30 June 2009

Plans a-plenty

As I have mentioned before I am never happier than when I am organised and everything is shipshape. I have been getting a tad frustrated over the last few weeks as I wasn't quite sure how the summer months were going to pan out. All I knew for certain was that Kay's exams were over and that Greg was well and truly in the grip of alcoholism again, starting his first drink at breakfast, half-way through a bottle of whisky by lunchtime and at the end of it by evening. He is doing nothing to help with household chores or paperwork. Everything falls to me. I am effectively a single parent.

Kay wanted to do so much during her vacation, but as yet we had not planned out how and when we were going to fit it all in.
This morning, however, I have started to make concrete plans. First, Kay and I will be spending a week with my mother, starting on Friday. Lots of motherly and grandmotherly quality-time planned, trips to the beach, shopping etc. I may even take Snoopy so that he gets a bit of a holiday and releases the demands on Greg when he is left alone at home. We are then back at the end of next week as Greg has to have an emergency cataract operation (the growth of a cataract discovered last year has accelerated because of the diabetes). That is followed by Kay's 18th birthday (not sure what we are planning for that yet).

Then Kay and I will be going away towards the end of July to the Mediterranean for a week's relaxation/sightseeing/Greek hospitality. Greg will stay at home with Snoopy, although I pity Snoopy's part of the bargain. Greg did mention that he might like to come too but as he cannot walk out of our cul-de-sac without getting tired, I cannot see him getting as far as the Mediterranean. But seeing as we have never dared to leave Snoopy behind on any of our holidays over the past ten years, it is best the boys stay home together in any case. I also doubt they would let Greg on a plane in his condition! So, that covers the next few weeks or so of the summer and after that, who knows what we'll plan!

18 June 2009

Bring on the Summer!

Kay's last exam was this morning. Chemistry Synoptic. Covering anything and everything she has done over the last two years. She did not seem too pleased about it when she came out, but I never know whether it is her being glass half-empty or realistic. We now have a nail-biting 8 weeks until the results are published before we know whether she has won her place at university or not. She needs to get A, A and B in no particular order for Chemistry, Biology and Maths, but Chemistry is her least strongest subject and she is not confident of even a B for that.

Last night, while she was revising for it, Greg threw a wobbly. He had been drinking heavily all day from breakfast time onwards and by suppertime he was well gone. He had not eaten all day. I had cooked a Chicken Curry with rice for supper and he told me not to serve any for him, as he would have it later, when he felt like it. After Kay and I had served ourselves, the remains lay untouched on the stove right up until 11pm. As I was getting ready for bed, I made the mistake of asking whether I should put it away in the fridge (rather than let the flies buzz around it), if he did not want it. He just blew up and told me to leave him alone. He then proceeded to chunter on about how he never gets any peace (yet we had not been near him all day!) Kay could hear him all the way upstairs as he moaned on and on for a good half an hour or more, while she was still trying to study for this morning's exam. It seems like Greg always seems to lie in wait and save his venom for the chemistry tests and exams! When we came down this morning, he was still asleep on the dining chair in the kitchen. He had clearly not been to bed all night. He did not even wake up as Kay and I clattered about getting breakfast and left the house.

Que sera, sera. What will be, will be. The exams are done and now we sit back and wait. Next week she has to go into school for just one final day to hand back all her text books and say goodbye. That day finishes with the school prom in the evening held at an exclusive golf-club near here. We bought her the most exquisite floaty chiffon evening dress for it this afternoon. Meanwhile, Kay is exulting in the fact that she does not have to use her brain for the next 12 weeks. She is as free as a bird, can lie-in till suppertime, if she wants, watch films, TV, vegetate, gossip with her friends, shop till she drops and busy herself doing absolutely nothing. I give her a couple of weeks before she says she is bored!! Bring on the Summer!!

10 June 2009

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?

Greg looks very old all of a sudden. For decades, he was the young man I married, then (puff of smoke) he turned 60. A wand has been waved and he is grey both in hair and complexion, bags under his eyes and he looks ill. Well, he is ill. The alcohol-related illnesses over these past 5 years have taken their toll on his looks, as well as his health, which was not good before he started drinking heavily. He has diabetes, heart disease, poor circulation in his legs and feet, the possibility of early stage liver cirrhosis and (I reckon) depression, which is probably why he drinks. He can barely walk a few yards. Since he retired, he has no interest or energy to do anything, so he drinks and that gives him no energy or interest to do anything. A vicious circle.

He announces regularly that he is going to do so much around the house - mend this, fix that, decorate the other, but he never stirs from the spot where he sits watching TV all day.
Similarly there are things he wants to chase up with the household's paperwork (concerning bills, insurance claims or the mortgage) but they never get done. If pressed about them, he will say it is too hot, too cold, too wet, too soon, too late.... the excuses keep on coming. In the end, Muggins here usually does it. Sometimes the one and only job he insists on doing (because, he says, I don't do it properly) - namely loading the dishwasher - does not get done and the dishes pile high on the kitchen work surface for a few days or so. Then in desperation I even do that job, as I try to find a clear square inch to chop up some vegetables or prepare a meal! As for major work around the house, forget it - mind you, he has not done that in about ten years anyway. So in latter years painting and DIY has fallen to me. He has great hopes but they just don't materialise.

Even washing himself, cleaning his teeth, brushing his hair and changing his clothes seem too much for him - I often find him asleep on the bed in the morning fully clothed....in the same clothes he has worn all fortnight. Alcohol becomes the be-all and end-all of an alcoholic's life. Relationships and personal hygiene cease to matter. Ketchup stains on his sleeves, soup stains on his trousers, a scaly rash on his face and in his hair. Constantly reeking of whisky and stale cigarette smoke. He seldom washes or showers - usually only when he has to present himself at the doctor's for a repeat prescription, once in a blue moon. If I "nag" him to wash once in a while, it starts World War 3, so it is easier to say nothing and watch him stagger to and from his car and around the neighbourhood like a tramp. Goodness knows what the neighbours think. You tend to look at married couples as one entity (like your own parents) and don't see them as having separate personalities and separate opinions.
Do they tar me with the same brush and think I'm a slob for not keeping my husband clean and tidy? They cannot possibly realise what an uphill struggle it is for me to get him to look presentable. Or have they guessed the truth and all this pretence of a normal marriage which I put on for the outside world has been sussed?

Once upon a time I used to worry about what other people thought. If people came to visit us, it became more and more difficult to conceal the state he was in. If they did notice anything, they tactfully said nothing. If we went out anywhere, I'd feel the embarrassment crawling all over me, as soon as he and I stepped out of the front door. I'd beg Kay not to tell any of her friends, lest their parents found out and wouldn't let their children visit our home to spend time with Kay. Living with an alcoholic can be very isolating. For the last year. however, I have advised Kay to tell her friends, as she needed someone to confide in and to make them understand what was happening in her home life and why sometimes it was better for her to stay over with them, rather than for them to stay over with us. Whether their parents know, I don't know. I don't even care any more. I am running out of resolve. I just don't care any more. Let them see it. Let them judge, if they must. I cannot fight his battles any more. I cannot continue to live a lie.

05 June 2009

Exam fever and the Bombay diet

School exams have started in earnest this week in our household. Of course, as always, just when you need to keep cool and concentrate, the weather has decided to climb into the 80s (Fahrenheit) or about 26 (Celsius), so Kay has been sweltering while she revises. Added to that she has had a terrible head cold which is now heading south to her chest, the poor little mite has been struggling to breathe. I have been trying to build her up with brain fodder and anti-virus food, such as salads, fish, blueberries and echinacea tablets. Hopefully that will pay off. The thanks I get for it is that I am now going down with it too. Still, unlike Kay, at least I don't have to bother my fuzzy head with analysis of chemical ions and aldehydes.

Greg meanwhile is now downing the whisky like it is going out of fashion and is currently going through a typical phase of his alcoholism that is oh so familiar - I have seen it many times before in the previous cycles he has been through. When he is well and truly in the grip of alcohol addiction, his appetite starts to disappear completely. He tends to skip breakfast and lunch altogether and only snacks very late in the afternoon, so that by suppertime he says he is not hungry. He declines to eat lunch with us and at suppertime may at best take minuscule portions which would not even fill a two-year-old. He will toy with the food on his plate with his fork and say that it doesn't taste of much....things which under normal conditions he usually relishes. Most of his food then ends up in the bin. At the moment, he is existing mainly on whisky, milk and strange concoctions he makes himself such as bombay mix with salsa sauce! It seems he has to really accentuate the spiciness of his food to get any taste at all. I think the alcohol kills all the little taste buds on his tongue. I am watching out for the next phase which will no doubt follow the usual pattern and develop into the upset stomach/hiccuping phase, followed by the more extreme gastric ulcer/ dash to the hospital phase. This morning he got up retching. Surprisingly that only starts to happen when his liver really has had really more than it can take. I've been there before. Watch this space.