So, on that note – over to Chrissie!
Hi Folks! Thanks to Jimbo for allowing me into his territory to keep the flag flying in his absence!
I wanted to share my story (and my husband, Paul’s), and am doing so with his permission. I wanted to keep a record for posterity as both a reminder for myself and also as a warning to others about the dangers of alcohol abuse, and how it can wreck lives. Without further ado, here is part four of our ongoing saga.
Dicing With Death
One of the first things Paul ever said to me after we got together, was “Don’t try to change me!”.
I have learned over the years that the worst thing you can do in any relationship is to try to change the person you are with. After all, you fell in love with them as they were….so why try to make them into something, or someone else?
So, when he said that, I promised him that I wouldn’t ever try to make him into something he wasn’t. I just replied, “If you want to change, you will, and I will support you all I can, but I will never try to impose anything on you that you don’t want to do, or be”.
It was very hard to say this. I knew that he was heading for a load of trouble because of his alcohol dependency, and I was constantly feeling angry and upset by his apparent determination to ruin his life for the sake of the drink, but I also knew that the more I nagged and complained, the more determined he would be to carry on!
I think the “change”, when it came, was very gradual, and I am glad to say that really, apart from just being there for him, I wasn’t the one who changed him. He did it himself, eventually, because he was intelligent enough to realise the damage he was doing and he truly wanted to free himself from his addiction.
The start of this change began when, after a long night’s sleep in bed, we noticed a lot of blood on his pillow. At first, he put it down to a habit he had of dribbling in his sleep, and he blamed all the red wine he had been drinking the night before. I didn’t think this was the case, but I just kept changing the pillow cases, as required, and eventually, after a good few weeks, he confessed to me that this wasn’t the only problem he was having.
He was losing a lot of blood when he went to the toilet, which he said was probably due to piles and was also coughing up blood from time to time.
I immediately said that I thought he should go to his doctor, and he said he hated going to the doctors because in his opinion, they knew nothing. However, under a lot of duress he finally agreed to go and we made an appointment for him.
The doctor asked him how much he was drinking and Paul told him he drank quite a lot, and the doctor told him to cut right down, checked his blood pressure which was fine, and did a blood test to check his liver count. One week later we went back for the results – his liver count was over 600!
To put that into perspective, I had a test around the same time as part of my ongoing treatment for Type 2 Diabetes and my liver count was 80. I wasn’t a particularly heavy drinker but was doing about 21 units a week which is 7 units too many, and I was advised to cut down my own alcohol intake. I did, and as a result, it returned to normal.
His doctor asked if he had cut down the alcohol and Paul said he had. He hadn’t! He was still drinking as much as ever.
The doctor told him that he MUST cut down, and referred him to the local Drug and Alcohol counselling service and also to a hospital psychiatrist. To be fair to Paul, he did attend both of these sessions, but in both cases the response was that he needed to do something for himself, and he just wasn’t ready for this.
In the meantime, we had change jobs. We were still in the publishing business, and Paul was still in management, but now working from Bolton which on the one hand was good – we didn’t need to get up so early in the morning, and we were back in Chorley earlier most nights, but it also meant that we were in the pub earlier. More drinking time for Paul.
And he was still losing a lot of blood, the weight was dropping off him, and he was permanently tired. He was very unwell and still refusing to do anything to help himself.
It was May 2009 when everything came to a dramatic head.
I had been sleeping on the couch in the living room to give Paul a bit more rest, and he woke me up about 2am and asked me to call an ambulance.
When I had collected my thoughts he told me that he had just been sick and thrown up about two pints of blood – as he was telling me this he suddenly became sick again and I rushed to get a bowl from the kitchen and he promptly threw up another load of blood.
I called for the ambulance service who arrived within about two minutes and they checked his blood presure, which was alarmingly low and immediately put him into the ambulance. I offered to go with him, but he didn’t want me there (he thought he was going to die and didn’t want me to watch it happen).
It seemed an age before the ambulance set off, and I only found out later that he had actually died in the ambulance and they had managed to recuscitate him, hence the delay.
Apparently, he “died” twice more – once on the way and then again when they got him to Accident and Emergency. He had only one pint of blood left in his system at that point so they immediately gave him blood transfusions and needless to say he was extremely lucky to have been cared for by an excellent paid of paramedics and then later in hospital.
At first, the doctors suspected liver failure, where the liver actually bursts and death is very quick. What actually happened was that his oesophagus had been damaged by all the drinking and caused varices (like varicose veins in the oesophagus), one of which had burst. It had been slowly leaking into his stomach and intestines and this explained all the blood loss at night and when using the toilet. When it finally burst open this is what caused the copious outflow of blood from his system.
Doctors can treat this by “binding” the varices in a similar way that you would bind a leaking pipe. However, they can only do this so many times before it becomes impossible to do any more. Paul is now on Omeprazole for life to try to ease the problems created by the acid that builds up in the stomach as a result of all the beer he drinks.
He spent two weeks in hospital on this occasion and later told me that the worst part of dying was the coming back – a lot of pain from the resuscitation equipment – and it was at this time that he told me that if it happened again, he did not wish to be resuscitated.
I still had him, but he would never be the same after that.
More to come…and thanks for following our story!
See you soon! x