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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.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Collateral damage update...

Somewhere in the midst of all this insanity I have forgotten to do something. I forgot to detach. As I have become weaker and Riley has become more demanding, I have forgotten to stand by my own rules. It was YOU, my commenters and e-mailers that have made me remember the only way to deal with my current situation. I read every single comment and e-mail and I’m thankful for a crowd of people who aren’t afraid to say what they think. You are my look into myself and I could not get through this without you.
The doctor’s appointment was a nearly a useless waste of time. Here’s how it went:
Getting Riley into the car took about 20 minutes. It was pretty frightening to have him nearly fall on the brick steps. But I managed to get him in and off we went.
It takes about 30 minutes to the get there, but there was some roadwork, so we had to take a detour that I was not familiar with. The detour prompted Riley to start complaining about how long it was taking. The half hour drive took almost an hour. Fortunately, I had planned to be early, so we were not all that late.
Then there was the wheelchair issue. Riley didn’t want to use the wheelchair. He wanted to walk. I refused to allow that because I knew he was not steady on his feet. I didn’t ask or plead that he use the chair – I demanded. Riley shut up and got in the chair. Of course, he had to drag his feet the whole time which made it more difficult for me to push.
Once inside the office, the triage nurse tries to take his blood pressure on his injured arm. I remind her that she needed to use the other arm and she obliges. Now inside the examining room, the PA, Erica, informs us that there is nothing wrong with his blood pressure or his heart rate. She says he’s perfectly fine, but she’ll check his potassium and get an x-ray of his arm. I tell her all the things the visiting nurse has been telling us. Erica goes to get info from the home health care agency because they don’t have their records. Before she leaves I ask if it would be possible for us to have hospice since the visiting nurse will only come one more day. Erica’s response is that Riley doesn’t qualify for hospice, but she will be sure to ask the doctor. She tells me there is nothing wrong with Riley – he’s just inebriated.
We are directed to the lab where Riley raises his voice to the lab tech. I step in and tell him not to be disrespectful to the techs. He shuts up and lets them get their blood. Riley is angry because he will have another bruise where they took the blood.
The next step is the x-ray lab. There is no problem here and we are successful at getting the film done. There is no break in Riley’s arm, wrist or hand. He is just taking a long time to heal because he is inebriated.
I ask Erica if Riley is healthy enough to detox and her response was: “EVERY alcoholic is healthy enough to detox. It is the best thing they can possibly do. It is the thing he needs to do.”
I stopped in my tracks. I was shocked to hear her say EVERY alcoholic should detox and that they are ALL healthy enough to do so. Obviously this person has never witnessed a detox. Has no experience with alcoholism at all. I didn’t want to be disrespectful – but really??? I quietly told her – Well… that’s just not so. I told her I wanted to put Riley into a long term care facility, but he would have to detox first. As she was walking away she said, “I believe that would be best for everyone.”
We left. We made the tedious adventure of getting him back into the car and home. Once inside the house, he fell trying to get into his rocker. Then decided instead of the rocker he’d go take a nap. He fell trying to get to his bed.
I was crying tears of frustration as I started making some phone calls. I called the only doctor that has not submitted Riley’s medical records and is the one thing holding up the VA application. Next, is the VA rep to find out what would happen if the records are lost. But, he’s not in – have to call tomorrow. Then I called a local nursing home that I’ve been told will give the patient small amounts of alcohol to keep them from going into detox.   It was true – they will administer the alcohol, but there must be a treatment plan from a physician and the treatment plan must have a goal of getting the alcoholic healthy enough to go to detox and then rehab. Hummmmm…. I doubt that Erica or the good doctor will have any part of that.
My next call was to Gil, the friend who happens to be an addiction counselor. He was appalled at what I had been told at the doctor’s. I asked him to help me find a place where I could send Riley for long term care. I just don’t seem to be able to do it anymore. Gil tells me he has been watching me go downhill for months and was very happy I was asking for his help. He thinks we may be able to get Riley into a VA long term care facility in West Virginia.
It was late and nothing would be discovered until tomorrow. I felt defeated.  I needed someone to just listen to me vent. I have been feeling more and more alone lately even though I have many supporters and can always go to the OARS members. But, I needed more. I called Carrot – only to find out her husband had just had a heart attack and they were on their way to the hospital. Georgia was still at work. I finally got through to a friend who has been in my position. She expressed her concern for my well-being and reminded me that I have not been detaching from the situation. I listened and realized she was absolutely right.
This morning I came into my office and read all the comments from my last post. When I read the comment from Jenna I knew she said it best. She understood and offered perfect advice. It’s advice that I am taking. Actually, I started doing her suggestions before I even read the comment. I’m so thankful for my followers.
I also got an e-mail from a follower who said there was an old Italian saying – Sick people live forever. I think that just about says it all.
Today will be a busy day for me. I have phone calls to make and plans to finalize. I also have to find a quiet little cabin in the woods where I can just re-charge my batteries and re-claim that strong, determined woman that used to be inside this body. Today is the day that Riley will live by my standards and I will not just placate him by being subservient. Tonight I will cook what’s healthy for me. I’m taking back my life.


Karen E. said...

Linda: my advice is detox him. If he makes it put him in long term care if not its over. This last weaning my A from Vodka went too smooth for me to even believe. In the past she had seizures and had to be on respirator, etc. Now it may not go that way for him. BUT we realized what we were giving up.. OUR health OUR life OUR happiness just to let her kill herself. ITS NOT WORTH your life...

My A hopefully will be placed in long term care this weekend. I am anxious about this transition..shes not gonna like it IF she even realizes what is going on... it will not be smooth! BUT its best for her and for US!

Jenna said...

Reading this made me cry - tears of gratitude & joy & hope.
Isn't it amazing what the Internet can do? You have so many readers who are on your side and care for you.
I know I speak for them all in sending you loving thoughts & in happiness that you are taking back your life ! Taking care of Riley doesn't mean you can't take care of you.
Go girl - you deserve a life too! Xx

Anonymous said...

So glad you're doing what you need to do to get your life back. In regards to finding a place to rest and recharge, have you tried looking on Armed Forces Vacation Club? They've got amazing rates (like less than $300/week). I've never been able to get the timing right to use them--they usually get booked quickly during summer and school breaks which is when I tend to travel--but may work well in your situation. I've had friends get great places though. www.afvclub.com


Syd said...

If the doctors say that he can be detoxed, then what is to be gained by not trying it? Surely, there is an alcohol and drug center, like the one at the Medical University of SC, where he could detox safely. I have no medical experience or detox experience, but think that he needs the long term care in a nursing home and that you need a break from caring for someone who doesn't care about himself. You do have a life and it's not too late to get yours back and for Riley to be cared for in a place where he can live out his days. I know that my father in law is doing well in the nursing home. He goes to the gym every day!

Syd said...

Linda, here is the information for the CDAP in Charleston: http://www.muschealth.com/cdap/ourservices.htm#inpatient

Anonymous said...

YEAH!!!! So glad to hear you are stronger! As a new reader, I was SO concerned for you. You need to care for yourself...as you remind us! Not only for yourself, but for your family and those you reach out to. Prayers for you, a place to rest up and for provision for a place for Riley. Take back all that is yours and enjoy the things YOU love. You are loved and appreciated and needed!

jo said...

linda, i would like toknow what the VA says and does, mine is not eligible for long term with them because he is not rated for their disability nor did he retire from the service. his is not service connected and my understanding is they must be for it to be free.

the rest...i had to laugh, and not in a funny way but in a "typical" way of society. sure, detox him! after all some idiot said it was ok! (really?)

no help with this. society simply doesnt get it. when has it become our choice for them to stay drunk or not? i guess when someone else is caring for them,,,it is no longer their choice on how to live their lives. after all,other diseases have this, also. makes sense to me.

maybe its not rileys choice any more to stop drinking or not stop. maybe people cant go thru yrs of our lives tending to a drunk. maybe that stops. i like this idea. its a good one. :) it helps any guilt they will throw at us. cause they will hate it. and it will kill them to detox. (maybe your pa should take a weekend course at a facility? and watch it?)

linda, time is about up with this. you have hit your wall. and so has riley. i send you all prayers.

Furtheron said...

Having been in a rehab and around alcoholics trying to get off drink for a number years now, including volunteering for a while whilst I was unemployed at a couple of detox and rehabilitation clinics I've seen enough alcohol fits controlled with drugs and without to know it is not something to be taken lightly.

Of course when I stopped I knew nothing of that, I decided to go to rehab but procrastinated of course about it... when I got there I was dried out I'd shaked, rattled and sweated. They assessed me when I went in and decided no need for a chemical detox but boy did the nurse give me a lecture about never doing it again. Luckily so far I've not needed as I've walked the sober line since... but as they say "There but for the grace of God go I"

Anonymous said...

Take back your life. Do what you need to do for you and don't look back. I'm not shocked at Erica's callousness. I've experienced it before from other nurses, PAs and Doctors.

Anonymous said...

I do not think advising detox is callous. It is the only hope not only for Riley but for yourself. You have eloquently described how the other route is not working and has no possibiliy of working. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome. He can safely detox with medical supervision. He cannot safely continue to drink...more importantly you cannot safely continue to be his sole caretaker when he is drunk.

Anonymous said...

Each one of us who has lived with an alcoholic has a story to tell. Each story is different and effects us all in different ways. Long and short of it is that the alcoholic really doesn't give two hoots what happens to the caregiver because when the caregiver burns out (or dies, or gets ill) then there will be another one right behind him or her. You have to do what is best for you, I do not know your age but it appears that you can have a long and productive and happy life. You have a daughter and a grandchild and maybe a great grandchild. He has put himself in this spot time and again and now is the time to stand back and see how it plays out. Is it mean to say drop him off at the hospital and do not go back? Probably , but what is the alternative? Total caregiver burnout? I just want to say STOP. Enough is enough, let the man go. If I sound harsh I don't mean to but no one understand how terrible it is to live with an alcoholic. You can beg, plead or promise anything you want but nothing will make them change. (Unless, as in my dad's case he was told he would die if he didn't stop drinking, and boy did he quit pronto!) Please take care of your body, and your soul. You sound like a good and caring woman and I wish you a long and peaceful rest of your life.

Jenny Woolf said...

Yes, I agree with Karen. I'm surely sad for you, dealing with this to your own detriment. It's not worth it.

Karen E. said...

If he stays in your home and continues to drink..he is going to kill himself..probably later rather than sooner. What is this going to do to YOU..your health and well being and your future health and life enjoyment may be diminshed due to the stress of care taking. he is not going to care.

If you get him into detox..he will suffer thru and come out okay or not... if he comes out ok put him in long term care..if he doesnt make it thru detox ..he just reaches the end sooner.

callous..yes...fact..yes...watching them kill themselves is long treacherous and hurts you in ways that you cannot even measure. its a no brainer...wish I would of done it sooner myself.

HereticChick said...

LInda, I understand where you're coming from. You do what's best for you and Riley will continue on. It's so weird to see how Riley is and relate it to my Dad. Unfortunately, Dad took the fast track to liver failure. He's still in ICU on a ventilator. Mom insisted on a DNR and no trach tube. In 4 or 5 days, we'll find out if he lives or dies. It's hard to watch...so very hard.