache and also some seriously weird stomach issues that I was very very tired of. So maybe Lamictal will be better.

If not, theres still Lexapro and Wellbutrin to try out and if I get real desperate I guess I could even try Prozac…. I had really hoped quitting drinking coffee would do it… but hell, at least my teeth are whiter!🙂

In other news, work is going great, even though I had to work through a massive headache in June, I have still managed to be over 120% of quota every month and therefore making some great money. I head to Cabo in a few weeks so that should be a blast and I’ll be sure to hit up some AA meetings while I’m down there. It will sort of be dangerous, I’ll be hanging with old friends who all drink and party still but I figure I’ll just go from the airport to the clubhouse that supposedly speaks English and then head to the hotel so I have an escape route at anytime. I’ll also have my cell phone at all times so shouldn’t be too tough , and the place looks like a dream come true, Barcelo. I deserve it, I’ve worked hard the last few months and taken care of a lot of debts.

Maybe I’ll come up with some new book ideas, the beach always does that to me!

Jared Bryan Smith

Lets see, that has to be about right, maybe 60 days because I guess I started taking the Celexa at the end of January and now we are rounding mid april so probably 70 days or so. The great news is that I rarely have the major stop me from functioning headaches anymore, taking the pain level from an easy 8 or 9 to a most days nothing at all and when the headaches do return it is a mild 2 or 3, not the all encompassing pain I experience full well half my days for so many years Post TX. Is it the medicine, or perhaps just the amount of time now finally getting on close to 4 years post TX, I really can’t say but I’m too scared to try and stop taking the medicine. I’m much less manic, much more focused and consistent and I’ve been outperforming at work and doing well. Save a couple of emails from disgruntled cheap shot customers, lol, in one I called my VP of Sales the price Nazi and since he was out I could offer an incredible price and the stupid customer sent it to my boss, the little pain in my ass, I was called in and reprimanded. Since when is Nazi a bad word… Oh well, who cares, life goes on.

The major downside of Celexa I’ve noticed though is that I’m not as driven and or motivated if you will. I’ve written almost nothing, nothing in the blog, books, barely anything in my own personal journal. I do my job well enough, even put in the extra hours for fear of being laid off yet again in this fickle economy, but as far as extra curricular, the gym, the blog, the meetings, I have been barely getting by.. And the meetings. the thing that has literally held me together the last five years, well I will be honest, on Celexa, while I still go, I don’t really feel like I get as much out of the meetings as I used to, don’t feel as compelled to share, and don’t leave with the sense of accomplishment and well being that I used to… now it’s just a blah feeling… but no headaches. Hard to weigh the pros and cons. I mean I’m not going to stop taking Celexa, I simply can’t. But there is a lot to be said about losing the drive to write, work out, or go to meetings and be passionate….

Also peeing. Urinating and orgasms, now take effing forever. Sometimes I’ll have to pee really bad walk in the bathroom and sit there for five minutes just waiting and waiting… weird side effect. In addition my super regularity is gone, as you could have timed the stock market on my morning movement prior to Celexa, and now, who knows, sometimes its a few days, sometimes its daily, which is strange for me.

Are those symptoms things worth the headaches being gone? Hard to say. I guess I’ll keep on keeping on, grateful that I’m cured of Hep C and alcoholism, or daily reprieve or what have you, and just be glad that something, anything was able to treat the headaches at all… for if this thing treats them one way, perhaps Lexapro, or Wellbutrin will treat them another, and I owe it to myself to explore those ways as well. Hope is better than despair I suppose, and headaches for years was starting to get a bit desperate for sure.

I’m grateful I’ve found something, but am definitely open to the possibility that something else may treat them better, and this time at least it will be nice to know I can fall back on the Celexa, should the headaches return. Also I may as well use whats working for a while at least, or hell for economic reasons at least wait until Lexapro has a generic.

– Jared Bryan Smith

So I made the move back to civilization from the mountain house, and I’m loving the new apartment and the new job. More than anything, all the fear wrapped up into not being able to perform at the new job is beginning to dissipate as the Post Interferon Syndrome headaches have been so diminished with the new meds. After Interferon I was so shocked to have that brain fog penetrate through and destroy my quality of life for many years after I stopped Interferon. I mean it sucks even worse because the doctors won’t admit it’s happening, blame it on other things, and tell you such idiotic things as, “Just take a multivitamin” or when you tell them about your symptoms kind of look down their nose at you and state “Well, if you say so.” I mean it’s quite remarkable really, how online you can find multiple people suffering from an almost universal diagnosis, and then go to three educated doctors in a metropolis like Atlanta, and have your General Doctor, your Gastroenterologist and your Neurologist, all basically say Interferon has no lasting side effects, so this must be an anomaly or just in your head, or even that you’re being a hypochondriac to the point you almost question it yourself. But I wrote about it, I journalled and I was even able to stop working for a while, move out of the city and see if it was allergies, pollution or something I hadn’t thought of, and the headaches persisted. I was still, 3.5 years later suffering from brain fog type headaches at least 66% of the time, which made selling, or making cold calls very tough if not impossible. So in 2012, facing a new job, a highly micro managed job, I was really scared I wouldn’t be able to perform because of the headaches. Two or three weeks into it, I was still suffering 2-3 days during the week, so almost out of hope, I decided to take a scientific practical objective look at what meds might possibly do for me. This is despite my being a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and opposed to being on any mood altering substances. I had tried anti depressant while I was beginning Interferon and I had been so early in sobriety, I felt like it made me more squirrely and even so uncomfortable that it made me think of drinking more often, and trust me at one year sobriety, I wasn’t in a position to be flirting with that possibility. Especially as I was just starting my battle against Hep C, the disease which attacks the very organ my liver uses to process alcohol. So my attempt at mood altering substances, or anti depressants had gone so bad I just was afraid they would make me want to drink again, but at 5 years sober, the headaches practically making me an invalid, I finally decided, hell or high water, I would give several different substances, 90 days or so, give them a fair shake and see how much better or worse I felt, just so longed as I didn’t drink or drug, it was worth the experiment. I’m glad I did.

It’s mind boggling how well Celexa works in combating my constant headaches. I mean it just doesn’t make sense it’s so effective. The first week or two was weird as I was adjusting but after I got over the hump, I mean to tell you the brain fog headaches I would rate as an 8 or so, fell down to around a 2, and the frequency of around 66% of the time or 2/3rds of the time walking around trying to function in pain has been reduced to around 1/10th of the time. They also gave me Prodrin to combat the migraines, the other kind of headache that actually significantly went away when I quit smoking 2 years ago, and it’s basically caffeine and a ton of Tylenol, but that too does the trick on that particular kind of headache. I am just so grateful I held out and waited, and found something that finally worked. I will give this another 90 days or so, or maybe even after that explore other ones to see which one I function the most highly on, but this is like a minor miracle to me, because I was suffering for so long, in so much frustration and pain, and I thought it would never end. I still don’t understand it. Could it be I was so depressed, or so chemically imbalanced it actually caused physical pain to my brain. I mean that looks like the case but seems far fetched and unlikely, however, I am not a chemist, a doctor or even educated about such things. All I know is it killed my headaches, made my life functional again and I am grateful.

I was written too by someone recently stated they had to go back on oxys because of their post interferon pain, and let me tell you man, I can relate. I was an opiate addict for a long time, and I write about that part of my life significantly in my book Hippopotamus Sea, however, I am not going back to that shit, ever again. Not saying I haven’t been tempted over the last 3.5 years though, I thought about it at least once a week for sure. It just isn’t an option for me anymore, I’d sooner eat a bullet. Just like any drug, I need more and more, for less and less effect, and it’s what caused all this bullshit to begin with. I’m not ever going back to that, and if you’re suffering I beg of you to quit the opiates and try Celexa, for some reason it really helped me with my post interferon symptoms. Opiates and drinking, relapse in general is not a viable option, period the end. Other than catastrophic surgery and taking the meds with sponsor supervision, we with the disease of addiction can not flirt with pain meds or drugs effectively, and even with the Celexa, I was in constant contact with my sponsor and letting him know exactly what I was trying, and he was aware of every decision I was making. Accountability is key in sobriety, and no matter the pain, there is no excuse to going back to opiates, drinking or any kind of narcotic. With us to use or drink is to die.

That being said, I do still feel a bit anxious from time to time on Celexa which makes me want to try Lexapro because I hear that it has an anti anxiety portion, and now my mind is much more open about the capabilities of these meds, whereas before I thought it was a block to your higher power, and the sunlight of the spirit, now I’m glad my headaches are gone regardless. Actually the Doctor had suggested Lexapro, but they didn’t have it in generic, and therefore the insurance company changed my prescription, or rather made me call and get the Doctor to change the prescription, which in itself is news worthy. Who the fuck gives the insurance company of none doctors the ability and power to change my medications, solely based on cost. I mean, it’s really an outrage. They say Lexapro will have a generic within the year though, so I’ll just continue on Celexa, record the symptoms, and then compare once I switch over later on.

I am still glad I found a baseline before using them, but I mean, Post Interferon, meetings and step work just wasn’t killing the headaches like it killed the urge to drink early on for me. Everything happens for a reason I suppose.

– Jared Bryan Smith

There’s not an alcoholic in the world who has gone past that lonely invisible line, that doesn’t know what kind of living hell her life had become at that moment. The moment the drink stops working, and you can’t imagine your life with or without alcohol. For me, and I chronicle this all very vividly and in detail in my book Hippopotamus Sea, My Viral sobriety, the drinks not only stopped getting me drunk, but they began to taste of charcoal, or maybe brimstone, because I do not exaggerate when  I say its the closest thing to hell I’ve ever experienced. Following those dire moments for me I hit multiple crossroads, a few more chances, a few mere suggestions to go into AA and my sister had a heart to heart little barrage of words with me. All of it was a divine message of warning though, and I bet Whitney got about that same level of attention from the same God who saved me, I mean hell, she did grow up singing in the choir. Man, 49 years old, and really who knows how long it had been for her with the drink not working? Earth people just have no clue what that statement, what those witnesses grasped. When an addict’s drug stops working, the relief is over, hell has just descended. Somehow, through hundreds of AA meetings, and prayer and stepwork, I made it out, but Whitney died in a bathtub a couple of days later, and I’m just grateful that didn’t happen to me… hell I don’t think I had hot water when I was getting sober. Maybe being poor is a blessing.

So I have lots of other news to report as well, I am loving the new job, though it’s tough, the environment is competitive, and I enjoy the haggling, and the negotiating, and there is a lot of room for upward mobility. Also too, the headaches, the brainfog headaches, from what I considered to be Post Interferon Syndrome, seem to finally have abated a good deal since getting on Celexa prescribed by my Neurologist, that I finally decided to take after kicking and screaming against prescription meds and especially mood altering drugs for so many years. I can’t believe that my depression was causing physical pain in my head for over 3 years post TX and it’s probably too soon to say that’s what it was, but damn it all to hell if I don’t feel remarkably better, and I’m not able to make my 100 calls, do 2 hours in the gym and still commute 3 hours a day, and still feel pretty good about life in general. I mean, that is some amazing progress considering the debilitating nature of these headaches and the magnitude and quantity of their overbearing presence. I’m just humbled and grateful and must redact everything I’ve ever really written about prescription meds in this blog. I mean I’m still glad I discovered a baseline, emotionally, and physically in my sobriety, but wow, this Celexa has literally cured the worst of my brain fog headaches, and I seem to be able to think more clearly as well, which again is just a very big deal for someone who was forgetting names of friends and simple math and I mean its just a really big deal. Weeks one and two on the stuff was quirky and I  think when I’d started Interferon way back when I tried it and couldn’t get through the anxiety of the first week or two, but when I broke through week two I felt great. I’m only hesitant to declare it a total cure because i still did get hit with a migraine on Thursday, but I mean thats one headache out of seven days compared to like 6 out of 7, and the migraines and the brain fog headaches are two totally different types, one you can work thru, but the brain fog ones, felt like the day after an interferon shot and I’ve experienced them consistently every since treatment which has sucked ass, brutal, and made work next to impossible.

So once again, I learn that the more I know the less I understand, but I will take it, I will take relief and the ability to work, and work hard at a job I enjoy any day of the week and thank God for my sobriety, and all my friends and family who helped me and or tolerated me as I went through the pain of the last few years. You get to the point where you don’t talk about it much because you are tired of hearing your own self bitch. I mean I lost jobs to this thing, probably lovers and friends as well, but such is life. I am glad I found something that manages the pain, and if you’re having Post Interferon Syndrome related headaches I highly recommend trying Celexa, 20 mgs has helped me considerably and I just wish I’d tried it sooner but my old school AA nature really resisted it as being “not sober” but the Big Book does state “we are not doctors” and they have no opinion on outside issues, I probably shouldn’t have been so judgmental about medications before I just felt like they would block the sunlight of the spirit, and create the urge to drink again, but that hasn’t been the case for me at all.

Life and sobriety continue to be learn as you go I suppose, and I’m just glad I found some relief, and now feel competent to keep my job, because after losing two sales jobs back to back due to this pain, I was really concerned I simply wouldn’t be able to perform, but I’m averaging more calls than the entire class of 15 they hired, and things are going great. I still miss the little chaos creating alcoholic I dated up here in the mountains, but I’ve been good about not calling or contacting her as well. Whats the point? I can’t date an active alcoholic no matter how much I want to, haha, but I guess I’m still just a little stunted in that area, better to be single than with the wrong one though. Such is life, live and learn.

Condolences for Whitney, her family the poor daughter, and of course all our men and women who’ve passed since this war began, because in case you hadn’t noticed we’re still losing people every week. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, where we most certainly do still have about 15000 “embassy personnel” and military contractors. Looks like things are bout to heat up there as well. I think by October we’ll be driving some tanks up to the doorsteps of those reactors in Iran and sending in demo teams to destroy every bit, we’ll prolly stay out of the cities, but Iran can’t be let to have nukes, and air power alone will just slow them down, so I think Obama will try and pull a patriotic rally right before the election with a ballsy tank maneuver and you know what, it might just work, and get him reelected. We shall see, as we say, more shall be revealed!

If you haven’t already done so please check out my book, the cartoons on Youtube and post on your facebook page to spread the word! Thanks so much and have a great weekend!

Jared Bryan Smith

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Wow what an incredible line up of speakers last weekend. I’d forgotten how powerful a huge group of drunks can be while listening to incredible stories of recovery. As Charlie Y. said to me outside “These things are a real shot in the arm to your recovery, but sometimes by Tuesday its right back to the same ole meetings, haha.” He had a great story, and funny as hell. All the speakers I thought were strong and funny. And the leaves up here in the mountains have just been magnificent this year.

I even experience less headaches up here by the water.  Someone said to me “It’s less negative ions” and I don’t know if that’s true or not, but damn if it doesn’t seem to be true at least. Which takes me back to my last posting about Post Interferon Syndrome. I certainly don’t mean to be throwing a pity party. I’m very grateful to be Hep C free and I recommend everyone getting tested and getting treated as soon as humanely possible. I only stress that the value of clear thinking, and positive thinking as well, is now so acutely meaningful to me, that “Brain Fog” is a real unwelcome permanent side effect some days. I only want their to be studies to test whether there are ways of improving the side effects and bringing normalcy to people’s lives who are suffering from such things. It took me 20 years of drinking to figure out how valuable my state of mind is one Earth, and right when I did I polluted it with some of the harshest poisons on Earth, Interferon, and I just wish somebody, somewhere was studying the long term side effects, and potential fixes.

I’m not advocating permanent pity party, or a wallowing in whining, but I think it is important to state the issue clearly, consolidate folks who are feeling this way, and petition the scientific community, especially the billionaire profit makers of Merck and Roche who have gained so much, to at least study some of us, if not all.

Still it felt like I’d complained a considerable amount and then that very weekend I ran into quite a few people who’d done a year of Interferon and had not got rid of the virus. Please understand, I am grateful I cleared it, and I do recommend everyone get tested early and treat early as they say it’s more effective the younger you do it, which was the sole reason I went ahead and jumped on the grenade… well that and my liver enzymes were through the roof and liver failure was a possibility, so it’s not like I had too much choice, but still. Get it done, but also, be aware it’s no small thing. It’s more than flu like symptoms. It hurts, and it changes the way you think, feel, and even bleed.

So what do you do afterwards, double down on recovery, call your sponsor more, go to more meetings, and try not to fall into the Pity Party trap chronic pain sufferers. I’m looking into finding a support group, and it’s probably something I should have done a long time ago. People close to me have said I’m always angry, and it’s not true, I’m not angry, but there are days when I am having intense headaches and I don’t know how to fix them. When they come on, and admittedly at 3.5 years post TX they come fewer and fewer, but in year one post TX, they were several times a week, so that too gives me hope. Allen, the guy who was originally talking about Hippopotamus Sea in my meetings, (which I’d later come to find out was Hepatitis C) said it was about 5 years before he was totally better, so there is hope as well. Hope that the post TX side effects while continue to slowly get better. And of course for people just finding out they have  Hep C, they don’t even have to go the full year, Telaprevir now reduces it to six months, so surely those side effects will be better as well.

The Prepaid Convention in Georgia was amazing this year, and I think I’ll be incorporating that into my sobriety moving forward. No matter what I am saved from the obsession to drink and drug and that was killing me much more fast than any other thing on Earth, and I no longer have to suffer from that. Hep C, headaches, fatigue, I will manage, and I am grateful to God, and to AA for holding my hand as I walked this journey, and with patience, and faith, I pray every year post TX will get a little better than the last. Exercise, diet, prayer and above all else perseverance will pull me through.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t address the issues, and ask big pharma what they’ve found, and if they know of any potential fixes, and if not, which I doubt, then to get fucking on it. They aren’t fictional side effects, and we’d appreciate the help or at the very least some studies be done.

Thanks for reading and if you haven’t read my story of sobriety, Hepatitis C and the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, its all available for free in my book Hippopotamus Sea: My Viral Sobriety by Jared Bryan Smith on or in hard back on Amazon at the link below! Thanks so much for all your support!

– Jared Bryan Smith