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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.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fireplace fight...

I know what I’ve said. I’ve tried my best to hold a hard line on taking Riley to the Emergency Room. Maybe I’m not the bad ass I thought I was.

Yesterday, I had bills to pay and errands to run. I was out of the house by 9 AM and hoped to be back home by 1 PM when the bug guy was scheduled for a re-visit. I didn’t make it back in time, I was an hour late. When I realized I would be pushing the envelope, I called home to make sure Riley was awake and ready to let the technician into the house. I started calling at 12:45 PM, but there was no answer. I called every few minutes until I got within sight of my house.

I was irritated that Riley wasn’t answering, but I was also worried. I don’t answer the phone for unidentified callers. But, Riley, sees every call as an opportunity for a conversation. When I’m out of the house, he almost always picks up with “Good Morning, this is Riley.” After not answering the phone for so many times, I was definitely concerned.

When I got home, I went straight to his room and I could hear him snoring. I thought, OK. He’s fine. Now I could unload the car and put away the groceries.

I settled back down at my desk and began the task of writing a story for a contest I am entering. Riley came into the office and joined me in his seat across my desk. I wasn’t paying a lot of attention. That is – until I looked up and saw an alarming site.

Riley had a 1-2 inch gash in his forehead just over his left eye. It ran diagonally up towards his hairline. His eye was black and his face was swollen. He had a bump the size of a small egg under the cut. He looked frightful.

Evidently, he had tried to get up from his rocking chair (his favorite place) and lost his balance falling forward. But, according to Riley, it was OK because the fireplace hearth broke his fall. Oh… I went to check the fireplace hearth – no, it’s not made of memory form – it’s still brick. I surmised that he hit on the sharp edge that creates a sort of bench-like area. This was not OK.

The blood of an alcoholic is thinner than people who do not drink. Blood vessels are weaker. It doesn't take much for them to break and cause bleeding under the skin and into other parts of the body. When the brain slams up against the hardness of the inner skull, the possibility of a bleeder is greater for an alcoholic. Besides a concussion, a blood vessel can break and cause bleeding inside the skull -- a possible fatal situation. According to an NIAA website, alcoholics should be treated immediately after any fall with trauma to the head.

Remember Natasha Richardson, wife of Liam Neeson, who died after taking a fall during ski lessons? She died the following day although she seemed fine before that and only complained of a headache. She refused aid from the EMT's who came to her assitance. She said she was fine. To my knowledge this was a normally healthy woman without alcoholicly thinned blood. If this can happen to her, it can happen to anyone.

Of course, Riley was very drunk. He returned to drinking vodka a few days ago and his level of outward drunkenness has risen sharply. And he had a drink in his hand as he talked to me across the desk.

I told him I thought I should take him to the ER. He refused saying that it would be better in the morning and that he was fine. He didn’t feel like he had a concussion, but he was just a little dizzy. He said not to worry about his eye (which was swollen shut) because he could see out of his other eye. I told him that wasn’t acceptable and that he may have really hurt himself without knowing it. I said, again, he should go to the hospital. The response was still – NO!

This morning, I was worried I would wake up and find Riley dead in his bed. I quietly listened at the door for sounds of breathing. OK. He was still alive. I went on with my morning, made the coffee, checked my e-mail, etc. When Riley arrived back at my desk he looked like he’d been beaten up with a brick. Oh, yeah, I guess he was actually. The brick won.

He told me his face and head were hurting him, but he was just fine. Hummm…. he didn’t LOOK fine. The entire left side of his face was black and swollen – much worse than the pix above shows. I said we really should have his head x-rayed. No, he didn’t want to go to the hospital. I suggested that I make an appointment with our family doctor. To my surprise, he consented to see our doctor’s physician assistant, Erica. I’ll make the appointment as soon as the office is open.

I know that I could have a temper tantrum and manipulate Riley into going to the hospital. I have my ways, as I’m sure any woman who has been married to a man for a long time, has her ways. But, I promised him I would not do that. I promised myself I would not do that – again.  I don’t think asking him if he wants to go is outside my boundaries. I know I said I would ask only one time – but this felt different. So I asked more than once and I offered an alternative. I think I stayed within my boundaries. If I had come home and found him unconscious or if I got up this morning and felt he was not really “here”, I would have called 911.  It’s what I’ve always said I would do.

Mental check: YES – I’m still a bad ass. Phew, I had me worried there for a minute.

10 comments:

ADDY said...

So familiar, so shudderingly familar. Lots of hugs. You did what you could.

Elizabeth said...

Wow, that must have been frightening. You handled it very well!

Anonymous said...

Def familier and def did what you could, if he wont go to hospital he wont go. My end stage fell 2 weeks ago and has been in agony with his ribs ever since, hardly able to breath or move, point blank refused to go to hospital, begged me not to take him. Finally just like Riley he consented to seeing his Doctor who confirmed 3 badly bruised/maybe broken ribs and a chest infection due to neglecting it, the Doc told him off because it could have turned to pneumonia. On 3 more lots of medication for it now...plus alcohol of course so actually im having a nice quiet week! Any more falls and i have decided i will just get him to the Docs, if she says hospital then he will have to consent making it easier for me.

Anonymous said...

Def familier and def did what you could, if he wont go to hospital he wont go. My end stage fell 2 weeks ago and has been in agony with his ribs ever since, hardly able to breath or move, point blank refused to go to hospital, begged me not to take him. Finally just like Riley he consented to seeing his Doctor who confirmed 3 badly bruised/maybe broken ribs and a chest infection due to neglecting it, the Doc told him off because it could have turned to pneumonia. On 3 more lots of medication for it now...plus alcohol of course so actually im having a nice quiet week! Any more falls and i have decided i will just get him to the Docs, if she says hospital then he will have to consent making it easier for me.

Syd said...

Well, I am glad that Riley consented to go to his doctor. I hope that he will be okay. That eye looks bad. I don't get the point of being a bad ass. But then I see this as a disease that he has Not a pretty disease but one nonetheless. Take care.

jo said...

i am beginning to think we need some kinda legal document to protect us when they wont consent to a dr. i know ambulances wont transport without permission and make one sign a refusal. a ER dr will see this and call protective services on ya..happened to a lady i knew in calif.

something to look into. mine fell and stabbed himself in the back once on a candle holder. idiots.

i pray i dont get to the point where i am so cold i dont care at all. but i feel that point approaching.

william holden, the actor, died after a drunken fall and bled to death.

another friend of mine, hers fell and broke his wrist. never had it set or looked at.

hmmm,, we need some protection legally on this.

Karen E. said...

Familiar weekly site around here!

Totally agree with Jo..Our "A" looks abused and falls several times a week, even with using her walker. At 4am the other morning my husband shouts to me..come here right now, you gotta see this. She fell out of the bed (sits up and passes out falls in floor ) spills her vodka cuts her chin and lip laying in her vodka..blood everywhere...get her up and clean her up..probably not stitch worthy..and she ask.."well, can I get another drink, I spilled mine."

I am looking for an attorney this week to open up too and see what advice they offer me..will let you know what I find out.

Karen E. said...

PS..
had to add..I am impressed with the neatly trimmed beard...You must help out with that! My A rarely changes clothes, and her hair is quickly becoming a problem..I wash it some..but its a curly, frizzy mess and I am no hairdresser...she hasnt left the house since july/august (hairdresser was the last venture out)..she fell in the salon..wont put any of us thru that again! I go to the same salon!

Anonymous said...

Everyone who is married to an alcoholic, or is an alcoholic involved in an abusive relationship, should read Love in the Gardens of Macantar; A Spiritual Journey of Healing from Codependency and Relationship Addiction". It is avail on line and could save your life, or at least change it. It did for me.

tieropasvmii said...

They are not idiots.... They are sick. You wouldn't call a cancer patient an idiot, or anyone with any other disease an idiot, for being unstable.