12 March 2013

A week of ups and downs

Last week had its fair share of ups and downs.

The "up" of all ups has to be the phone call I received from Barclaycard following my yours disgusted letter to them about my demise. An extremely pleasant man from their complaints department gushed his sincere apologies to me over and over again and then said he would like to credit my  account with £100 to clear what was already accruing for this month, leaving me with a small amount in profit. That took the steam out of my ears and left me feeling that there can be hope for a small cog dealing with the inefficiencies of large organisations. Yayyyy.

On the "down" front, I  received some bad news about an old friend I had not seen in a good while. Our children used to play together as toddlers, but in the meantime she and her husband had moved away to get their son into another school, so our contact became the Christmas card variety only. Last week I bumped into a mutual friend who broke the bad news. She had driven her 57-year-old husband  to the station a few weeks ago to get a train to work and he had waved cheerily as they parted.  Next thing she knew,  some policemen turned up at the house to say he had died from a massive heart attack on the train. She is left with a 21-year-old  and an 11-year-old son. There was no warning and she didn't get to say the final goodbye. She still feels he is going to walk in through the door and it has all been a terrible mistake.  The only good thing to come out of it was that we managed to meet up for coffee on Friday to catch up on a lot of back news and promised to stay in touch more regularly.

Of course last week was also a crappy week for me as it was the third anniversary of Greg's death. If anything, the anniversaries seem to get worse, not better. I did my usual trip to the crematorium to take brightly-coloured flowers to the chapel (Greg always loved bright flowers even if he did not usually know the names of them. He was not a natural botanist. It took me ages to get him to recognise the difference between Lavender and Lilac, and still he always got it wrong). It's good that his anniversary always coincides with the time when the brightest flowers of all are in bud: daffodils and tulips are always the order of the day and really cheer up the chapel of rest.

With the passing of each month that goes by since his death, and certainly with each passing year, I am saddened by this thought: Greg had ample opportunity to seek rehabilitation in his last years, even though he never took it. He was detoxed several times either in hospital or at a detox centre, but he never went for rehab afterwards. As I've said before, there is a distinct difference between detox and rehab.   A week of detox merely stops you coming off the drink in a safely -controlled environment, without you experiencing any seizures or other withdrawal symptoms, but a much longer rehab gets down to the more psychiatric nitty gritty of why you drink, what triggers it, how you can overide these triggers to prepare you to cope with a life without alcohol in the future. Detox alone will not stop the pull towards drinking again, so detox and rehab need to be done in tandem. 

After detoxes in hospital, Greg was offered rehab several times. It would have involved an almost prison-like six-month stay in an institution, away from home and with little contact with home.  However, Greg would never entertain the idea of even one week let alone six months in rehab on the basis he would miss home comforts and would not want to share his life with other addicts or possibly criminals.  He also once told me he was afraid I would take the opportunity to leave him, while he was away, although I had never said anything of that sort to make him think that and heavily reassured him I would not do that. I think now that if he had risked the benefits of what rehab could offer, against the torture of being away from home for just six months, he might have still been here now. Instead of which he swapped that risk for being away from home and missing out on things for three years to date and forever more to come. How was that for poor judgement on his part? Sadly, that is usually the case for an alcoholic in the grip of addiction: they can't see further than the bottom of their glass.


Nota Bene said...

"If only" Greg had taken what was on offer...but we all miss opportunities offered on a plate...most don't have the same consequences.

Sympathies to your friend...that must be truly awful.

As for Barclaycard...always good to take a little bit back...

Kelloggs Ville said...

good news about Barclaycard :)

Very sad news about your friend, I see this as my future sometimes.

If wishes were horses beggars would ride. If ifs and ands were pots and pans there'd be no work for Tinkers.

Greg will have done what he could do at the time in the circumstances. It's easy to wish with hindsight and so soul destroying as you do it.


Hippo said...

“He also once told me he was afraid I would take the opportunity to leave him, while he was away”

Don’t make light of that sentiment.

Having made the decision to go into a proper hospital, detoxification followed by rehabilitation, do you think that thought hasn’t crossed my mind? I mean, as alcoholics, we are hardly rational.

I know, deep down, with the last of a once analytical mind, that my wife would be much better off without me. It will cost me Fifty Thousand Pounds to go into a specialized clinic with absolutely no guarantee of success. That’s equivalent to a couple of year’s school fees for my son. I should spend this when you admit that your Greg went through detox several times and still screwed things up?

I have set the business up. Everything is in Marcia’s name. She’s an asset millionaire. I have done well for her but she is only thirty. Why should she watch a 53 year old alcoholic blow everything on useless rehab? It’s not her fault. Doesn’t she deserve a life, to enjoy the fruits of our joint labour?

Believe me, as an alcoholic, I don’t have male friends anymore, just competitors. Those who know I will drink myself to death sooner rather than later leaving a rich widow and they are already sniffing around her. I could spend several months away and three and a half grand week only to come back to nothing and only have myself to blame.

Better I accept the inevitable, do the decent thing and just put a round through my head.

Flowerpot said...

Very pleased about Barclaycard - so I should think - but sorry about your other bad news. Trouble is, we can't live others' lives for them, can we? Wish we could.....

DD's Diary said...

So glad about your victory with Barclaycard ... and so sad about Greg. I suppose it was his decision to make in the end. Maybe he suspected he would relapse even after six months of rehab? I think you should buy yourself some lovely cheery tulips and enjoy them at home x

the veg artist said...

Did you see Russell Brand's programme a few nights ago? It's still on BBC iplayer. There was also an article in the Guardian. Hopefully it will hit home with some addicts.
On a lighter note, about two months after moving here I realised that I had not received a credit card statement. Assuming it had got lost in the post, I rang them.
I live in Wales. Always have done. I had moved 3 miles.
A very pleasant person told me that they had sent the statement to my new address in Spain!!!!! I'm afraid I wasn't very pleasant to them, but I did receive abject apologies AND they put money into my account.
I can only assume that some junior had been given the job of changing addresses on the system and had got them mixed up!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your friend, that's really tragic.

It is always a list of 'if only's' after the event and I imagine you've questioned them hundreds of times since Greg's passing.

CJ x

ADDY said...

This is an email comment receivedby Doglover.....

I am so sorry for your friend; what a shock and such an instantaneous change of her life. But maybe that is preferable to the long lingering death that your Greg brought upon himself; you had a long painful goodbye. Perhaps a sudden departure is better in some cases. Inevitably, terrible regrets are left, whichever course is taken.

As for Greg's avoidance of rehab, my view (with all respect to Hippo) is that he was determined not to face up to the painful aspects of his character which it would have revealed. Once detox had cleared him from drinking, he probably felt he could resist drink in the future. Alcoholics never accept that they are powerless over alcohol until rehab convinces them through the Twelve Steps.


hyperCRYPTICal said...

Glad to hear of the good news regarding Barclaycard! Whoopee - they did good!

So sad to hear of your old friends husbands death - I think it hurts all the more if unexpected. It is good that you are 'in touch' again, and sometimes a loss brings with it a rebirth of friendship...

I am sure Greg would appreciate your gesture of brightly-coloured blooms. As to him declining rehab - your 'Sadly, that is usually the case for an alcoholic in the grip of addiction: they can't see further than the bottom of their glass.' states his reasoning perfectly.

A small number of the alcoholics I work for continue to drink, despite knowing it will be the death of them, simply stating "I am a alcohilic - I want my drink"...

Kind regards

Anna :o]

Ellen said...

I'm pleased to hear that your credit card company did the right thing and made a token gesture towards the upset and inconvenience they had put you through. It's funny how it only takes one decent human being to help restore our faith in human nature.

So sorry to hear of your friend's loss - you never know what's round the next corner and it's so important to make the most of every day.

My sympaties to you at this time, I hope you are beginning to feel a little better now x

Furtheron said...

Sorry for your friend.

I went to rehab I was so lost and would do anything I was lucky to have the gift of desperation. That program was spot on I so related to the people in it and their issues. Rehab is difficult but still the safest place I've been in in 30 years