I suppose I should have remembered that my blog had its second anniversary a couple of weeks ago. Maybe, because the whole reason for starting this blog has now disappeared, my temporary memory lapse is a sign that the blog is going nowhere right now and doesn't need to be remembered.
When I nervously published that first post on 22 May 2008, I had no idea that two years down the line, I would be a widow. I knew things were not well, I knew Greg had a lot of health problems and I knew that death was distinctly on the cards if he carried on drinking. But just as you also know lung cancer is on the cards if you carry on smoking, you always think you are going to be the lucky one. So with Greg, I hoped he might see the error of his ways, manage to come off the drink permanently and we'd both sail into the golden sunset of retirement together. After all, it was not as if he had been a heavy drinker all his life, only in the last five years. I imagined he could stop as easily as he had started. I suppose I was in denial. The brutal facts are that only 1 in 10 alcoholics ever recover totally from their addiction and even then it is a tortured existence when faced with invites to family occasions, boys' or girls' nights out, or a walk past a pub on a bad day, at a vulnerable moment. So why I thought Greg would be the one in ten to survive and rise above this awful disease, I don't know. After all, that would be the same Greg, who spent most of his whole life trying to stop smoking even when he knew it was causing vascular problems in his legs and together with his diabetes making walking more difficult. So I guess addiction was in his veins.
Still, there was always a part of me that hoped (or maybe fantasised or just wasn't thinking realistically) that he would get over this. He certainly wanted to lick alcoholism into submission, but somehow the faint determination to do it got arm-wrestled into defeat by the enormous big bully cravings to carry on. Even a few days before he ended up on what was to be the final stay in hospital he was talking about getting help...... again. The trouble is that detox alone is not enough. He had had plenty of those either in a detox clinic or on numerous occasions when he was in a hospital bed and enforced not to drink . Detoxes just get the alcohol out of your system in a reduced slow way with the help of prescription drugs so that you don't experience the withdrawal symptoms. What you then need after that is rehab - a (usually) six-month-long stay in an institution to get to the bottom of WHY you drink and how best you can avoid it.... I suppose with a lot of soul-searching. Greg always refused to go to rehab. He did not like the idea of being away from home at all, let alone sharing a room with a stranger for six months (rooms are inevitably shared to help the process), nor the idea of possibly mixing with drug addicts and hard criminals. He always turned down that lifeline. Whether ultimately rehab might have kept him on the straight and narrow I do not know, but in turning it down, simply because he did not want to be away from home, he ended up in the situation of not coming home at all - ever - except in a wooden casket.
When he was admitted to hospital, bleeding internally in several places, his last words to me, before he fell unconscious, were that he hoped they could do something to help him "if I ever get out of here." I had to leave him at that point, as the hospital were barring visitors to contain the winter vomiting bug that was doing its rounds and I was only there to visit in the first place, because Greg was on the critical list. He must have realised how low his health had sunk. Did he perhaps know this was the last chance? "If I ever get out of here" keeps going through my mind over and over again. Perhaps he already knew then he had lost the battle.