Wednesday, 30 November 2016

193-1/365 Russian Roulette

Ok people strap in for an overly indulgent, rambling, overdue catch up post.

I have been really struggling with my health for about 3 months now and have been examined, drained of blood, medicated, bed rested and self prescribed herbal meds in the hope to feel better. In September I had two weeks vacation time where I planned to work on the house and get some much delayed jobs completed. However, the first week I was tired and cranky and really just plain tuckered out so indulged in several days in bed with a book or Netflix until noon or sometimes later. I returned to work still tired, cranky, exhausted and fed up. The first week in October I went crashing into my old nemesis the chest infection and spent a further 2 weeks bed bound coughing, exhausted and sleeping 12-16 hours a day. Weeks 3-4 were similar with me forcing myself to get up and do stuff only to crash later and have to return to bed. Blood tests and examination have not given a definitive diagnosis but everything from post viral fatigue, chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, depression, anxiety, thyroid issues etc have been mentioned. Oh and as my friend stated adamantly (and probably closest) "Your having a midlife crisis love!" for full effect say that with a cockney accent.

Month 2 I was starting to feel brighter and a bit more myself spending whole days out of bed only to crash maybe once or twice per week. This was an improvement on the first month where I was almost physically impossible to walk my dogs as my legs could hardly carry me for 1/4 mile with out shaking and giving way. If I can't mange to walk my dogs then I really AM sick. By 3 weeks into November I was definitely feeling better and my friends arrived from Chicago and buoyed with excitement, enthusiasm and caffeine I manage to show them around London. One of them is seriously disabled due to obesity, diabetes and bad knees and because of this we had shorter days and not my normal race around London to show off the sights. It was still hard for me to do and the day they left I felt sadly relieved as I had run out of steam. Next day I woke up barking like a seal/sea lion and back to the doctors again only to be signed off for the THIRD month. This is the fourth chest infection since February and the second in 7 weeks. Both I and my GP are at a loss as my immune system doesn't have time to recover in between illnesses, autoimmune is now starting to be mentioned, yikes! I am literally sick of being sick. I am once again confined to my bed to stay warm, hydrated, and rested like some frail Victorian character with an attack of the vapours. I am happy for now in bed as due to the incessant coughing over several episodes, my ability to cough and retain my modesty has been annihilated. [TMI ALERT] consequently each time I have a coughing fit I either pee myself a little or fart, OH THE SHAME. Needless to say I do not venture out in public until the coughing has reduced. That's the last I will mention of it. I am giving myself until tomorrow to stay in bed and then Dec 1st I am on an all out assault to get my health back, SOMEHOW!

Confession time and this is a warning for all newly sober - DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!!

I drank, ONCE. Sometime between day 152 and day 163 (I don't remember now when it was) I drank for one night. This was incredibly stupid, totally avoidable and very much risking everything I had achieved so far. What happened was I became very depressed with my physical condition, I felt like all this work to stay sober and here I am feeling worse than I ever have in my life. It all reads so painfully ridiculous in retrospect especially given that I was so ill anyway and it would do nothing to improve my health but would more than likely be very detrimental to it. Anyway, the cravings were rapid, frequent, obsessive and relentless and when I finally gave in, it was with the resignation that this may very well lead me back into nightly drinking. I wasn't under any illusion that this was 100% guaranteed one night only, I hoped it would be but based on my previous throwing in the towel I knew I ran the risk of being back to square one possibly in worse shape than ever.  Seriously Russian Roulette or playing with fire is the only way to describe it. It is not lost on me that this is extreme self sabotaging behaviour and is the ultimate "go on universe do your worst".

So the night itself I went for my old favourites, vodka and red wine. Two small vodka rocks followed by one of my favourite reds. Hold the front page - I DID NOT ENJOY IT AT ALL.  The vodka tasted how I imagine rubbing alcohol would and the red wine tasted like, well, sour grapes funnily enough, DOH!. Yes, yes I finished the lot but the sense of disappointment of not only not enjoying it but also blowing my sobriety run was indescribable. Needless to say I had the mother of all hangovers including vomitting  and blinding headache, all for what? Nothing! Now here is the silver lining to this woeful tale of self destruction, I can genuinely say I never want to do that again even for one second. It was the biggest let down ever but also the most striking clarity I have had. I now completely understand what Jason Vale expounds in his book, he totally thinks drinking is gross and now so do I. I am slightly evangelical about it and have been converted into an 'anti' drinker, the opposite to my thoughts about smoking, I always think I'll love the idea of smoking again even if I have no intention of doing it. I do however realise the power of addiction and that if I ever did drink again my body will respond like an addicts body and potentially crave, crave, crave. When my friends were here we were in a pub and I drank some of her beer instead of my Becks blue. How did I know? Well, even though it was a small sip my body responded immediately with that warm flush down my esophagus into my stomach and that rush you get when you first imbibe, not a wholly unpleasant feeling but one I recognised and thought oops, wrong beer.

By the time my friends arrived in the UK I still had no desire to drink and was fine having both red and white wine in the house for Thanksgiving along with a cases of Coors Light. For myself and my best friend down from London to help with the driving, who was rewarded with my lovely Thanksgiving turkey, I bought some non-alcoholic spritzer made from Muscat grapes. It was way too sweet for me, for some reason (Red you can educate me) I always thought the Muscat grape was used for very dry wines but I think I must be very wrong as this melted the enamel on my teeth. Imagine taking a sip expecting a very dry champagne like taste and getting grape juice and 7-up BLEUCH, worse still I bought 2 more bottle for Christmas/New Year. Luckily this was all that was left as the rest of the alcohol was consumed that evening, amazing to watch how much people drink only to realise I used to drink more. This continued for the remainder of their time here and aside from the diabetes and obesity curtailing our sightseeing it was also apparent that once 4pm arrived the jokes about the pub started thick and fast and if we weren't in a pub with beer in hand by 5pm I had two very crabby tourists to cope with. Now I feel a bit hypocritical judging them for this as I used to be thinking similar things but invariably was able to hold my tongue until at least 6-7pm. Interesting though that this sheer desperation to drink was passed off without so much as a touch of embarrassment so I am guessing this was considered the norm. Maybe I have been aware my desire to drink wasn't the norm for quite some time and so was shy to ever be the first to suggest drinking mid-afternoon, don't get me wrong, on a Saturday or Sunday I was pouring a glass of wine anywhere from 2pm to 5pm but would have kept this to myself for the most part. Neither one is "better" or "worse" since both are problem drinking but I guess it is all down to awareness. Interesting though that the snide comments about how his doctor couldn't get his diabetes under control was passed after about the 7th or 8th beer. I bought 2 cases of 12 so 24 in total and they were gone in less than 24 hours with only one person drinking them. The sheer volume of liquid is what amazed me along with all the sugar in the beer.

So that is the majority of my catch up. I have either been flat out in bed or racing around like a mad woman - so balance in my life is still missing. I drove over 1200 miles in 7 days and the petrol alone has been enough to bankrupt me (Justonemore I don't know how you do that every week M5,M4, M25) to any Americans reading, in the UK a gallon of gas is approx $5.15 as opposed to your approx $1.90 - $2.50 per gallon. I cooked a fabulous Thanksgiving turkey, even if I do say so myself, brined as per Nigella Lawson recipe - if you have yet to brine a turkey then get on it, it is the best ever. I will close here as I am just telling you random bits of my life that I haven't passed on for 50 days.

If you are newly sober, for goodness sake don't do what I did, I tried this 2 years ago and plunged straight back into drinking for 18 months. This recent experiment in stupidity had a fortunate ending but I can tell you the chances are stacked against you as you only have to read around the blogosphere to see how often people end up at square one BUT........................... stopping drinking is so worth it, even with all the really bad crap I have had in the past 6 months. I wouldn't change anything about this journey because somehow, SOMEHOW, I know I am headed in the right direction and my life is firmly back on track. Despite the sickness, weakness, tears and sheer frustration and exhaustion, I feel like I am returning to my old self and the the mental me is so much better than before but it is taking the physical me a little longer to catch up. That may sound weird after all I have written about how tired, tired, tired, tired oh and exhausted I am but really the old happy me that had hope is just bubbling away under the surface and in a joint selfie my friend took of us I looked at it and for the first time in about 9 years I saw my real smile on both my lips and in my eyes. It is never too late to find yourself again.

If you have made it this far then you definitely have the stamina to stop drinking.

Mega post over!

Ginger Groundhog

Monday, 28 November 2016

191/180 need a new goal

Hello anyone out there still bothering to check my much neglected blog.

This is the quickest update until I get back to Cornwall and the comfort of my own bed.

1. Most importantly STILL SOBER
2. Have been pretty ill for about 2 months now and only just starting to get myself back to  moderate health
3. Have my best friend here from Chicago (we just 'did' London in 4 days) I am both happy and sad as I love having her but it reminds me of how much I loved Chicago. Cooked the most massive Thanksgiving feast ever and was praised to the heavens (glory hound that I am) and Thanksgiving has always been my favourite holiday. I cooked for 12 which wAs awesome and I got to show off my skills, makes a change from my normal petite Thanksgiving for 3-4
4. I have been reading your blogs on my phone in between sightseeing but not commenting.

I am headed home today after the tearful goodbye at the airport and once home I promise to write a proper post.

Ginger Groundhog