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 five of our ongoing saga.
Paul was very stoical about everything – as he rightly pointed out, he’s not afraid of dying having seen it all and done it all there’s nothing he still felt he wanted to do with his life. He’s had a good one and he doesn’t believe in any kind of afterlife, so for him it was, and still is, a case of ”When I’m gone, I’m gone, and I won’t be around to worry about it.”
My reaction, naturally, was different. I just couldn’t get my head around the fact that he was going to leave me so soon. I had finally found the one man who loved me for who I was and who I could genuinely say I loved back just as much in spite of all the problems, and now he was going to leave me on my own.
I did a lot of crying, mostly in private – there were times when I thought I was OK but then the thoughts of losing him would creep up on me and I would break down in tears. This went on for months until I decided that I’d better stop grieving for him and get on with enjoying the time we had left.
A couple of months after the first event Paul became extremely tired and refused to get out of bed for anything. He was grumpy and irritable and full of bad language – not at all like himself, and, imagining that this was the beginning of the end, I started to get really worried about him so I sent for the doctor.
He did a few checks on him and when it was quite obvious that Paul didn’t even know what day it was, the doctor said he was probably suffering from encefalopathy, a brain disease that is caused by a build up of toxins in the blood. It happens when the liver becomes unable to do its normal job of filtering out the impurities. Paul was still drinking at this stage – not so much as before, but enough to cause further damage.
He was rushed into hospital for the second time and put on a drip to feed high doses of Vitamin K into his system amongst other things including up to 4 litres of blood. When I went to visit him in the evening he was still out of it and I really did think I was losing him. I went home fully expecting to receive a phone call to tell me he was on his way.
The following morning, having heard nothing from the hospital I rang and they told me he was out of danger. I gathered together some bits and pieces of clothing for him and took them to hospital for him. He was very tired but at least he knew me again and over the next three or four days his memory slowly started to come back. He remembers nothing about the events preceeding his hospital admission and was very surprised to have woken up there. Apparently nobody had bothered to talk to him about his admission or his condition.
In a nutshell, encefalopathy is a highly dangerous and life threatening condition. It causes dementia-like symptoms and all common sense and memory go out of the window and you slip into unconsciousness. If not caught and treated in time you will almost certainly die. In the longer term, if it doesn’t take your life, it does erode your short term memory and in Paul’s case he now has difficulty remembering people’s names and appointments.
But in spite of this, Paul, as had so often happened in his past life, had now cheated death FOUR times in the space of about three months!
And so it goes on! In 2009 he was given just 6 months to live and he is still here in 2012. We don’t know why – there have been many times in the last three years when Paul has said to me that he wishes it was all over – when life becomes too hard for him and the pain is unbearable. He has told me that if he has to go to hospital again in an emergency situation that he does not want to be resuscitated.