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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, May 29, 2011

Another word for nap...

SOMNOLENCE – (Noun) Sleepiness; a strong desire for sleep; drowsiness. See the page Alcohol and Biology. This is one of the conditions found when an alcoholic enters into hepatic encephalopathy.

It takes four years for the body to be able to expel all the toxins from the brain and for the brain to resume to a normal level of functionality. If the alcoholic resumes drinking within the four year time frame the new toxins will join with the old toxins and have a little party in the frontal lobe. See my post Sobriety does not mean sanity.

In my case, Riley hasn’t reached the magical four year point in sobriety in 20 years. Each time he starts drinking, it doesn’t take long for him to revert to being the child-like person created by whatever his booze of choice happens to be.

However, Somnolence alone doesn’t necessarily mean hepatic encephalopathy is the culprit. I suppose there are degrees of the condition and maybe that is what I’m dealing with here. But I’ve been through this stage with Riley three times and have never seen it like this before.

Yesterday… I began the task of organizing the store room and unpacking some long overdue boxes. We’ve lived here for six months and I still have packed boxes in both the store room and guest room. I’m fortunate to have a store room at all. We have a laundry room the size of Texas with also contains pantry shelves so I don’t need another pantry. Just inside the back door there is a small room that was once used by the owner as a home office. It’s very small six feet by eight feet but with proper shelving it’s a perfect place for the vacuum cleaner, pet food bins, hammers and tools, canning supplies, etc.

I was having difficulty moving some of the boxes around when it hits me – this is physical labor. There is a man in this house, but he’s too busy napping to help me move these things around. There’s something wrong with this picture.

I know… I know… I know why he is napping… he is in a state of somnolence. Riley takes between four and six naps each day. But, I look at him and think – he’s not that bad yet. I’ve seen him far worse than this. And I start to feel as though I’m being played. That cunning, baffling and powerful alcoholic has conned me into believing that he physically can’t help me – when he’s not that bad yet.

Just to be sure of my suspicions, I watch him. He is able to fix a sandwich and clean up his mess. He takes the trash out. He does a load of his laundry. He naps. So there is still some physical activity that requires brain function. Even if he is at the early stages of hepatic encephalopathy, he is still capable of helping me finish the store room as long as he has supervision and I don’t expect him to do it all alone.

Riley has established a pattern in his life with which he is comfortable. He does only the chores he chooses to do, he eats and sleeps whenever he wants, and doesn’t take responsibility when he screws something up. He imposes himself into my space and no matter how many times I ask for him NOT to do something – he does whatever he wants anyway.

Gosh… wish I could do that. Even without Riley, I would still have to do things I don’t want to do. Like – my real job – I want to retire, but my attorney tells me to wait one more year. I don’t like it – but I’ll do it.

So… I tell it to him straight. We will finish up the store room this morning before I go to church. He will take certain things to the shed and put some things into the trash. We will do it together to be sure that it is done correctly and I’ll help him with the really heavy stuff. When the task is complete… he can nap as long and as many times as he wants.

This man knows me -- he knows how to manipulate me. Sometimes, he has the power to make me doubt what I see or sense. But it only happens when I allow it to happen.

That slip in my consciousness usually happens when I’ve taken on too many tasks and have become overly tired. This week has been filled with stressful situations and I needed to rest. I got a good night sleep and today he will not be able to fool me into believing that he does not understand or is not physically able to do what I ask. I will not treat him so much like an adult – but like a defiant teen.

I’m a firm believer of having the punishment fit the crime – especially for teens. Our son, Brian, was assigned the chore of taking the trash can to the street on garbage day. It’s a simple thing to roll the can out as he was leaving for school. But, he kept forgetting and to keep from becoming an invitation to critters on the days when he had forgotten, I would do it myself. I warned Brian that if he forgot one more time, I would put the trash can in his bed.

The very next trash day, Brian forgot. But I didn’t. Rolling that can around to the front door and up the steps, through the hall and then hoisting it onto his bed was hard work. It would have been easier if I had just taken it to the street myself. But, where was the lesson in that?? He never forgot again.

If Riley does not comply in helping me finish the store room – well – let’s just say I hope he likes napping without a bed.


Syd said...

I hope that he helps.

Anonymous said...

I admire you greatly and you cope with such a lot that I could not. Though I was quite shocked to read about what you did to your son. I have to admit that I wouldn't have done that.

You are obviously a very strong person and Riley is past hope but you should go easy on your son or he may go the same way as his father.(I assume that is Riley?)

Ann said...

Good for you! I would have done exactly the same thing to my son!!!!!

Susan said...

I discovered your blog after doing a search on end stage alcoholism. I live this life and have learned to detach after too many years of anguish and sorrow. I have to say you have lightened the burden of the humor I now find in our situation. I find myself telling stories about what has transpired in our home to our family and friends and laughing until we are in tears! My guilt consumes me, but, one has to live it to know it.
My eighty year old mother says, if you don't laugh, you'll just cry. So we laugh.