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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Memories of a day in the life...

Last night I had a conversation with Alea, my daughter, who is a little upset that I would go buy Riley vodka if he asked me to. She points out that my life with Riley now is much better than what it was when he was drinking. There’s a lot of underlying emotion going on there, some of which isn’t very pretty, but it got me to thinking about the days where Riley was at the end of his most recent drinking adventure.
The day in the life of drunken Riley would begin with me getting a cup of coffee and enjoying the peace and quiet.
Riley’s sleeping pattern is confused and he really only naps for a few hours at a time rather than sleeping for a full 8 hours. Since his room is off the kitchen, he will hear me and get up to join me in the kitchen. My office is in the dining alcove just off the kitchen. Across from my desk is the dining table. That way I can work, watch what’s going on in Riley’s room, living room, front door, kitchen and dining area. It’s a good vantage point of the entire downstairs.
When Riley hears me in the kitchen he comes out and says “Good morning.” He has his cup filled ¾ of the way with vodka and the rest is coffee. He says he learned to drink his coffee straight when he was in the Navy – that is without cream and sugar. I always say his coffee is vodka with a coffee chaser. He sits down at the dining table and we begin our day.
In the mornings our conversations are relatively sane. We discuss what we will have for dinner and what needs to be done around the house. I always ask him what he is going to do with his day. He never has an answer. I ask if he wants to start a grocery list – he always does.
During our morning chats, he runs to the bathroom several times. Sometimes he returns with wet streaks down his pant legs where he has missed the toilet. Sometimes the seat of his pants will be soiled where he has not wiped the feces from his butt. He then sits back down at the table and wants to resume the conversation. When he transfers himself to the living room, I will wipe down the dining chair and the top of the table with a bleach wipe. I have covered all the cushioned chairs with towels which I remove and launder in extremely hot bleached water.
With a fresh drink in his hand, and once in the living room, Riley turns the TV to NCIS, House or Law and Order. Sometimes he’ll watch Burn Notice or some other similar show. This is where he sits nodding in and out of sleep for several hours. Every time he wakes up from nodding off, he comes back to the kitchen for another drink. At this point conversations with him have degenerated to him making demands and complaining about what he perceives to be inadequacies caused by my caretaking. I won’t let him drive. I won’t let him live alone. I won’t let him have a credit card.
When he feels the need for a nap, he will stand and balance his footing, then takes a step towards the fireplace mantel. He follows along the edge of the mantel to the TV cabinet then to the door frame and over to the bookshelf just inside his room. He finally reaches the edge of the bed where he falls onto the mattress. He removes his clothes from the waist down and settles in for a snooze. Jade will snuggle up to him and the two will be peaceful for a while. These naps usually last a couple of hours.
When he wakes, the bed will be wet from his urine. He uses the desk and door jamb to get to the bathroom then returns to his room to put on the same clothing he had on before he laid down. He makes his way back to the kitchen and fixes another fresh drink. That’s when lunch happens.
Riley takes everything out of the refrigerator that he thinks may interest him as food for that day. He takes out anything left over from a previous dinner, all the deli meat, hot dogs, bacon, eggs, etc. He usually decides on a leftover that I’ve failed to throw out when I would think it was unsafe to eat. He’ll warm it up and eat a couple of bites. It then sits on the counter, or in the microwave or in the oven.  If I don’t check, the plate of food might sit for 2 days. If Riley discovers it, he will resume eating it as though he just fixed it that day.
The afternoon routine continues the same as the morning with him alternating between watching TV, taking naps and sitting at the dining table. The only change is that in the afternoon he is more likely to fall and unable to get himself upright. I can’t pick him up because he has no muscle control and I can’t lift his weight. He will pass out on the floor, wet his pants and eventually crawl to a chair or his bed.
Sometime around 5 p.m. Riley starts his quest for dinner. Standing next to the table, he will let all in ear-shout know that dinner is to be served by 7 p.m. – not 6:55 or 7:03 – but at 7 p.m. exactly. He will want to know what I plan on cooking and how it will be cooked and do I have enough of everything. He will rant about the dinner issue for a good hour before he tires and takes another nap.
At 7 p.m., when we are all seated at the table for dinner, Riley’s plate is prepared and put at his place. He seats himself and dabbles at his food, pushing it around his plate with his fork. A couple of bites make it to his mouth and remnants will stick to his beard and mustache. The rest of the diners remind him to wipe his face. He wipes his face and retreats to his room – with only a couple of bites taken from the dinner that he demanded so vehemently.
It’s nap/bedtime. He’s done for the day. I cover his plate because he will be up during the night and likes having leftover dinner to pick at when he’s awake. In reality, he only takes a bite each time he is up – so I wonder why I fix him dinner at all. Oh yea… now I remember… he has to have his dinner at 7 p.m. or his world will disintegrate. 
In the present day, there is more quiet, more peace and less stress over wet beds and spoiled food. Yes, in general, this is better. But this is not what Riley wants. He lets me know everyday and in many ways, that he prefers living in a fuzzy world. He doesn’t seem to understand that the pleasant fuzziness is short lived and will quickly turn into falling down, loss of bodily function control, nose bleeds, disassociation with his grandchildren and he just doesn’t care. He knows – with a clear head – he knows – to drink is to die. But he just doesn’t care.


Autumn said...

Jesus, that's my alcoholic down to even the same TV shows. The only thing you missed is the occasional throwing up in his sleep and then instantly waking up to choking on it while he sputters and spews it all over the carpet trying to breathe.

Anonymous said...

Sounds just like mine too...

Alex said...

Exactly the way my dad is. Except instead of Law shows, my dad watches all the old action movies, with Arnold, Stallone, Chuck Noris, those types. Sometimes in his sleep him emotions take over and he starts shouting and crying.

SP said...

I wish I lived nearby. You need a seriously big hug and a helping hand.

kidsleepinfo said...

I think you are all sick f***s. Put him in a long term treatment facility, don't mock him and hate him. I'd drink if I were around you. You're amused that he is ill and feel sorry for yourselves. Present day treatment of alcoholism is notoriously inadequate, and AA has the success rate of doing nothing at all, but you are watching these people die and providing them with bullets for the gun. You're the sick ones.

Vickie said...

Apparently "kidsleep" hasn't or isn't going through what the rest of us are. I am going through the exact same problems and greatly feel your pain. It's crazy how identical the issues are as I am looking at a couch cusion without a cover cuz it had to be washed and disenfected and my husband is passed out on the other couch...this is after a day of no food, all vodka, and bitching me and his Mom out for hours. Your website has helped me tremendously to know I'm not alone....Alanon was NOT for me.

Anonymous said...

Thank you

Anonymous said...

you cant force an alcoholic into a long term treatmentment center. The alcoholic, my father for instance, who refuses to quit drinking would prefer suicide which is exactly what my end stage alcoholic father is doing by continuing to drink, and in fact hes reached the point where he HAS to drink or he has seizures. He wakes up in withdrawal now. I totally relate to the comments in your blog and acknowledge that to someone who has not gone through the hell of living with an alcoholic at end stage, some of our comnents may seem harsh, but the sick person is the alcoholic who chooses drink over family,relationships, and life. none of us think this is funny. We are just coping with the chaos.