17 February 2014

Wedding Nerves

I would imagine, the majority of brides look forward to their wedding day.... the day they've longed for since they were little girls and used to throw a net curtain over their head and teeter around in their mother's high heels to practice for the big day. A lot of frogs later, they finally meet their prince and it's full-steam ahead for the real thing. Apart from the worry of whether their caterers will go bust, or the gown won't get altered in time or they will erupt in a crop of acne just before the appointed hour, most will get excited and can't wait.

I therefore felt sorry for Leanne Baker, who was so scared of being the centre of attraction, that she hanged herself a week before the event. I could well understand her agony, as I too felt like that. Not enough to hang myself, obviously, but I have always been on the shy, self-conscious side, particularly in the first half of my life, so when it came to my own wedding to Greg, although I was very happy to be married to him, the actual ceremony terrified me. For a good few months beforehand, I worked myself up into a mental frenzy and kept getting a 3D technicolour vision on continuous loop of me entering the church with my father and the entire congregation turning round to catch their first glimpse of the bride. Me.  My knees would buckle under their gaze and I would pass out. The closer to the wedding it got, the more anxious I became until I could bear no talk from my parents about the  preparations and would take to my bed with exhaustion at 6pm in the evening when I came home from work. I think if I had had the energy to escape to Gretna Green, I would have done. By the appointed day itself, I was a gibbering wreck and by the time my best friend/bridesmaid turned up at the house to get ready, I was sweating buckets (well, it was in the heatwave of 1976).

My father had been running up and downstairs all morning with alternate glasses of milk or brandy to steady my anxious, rebelling stomach and by 2pm I was functioning on automatic pilot. Somehow I got dressed and into the vintage Rolls Royce waiting outside. The houses and streets passed in a blur until we arrived at the church. Emerging from the car in the idyllic countryside setting of the church on a gloriously boiling hot day,  my nerves suddenly vanished (or maybe the brandy had kicked in) and as the doors opened to let my father and me in, I sailed down the aisle, didn't fluff my lines and sailed serenely out at the end. All that worry for nothing. Its such a shame that Leanne Baker couldn't keep her nerve. She might have enjoyed it after all.
All my worries over

10 February 2014


I see Paul Gascoigne's back in rehab. His sobriety didn't last very long, despite the TV programme I saw on him a while ago, where he seemed to be doing well. "Seemed" being the operative word. The trouble is that a lot of alcoholics seem to think that once they have kicked the habit, they'll be all right to have the occasional drink after that. They seem to think their addiction has been knocked on the head once and for all and they are back to being like the rest of the human race. They seem to think they can make their own choices.

Greg seemed to think that too. He would always say after one of his hospital stays, when he emerged reborn, off the drink and much healthier, that the occasional social drink, the occasional drink with his Sunday dinner, the infrequent get-together with his old work pals would do no harm.

Denial is a huge factor in alcoholism. The alcoholic will deny they have a problem, that they  don't drink heavily, that they can stop whenever they want to (they just don't wish to), that they are not causing problems, are not hurting their family etc etc etc. Once they have finally admitted it, gone through detox and rehab, they are often still in denial ... they think they can go back to drinking "normally"  as and when they want like the next man. Their families are often in denial too. I admit I was. I didn't want to admit Greg was an alcoholic, that he had a problem, that it was causing us problems. The search for another reason often takes a long while, until the truth finally dawns.

The fact is that an alcoholic once made sober again, be it from a hospital stay, detox, rehab or whatever, can never touch the stuff again. Not even one solitary glass. Because their addiction will grab them by the throat and lead them back down the path to alcoholism once more, quicker than you can say "hangover". That's the bit a lot of them just can't get. Whether you are rich or poor, famous or not. Sadly, Paul Gascoigne still hasn't got it.

03 February 2014

Roll on Monday

This has not been a  good week in the Alcoholic Daze calendar and I can't wait for normality and Monday.

About 6 months ago, I had been to see my GP about two strange marks that had erupted on my face. One on my chin - a gingery irregular circle-shaped thing about the size of a 50p piece which has grown very slowly over the space of 8 years. It has not responded one jot over the years to the various lotions and potions prescribed by the different GPs who have diagnosed everything from solar keratosis to ringworm to a liver spot. It is apparently none of these and refuses to leave the space taken up on my chin. I went to see a GP again last  summer, as I wanted another attempt at getting them to diagnose what it really was or at least refer me to a dermatologist. Almost in passing I had also mentioned the second mark - a pearly white spot on my forehead which suddenly appeared almost overnight about 9 months ago. That turned out to be immediately more suspect and worthy of a referral than the gingery mark. Before I knew it, I had had a skin biopsy  on the pearly spot and the result, which I received back in November, was that it is a basal cell carcinoma.

The very word "carcinoma" is enough to give me the heebie-jeebies, but I was assured that, although a cancer, it does not spread to other parts of the body, grows slowly and can be removed with success. So far so good.

Fast forward to last Thursday when I finally got an appointment with the consultant dermatologist to look at it. She confirmed to the fourth-year medical student at her elbow that the pearly thing on my forehead was indeed a basal cell carcinoma and talked her through how to recognise it with its "rolled edges" when the skin is squeezed. Talk then moved to the gingery thing on my chin. With much prodding and poking and staring at it through an illuminated magnifier, the consultant first admitted she hadn't a clue what it was ("oh no, I'm to be a guinea pig", I thought) but then she later decided it too might be a variation of a basal cell carcinoma. "Best get another biopsy to make sure" she said. So now my chin is sporting two stitches, as well as the scar from the original biopsy stitches I had on my forehead back in September. My face is so resembling a patchwork quilt!  Long story short, I'm being referred to a maxillofacial surgeon for the offending growths to be excised.

So that is how my weekend started with the thought that if the chin one has to be removed, I could have a hole in it the size of Siberia and look like Quasimodo. Probably all my fault too, because, as a teenager back in the Swinging Sixties, I used to soak up the sun.  In addition, my Dad had a table-top ray lamp that could be used as infra red for his bad back. It had a switch to convert it to ultra-violet rays which is what I would use it for and stick my face 6 inches away from it to tan my face. We sadly didn't know the danger in those days.

Saturday was the 13th anniversary of my father's death. My mother still misses him dreadfully and each year seems to get more painful for her than easier. I had on the agenda a lunch out at a local carvery to distract her which I think did the trick, although I did feel a tad self-conscious walking around with two stitches in my chin, as if I had done ten rounds with Mike Tyson or emerged from a Frankenstein set. At least we got a table away from anyone else. I think they thought we were going to be trouble. Sunday was the 13th anniversary of the worst day of my life. I can't help it, but the two dates always bring back such rotten memories on both losses.

Sorry if this post is a bit depressing, but that really sums up my crappy week.  From here on, this week has only got to get better, hasn't it?