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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.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Is he dead?

There was a comment on the Definition of End-Stage post asking me if Riley were dead yet. It reminded me of a friend who used to call about once a week and ask, “Is he dead?” After answering her with a resounding NO! we could continue to discuss how Riley was doing.


To answer the commenter: No he is not dead yet. Most of the time I think he truly is immortal and may never be dead.

Riley is very much alive, well, sort of. It depends on your definition of ALIVE. Riley is in hospice for end-stage liver failure. He can no longer walk and is in a wheel chair 24/7. He is able to shuffle himself to the toilet by taking three or four short steps to the toilet by using a walker. However, he is unable to tend to his toileting needs on his own. He has no control of his bowel or bladder, so going to the toilet is something that is scheduled into his day in hopes that his body will get the timing message. So far, it works on most days.

There are no visitors except for a volunteer who spends a couple hours every other week engaging him in conversation. They talk about the Navy and the shipyard. They discuss the news. They do a lot of reminiscing about their childhood days. Riley tells him that his health is improving.

The only other person Riley communicates with is his brother. They talk on the phone about once a week. Their conversations focus on the progress made in repairing his brother’s home which recently caught fire and destroyed the garage and part of the kitchen. News is always on the topic list. It’s usually a fairly short conversation.

Riley used to love to cook, but can no longer accomplish anything more than a PB&J or a bowl of cereal. I try to offer him choices of food, but for the most part, his meals consist of just what I decide to cook for him. That isn’t so bad since I like to cook fresh food in a home-cooked style. No Hamburger Helper on his menu – even though he loves it and would have it every night if I would cook it. Instead I make him casseroles that resemble the Hamburger Helper varieties. He gets dessert every night and sometimes after lunch. We don’t have a lot of RULES about eating, sometimes it’s breakfast for dinner or dinner for lunch. Whatever works at that moment for everyone. I once asked him to make me a list of dinners he wanted that week. But, he could not come up with anything.

A day in the life of Riley consists of watching TV, sleeping and eating. He’s usually alone in his room. Encouragement to watch TV in the living room doesn’t seem to work. He reminds me of Greta Garbo (or whoever the actress was) with the back of her hand on her forehand, whining “I want to be alone.”

Don’t let all that quietness fool you. He is a difficult patient. He is controlling, demanding, narcissistic, passive aggressive and argumentative. He clearly states over and over “I want what I want when I want it and I expect everyone to give me what I want.” When asked why he thinks everyone should just do as he says, he is quick to tell you that he is 75 years old and because he’s lived that long he should have what he wants when he wants it. Hmmm… I wonder what I’ve earned by being 67?

When Riley was drinking he was a charmer until the drinking became disgusting and people pulled away from him. He’s had several relationships with good, loving women. But the women always left him when he refused to be monogamous and commit to a firm relationship. He once asked me, in the heat of drinking a handle of vodka, to find him a girlfriend. I asked what he was going to bring to the romantic relationship table. His response was that he has money and a big d..k. So I told him I’d like to know where this money was, because the last time I looked he was spending about $1,000 on booze. Was he going to trade the booze for a woman? I would definitely be down with that – I’d start the search right then. NO – he responded. I also told him that women want more out of a relationship than money and sex no matter how large the appendage. He disagreed and informed me that it had worked for him in the past and he saw no reason for it to work for him then. Well… there was a reason why I was the only one willing to take him in. I’m just saying.

So today, Riley is alone, sober and miserable. He says he doesn’t want to die, but is coming to realize that it’s too late. Still, he wants to be drunk.  If I were in his situation, maybe I’d want to be drunk as well. I would give him some metered alcohol, but he becomes more vocally demanding when he has alcohol. I don’t need to put myself through that.

There is no longer any logicality to his conversations. Arguments just run in circles and never end. He confuses days, times, people. He tries to schedule everything so that he can write it down and refer to his notes when he can’t remember.

Riley is a prime example of what happens when you so abuse your body until it can no longer be fixed. His multiple detox events have left him weaker with each one. Death is climbing the stairs to the front door but has not yet reached the doorknob.  Death is taking its time. It’s like, Death wants him to suffer before giving him peace. Maybe, that’s the payback for all the peripheral damage that has been left in the wake of his alcoholic path.

If you are an alcoholic and are still drinking, ask yourself if you would want to be in Riley’s position. If not, get help and stop drinking for good. It’s the only way to be in a life you hate living. If you are a family member and believe you will end up caretaking the alcoholic, this is one scenario that you may look forward to in the future.

Your choice, your life.

15 comments:

Jan said...

How incredibly depressing. Yeah, this is what I have to look forward to...

Anonymous said...

Over the past few days, after coming to the realization that my husband is an alcoholic, I have read many posts and blogs about alcohol husbands. Your blog and Alcholic Daze have given me a terrific insight into what I am up against. I will not leave him as finacially I would loose everything I have worked for and frankly I can not just abandon him. The laws here are such that I would have to pay spousal support to the tune of about 48% of my income, give up half of my pension credits and half of our marital assets. He on the other hand would have nothing, except what the courts would order me to pay. He is 54 and we have been married for over 20 years. He started to drink very regularly in 2008 and has been drinking daily since 2012 (give or take a year). His consupmtion is increasing steadily. He is not mean or abusive although his comments are biting at times and he is hypersensitive to anything that resembles critisim or that he sees as "a shot" against him. Things I can cope with, for now. I don't think he has any idea where he is heading and I am to chicken to confront him. I am trying to prepare myself for what is ahead the best I can. I am not being noble or a hero. I am being a realist. I can not leave now, live poor and abandon him to cope with his disease alone. I can only stick by him as life runs its course; knowing that at least I still have a decent standard of living and if/when he is gone either physically or mentally, I will still have an intact pension that I can live off.
Thank you all for sharing your lives and educating me in the process. I am going into this with my eyes more open than they were a few days ago. Next steps, counselling for myself and an anger management course for the future.

Lisa P said...

So sad but so true. Hugs to you, Linda!

Anonymous said...

Linda, I found your blog about 3 years ago and I want to say that it has been a blessing for me and some others I have shared it with. My brother is in the end stages of his alcoholism now. He has been drinking a little more than 30 years and he hasn't reached 50 yet. He has been hitting the liquor and whiskey heavily now for at least 6+ years (in addition to the 20oz ICE beers. He has never been to rehab and I don't know if he would even survive it in his condition. I got him accepted into a rehab, but he won't go. The brain damage is pretty bad now, he eats very little. I am sure he has other medical issues going on, but he won't go to the doctor. He gets severe nose bleeds, bruising but not from falling, and the gum disease bleeding gums everyday. I am sure he barely has liver function. He drinks from morning to night until he passes out. Sometimes he will get up in the middle of the night to drink some more. I don't live with him, but sure do feel sorry for his longtime girlfriend. It's hell, when she does try to make him food, he either gives it to the dog or eats like an ape and smears it all over his face, so he doesn't really eat much of it. Very very exhausting to say the least. Thank you so much for all that you are doing for people. Cheryl

bp said...

Hello, my husband passed away 2 years ago when he was 45. It happened within 12 hours. He called me at work at 2pm that he wasn't feeling well and to come home, and he was dead at 3pm - dead from varices. I feel lucky that he didn't suffer for years in the way Riley is suffering. However, we all know that he did suffer for many years. He didn't want to have this disease. He was trying to detox by himself the day he died. Thank you for listening.

ADDY said...

This is such a bloody awful disease and claims victims from all walks of life. We in the UK have recently lost a prominent politician (Charles Kennedy - ex-leader of the Liberal Party) to alcoholism. He died all alone with internal hemorrhaging. Such an intelligent man (as was my husband) but both did not have the power to halt it. I am sure they would, if they could. I am so sorry - Riley does sound near to the end. It is not fair on you or your family to have to suffer this - as I know only too well myself. Lots of (((hugs))) from across the big Pond.

Anonymous said...

Hi Linda. I posted the comment on 18 June. I just re-read your original post. Once again thank you for sharing. Here is a big hug for you. I hope that you can take some comfort in virtual support from a stranger. Please keep blogging. I know it sounds selfish on my part, but your sharing your story and strength strengthens the rest of us out here.

coping said...

Yes Linda...thank you for sharing your life w/all of us. It has strengthened me so much. When I feel I can't take another day living w/my alcoholic husband, I think of you and all the stories on here....I realize I'm not alone. One day at a time...that's what I tell myself...and someday this nightmare will end....however it comes about. And yes...as in the previous post...we are all here to support YOU! God
Bless and remember...one day at a time.

Anonymous said...

HI,
Found this blog a year or so ago. I have been married to an alcoholic for 35 years. During this time we have had long periods of no drinking. We have 2 boys, sadly we lost our older son 15 years ago. After this tragedy we grew closer for the next 10 years. The last 4 years he has drank almost everyday. He is retired military who had a very good job where he traveled all over the world. Traveling gave him many opportunities. He has taken advantage of every thing. In the past 4 years his mood and behavior towards me has been becoming more bizarre. I filed for divorce last august and he went nuts, I filed a restraining order and he fled the house not before he sold one of our cars and some of our furniture. He drove across country only to meet family that he has seen 3 times in his 50 plus years. Of course it was great as they are alcoholics and used drugs too. They were thrilled to have someone there who would buy them drinks and food and who had a nice pension. I was devastated. After a month I begged him to come home to sell our house. He looked horrible, gray complexion lost 15 lbs and was shaking. He only stayed for 3 days before he left and drove across country again. He returned home after a week, during the drive back he had a heart attack and was in the ER for hours with blood pressure 235/120. He was treated and released after several hours. This was in October. He has been here since. He cant find a job because he lost his security clearance, and had a DUI. I have taken him to every doctor including one of the best liver specialists in the country who determined that he has an alcoholic fatty liver. He stopped drinking for 6 weeks (all but 3 times) for the testing and looked better, his mood was better and he was talking about the future. He has been on an antidepressant since December that were helping a bit. We had our first grandson in Feb, he was overjoyed. Slowed down the drinking for awhile, but now with the summer at hand, he is drinking every night, he can go thru a 5th of tequila and 15 beers in 4 hours...I work everyday and worry about what he is doing in the house. I came home one day and he had taken our big screen tv apart. HE WAS SOBER. I honestly think that he has wet brain. Why is it that the people that do all the right things are the ones that have to suffer the most. Alcoholics are selfish nasty people are only out for what they can get for themselves and do not care who they hurt. I am angry that our family has been destroyed. All of our family is gone except our son and his wife, I feel as if I have no one to turn to. I have been to therapy and am on medication, but need something more. I have tried alanon too. I just want some happiness

Anonymous said...

To the last Anonymous Poster from the first Anonymous Poster.

I don't know what to say to you except I feel for you. Here is a big virtual hug. Linda or Addy, do you know of a chat site or forum where we can get/give virual support?

Anonymous said...

Linda's Front Porc is trying to get a chat site going, and there is always the Ning site and the Facebook Oars site. all of these require passwords to get access. Please sign up!
Chauncey

Anonymous said...

My mother just found her brother dead in his house in Waihi in New Zealand. He had died after his alcoholism escalated after his divorce a couple of years ago. He died alone and was dead for a week or more. He was 57. He was drinking a bottle of wild turkey a day. In the end his body gave up. When my mother last visited him he had started getting bouts of diarrhea and refused to see a doctor and even cancelling an appointment she had organized . The diarrhea became chronic and in the end became uncontrolled and constant . There was diarrhea all through the house and all over the living room and he passed away caked in his own crap. His body most likely died of shock from the loss of fluid over several days. I'm just sad and disappointed she was the one who had to find him like this. His kids had nothing to do with him and hadn't seem him for months.
Cheers
A sad Kiwi.

Anonymous said...

I have followed you for a number of years. My husband died in November of pancreatitis. He had been diagnosed in August. I had left the house 3 years prior after38 years with only my purse and the clothes I was wearing. I never thought I would really leave. . I was still in the background helping my daughter with his everyday needs(bills,food etc). I love him now and always will but having to deal with this all these years has devastated me our daughters and our grandchildren as well as his siblings,. this is an evil disease that completely consumes you. My daughter found her daddy. I pray for him and miss him everyday. I never spoke or saw him up close again since the day I left until I saw him in his coffin. I talk to him everyday now and I hope he understand why I left. I applaud you for your tremendous strength!,

Anonymous said...

I have followed you for a number of years. My husband died in November of pancreatitis. He had been diagnosed in August. I had left the house 3 years prior after38 years with only my purse and the clothes I was wearing. I never thought I would really leave. . I was still in the background helping my daughter with his everyday needs(bills,food etc). I love him now and always will but having to deal with this all these years has devastated me our daughters and our grandchildren as well as his siblings,. this is an evil disease that completely consumes you. My daughter found her daddy. I pray for him and miss him everyday. I never spoke or saw him up close again since the day I left until I saw him in his coffin. I talk to him everyday now and I hope he understand why I left. I applaud you for your tremendous strength!,

A. Person said...

You don't have to stay...