Monday, July 3, 2017
Life doesn't always mean living
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