13 September 2008
My story continues.....
Eventually, in November 2007, Greg went to see Matt at the Alcohol Advisory Centre and agreed to detox. He felt so rough again and he knew he had to do it for his health. But he still baulked at the idea of rehab and said he would think about it later. Matt said there would be a wait of about 3-4 months for the detox, so we should not expect it to happen until well after the New Year -a full year after his detox in hospital. Now back on a full bottle of whisky a day, plus all his medication (which amounted to about 12 tablets a day and insulin injections), those three months dragged. The medication was for his heart trouble (high cholesterol and high blood pressure), gastric upsets (following on from the burst ulcer), diabetes and poor circulation in his legs (caused by the smoking).
All the former problems came back...food tasted funny, he had no appetite, he sat all day watching TV, smoking 40+ cigarettes a day, shouting and shrieking often until very late at night, hygiene falling by the wayside. He looked a mess. He still wore old clothes that were far too big for him and held them up with a belt. His hair grew long and bushy again. He did not wash or clean his teeth, so there was always an aura of whisky mixed with sweat about him. He wandered around in bare feet, even in the garden, so that the soles of his feet were the colour of a blackboard. He would climb into bed with those dirty feet sticking out of the duvet. His sleep was broken by mumblings and arm-waving. He used to complain vociferously when my alarm went off in the morning to get Kay off to school. It broke his chance to have a long sleep in the morning. Yet he could come to bed late at night, sometimes 2am or 3am, and clatter about, putting the light on, even smoking right next to me, and I was supposed to put up with that without a comment. The irritations on both sides were getting too much to cope with. I really felt I was sharing the house with a stranger and not the person I had married. I treated him like an unwelcome lodger. I began to let it show that my feelings for him had changed. I would shout back at him, when he shouted at me. I would even sometimes tell him that I wished he were dead. I told him what hell he was putting Kay and me through. If he was so intent on killing himself then he had better hurry up and get it over with. Because the waiting was unbearable. There were times, I am afraid to say, when I got so furious with him and my frustration got the better of me, that I would grab him by the hair and shake him or pin him against the wall and beat my hands against his chest. And then I would cry and run off. He never followed to come and find me. I would often come down later and find him asleep on the dining chair. A glass of whisky still there in front of him.
It got to the stage where I could no longer bear to be in the same bed as him and I decamped to the spare room. Even the dog did not want to sleep in the same room and chose to scratch at my bedroom door and lie on my floor alongside me rather than be in the marital bedroom with Greg. In fact every time Greg entered any room, Snoopy would dive off from wherever he was snoozing and run up or down stairs to get away, sensing a shouting-match would be about to start.
Kay was beginning to answer Greg back and say to me that she did not love him any more, because he showed so little interest in her. He had once been a wonderful father, taken her to places, helped her with so much. Now he more or less ignored her or shouted at her. He never asked her about important events in her day, when she got home from doing them. She hates him smoking and she would get even more irritated with the smoke than I do. Her teachers have even commented that she smells of smoke. Our GP said she could smell the smoke on me too. When you are a passive-smoker of 40-60 cigarettes a day, it is sometimes difficult to breathe!
When my mother came to stay with us occasionally, he would have no inhibitions and would bellow as much to me in front of her, as if she was not there. It upset her to see him treating me that way and the shouting really got to her. Naturally, I did not want her to feel lonely at times like Christmas or on her birthday, but she did not like to stay longer than necessary. She hates conflict and confrontations. If I tried to go away to spend time with my mother, I could not trust him to care for Kay. I was worried too about him falling asleep drunk with a burning cigarette and Kay being trapped at the top of the house in a fire. Yet my mother was getting older and frailer and needing more attention which I couldn't risk giving her.
You know that old vaudeville joke " I say, I say, I say. My wife and I have only had one argument in our entire marriage. It started the day we married and it's still going on now." Well, we had not argued much in the early part of our marriage , so we were not quite like that joke,, but we were arguing constantly now. Not just one row a week, not one a day, but several a day and most of the time in fact. The rows were over the silliest of things. Anything I said sparked one off. It could be something as harmless as asking what time an appointment was, when he wanted dinner, what he had done with a document. He would just shout at me to leave him alone and then I would stand my ground and we would be off. If I so much as said a peep over a TV programme he was watching (and he watched TV from morning til night) - even to say goodnight - he would rant and rave. It got to the stage where we were not making important household decisions, because we would inevitably end up rowing, with him shouting, and reaching no decision at all.
Whenever we saw his sister Jill, they would end up arguing over something silly too. They always made up but it did not stop it happening again. Greg's mother was ill with a chronic lung complaint and Jill usually looked after her, as they lived in the same village. But, on one occasion, as Jill was going away for a few weeks on holiday, his mother had to go into a nursing home and Greg offered to visit her there. His mother was embarrassed by Greg's appearance and made it clear to me that he should not come to visit her at the nursing home unless he made a great effort to spruce himself up. He did go to see her, but, as I have no influence over him and what he wears, he did embarrass her. It was not as if he even stayed a long time with her, as he hates small talk and hospital-like environments anyway. But we all knew he was staying in his mother's empty cottage drinking to his heart's content. How he made it there and back in his car on the motorway is a miracle.
All in all, every member of the family was suffering from his behaviour and couldn't wait long enough for the detox to come. When we finally got the call to say detox had been arranged for a date in early February 2008, our hopes were raised once more.