Tuesday, September 19, 2017
It’s been a full day out here in the country. Nurses come and go. The aide comes and goes. My daughter comes and goes. The pastor comes by and also the social worker. They go into Riley’s room and check on how he is doing. When each returns to the living room, I ask if he responded. They all have a negative response. Sometimes he opens his eyes just to a squint or a slit whichever you want to call it.
I can’t sleep in my bed because I want to know who is here and who has left. So I lay on the sofa and drift in and out. Several times during the day I’m told to rest. “Just rest. We got this.” They’ve got this. But I don’t “got” this. I flounder around the house and roam from room to room. I open and close the fridge. I’m not hungry. I wipe off the counter tops with bleach and then wipe them dry. One bread crumb and I grab my spray bottle.
Papers are strewn over the coffee table, end table and desktop. They are what needs to be sorted and organized for the Veterans Administration. I straighten them as I pass by, but then spread them out again. I have bits and pieces of my new novel in scraps of paper waiting to be entered into the manuscript. Post-a-notes keep me organized as to all the players in my imaginary world that’s coming to life inside my computer and is just about ready to give birth. Immortal Alcoholic’s Wife sequel is another stack of papers on the printer table. I don’t need any post-it to keep track of those characters.
I’ve been encouraged to video record Riley’s end of days. But, really, there is nothing to record. Unless of course I should have recorded his attempts to shove me out of the way and yell that I’m poisoning him. Maybe I should have recorded his attempts to block anyone from giving him the medication that keeps him calm. That was last night. Tonight is different.
Over the past two years, Riley has been bed bound. Each night when I would “tuck” him into bed and give him nighttime meds, he would say to me “I love you Linny.” Sometimes he would change it up and say “I care about you.” I would become irritated every time he said it because I knew he loved me because I was the only woman left standing out of many. He cared about me because I was the only one who kept the poop from clinging to his butt. I knew it. There was no profound revelation that I was the only woman who had ever loved him enough to take him back in when there was no love left. It was just that he had worn all the others out, driven them away, they were not inclined to put up with his tom-cat attitude.
Tonight there was no “I love you, Linny.” Tonight he lay in his bed and emits an awful death rattle. He breaths in very slowly and then stops as if he is holding his breath. But there is a gurgle in his throat. It sounds like he needs to cough it up. He isn’t conscious enough or strong enough to make the cough happen. I don’t miss the nighttime declaration. I won’t pretend to believe that he is sincere. I’ve fallen victim to that way too many times. Even on his death bed, I just don’t believe it.
When he is a bit more alert, he is hallucinating. I’m not Linda then. I’m his mother or his first wife. He proclaims his love for them. She cries out for Mother to please say the prayer with him. We have discovered that as part of his childhood bedtime routine was to say the Lord’s Prayer before going to bed. We oblige him and recite the prayer for him. It seems to calm him so that we can next his next dose of morphine into his mouth.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those
Who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
And the power, and the glory,
For ever and ever. Amen.
at 1:26 AM
Sunday, September 17, 2017
I’m sitting here tonight at my computer wearing my little rosebud jammies (a Christmas gift from my grandkids last year), a scotch on the rocks (yes, you read right – a scotch), and a box of tissue. In the background my dog, Jade, emits as soft snore while sleeping on the coach which is forbidden to her. The other end of the forbidden coach is my cat, Benny, who is purring as he cleans up from the day. It’s peaceful here in my living room which is also my make-shift office.
A sip of the scotch reminds me of my early days with Riley when he always wanted a Johnnie Walker Gold on the rocks when he arrived home from work. On our meager budget, it was a splurge, but one that Riley insisted upon every night. He would only have one. That was before. That was before the drink became more important than his life or his family or his work or anything else.
Tonight I sip this scotch in honor of the life he left behind to pursue a career in drunkenness – in which he excelled. I can hear his shallow breathing as he lay in his bed not really sleeping but not really comatose either. There is no heavy snoring like there was during the days when we shared a bed. He is peaceful.
Maybe it’s the cocktail of Haldol and Morphine that has him in such a gentle state. A few hours earlier he was throwing his fists and threatening bodily harm to anyone who even showed an attempt to touch him. There was nothing quiet about him screaming obscenities at our pastor as we recited, at Riley’s request, the Lord’s Prayer.
Although his heart is beating and his lungs are working, there doesn’t seem to be anything behind his eyes. No brown eyes with twinklings of mischief or a tell-tale expression of some plot to be executed. His face is pale and yellowish, but not as a jaundiced person. It’s more like he hasn’t bathed or showered and the sweat has left a patina on his skin.
Everyone once in a while his muscles twitch in spasms. It looks like it would hurt, but he’s on so much morphine he probably couldn’t feel a jack hammer to his ribs if one were there. His arms and legs are cold to the touch. The hospice nurse tells me that it’s normal at this stage of his degeneration.
Everyone has left to go to their respective homes and beds. They’ll be back in the morning to help me get through another day. I’m alone waiting for Riley to die. When they are here there is nothing for me to do. I’m told to rest. But, I can’t. So I go to my FaceBook friends who have no idea what’s really going on at this house. I post little comments, stir up a little trouble, ask stupid questions, I occupy myself. The people closest to me in my life are not available. Carrot has lost her phone. Another friend is busy working and caring for her kids. A long-time friend isn’t speaking to me because of a very heated argument that took place a couple of days ago. None of them know and I won’t tell them or can’t tell them that I’m alone and listening to my husband die. I won’t tell them I need them because – I am a strong, confident, independent woman who doesn’t like wallowing. I have an image to uphold. I am my own worst enemy.
So let’s just talk a minute about Riley being my husband. If you are familiar with this blog you will know and understand that we have been estranged for a very long time. I am his wife, but not his lover. Yet, the memories of the good parts of our life together – and there really are some – come flashing back in full force. It could be because I’m in the middle of writing the sequel to the Immortal Alcoholic’s Wife. My writing self must channel Riley in order for me to write the book. I must also channel the Linda who was once a loving, faithful wife. It makes it difficult to sit here, drink a scotch, and listen to that slow, but steady, breathing.
Riley being on the edge of death is not a new experience. The family has sat vigil for him so many times that only a few pay attention when things go downhill. He is seemingly immortal. It’s like a big joke that he plays on anyone who cares about him. Like a boy who cries wolf. This time it’s different. This time we know he has developed sepsis. This time we can see that he is dying before our eyes. It’s unsettling.
There is nothing to be done. I will try to sleep in my bed, in my room, where I cannot hear what’s going on in Riley’s room. I have pills to help me sleep, but they probably shouldn’t be mixed with the scotch. The first thing I will do in the morning is check to see…
at 1:02 AM
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Since October 2010, I’ve been writing this blog offering support, explanation, resources and even a bit of humor. The blog has won awards and even led to participation in an HBO documentary. There has been heartbreak and heartache, frustration and accomplishment. From the e-mail I receive, it seems I have helped alcoholics as well as the people who love them. The journey has been satisfying and awakening. I’m happy with what this blog has accomplished.
My foundation has always been about creating positive change for the families and friends of alcoholics. I like to hear from readers that they love my blog but don’t “need” it anymore. Those are welcome words to my ears because it means that person was listening and learning. That person has come to a place where a life outside the chaos is a reality. It means I’ve been successful. Hallelujah!
Change is something I’ve written about many times. Everything changes. Nothing stays the same forever. That includes the Immortal Alcoholic Blog. Don’t panic! I’m not taking it down but I am going to be going in different directions. It won’t be going in just one direction; it may be many directions at one time. The entire scope has not been completely worked out in my head. But look for posts that are not alcohol related and you will see the change.
I have grown because of this blog. I have found my life outside the chaos and I like what I’ve found. It’s been good for me and the next seven years will be just as good. What can you expect?
Expect to see more guest posts. Expect to hear about current changes in my life. Expect to see information about books I’ve written and other books that I think are important for my followers. Continue to expect sharing of resources, support, and information.
Let’s get started…
Riley now has a full-time aide. Having her is awesome because he no longer calls for me every five minutes. When the aide is here, we behave as though I am not anywhere on the property. He becomes totally dependent on her and I’m free. This is the next best thing to having him in a nursing home.
Freedom – I am now leaving the house whenever I want. I go to the gym, library, historical society, and well… anywhere I want. I actually went to lunch with my daughter. Amazing! People are actually out and about during the day. I think I’d forgotten about that.
Outside my comfort zone is a wonderful world of new experiences. Like, writing a romance novel. I never in a million years thought I, a romance cynic, would write a book about love. But, I am and it’s working. It’s scary, but it’s working.
Speaking of being outside my comfort zone, I find that I’m starting to think of romance differently. Previously I never wanted another man in my life – ever. I was done with hearts and flowers, love letters and cards, and, anything else that would tie me to another man. Now, I’ve been presented with a new possibility that I had never dreamed would become anything worthwhile.
Let’s put it this way, I bought a razor to shave my legs… the hair on my legs hasn’t been in danger of termination for many years. Why bother? I usually wear long pants and who would care? Now that extra step in the shower of shaving my legs has become important to me again. Who knew that would ever happen? Not me! And guess what, I’m happy about not having hairy legs!
Change is inevitable. It’s going to happen no matter what, so why not sit back and enjoy what can be ahead. If the change is in a direction you don’t like, then change the direction. Detours are only detours and they usually are not permanent. So carve your own path and let the change begin!
at 9:23 AM
Saturday, August 26, 2017
The post below was written by a blogger who asked me to check out her blogsite. I found it to be exceptional. Please read the post below and then follow the link to her website.
Suggested pairing: Rock Bottom
2 ounces vodka
2 ounces tequila
2 ounces gin
⅓ ounce lemon juice
⅓ ounce lime juice
⅓ ounce pineapple juice
Pour vodka, gin, lemon juice, lime juice and pineapple juice over ice. Shake well until chilled and combined. Strain into martini glass Slowly pour in tequila. Cheers, you’ve hit bottom.
Over the decade-plus that I’ve been, in one way or another, directly or inadvertently, coping with another’s alcoholism, I’ve heard the phrase “rock bottom” more times than I can count, and enough times to make me sick. It’s come up in conversations with friends, disagreements with former family members, sessions with therapists, and sharings in Alanon meetings.
Here’s what I’ve learned about rock bottom:
Rock bottom, as the Cambridge Dictionary defines it (and they seem to be a pretty credible source for words and shit) as an informal noun meaning the lowest possible level. With regard specifically to alcoholism and addiction, the term rock bottom is often employed when an individual has devolved into a financial crisis, lost a job, destroyed a marriage, landed in jail, wrecked a vehicle, become violent, went cruisin’ for a bruisin’, rehabbed then relapsed, lost custody of a child or, in this case, all of the above. Basically, it’s the type of place you’d never want to travel, the level of toxicity you wouldn’t wish on your enemy, and a sort of existence comparable to wearing a wool sweater over poison ivy while having to take a massive shit in an airplane bathroom surrounded by disgruntled flight attendants, wailing babies, passengers with significant body odor and, of course, snakes.
Rock bottom, as it is advertised in brochures and on television, is essentially a self-inflicted hell so deplorable that an individual vows never to return. It’s brutal and pathetic and excruciating and shameful and lonely and bleak and endless. According to Google Maps, it lies at a proverbial fork at the end of a long road full of bumps and littered with denial and bullshit, where going left takes you to recovery and going right takes you to the mortuary.
Here’s what else I’ve learned about rock bottom:
Rock bottom is a myth.
It’s a fantasy, a legend for alcoholics that is kept an arm’s length away, just close enough to intimidate and just far enough away to mediate. It’s something that happens to dirtbags and losers and criminals, not high-functioning, upstanding, classy drunks who are “fine”.
Rock bottom is a unicorn, a false hope and a mirage for family members and loved ones. It’s a broken promise that eventually things are going to get better, even after getting worse, and that someone they love will experience an imminent epiphany, miraculously turning their life around to be the walking ray of sober sunshine they were always destined to be. It’s a futuristic event never present on the calendar, yet ever-present in the mind, that we wish for and pray for and cry for, but almost never arrives, because when it comes to a raging alcoholic, sometimes their bottle has a false bottom.
Rock bottom is bullshit.
Alcoholism, as I have come to understand it from my colorful experience in dealing with someone enveloped completely in its wrath, can become a perpetual cycle of destruction marked by big mistakes, bad behavior and bold-faced lies, all of which stem from a nearly impenetrable layer of denial, so thick that not friends nor family nor God himself are capable of breaking, because it is a one-sided mirror that people choose not to gaze into for fear of their own reflection, shatterproof from the outside-in but, from the inside-out, is able to cracked by choice and desperation and self-preservation, much like a fire extinguisher behind protective glass in the center of a massive blaze.
Believe it or not, I have come to understand and somewhat sympathize with the plight of making a choice to surrender to this disorder, to accept responsibility and to begin the arduous process of recovery and rebuilding one’s life from the bottom up.
When an existence has become so empty, so devoid of connection and meaning, it may seem too much and too late to change.
But it isn’t. Ever.
When bills have piled so high and expectations fallen so low, convictions become so frequent and meaningful relationships so rare, hope seems lost and only troubles can be found, it may seem like it isn’t even worth trying.
But it is. Always.
To read the entire post go to: http://www.mehab.website/?p=281
at 8:16 AM
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
It’s been a very long road from the time I took Riley back in until today. He’s still alive. Hes still wants a drink or two or three or more. Things don’t change while they are changing. Nothing has gotten any easier along the way.
I thought I’d get used to all the drunken chaos, the household mess, the ridiculous rantings and demands. I thought I’d just ignore it and move along through my day. After all, he is my estranged husband and hadn’t really been a part of my life for more than 15 years. I can handle this, I thought. Everything would be OK.
As Riley became less “sick” and more drunk, things did not get better. I tried to ignore it. He was like that roommate that constantly drank all the milk or used up all the clean towels. He was like the child who refused to pick up after himself or clean his room. But, it was OK, I thought… he’d fall prey to his addiction soon and I’d have my house and life to myself again.
I kept my personal life personal and did not involve him in any decisions at all. I provided with him with what he needed and didn’t begrudge the money it cost. I maintained my previous friendships but seldom had them over to visit. I was starting to lose a grip on my social life.
Auto-pilot never kicked in gear. I got to a point when I realized I was simply “getting through” each day. Riley would get sick, go into hospice, and I’d think… “The end is near. I can have my life back.” I would make plans and reconnect with old friends.. and then… he would pull through to torment me another couple of years. Each near death encounter sent me deeper into the role of caregiver and less into the role of being myself. Finally, I had no idea who I really was. I had no identity of my own. I was just Riley’s caregiver.
Now, 9 years later, I still have times when I don’t know who I am. Thanks to the family and friends who have encouraged me to find my voice, I have managed to start this blog, write the books, collaborate with HBO on Risky Drinking, and tell it like it is. But, Linda is still someone I’m rediscovering outside the chaos. Linda is rediscovering who she is and what she wants. It’s a soul-searching task.
So, my anonymous friend, to answer your questions, I’m sorry to report that it never gets any easier. Your only saving grace is if you are able to hold on to who you really are so you don’t become lost through this process.
“Surviving the Chaos” was written with people like anonymous on my mind. It’s available on Amazon. Get it today for the low price of $10. Here’s the link:
COMING SOON! The sequel to “Immortal Alcoholic’s Wife.” In the sequel to my journey through the chaos, you will learn about Riley’s childhood and family dynamics. Discover his Navy adventure and how it played a big part in his inability to completely rehabilitate. This new book picks up where “Immortal Alcoholic’s Wife” left off. See how far we’ve come. Look for it on Amazon before Christmas.
In the meantime, refresh your memory by reading The Immortal Alcoholic’s Wife. Get your copy here:
at 9:09 AM
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
I met Matt Paust way back in the 1980s when he was a reporter. Over the years, he has retired from the news biz and became an author of political satire novels. Matt has changed his direction to writing poetic rhetoric – poems of a sort. Sometimes when I read what he has written, his words strike a chord deep inside me. I feel he has found his words hidden away in some far corner of my heart or brain.
The poem I’m posting today is a man talking about a woman but it could easily go the opposite way. For me, it explains how I feel how my life has gone with Riley. I’m sure many of you will relate. However, it’s like anything else, you will either like it or not.
By Matt Paust
You sit there, eyes on the floor where she just walked
hell, you think, that's what it is, hell
it's written on your face, you know, the hell
she's made your life a hell, a living hell
is what you're thinking
The charm you thought she meant for you alone
more commonplace than you should know
her whimsy frightens you
you wrap your heart in wrath and hurl it back
Life with her has come to this
denied mistrust entwined with covert scorn
homicide at times worms through your thoughts, wriggles out fleeing
memories of fleeting seconds when true smiles
yours, hers, joined in fierce implacability
I'll be posting more from Matt in the days to come. Be sure to leave a comment and I will pass it on to him.
A Living Hell...
A Living Hell...
In my first book, The Immortal Alcoholic’s Wife, I strive to show the contrast between Riley, the loving husband and father, as opposed to Riley, the drunken bastard. Back in the day, I loved Riley. Maybe I still do, but I do not love what alcoholism has done to him, his attitudes, his morals, his and my life. Riley doesn’t make my life a living hell – alcoholism does. I don’t hate Riley. I hate alcoholism. I don’t hate my life. I hate how alcoholism has changed my life.
It’s sad that the end stages of Riley’s alcoholic life have destroyed so much in my life. It’s even sadder that I allowed it to happen. I did what most every wife does when faced with alcoholic chaos. I didn’t know any different and no one, or any group, really seemed to help me figure it all out. Now that I have it figured out, I wonder if it is too late. I’m praying that it is not.
Riley is back in hospice and, for about the tenth time, the family is waiting for the grim reaper to knock on his bedroom door – or maybe climb through the window – descend from the ceiling -- whatever. Actually, the only person waiting is me. No one believes he is really going to make an exit. After all, he IS the Immortal Alcoholic.
As I’m waiting, I’m having fantasies about how I will manage the new life that is just beyond my fingertips. I imagine a life that is not a living hell. I imagine being able to eat a whole meal without interruption or not being called when using the bathroom. My fantastical mind ramblings take me to France and a tasting tour through the countryside. And then I remember – he IS the Immortal Alcoholic.
I believe God is testing my patience. OK God! Even the SAT’s have a time limit!
The Immortal Alcoholic's Wife -- Part 2, The Update
at 9:22 AM
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
About ten years ago I had a heart attack brought on by stress. These are the steps I used to help myself heal:
1. I made a list of the things causing me stress.
2. Every time I got upset or angry over a specific situation, I wrote it down and included it in my list.
3. I examined each item on my list and categorized it as:
a) something that can be resolved via an action by me;
b) something over which I had no control;
c) something that time will resolve.
4. The items that were the things that could be resolved by taking action were categorized by the least stressing to the most stressing.
5. I worked on resolving one issue at a time. I started with the one that required the littlest effort and went from there. This list is never-ending. There will always be something that gets added on with resolutions that require time, money or emotional expense.
6. The stresses over which I have no control, I pushed aside thinking I would come back to them after I had dealt with all the more pressing stuff.
7. Resolutions which simply involved letting some time pass, were also pushed aside. Actually, I wrote them on a calendar as a reminder. When the calendar reminded me of the item, I would check to see if the issue had been resolved. If not, it went back on the calendar.
One of the biggest things I learned in my heart health recovery, is to take time for laughter. Find humor every chance you can. Laugh. No, I mean, LAUGH your butt off! Laugh at the backed-up traffic because it allows you some time to listen to great tunes while you’re waiting. Laugh at the price of a new car because you don’t really have to spend that much money. Laugh at political speeches because of the ridiculousness of statements being made Laugh at everything and anything. Every time you laugh, you physically release stress.
My basic personality is to fix things. People call on me to help them with their problems all the time, but really all I can do is listen, suggest and encourage. What I really want to do is take the responsibility from them and do what they should do themselves.
For example, a friend has a bestie with serious health problems. The bestie had some medical tests done and has received the results. The friend calls to check on her and wants to know the test results in order to provide the support the bestie needs. But, the bestie is dodging her calls and ignoring her texts. The friend is very concerned and desperately wants to help the bestie. She asks me what she should do. My response… get in your car, drive to her house and don’t stop knocking until she answers the door. You’ll have your answer when you see her face. That’s when you will know what to do.
What I really want to do is go to the bestie house myself and ask her what’s up. Tell her to get over herself and let others help. However… her illness is not my circus and her test results are not my monkeys. I cannot interfere with this relationship. They must figure it out on their own.
Figuring it out is the hardest part. Most of the time there are many optional answers to a situation. It’s difficult to discover which is the right one.
If you’re dealing with excess stress in your life, take control and resolve everything that you can. Stress will kill you as much as a speeding bullet. Cover your heart with a Superman cape and ricochet those bullets to oblivion. You’ll be happy you did.
at 12:49 PM
Thursday, July 20, 2017
There’s a big change going on out here in Rileyville. Good changes are knocking at my front door. I was informed that I would have an aide for at least 30 hours a week and respite time. Evidently the Medicaid application was approved however I wasn’t notified until yesterday. Sounds like heaven to me! After eight years of taking care of Riley, I will finally turn him over to someone else and have some time to myself.
I have always said that in spite of what’s going on in my life, I am happy. Today I feel excited about having the opportunity to take my life back. I am happier today that I have been in a very long time.
This weekend I am moving my office upstairs where I will not be able to hear whatever is going on with Riley. I’ll get a baby monitor so I can talk to the aide but it will not be in Riley’s room. I’m anxious to see how this is all going to work out.
There’ve been a lot of changes in my life lately, but isn’t that how life is? Without change we cannot grow. I recently re-connected with a friend that I hadn’t talk to in nearly twenty years. She was surprised at certain things about me. I was once a sweet, quiet woman who always did as she was told. I was a follower. Now I’m a tell-it-like-it-is kinda gal. I’m open about my life, my needs, my outlook. I am certainly not quiet, in fact, sometimes people want me to shut up. I’m leading my pack and making things happen instead of waiting to see what’s going to happen.
Change is inevitable. We can count on it. Sometimes it’s good and other times it’s not so much. One thing is for sure, we must deal with it when it comes along.
Most of the time we won’t even know we are changing. One day we will just realize that something is different. Embrace it and know that even not-so-great changes can have their advantages. Seek out that advantage and make use of it.
If I had not had the major change in my life by taking Riley back in, I would not have started this blog, written my books, helped produce the HBO documentary. I would still be working in an office cubicle doing real estate title exams. Not that that would be a bad thing, but my life is more purposeful since starting this blog. Of course, I’ve had really awful experiences with Riley, but one of my changes is to not focus on those times. I need to let them go.
What I am saying to you is to stay positive in spite of chaos around you. How do you do that? You keep your own life in sight. The alcoholic is responsible for his/her life and you are responsible for yours. You only have enough room in your life for the things that are relevant to you personally. I love the line “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” Stick to your own circus and deal with keeping your own monkeys under control. Make this change in your life so that your life will change.
at 7:02 AM
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Fear can be a good thing. It prevents us from putting our hands into an open flame. It makes us think twice before acting on something that may be dangerous. It’s that little voice in our head telling us to turn left or right or to not turn at all.
I believe there is a “fear scale”. At one end is the mild feeling of apprehension – like crossing a busy street. At the other end if full blown paranoia – like believing the boogey man is hiding in the closet. Too little fear can be just as dangerous as too much.
As the wife of an alcoholic, I can tell you that I have many fears that range all up and down the fear scale. Here is a sampling.
The fear that my husband will make a miraculous recovery and go back to drinking;
The fear that he will make the same recovery and not go back to drinking;
The fear that he will die a painful death;
The fear that he will never die;
The fear that I will die before him;
The fear that I will never have a sane, happy, loving man in my life;
The fear that I will have someone in my life that will become ill and I have to take care of him;
The fear that someone will come into my life and I will be the one who becomes sick;
The fear of living out the rest of my life alone;
The fear of trust;
The fear of not trusting;
The fear of losing myself by being what someone else wants;
The fear that I’m deceiving myself by thinking I really know who I am;
The fear of being unacceptable or not being accepted;
The fear that becoming accepted means I have to change;
The fear of not being heard;
The fear of being heard but misunderstood;
And the list can continue on and on…
What has worked for me is to take each fear as it rears its head and address it in the moment that it is happening. But, I’m a procrastinator so my timing is often way off which means I just plunge head first and worry about the consequences later.
I refuse to let all my fears rule my life. I have a fear of cutting myself when chopping vegetables, so should I never include vegetables in my recipes? No – I chop the damn vegetables and keep a box of bandages close at hand. I weigh my options. Is the fear of doing something greater than the fear of not doing something?
The point of this post is to suggest to you that you not let your fears stop you from fulfilling your dreams. Sort out your good fears from your bad fears, keep track of where they are on the fear scale and then live a full and complete life.
at 6:28 AM
Monday, July 3, 2017
For more than 20 years I longed to have my husband stop his alcohol abuse, but he never managed to find a way to love sobriety. Too many times the family gathered by his bedside and held a death watch expecting him to expire within minutes. He always survived.
In 2012 he had a major heart attack that would have stopped life for most normal people. But, then, he is not normal. After weeks of watching him go downhill, he finally started recovering. He made it through although his life would change greatly because he would not be able to obtain alcohol. Finally, I had my wish. I had a sober husband and I expected things to change for the better.
Be careful what you wish for. He was home and he was sober. He also had brain atrophy which left him with a form of dementia. He was able to walk, feed, dress and care for himself. He could not hold long conversations. Clearly, he was miserable with this new lifestyle. Still… I did not buy alcohol for him.
He has gone on a slow descent ever since his heart attack. Five years later, he is completely bedridden and dependent on me for every bit of care. I’m in control of everything in his life from what he eats to the changing of his underwear. The biggest decision he must make each day is what he is going to watch on TV. Although, he can no longer change the channels without assistance.
I have my husband. I have a person in my home who looks like my husband but there is no conversation, no laughter, no exchange of ideas, there’s just a fog of unhappiness. I got what I wanted – a sober husband – but this is not how I imagined it.
Riley’s life is empty. It is as though he is being held captive. I’m told he can live in this physical and mental state for many years. He longs to go to a bar and get wasted. He wants to drive even if he is drunk. He wants his old life back. The life that has him consuming a gallon of vodka a day and endangering others on the highway is the life he wants. He doesn’t long for a life with me or close family ties to his grandchildren. He doesn’t want to go on road trips or socializing with sober people. He wants to be drunk. He wants to die drunk.
The next time you are in the emergency room because your alcoholic is vomiting blood or some other such ailment, don’t be so quick to decline a DNR or hospice. Think about Riley and his self-imposed prison and my prison-term as his caregiver. Life at any cost is not always a life at all.
at 9:45 AM