I now have been clean and sober for 14 months and 20 days. I met Dr. Allgaier (who was referred to me by one of our local intensive out patient facilities) on September 6, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. I was one of his first 20 patients when he opened over on Morain Avenue.
My habit had me taking (in one form or another) anywhere from 15 – 35+ opiates a day, often mixed with cocaine when I couldn’t obtain enough pills to support my habit. I was still in severe denial about my addiction and would tell myself multiple times a day…”…I’m in control – I can stop or slow down anytime I need to…”. (I would be listed in the dictionary under the word “denial”). My addiction had led me to steal from almost everyone around me, yet my ability to “cover up” the severity of it was something I had unknowingly mastered.
I remember the call to Dr. Allgaier like it was yesterday. Because he was still establishing procedure within his office, he didn’t yet have full time staff. I must have called 3-4 times and left multiple panicked messages. My initial thought was – he’s a doctor – he won’t have time to call back…
When the caller ID on my phone screen lit up, I remember thinking to myself not to answer it — because remember, I was in control. I answered it on the last ring and that call changed my life forever.
Dr. Allgaier (who called me back personally) walked me through exactly how the process was going to happen. The first step, of course, was to withdrawal from my habit for at least 36 hours. By the time I walked into my appointment that night, I looked and felt as though I had been tied to the back of a truck and drug along graveled pavement for about 500 miles.
The appointment itself felt like it took an eon to finish before I could take my first dose of Suboxone. Then I remember it so clearly. An absolute wash of normalcy that I’ve never felt in my life. It was like a light switch. The exhaustion of years of chasing the drugs, fronting a “perfect life”, maintaining being stable at work and home – ALL GONE.
The medication and more importantly the treatment I receive from Ideal Option and Ideal Balance is nothing short of a life saving miracle. The humanity that Dr. Allgaier (AND all the staff) show to us addicts cannot be put into words. There is NO judgment or criticism from them – EVER – only compassion and humanity. Only genuine feelings of understanding, patience. Dr. Allgaier, Dr. Egli and Dr. Miller are THE only doctors I have ever known to give out their direct lines AND answer! In my first weeks of treatment, there was NEVER a time I tried to reach Dr. Allgaier and if he wasn’t able to answer right away – he’d personally call me back EVERY time. There were even times I’d call late at night or on a weekend – he never let me down!
The service that Dr. Allgaier and his team at Ideal Option, along w/ Penny and Tom at Ideal Balance (and the rest of the staff) is unexplainable. The fact that they pair your medical treatment WITH recovery treatment is an anomaly in itself. They took it one step further to ensure the highest success rate for their patients as possible. They believe in recovery so emphatically, they don’t just put weight only on the Suboxone itself…they believe in their patients enough that they invest in us by providing a counseling portion to our recovery as well.
I have had the pleasure of working with Tom Hammon (prior to Ideal Balance) who also was the driving force of my referral to Dr. Allgaier. He helped orchestrate both my intensive outpatient recovery plan and has been an integral part of my daily struggle with addiction. He has armed me with coping skills in order to identify my personal triggers and create an active plan so that I do not relapse. Tom offers a sense of humor in recovery and his investment to each of us as patients is whole hearted and with patience. It takes special people to withstand daily interaction with addicts – and Tom is!
Ideal Option and Ideal Balance have filled a HUGE void in our community. Without them, all of us patients who are now under their care would still be out being unproductive members of society.
I cannot today, nor probably ever will, be able to find the words or gratitude for saving my life. They are a part of my daily prayers of thankfulness that my life crossed paths with each and every one of them and I (and my family) will be eternally grateful for the miracle work they do every day!