25 July 2008

Bursting the bubble

I am sorry I have digressed from my story to write a few posts about the present day. It seems a shame not to record some current things as they happen, but of course it does interrupt the story I originally set out to tell. I left off at the point "On the Mend" where Greg had been discharged from hospital following his gastric ulcer bleed and emergency detox. He was at that point cured of the alcohol addiction and the other ailments that led him into hospital. That was in November 2006, some eighteen months or so ago.The story continues.....

Of course, the idyll was not to last. The first thing Greg did was to remove his name from the
waiting list for rehab. Although rehab should follow on from detox (see my previous references) and would get at the root of why someone drinks and help with preventative coping measures, Greg did not think he could cope with being away from home for six months and also having to share a room with a stranger (which is apparently part of the procedure). He said he would prefer to have counselling on a weekly basis from home. Greg had found four weeks in hospital bad enough and sharing his life with the medical staff and other people on the ward. Surprisingly enough, he said the thing he would miss most about being away from home would be the computer and not being able to check his bank account online and receive/send emails. (Not a word about missing me or Kay or the dog, you notice!!)

Secondly, he went around asking every doctor or nurse he came into contact with
within about a month of being home (GP, liver consultant, heart consultant, diabetic nurse) , whether the "occasional" glass of wine would be all right for him to drink. He couched it by saying that, what with the Christmas and New Year season coming up, if he were to be at a party, could he accept a glass of wine or not. The standard reply was that it would not be a good idea, given that he was an alcoholic. But not content with that answer, he would then rephrase the question or ask someone else, until one day he got the answer he wanted...."in theory one glass would not physically harm your liver, but.....". He ignored the "but" and concentrated on the fact that it would not harm his liver if he had an occasional drink. He claimed he was now out of danger and that he was in the same boat as anyone else fancying a drink. Two glasses of red wine a day would be his absolute limit. He was also encouraged by the fact that a recent blood test revealed his liver had now miraculously totally recovered and was back to normal again with no permanent damage whatsoever. Even our GP was completely dumbstruck and couldn't believe that it was scientifically possible, but the results were there in black and white. His liver had totally recovered. He did not drink every day, so I wanted to believe that maybe he was going to be all right. But there were also days, when I would discover him in the garage sitting on an upturned box having a sly drink and when I confronted him about it, he said he was only doing it secretly because he knew I would get angry. Occasionally I would fancy a glass of wine myself, as you sometimes do, but I had held back from bringing any alcohol into the house, as I thought it would only rub his face in it and tempt him. I resented it that I was being condemned to an alcohol-free existence to spare him, even though I was the one enforcing it.

Meanwhile, Greg began to see a woman counsellor for one hour a week at the Alcoholic Advisory Service. So far as I could see she just sat and listened to him while he did all the talking (he is good at talking), but she offered little in practical terms to dissuade him from what he was thinking or doing. She was just a medium for him to empty out his soul.

In the mid-summer of 2007, Greg organised a solo camping trip to visit his best friend. He could have stayed nearby with my mother in comfort, but he insisted on camping. First the camp-site would be nearer to the town where his friend lives and secondly he could come and go without disturbing my mother.
He could have stayed with his friend but I think he felt he did not want to impose on them. I was pleased that he was taking up interests, wanting to see friends and also dealing with some of the backlog of things that needed attention in the house, so I encouraged him to visit his friend and thought the camping trip would help him relax and give him some stimulus. A few weeks later, he had to go to the same friend's mother's funeral up in his home town. He again decided to take the tent and camp up there rather than stay with his sister Jill or his own mother. His reasoning was that he had the freedom to come and go without disturbing any of them and in any case he wanted to see if the tent was still watertight and try it out again. Much later after these two camping trips, his sister, Jill, reported to me that she had visited him on the camp-site and found a different bottle of wine stashed away every time she saw him,so she knew he was back to drinking more than "just a glass" again. I also discovered that apparently, after the funeral, there had been a gathering of the mourners at a village pub, so Greg had been surrounded by the stuff. Have you noticed too how every soap drama on TV has a pub at its central storyline and in other dramas the characters are drinking at some point or other. It was staring him in the face every way he turned. He was also getting invitations from old work colleagues to meet up and have reunions, in a pub - naturally. I knew it was going to be hard for him to say no to a beer or glass of wine. I dreaded him going. When he came home from these reunions he was always a bit worse for wear. I knew we were sitting on a time bomb. My mind started to go back to that day about eight years ago now, when a neighbour had approached me about Greg's drinking. I thought of her more and more. She must have been a clairvoyant to see what I could not see then. I had thought so badly of her at the time. Now I wished I could find her to apologise.


Flowerpot said...

if you're not looking for the signs you don't see what's happening. Phew - what a journey.

abcd said...

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but what could you have done differently that would have made a difference, nothing that I can see.

aims said...

Ahh! Flowerpot and Fern have said it all!

I too doubt that you could have changed anything. He sounds like he is on a one-way track to destruction and only cares about himself - and alcohol. Sad.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi...I don't know much about this subject at all but am a big fan of Sheila Hancock and John Thaw. Sheila wrote about John in a book: "The Two of Us" in which she writes about John's problems with alcohol. It's a good book which I recommend on its own - just for the read. Don't know whether it would be any help to you? (Hope it all works out for you, Greg and Kay.) Hadriana x