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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, February 14, 2012

That's not me...

A couple of weeks ago, Riley fell as he was getting out of the van. It took him some time to get off the pavement and into the house. When he falls, I cannot help him. I am not strong enough to pick him up when he insists upon being dead weight. He will not help lift himself in any manner. So after a couple of hours of lying in the driveway with the three large dogs jumping over him and on him, he managed to regain a vertical stance.
He insisted he was fine and that he had not been injured in anyway. But, after a couple of days I noticed that his arm was swollen. He told me everything was working just fine and that he didn’t need medical attention. I told him I would be happy to take him to get it checked out. He refused.

A couple of night later, I noticed that Riley’s arm looked blue around his hand and wrist. I asked him again if he didn’t want to go the ER. He declined once again and said he that would maybe go to the doctor’s office on Monday if his hand was not better.
When Monday came, of course, he didn’t want to go to the doctors. The swelling looked a little less and the hand wasn’t quite so blue. I didn’t push for him to go.

By Thursday, he was in quite a bit of pain. The swelling had gone down considerably, but he was having difficulty using his fingers. I called the doctor and made an appointment for that afternoon. We wouldn’t really be seeing the doctor, but rather his physician’s assistant, Erica. That was good as far as I was concerned. Erica was far more familiar with Riley’s alcohol abuse.
As soon as Erica had examined Riley’s hand, she ordered an x-ray and told us she was very sure the wrist was broken. She asked Riley if he was going to let her set the wrist and put his arm in a cast. He did not answer.

They have all the equipment in the office and performed the x-rays right then. In a short time, Erica came back and said she was happy to report that she was wrong. Nothing was broken, but Riley had pulled his tendons and was going to be in pain for quite a while. She told him she would love to give him something for the pain, but that she could not because he had too much alcohol in his system. She also advised him not to take any aspirin or over-the-counter pain relievers.
Erica then focused her attention on me and said she would be getting some lab work done that will show us exactly where we stand as far as Riley’s over condition. She knows I keep the workbook and that I chart all the lab work.  Erica directed us to the lab and Riley went in to give his blood.

While Riley was in the lab, Erica told me that it was obvious that Riley had degenerated quickly over the past three months since he had been after his fireplace fall. She knows he won’t detox and she won’t push him into it. She is one of the few medical professionals I have ever met that will concede that Riley is in a downward spiral and we are all helpless to stop it. She said she would make some calls and see if I could get some home health aide in the not too far distant future.
This world needs more Erica’s. We need more medical professionals who will listen to the caretaker and offer assistance. I am fortunate to have her in my corner.

This morning Riley’s arm looks better. That is his ARM looks better. Everything else about him is looking not so good. I believe he’s aged about 10 years in physical appearance.  But, this is to be expected. I am not surprised in the least. I know it will get worse before he is gone.
I have been reading to Riley about one of my followers who is having issues with an end-stage family member who fell and ended up in the ER. The hospital doesn’t have a detox facility and doesn’t want her to detox in their ICU, so they are giving her vodka to keep her from going into DTs as they run tests. The long and short of it is that this elderly alcoholic will be coming home to die because there is nothing else that can be done.

Riley is amazed at the fact that there is nothing that the hospital or family can do for the alcoholic. He shakes his head as says how sad it is. He believes there must be something someone can do to save the woman.
I asked Riley why is it sad for this woman and not for him? He says it’s because he knows what he’s doing to himself. Well… don’t you think she knew what she was doing to herself? His response is that she is not responsive and has no idea where she is so she should be helped so she doesn’t die.

I tell them that eventually he will be like the alcoholic being fed vodka at the emergency room.  There will come a time when he won’t remember anything or know where he is or maybe even WHO he is. I asked if I should try to save him? He says NO. He says he doesn’t want to detox and wants to be left alone.
That’s exactly what this other woman has said she wants as well, I tell him. I see no difference in the two of them. Riley thinks about this for a minute and then he says, “But I’m the Immortal Alcoholic. Nothing will happen because I’m not going to die. I’m not like her at all.” They say ignorance is bliss – whoever THEY are. Sometimes ignorance is simply denial.


Syd said...

I have to say that I am astounded that a person in a hospital would not be treated with benzodiazepines. From all that I have read, ethanol should not be used as therapy in the setting of acute alcohol withdrawal. It is difficult to titrate, associated with many adverse metabolic and end-organ effects, and clearly inferior to benzodiazepines. Where is this hospital? It seems that either the doctors are incompetent or this is a third world hospital. Utterly amazing and hard to believe.

Alice said...

I agree with Syd. I've been detoxed many times and they ALWAYS used valium.

I think the world needs more Lins. Riley is so lucky to have you.

Linda (The Immortal Alcoholic's Wife) said...

Syd -- I have heard of this twice, once in PA and once in FL. This hospital was in FL.

The whole point in giving her the alcohol was so she WOULD NOT go into detox. The hospital refused to admit as a detoxing patient. They only wanted to treat her for injuries to her head after a serious fall. There was no detox or rehab facility that would take her because she was too high a risk and too many relapses. Also the overall weakness of the patient played into the decision.