“My story is your story too. No matter how “normal” our lives may be, the scourge of addiction affects everyone, young and old, rich and poor, and everyone in between”
You’re going to see how far down the rabbit hole I fell. In fact, I was given a death sentence. More importantly, you’re going to learn that no matter how far down you think you’ve fallen, people will help you climb out of your hole, and you will discover your true self. Trust me, there is a special place waiting for you, and a new life to be lived. In your new life, you will experience the same peace and love I now experience every waking hour of the day. That’s why my story is so important. This is about you! Like me, you too will be delivered! We are in this together. I will help you.
I was born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in Berkshire County. It’s a nice little town, with a population of 45,000, and it lies between the Berkshire Hills and the Taconic range of the Appalachian Mountains. Pittsfield provides scenic camping sites for vacationers, and entertainment for theatre and arts enthusiasts. And not to forget, quite a few famous baseball players come from this area.
I am the youngest of the six children of Edward “Eddie” McMahon and Julie McMahon. My dad, by the way, had the distinction being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1949 and receiving a $6,000 signing bonus, more than Mickey Mantle received when he was drafted by the Yankees. I was always a very active boy growing up, taking up odd jobs or tasks that fueled the entrepreneur in me. As a little boy, I would sneak off to the store to purchase bubblegum packs and then sell individual pieces for a nickel. I would store all my earnings in my grandpa’s safe for safekeeping. When I was 10, I worked a paper route over the weekend and later took over my brother’s route. I would wade into ponds at the local golf course, fish out golf balls, and scrub them clean with a toothbrush. Then I would put them in egg cartons and sell them.
Growing up, as part of an Irish Catholic family, drinking alcohol was woven into the fabric of life. My earliest memories of Baptisms, Christmas, Easter, and any family get together include a lot of people drinking a lot of booze. My dad taught me a lot of things, almost all good, except for drinking. By watching him drink, and drink a lot, he unwittingly taught me that it was normal to drink to excess. My dad didn’t know better, and neither did I. After graduating from high school, I attended the University of Massachusetts where I played college baseball on a scholarship. It was in college that I not only took the game of baseball to a new level, but I took drinking alcohol to a new level as well. I drank and I partied, and drank and partied, again and again, like there was no tomorrow. Drinking had become a really unhealthy component of my life.
MY RISE TO THE TOP
After graduating from college, and getting married to my college sweetheart, I entered the insurance business on December 31, 1991, as a door-to-door insurance salesman with Prudential Financial. Selling life insurance is brutal starting out. That’s why for every ten who enter the insurance business, only one survives and is successful. The beginning of your career is riddled with constant rejection.
This was one of the most difficult periods of my life. I went from being a well-known “big man” on campus, a revered athlete, to being a nobody. Every day I knocked on the doors of the homes of strangers who saw me as a nuisance. Roaming unfamiliar neighborhoods, I made cold call after cold call searching for one person who would at least listen to my “pitch.” Months passed by without a sale. The daily grind of rejection was often humiliating. Of course, I used drinking alcohol to cope. It was the one thing I looked forward to at the end of the day. Even my new wife and young family took a back seat to my drinking.
MAKING IT BIG
Finally, due having the daily encouragement of two mentors, along with determination and some good luck, I was one of those who succeeded in the insurance business. It took a while, but it happened. One month I finally got a sale. A month or two later I had two sales. Then three sales, and four. Slowly, and surely, clients started telling their friends and relatives about me, and I began to gain a steady stream of leads and clients and help people who truly desired my help. By 2009 I was officially granted a full franchise ownership and made CEO of the Northern New England Agency of MassMutual. From a financial standpoint, I had finally “made it.” The days of painful cold calling were long behind me. Yet while one kind of pain faded away, another more painful kind now appeared. My “success” took a terrible toll on the people I loved. My marriage suffered. I was a crappy husband, my wife finally had enough, and she divorced me. The relationship with my two sons, Joseph and David, born during my quest to achieve financial success, suffered. I know I didn’t do a good job of being a loving husband and father, but I did love them very, very much, and I was hurting deeply. To dull that pain, alcohol acted as my daily medication. And to make things even worse, I started taking pills of various kinds. Although I’m not sure I even recognized that I was an addict, much less admitted it, there is no doubt that I had become enslaved by chemical dependency. And I had become attached to financial success in a very unhealthy way.
THE END OF THE ROAD
The end began on May 26th, 2016. The day started out normal enough. As usual, the night before I had been drinking, and taking various pills for depression and anxiety. As the day wore on I thought maybe I was getting a virus or something because I was tired; probably nothing serious, I thought. But by evening I knew something was very, very wrong. I was extremely light headed and began to experience abnormally high heart palpitations and excruciating anxiety. I thought, “I’m having a heart attack!” My girlfriend Sarah rushed me to the emergency room at Elliott Hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire. It was close to midnight, and the hospital ward was bustling with doctors and nurses. A cardiac work-up was carried out with cold efficiency – EKG, blood work, and a standardized set of questions about medical history. I was wheeled into a triage room, cordoned off by a thin curtain from other patients. A patient nearby incessantly coughed and vomited, groaning in agony – a common sound of a drug addict in withdrawal. As my heart pounded, my mind was detached from the surrounding scene, busy in a rapid dialogue with myself. How could I get a heart attack – or what I thought was a heart attack? I had no idea what was happening to me – I suppose that is usually the scariest part, the fear of the unknown. I know I had been losing weight, which I had convinced myself was a good sign. Nearly an hour later after being left alone in a panic, a doctor came to my bed-space, showing no emotion, which heightened my anxiety even further. In a matter-of-fact tone, he said I had “significant organ damage” and my “liver and pancreas are starting to shut down.” He also uttered phrases like: “your eyes are jaundiced” and “your liver is toxic.” And then the stone faced Doctor finished by saying, “If you don’t receive appropriate care immediately, you could die tonight, Mr. McMahon.” In the truest sense of the word, that moment was a surreal experience. Apparently, the weight I was losing, the lethargy, the anxiety, all pointed toward a singular conclusion: liver failure. I was taken to a private room and put under observation, and labelled as a possible alcoholic. My disbelief gave way to the guilt crashing down on me. Why had I not taken better care of myself? I was only 47 years old, for Christ’s sake! I’m supposed to be in the prime of my life. Why had I not tried harder to be a better father? A better partner to my incredible girlfriend? A better employer to all my work dependents? My entire life flashed in front of my eyes through a lens of self-pity and reproach. My future flickered, no longer guaranteed to exist. My two sons, my girlfriend, my ex wife, family members and friends all came by the hospital to visit. That part was nice, and I felt suddenly more grateful than ever for the people in my life. After four days and countless medical tests later, I was permitted to discharge. I was advised that alcohol was not a very safe drink for me anymore, but I was already determined never to touch the stuff again.
DEAD MAN WALKING
My liver, I was told firmly, was deteriorating fast, and it was only a matter of time that it would fail. I wanted a second opinion so after leaving the hospital, I sought out the best medical advice I could find, and I was blessed to be introduced to a great Physician, Dr. Richard Donohue. He could stabilize my condition somewhat with medication, but Dr. Donohue believed my liver would no regenerate, and that I was living on borrowed time. After hearing the news, I decided to two do two things. First, I took a vacation with my sons David and Joseph. We went to the mountains of Western New Hampshire, and it was a very special time. I remember savoring every single minute because I knew my days were numbered. Second, when I returned from vacation with my boys, I went on vacation to the continent of Africa, but it was there that things went downhill fast. As soon as I arrived, I was overwhelmed by exhaustion. I slept most of the day, and all night. I decided I needed to return home, and I barely made it. My body was rapidly filling up with fluids and I was admitted to Manchester Elliott Hospital where a Pericardiocentesis was immediately performed. This is a procedure where the doctor inserts a long needle through the chest wall to remove fluid that has built up in the sac around the heart and chest cavity. About 32 pounds of fluid was drained from my body. In mid-September of 2016 I was introduced to the concept of the MELD score, which stands for the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease, and which assesses the severity of a patient’s liver disease. The MELD score is also used by liver transplant boards to assess a candidates eligibility and priority. In plain terms my MELD score meant that there was a greater than 50 percent chance that I would die within the next 90 days. If it wasn’t clear before, it had become clear now that I would require a liver transplant. However, as many of you know, getting a liver transplant is extremely difficult. And I was getting sicker and sicker by the day. Within a month of my first MELD score, the second MELD score revealed that there was a 75% chance that I was going to die within the next 90 days. I needed a liver fast. I needed a miracle…..
That is when he received his miracle, and Terrance was given another chance at life.
A chance he would not let go to waste, a chance in which sparked the fire of Free Recovery.