30 January 2009

Award time


I have been given the above award by KatduGers which I graciously accept and post here. As with most awards I have to pas this on to another list of my favourite bloggers. In truth, there are so many wonderful and deserving blogs I regularly visit or chance upon randomly. I have therefore decided that the first six to comment may pick up the award with my blessing.

27 January 2009

That programme

Well, I saw the programme last night and, to be honest, I was not that much wiser. A half-hour programme shortened even further by advert breaks in-between did not do the subject of alcoholism justice. We did not really learn how he slipped into drinking and how he ended up on a bench on Brighton seafront. There was no input from the ex-wife as to how their relationship broke down (though I can imagine only too well). We did not really learn much about his suffering or the suffering of his family on a daily basis. There was plenty coverage of more recent visits to see old drinking mates wearing woolly hats.

I could see many similarities with Greg's situation: an educated man with a similar sort of high-flying career in the media; the way the problem escalated; the despair and desperation; the inability to fight the problem at its peak; the squalor; his children becoming aloof to avoid disappointment; the debts; the sadness of his mother. But I could also see differences: his physical fitness (Greg is a medical wreck at the moment); his capability to do without drink for over a year (Greg has only ever managed 6 months at the most); and the recognition that he would never ever be able to have another alcoholic drink again (Greg still sees the occasional drink as no problem- as last week proved).

Obviously although Ed Mitchell is now sober, he has not climbed back up to the dizzy heights he once enjoyed before his alcoholism and at the end it became clearer why there was a programme at all - he is writing an autobiography!! Shame on you ITV.

23 January 2009

It wasn't the cough that carried her off, it was the coffin they carried her offin.

Cough, cough. Splutter,splutter. I have had a silly cough for the last four weeks (yes, I repeat four weeks). When I say "silly" cough, I mean one of those tickly sort of coughs, like being fanned with a feather at the back of the throat. Debilitating - yes. Life-threatening - no. Not a chesty-cough (my best friend, by the way, thinks that sounds like the name of a Russian), but irritating nevertheless. It started the day after Boxing Day and I have been coughing ever since. I had given it enough time to develop into a cold or flu or even TB, or to go away completely. To add fuel to the flames, about two weeks ago, it started to hurt when I coughed, so that I had to hold onto my right side before I could dare to cough. If I didn't get to hold my side in time, the most awful pain shot across my ribs! I did not want to bother my doctor unnecessarily with "just a cough virus" and I had already convinced myself that I had probably torn a ligament or a muscle, as there was no pain when I breathed and it did not seem related to the lungs at all. I started to take paracetamol in the morning to ease the rib pain, but then discovered my side hurt when I lay on it at night. So after four weeks of coughing and two weeks of rib pain, I decided perhaps I had better go to the doctor after all, as there was no sign of either symptom clearing up this side of Easter or even next Christmas.

My GP thankfully confirmed my own diagnosis (so nice when they do that!) .... " One of those viruses doing the rounds which are particularly persistent. Come back in a few weeks if you still have it, but it should go away eventually." (When? Easter or summer or 2010?) She also confirmed that I had more than likely pulled a muscle in the chest wall and the pain will wear off eventually, but advised I should keep taking the tablets - paracetamol or ibuprofen.

She then went on to look at the results of my Civil Service medical I had gone to, back in November. (I had received the results a few weeks ago through the post and I had forwarded on a second set of results specifically intended for her.) From these results, it would seem my cholesterol level is a little too high, so much so that she wants to start me on taking statins. I ventured that on receiving the results I had already made up my mind to start a low-fat diet as I could easily afford to shed a stone or at most two stones in weight, having used comfort-eating as my solace during these last few crazy years. But she was adamant that losing weight would make no difference to the cholesterol levels at all. Also she imparted that once you start taking statins you have to stay on them for life, as to stop would mean the cholesterol levels would rise to levels higher than when you started taking them in the first place. She gave me a prescription and urged me to start straight away as this really was the best way to reduce cholesterol and prevent any future risk of heart attacks and strokes. She also gave me a blood test form to have another fasting blood test in 8 weeks' time- presumably to monitor whether the statins were doing their job properly. Having read up on statins, I am a little nervous to even start because
i) I will then need to continue with them FOREVER (not something I like the idea of);
ii) I am worried about the side effects I may get - muscle pain, amnesia, memory loss and Parkinsons being just a few of them (something I like the idea of even less)!!

On the other hand, if it prevents heart attacks and strokes (which have run in my family), then that would be a good thing. I need to weigh
all this up, but seeking the reassurance of my cough not being something dire has resulted in an even more thought-provoking diagnosis.

Before I finish, I want to highlight the TV programme which Doglover so very kindly mentioned in his comment on my previous post. For those of you in the UK who might want to understand the problems of alcoholism a little more, there is a TV programme on ITV on Monday 26th January at 8pm about the former TV presenter, Ed Mitchell, who drank himself out of a job and ended up on a bench on Brighton seafront without friends or family. He eventually got to rehab and is now apparently sober. But there's a long road for his wife and two children to travel before they regain their trust in him. I shall certainly watch it. I have no idea whether his story is similar to the one in our household, but he is certainly in the same line of business as Greg was and from what I have heard already, there may be quite a few similarities. I'll let you know once the programme has been aired. Incidentally,I have still to find out what caused last week's lapse, but find out, I will.

Meanwhile, cough, cough. Splutter,splutter. Ouch,ouch.

17 January 2009


Last night, to my absolute horror, Kay came up to me in tears as I was reading blogs on the computer and told me that Greg has started drinking again. She had seen him go out the front door, fetch a bottle from the car and heard him back in the kitchen again pouring something out. When I challenged him about it, he denied it, then I pulled a small bottle of whisky from his jacket pocket. I hit him with the bottle and tossed the contents down the sink. I could have murdered him there and then. Kay was in tears. I was in tears and all he could do was justify it, find reasons. Not a word of sorry passed his lips. He was just experimenting, he said, to see if he could still have the occasional sip, particularly if friends come round with drinks. (An old friend of his is visiting next weekend, whom Greg has not seen in nearly 30 years). I know we have all been expecting this in the back of our minds, but I was nevertheless choked, as I had hoped this time, he could lay off the stuff and had managed so well since September. For now I am speechless and cannot say any more. Kay is in the middle of early A-level exams this week, so I am trying to control my true feelings until the exams are over for her. Then I shall let rip at him. Suffice to say I can barely look at him or speak to him at the moment, I am so angry, so disgusted and so very disappointed.

10 January 2009

Budapest. What a Pest !

I have been staying away from the computer this week. I have not looked at a single other blogger's posts, visited the Internet or checked my accounts or emailed anyone....the reason being one of security.

The New Year has not been as kind to me as I had hoped. On the good side, Greg is still behaving himself and so far is still sober. Not a single alcoholic drink has passed his lips since he went into hospital on 5 September. Dare I hope it will last? But sod's law has dealt me a slap on the face from another quarter. To my horror last Sunday, I discovered some nasty evil piece of vermin has cloned my credit card account and bought £414 worth of air tickets from a Hungarian Airline in Budapest. I have rung the credit card company and also notified the police but, as with a burglary, I feel someone somewhere has made use of my details and I feel like I want to wash and shower myself clean again (in a cyber sense, of course). Greg has been wonderful and immediately sprung into action making sure our computer software is virus-protected, but we have nevertheless been wary of using the computer at all and have rather looked upon it as an alien spy sitting in the corner of the room. The thing is we still don't know if someone has hacked into our computer or whether the card has been cloned from a card reader at a store somewhere. Greg reckons we have done all we can do now and rather nervously I have written this to make tentative contact with the outside world again.

Incidentally the credit card company have been less than impressive. They did not think to cancel the card and issue me with a new one (it occurred to us a few days later after the initial shock had subsided and our brains took over. WE had to tell THEM to cancel card!) Also they said they would not take any action until I had returned their dispute form (but a week has now gone by since I reported it to them and I have not even received the dispute form from them let alone returned it to them). The police rang us back this afternoon and are more "on the ball" and from the sound of it they were less impressed by the credit card company as well.

Sorry I have not been commenting on your blogs lately but hope this will explain why and hope you understand my nervousness at present.