Sunday, September 15, 2013

Misadventures with a sewing machine and a favourite blankie

One of the things about being a parent is that you end up with an almost prescient sense of when something will go wrong... it's freaky really.

Take for example.
On Saturday, I told Olivia not to take one of her favourite blankies (we bought it in Mumbai just after the girls were born) onto their seesaw and I explained why.  It could get tangled and ripped, not to mention that it could cause an accident and someone could get hurt (the seesaw also spins around).  So come Sunday... what happens?  Blankie gets caught and rips.  It's almost quite literally the end of the world (hell I nearly cried when I had to throw my favourite pair of jeans) so I promised Olivia that I would fix it for her - isn't that what your parents are supposed to do?  Now I should have realised that this would potentially be a challenge for me.


I can't sew.  I really can't.
When I did home economics in high school we were supposed to make a pair of shorts.  I cheated.  I had someone make them for me.  I only sewed the elastic for the waistband.  I hated the sewing components of home ec - the cooking I loved (duh!).

So coming from a history of complete incompetence when it comes to sewing - I decided to buy a sewing machine probably about 2 years ago with the great intention of building a fabric cubby for the girls.  It took me about 6 months to learn how to put the bobbin in (if you asked me to do it now - I probably would still have no idea - I will only sew things that require white thread until the bobbin runs out) and pretty much pulled the bottom half of the sewing machine apart.  So basically for about 2 years the sewing machine has sat in a cupboard gathering dust (with the bobbin in).

I had to do something about the blankie situation and I did promise Olivia I would.  So here was my personal crisis.  I can't sew.  Child needs favourite something fixed.  Solution "suck it up princess" and just try to do it.  It took me until today to actually build up the chutzpah to do it - but I did it.  Badly but I did do it... I now have a happy child and I have a somewhat mixed sense of accomplishment.

At the end of the day - it's not about whether I can sew or not.  It's about making my children happy and that I did accomplish.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Bibs & Bobs (basically a medical update)

So I had my bloods done again.  Pretty much just after the 2 month mark (I'll update accordingly when I have the actual figures and do a comparison with the original numbers).  My psych has gone on holidays so I had to ring my GP to get the numbers.

Basically my liver is still hurting.  Not as much but its still hurting.  So it's on the road to recovery.  My blood cells are looking normal again, apparently they had acquired a bit of a funny shape (not really sure what that was about - but apparently due to heavy drinking blood cells end up looking a bit distended).  And I managed to double my vitamin d numbers... they were sitting on 50 and they are now on 100.  My GPs advice was to basically stop the supplement and just spend more time in the sun.  Although I guess if anything it's a good indication for next winter that my vitamin d levels are likely to drop.

I'm still off the antabuse.  It was amusing.  I told my psych that I had finished my antabuse and the first thing he did was write me out a new prescription for it.  It's apparently standard practice as it does provide a fail-safe if you're tempted to relapse.  When I saw my psych last Thursday - I was doing brilliantly.  I actually wasn't having any cravings - nada, none, zip.  Fast-forward a week to today and I am seriously considering getting the prescription filled.  Yesterday and today have been tough - I don't really know why.  I think if my stress levels go up - then my desire to drink also increases.  I need to find another stress release really.  Exercise has been helping which has been beneficial for both myself and Alfie.  Rather than taking a walk around Albert Park Lake - I have been taking my little mutt for a walk.  So there's that - my GP suggesting getting into a craft.  I am using baking as my new addiction/stress mechanism and she quite honestly told me to stop it before I start putting on weight.

I'm out of the transitions program.
They cancelled it as there wasn't enough people.

I'm completely heartbroken of course.
As my psych said one of the takeaways is that it does actually show how relatively non-crazy I am.  There was just so much that I couldn't and can't relate to - like people naming the voices in their head.

Although here was something weird.  I got a phonecall yesterday from the clinic suggesting that I do an assessment for their life skills group.  I asked the guy what the program was about - he didn't really know.  But he suggested that I come in - spend $110 for an assessment and they could tell me more at the assessment what the program was about.  What?  I said no.  You don't know what you're talking about - I'm not going to spend the money.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lose weight by baking! JUST ASK ME HOW!!!

I wonder how many people will actually ask?
I'm obviously not serious.

I went to see my doctor yesterday about a couple of things.  I need to get my blood tests redone to see how my blood sugar, liver function and vitamin d are doing.  Now I normally don't weigh myself - I hate it, always have.  Even when I had a 7 day a week gym habit I would rarely weigh myself, only really when I had my assessments.  So anyway as part of my admission to the clinic I got weighed.  I was 112kgs (ugh!) so on the spur of the moment I decided to weigh myself - I'm 102kgs.  I've lost 10kgs over the past two months.  But I have been doing a LOT of baking.  I've switched my drinking addiction to baking.  It's quite sad! (And the reason why I weighed myself was that I weighed Olivia so it piqued my curiosity .  So yes out of stopping drinking and incidental exercise I have lost 10kgs.  I am left to wonder how much weight I would be losing if I didn't bake so much - it's basically me and the girls that eat most of it - and if I did some structured exercised.  I could be back to my gym toned self in no time (cue Mrs Krabappel from The Simpsons' HA!) - in all honesty I could be a bit thinner and healthier.  All in due time!

It's probably not that surprising that I have been losing the weight.  A glass of sparkling wine is 100 calories and if I honestly think about how much I was drinking... yeah I really don't want to think anout the calories but I understand why a) I ballooned up and b) I've lost the weight pretty quickly.

Other updates:

  • I took my last antabuse on Saturday.  Which is fine.  I've not missed it.  My cravings aren't any worse without it.  So it's all good.  It was just another medicine I took so it's like I was consciously aware that this was my non-drinking medication.
  • I'm not doing the addictions program - it's on a Monday and a Friday - I have the girls on a Monday so we'd have to get a nanny in and we can't afford it.  Also the addictions program is more to get people off their addictions (apparently baking wouldn't be covered).  I have spoken to my psych about this and he feels that I can't get away without doing it as long as I do what I suggested as an alternative - look at getting a job or getting out of the house to do "something" and go to AA.  I've found an AA group here in St Kilda so I will most likely be going to my first meeting in the next couple of weeks.
  • I'm going to stay in the Transitions group for a little while longer (probably just a couple more weeks) mostly as I am getting some use out of it and my health fund does cover my psych appointments if I have group.  I'm turning into a cheap bastard really ;)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Apparently Michael Danby supports Marriage Equality

So here we go again...
Michael Danby (or do-nothing Danby as I have dubbed him) has decided to email me again on marriage equality *sigh*

So the basic gist...
"For the first time, we have an Australian Prime Minister going into an election with a commitment to supporting marriage equality.
It is my belief that allowing all Australians the same dignity, the same opportunities, and the same freedoms is the best thing for our country and I will support any future marriage equality bill."

and further...
"I have supported the principle of marriage equality for a long time and I am proud to be part of a political party that has put addressing this injustice on its agenda."

This is a man who abstained on the vote on marriage equality because he wasn't going to vote because it was going to be defeated anyway (or something along those lines).

So the obligatory response that will undoubtedly like all my emails to him will get absolute no response.

"Dear Mr Danby,

I really find it galling that you have the audacity to tell me that you are a supporter of marriage equality that when I have contacted you and your office at least 4 times over the last federal term to receive no response in regards to marriage equality issues.

Also I also find it quite insulting that you are saying that it is disappointing that Mr Abbott won't allow his parliamentarians a conscience vote - which as was proven - it is non-binding.  A liberal crossed the benches to vote in support of marriage equality.  You are telling me that you are a supporter of marriage equality, when the last bill came to parliament, why didn't you vote?  

Mr Danby you chose to not vote for marriage equality so in that spirit and considering the support you have physically shown - you can in fact not count on my vote.

I wish you the best of luck.

Michael Verhoef

And also I have unsubscribed for your email list so please do not send me anymore unsolicited emails."

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Trying to explain surrogate birth to nearly 4 year olds...

Is actually quite difficult...

We ended up having a conversation with the girls last night which turned into the first conversation about them being born through a surrogate.  I wasn't quite sure when we could expect to have this discussion.  I wasn't prepared for it and I have no idea of how well we covered it.

Louise and Olivia get they have two daddies and they are different from other families.  I really hate describing our family as different and have avoided saying that around the girls.  We have been able to highlight diversity in different family structures so they do know we are not that far from the norm.  They do understand that they don't have a "mummy" so then trying to explain that they came out of a surrogate's tummy was met with disbelief.  We do have the photos (see!).

I'm not sure if the larger confusion comes from the concept of birth in general, the lack of a mother, or trying to understand surrogacy.  "Babies don't come from tummies!" "She didn't eat us!"  It was an amusing conversation in some regards.

I guess the major thing is that we have crossed the bridge and introduced the concept that they were born via a surrogate. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sugar cravings and other updates...

I know I've mentioned this before.  I was told from the outset that I would get sugar cravings - which does make sense especially when you consider the amount I was drinking.  And I did mention before the battle to find a low-sugar substitute to replace those cravings.  Zero-calorie lemonade (soda) and a splash of lime cordial was working and still is.  Although I do find that during the day I end up craving sugar something fierce.  Which I am mostly ok with.  Except a) we have chocolate in the house and b) we have jellybeans in the house (bribery for Louise and Olivia to try to get them to either behave or do something).  So I am basically hoeing through the chocolate and the jelly beans.  I even have a stash in the car which of course is for the girls... of course... completely... it is... honest!

The other thing which I have to share and it did make me laugh.  There's apparently been a bit of a run on antabuse or there's transport or manufacturing issues.  My normal pharmacy didn't have any antabuse and their store didn't either.  So went to my old pharmacy in South Melbourne to see if they had it (it's a methadone clinic so I thought my chances were pretty good).  That was a no... it surprised me.  They were however kind enough to ring a discount chemist warehouse to see if they had some in stock - which they did (this is turning into a joke where you're sitting there going sheesh get to the punchline already...).  Now antabuse is a drug to stop people from drinking - that's pretty much it's main use.  So what's the bloody warning label I get on the damn thing.

"DO NOT TAKE ALCOHOL while being treated with this medicine"

This to my mind does really fall into the thank you Captain Obvious category.  Anyway I thought it was kind of amusing.  It's probably not as amusing as I think.

One of the greatest challenges that I'm finding is cooking without alcohol.  As someone who enjoys cooking - it's a challenge.  I keep skipping past recipes that have alcohol in them - mostly as the alcohol doesn't completely burn off so it could actually trigger a reaction.  Speaking of triggering reactions - the pharmacist yesterday was a delight, it seems that hairspray, perfume, mouthwash and deodorant can trigger reactions in some people taking antabuse.  I'd say I'm pretty safe from the hairspray one just between you and me...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"Stay Strong Princess!"

I have the most amazing friends.  I don't have many but the ones I do have, I love dearly.  They constantly surprise me and amaze me.  It's no great surprise to people that I'm a geek (or a nerd - I prefer geek!) so I love the little geeky presents that I occasionally get from my best friend.  This was really more about the message though - I probably would be finding this a lot harder if it wasn't from the support of my friends.  Matt and I have discussed this at length for a while and he's really helping me through it.  I don't make or keep friends very easily but the ones I do have mean the world to me (you hear that Matt! I'm actually being nice to you!!!!)

So various updates & observations:

  • I have reached the conclusion that my clinic can't organise their way out of a wet paper bag.  So I showed up late for group on Thursday (I had to go with the girls to see Possum Magic) and they couldn't find my group... so the receptionists advice was to go have lunch and come back for the after lunch session.  Nice!
  • I also managed to discover that the clinic (or more technically my health insurance) pays for parking for out-patients.  This probably could be excused it was only my second week ALTHOUGH I have been asking for longer than that.
  • I had my assessment for the addictions program on Friday.  I've been accepted - not sure if I want to go yay about that.  I've heard it's a very good program though so it should help.  Although it doesn't start until late September so I get to deal with the transitions group for a while longer.
  • So when I had the assessment for the Addictions Program and I was chatting to the psychologist (yet another one!) she was surprised at how quick my detox was.  She'd never heard of a detox that went for 4 days.  Which I guess explains the cute psychologist's surprise at my lack of a treatment plan.
  • I've been alcohol free for a month.  I know a large part of that is the antabuse which does provide the psychological boost that I need to stay strong.  I am getting better though :)

Friday, July 12, 2013

More reflections on group therapy

So it seems that I am going to be in group therapy for a while.

Now I guess upon reflection (moreso as I have had a couple of days to think about things and I did see my psychiatrist yesterday), I can understand why it was suggested I do group therapy.  The group I'm doing now is called "transitions" which is for people who've been staying in the hospital for a while to transition back into normal life.  No obviously this doesn't really affect me per se, as I am let's face it pretty normal to most intents and purposes.  Now I am not the most world's most social person - I used alcohol to drop some of my inhibitions so I could actually interact with people.  So being thrown into a situation where I actually have to interact with people sober isn't exactly a lot of fun for me, it downright sucks actually.  The intent in part is for me to get used to being group therapy so when I hit the real stuff (the addictions program) I'm ready for it.  And I can basically cope with what it's going to throw at me (well not throw at me but deal with the fact that I am in group therapy).

The other interesting thing that my psychiatrist said yesterday about group therapy (and in some ways I think this is quite awful) is that group allow you to gauge yourself compared to others.  So if everyone in the group is basically a raving loon - it can help you feel better about yourself.  I know it's a horrible thing to say but I can understand where he's coming from!  The real intent though is that it can give you different approaches and ideas of how to handle things.

So it should be interesting all in all.  I can see a large number of benefits, aka getting me back into a routine other than just hanging around at home.  Means I may struggle to get the stuff I am supposed to get done (like clean the house, laundry, shopping etc).  But getting out and about may actually do me some good.  I know dealing with my addictive behaviours will undoubtedly do me a lot of good.  I'm not sure if I will stay in the transitions group once the addictions group starts (probably not as I don't really feel like I fit there).

this is the longest I have been sober in years...

I'm 21 days sober today.

It's funny (or sad) - I had an appointment with psychiatrist this afternoon and came to the shocking conclusion that this is the longest stretch I have been sober for in probably 12-13 years.  The last time I have been sober for longer than this I was training for a corporate triathlon and something screwy was going on in my head (go back a couple of posts for the me with abs).  So I guess realistically I have been a very heavy drinker for 10 years plus.  I really am very lucky that my body hasn't completely rebelled against me - but from what I have been told I'm at that age where things would have started going downhill rapidly if I didn't nip it in the bud.

So that was a bit of a shocking realisation.  I guess for me it's also quite easy to forget how easy it is to just drink.  And that's something I have to learn to cope with or learn to find something else to do... my GP today suggested cooking or writing or something to kill the time and try to take my mind off it (I had to go see our GP has Olivia has conjunctivitis or has she's been calling it congunkeyetis).

And to be honest I have actually been pretty ok without the drinking.  But as I was telling my psychiatrist as I am on the antabuse it's pretty easy as it does provide a psychological edge to help me deal with it.  SOOOOO I was supposed to be on the antabuse for a month.  When I go see him next week he's renewing my prescription so I will have an extra month on the antabuse.  Do you maybe thing he knows me better than I know myself?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Thoughts on my first group therapy session

The public transport bit first.
It's ok.  There's something convenient about having one of the main city tram routes a block away.  Especially when the tram comes every 8 minutes and the stop you're going to is one of the main non-CBD interchanges.  So it's a win-win.  I guess for me it's a bit of an adjustment mostly as I have driven everywhere for the past 3.5 years.  So yeah, it was ok.  Popped in the headphones and tuned out the world.  Although coming home I did end up with a question when I got off at my stop - how is that people who look like they can barely afford to dress themselves afford cigarettes?

So group therapy.
Apparently you can have group therapy with two people... apparently.  It seems the rest of the group hasn't realised yet that there is a group on Thursdays.  So I have been assured that next week should be more like a real group session.  YAY!!!! Something to look forward too.  

I can't say I'm a fan of group therapy.  The other guy who was there seems more damaged than I do and I (as one of the psychologists said) come across as having had quite a traumatic life (which I really don't think so).  Allow me a minor divergence - I won't discuss what anyone else brings up or says that's not my place or right, I will do things like this though.  So anyway, I'm emotionally drained, I loathe going back over my past.  My past is my past and it should stay there.  So one of the interesting things that I took out of today and it's probably quite appropriate (hence the picture) is that the me that drank is somebody I used to know and I have to learn about the new me.  And that's actually quite scary for the first time in a very long time - I'm effectively naked and vulnerable.  That does completely freak me out.  All of my coping mechanisms and (false) bravado have been ripped away - I can't hide behind anything anymore.  It's just me - the flawed, imperfect me.

Does help if I put a title here...

"Australia has one of the highest incidence rates of alcohol dependence with 18% of Australians experiencing excessive or problematic drinking at some stage of their lives, and 4% developing a dependence on alcohol."

I'm in one in ten
and now I'm one in four
I guess on the plus side I have been able to keep my sense of humour about all this.

On the other news front which I'm a bit angsty about is that I start the first of the out-patient programs tomorrow.  Of course it's on three days a week and the only I can make it is the day it's on when the girls are in care.  So I'll have to talk to them tomorrow to see if I can do it one day a week or if I need to be there for all three.  I do know when I start the addictions program it's a completely different kettle of fish.

So anyway I guess I just wanted to update everyone that I am in fact starting phase two tomorrow.   Which also means dealing with (EEK!!!!) public transport!  If I see my psychiatrist I'll quite happily pay for parking (it's only 30 to 45 minutes) but as these sessions run a couple of hours - I'm not racing out every hour to move my car and pay another $3 something to the council.

Friday, July 5, 2013

a health update

So part of the fun of being in detox is that I had my bloods done.  I've never quite seen a set of results as comprehensive as what my psychiatrist gave me today but yowza... there's a lot and most of it just doesn't make any sense to me.  But then again I'm not a doctor.  

The main things that I had to take away from it is that my liver functions are elevated (probably putting it politely) - they're really frigging high.  But as I was told that's to be expected considering how long I have been drinking for.  

"GGT can be used to screen for chronic alcohol abuse (it will be elevated in about 75% of chronic drinkers). Sometimes it may be used to monitor for alcohol use and/or abuse in people who are receiving treatment for alcoholism or alcoholic hepatitis

In a piece of good news I have been told that it should be back to normal in about 3 months.  It just means that I have to get my blood tests done every month to track the progress (oh joy! - I don't like needles).  So I guess I have been very lucky that I didn't do any permanent damage to myself over my years of drinking.  I guess when you are drinking that's really something that you stop and think about...

The other thing that my blood tests showed is that I have low vitamin D levels.  I went to the pharmacy yesterday to get a supplement and was told I should take one a day unless my doctor had told me differently.  I told her I was told to take it three times a day "oh that is low!"  Yep that's me... ;)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

An addendum to the sobriety update...

So I was drinking lemonade.  Decided to switch to sprite zero as I was worried about the amount of calories/sugar I was consuming with the normal lemonade.  Now sprite zero has no sugar - bonus...  the reason why I was drinking so much lemonade is because my body was craving the sugar that it was getting through alcohol.  So I feel like a bit of a daft idiot - ah well live and learn ;)

Although sprite zero with peach iced tea cordial is actually quite, soda water with peach iced tea cordial is actually quiet foul.  The problem also with soda water is that I used to drink vodka and soda at times so I keep expecting the vodka hit/flavour.  So I think I'll skip the soda water for now.

I've also been sober for 14 days.  This is seriously the longest I have not had a drink since I was 29 or 30 (I went on a massive fitness binge - no smoking, no drinking, no meat - I still have no idea of what happened to me...).  I also realise I will never be that skinny again and you know what I can live with that ;)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A sobriety update

Life's funny.  I will honestly admit I do miss drinking.  I suspected that I would and I was warned that I would.  I am however drinking my body weight in tea and lemonade - I can expect this to happen for a little while longer apparently.  I learnt something that basically there is two parts to this - one is the physical act of holding something in your hand and "drinking", the other particularly with the lemonade is to fulfill the sugar addiction.  Considering alcohol is basically empty calories and sugar - your body ends up craving the sugar.  I'm not sure if switching to lemonade is the best idea though - it's still empty calories.  Although I did have a friend suggest yesterday that I switch to soda water with a splash of cordial so that seems like a pretty good idea if you ask me.  And why the tea?  Our Nespresso machine is broken - there's a capsule stuck in it and I still haven't been able to work out how to get the damn thing out although to be honest I think if drank as much coffee as I do tea, I would be seriously bouncing off the walls.

So yes anyway - I'm not drinking, I'm thinking clearer (which is no great surprise), although I have managed to find out again that even sober I am a ditz.  So maybe that's natural... I'm naturally a ditz.

The other bit I find quite surprising is that I'm actually getting quite tired.  I told my psychiatrist and he was quite surprised - I'm more used to falling out on the couch.  Dozing off on the couch is a bit of a new experience.

One experience from the weekend was amazing though.  I invited my brother along to see Man of Steel at IMAX.  And when he was leaving yesterday he actually hugged me and told me he was proud of me for doing the right thing by Larry, Louise and Olivia.  My brother and I very, very rarely hug.  The last time he hugged me was at our commitment ceremony in 2008 - so that was kind of a big deal.

So there you go a bit of a nothing blog post ;)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Notes from Detox (from my Moleskin)

I told my GP that I was going into detox and she suggested that I should get into something like blogging to help pass the time I would normally spend drinking...

So I decided to take my moleskin into detox with me, considering I hardly ever use it!

So some notes:

  • Hospital food blows
  • Detox is easier than expected.  Although the hallucinations are starting to creep me out.  There always seems to be something at the corner of my eye.
  • Time actually seems to passing reasonably quickly.
  • Some of the psychologists are SO cute!
  • All the staff have been really wonderful (apart from one nurse who was a bit dour and the catering staff are all a bit nasty - although there is a rather nice, friendly and handsome ginger beardo).
  • Not drinking.  Yes well... so far so good - physically I miss it, mentally I miss it - but I seem to be doing ok.  That may change when they let me out though.
  • Valium tastes awful.
  • I've been drinking so much tea and apple juice.
  • Surviving on 3G isn't that much fun - I miss the online interaction but in part I'm also happy not to have it.
  • I miss my babies.  I know I am doing the right thing for them but I just miss them so much.  I miss the laughter, the joy, even hell the whining.  I just want to give them massive cuddles.
  • Anxiety is up - maybe I used alcohol to control my anxiety.
  • Valium stops today which means I am expecting an increase in anxiety.
  • My best friend Matt has helped maintain my sense of humour.
  • Feels a bit weird not having the alcohol withdrawal scale done anymore.
  • I'm still worried about my blood pressure though.
  • I'm really quite upset that I have to miss the girls first parent teacher meeting.
  • I thought I had low-esteem but how much the teenagers here hate themselves is truly heart-breaking.  I have to ensure this doesn't happy to Louise and Olivia.
  • I'm still anxious - not sure if it's related to being away from home or that I suffer anxiety.
  • I feel depressed and lonely but that was my choice.
  • I honestly can not believe that I spent two days without listening to music - there must be something wrong with me!

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Experience of Detox

I suppose I should explain a lot of people confuse detox with rehab.  They are not the same.  The idea of rehab in the US does include detox.  Here it can do but it depends on your level of addiction and I guess also your personal strength etc...  I went for the straight detox option - I had to - Larry and I had too many other commitments for me to be out of action for that long.

I guess also my idea of what detox was going to be like was completely different to the reality.  I ended up in a private clinic - which I know sounds swanky but trust me it wasn't it really, really wasn't.

It's funny my pscychiatrist actually recommended that I read Augusten Burroughs' Dry while I was in detox and I actually felt like I got in trouble because I was busy reading George R R Martin's Dances with Dragons.  So anyway I ended up reading it - first time in god only knows how long I've read a book in less than a day...  I think Augusten had similar expectations as to what detox/rehab in a private clinic is meant to be about.  It's also funny I normally treat books with respect - I don't mark them or dog ear them.  This one I did.  There's actually a lot that I could relate to and I think I will be keeping it close to me for a while.

"And I feel like, that's the reason to go to gay rehab.  People appreciate the drama."

It's a funny, poignant and moving memoir and one that I can really quite relate to in a lot of ways.

So anyway back to me and the misery that was detox.

Let's start with the room.  Simple, basic, depressing.  For some reason psychiatric hospitals are depressing and they are decorated in the most depressing fashion possible.  I guess maybe it's encourage people to get out as fast as possible - something I was quite happy to try to achieve.  I didn't want to be there and the room really wasn't helping... The bed was a king single.  Now I'm a big man - I'm 6"3' so yeah that's not even that comfortable for me and they give you some threadbare cotton blanket that barely keeps you warm and you're in comfort city - JOY!  And of course the tasteful bedspread doesn't help - that's thinner than the blanket.  And of course the decor is rather 1970s institutional.  And the ensuite was just as bad.  I know it's all rather minor stuff but hey this is a private hospital so I was a bit surprised.  The view was also very inspiring and motivating.  Don't get me wrong I love Melbourne - it's a beautiful city.  Just not when you have to stare at a hole in the ground and the back of some office buildings.  Ah yet beautiful Melbourne.  Funny especially considering how close to Albert Park Lake I was.  Anyway I guess beautiful views aren't the point really are they? But it would have been nice.

So there's that... so I get checked in downstairs by someone who smokes and in a tiny little office so it's just me, her and the lingering smell of her last cigarette.  Probably not the best introduction to detox.  So I get checked in, sign my life away, get a bad photo taken so the nurses know that I am the right person to give the right drugs too.  I'm taken back outside to wait for a nurse to take me up to my room.  So I'm waiting for 5 minutes and the nurse comes down.  She shows me the dining room (WAIT WHAT!?!?!?!), takes me up to the 3rd floor, shows me the TV room (WAIT WHAT?!?!?!?!) and the kitchen which is right next to my room (which that one was a bonus).  She gives me time to settle in... and I am left pondering the whole notion of communal dining and communal tv viewing.  Yes a private hospital and you have to go downstairs and eat with the rest of the patients (or crazies as I dubbed them) and if you want to watch tv you have to go do that with with the adult patients.  I chose to not watch TV.  5 days no TV - I did pretty well - although I did Misfits on my iPad so strictly I didn't not watch TV.

It's funny - you check in and on the first day someone is there every half hour to make sure you're ok.  And now the even funnier thing is on day 1 of detox - you don't have most of the withdrawals.  Although I do have to admit that the psychologist who finished my admission was quite cute.  There apparently are benefits to being admitted to a nuthouse.  So basically after a while I got a bit sick of the constant knock on the door and someone asking me if I was ok.  I understand that during the first 24 hours is when people are the biggest flight risk.  I do get that... The other thing too which I was warned about was getting an alcohol withdrawal scale done every 4 hours so that was ok too.  Although the fact that my blood pressure and anxiety were through the roof slightly worried me.  But I guess also a bonus on day 1, I was allowed to start taking Valium.

A brief segue.  Those people who know me know that I love music.  I am quite literally lost without it.  I spent the first two days in detox without listening to anything - no music - nothing...

So one of the funnier moments was when the cute psychologist came back to talk to me about my "treatment plan."  From my understanding I didn't have a treatment plan and I told him so - "I'm just here to detox and that's it."  The poor dear looked a little confused.  So he trotted off to ring my psychiatrist to see if this was in fact that case.  I wasn't probably that unusual but I was just a get in - dry out - get out case.  No group therapy etc... I think that kind of threw him out of his routine.  I got checked up by the GP that's on staff.  She was surprised that I hadn't done more damage to my body (I've been drinking heavily for 17 years pretty much - I'm surprised I haven't done more damage to my body).

So I get settled in and start reading, play games on my iPad.  Dinner is at 5pm... oh goodie!  Um yeah the food... For someone who loves food and cooking as much as I do.  I could have cried.  It quite literally was slop and all the choices were basically just slop, slop, more slop.  And it was oily slop and large amounts of oil and my digestion don't really agree.

So we move onto night one.  I take my anti-depression medication and my valium.  Try to sleep to then only be woken up at 12:30am by the night nurse shining a torch right into my eyes.  At this point I think I decided that detox wasn't going to be much fun.  Apart from the valium.  I couldn't get back to sleep and the night nurse did tell me that I could take more valium.  Now as I learnt later the following day apparently there is not an endless supply of valium *gasp* - so the nurses had to ring my psychiatrist to have the maximum amount I could take upped.  Which he did - just not as much was requested by the nurse which was cool too.

So anyway we're on day 2.  Breakfast is passable - it's toast and jam - which I make myself.  That's about all that's on offer apart from porridge and cereal.  Neither of which are on my hit-list.  It's funny I'm not a big eater (funny when you consider my size - but then again alcohol is basically just sugar) but during my entire time in detox regardless of how awful the food was - I had 3 meals a day.  So I'm still getting the withdrawal scale done - anxiety is still through the roof - valium is still helping.  I'm being checked up on every hour.  And the nurses come in for a chat which pretty much becomes standard - go through my life story, go through what I am going to do when I get released, shock over the fact that there's no plan in place for me coming off the valium [i'm only on it for 3 days in total]).  Pretty much all of them were surprised that I didn't have any visitors coming in to see me - I decided that it was probably best for my mental state of mind and for Louise in Olivia that they didn't come in to see me.  I think in all honesty I wouldn't have been able to handle it.  I've now started drinking my body weight in tea and apple juice and I also keep taking the little blocks of cheese and packets of 3 crackers out of the kitchen next to my room - scurry back into my room - consume said goodies and get more!  I do have addictive behaviours... I also snack when I get bored.

Day 3 - my psychiatrist pops in for a visit - pretty impressive that he visits on Sundays to be honest.  My hallucinations have started, its just ghosting in my peripheral vision but its giving me the willies.  So I get three pieces of news, I'm allowed to leave the clinic and go for a walk or whatever, he's stopping the valium and the withdrawal scales also stop.  Apparently my detox has been a "textbook" case.  I was fine with all that.  Although the bit that cracks me up is that when in an alcohol detox - day 3 is meant to be the worst day and that's the day they stop everything.  Go figure.  Something a bit weird about that if you ask me.  And I get through most of the day without seeing anyone.  One of the nurses finally comes in to chat to me before dinner (more slop - goodie!!!).

Day 4 - SO FREAKING BORED!!!! And the cheese ran out in the kitchen next to my room.  I barely see any staff at all.  I did get a visit from a really nice nurse after dinner and we chatted for about an hour as to what I was going to do once I was discharged and how I was going to manage and cope without drinking.  She also thought it was a bit sad that I decided to not have Larry or the girls visit - but as I explained that was my choice.  I didn't want to make it any harder on them then it already was.  I'm still consuming my bodyweight in tea and apple juice.

Day 5 - I go have breakfast, back to my room and pack.  I was literally pacing... to see when I could go.  My psychiatrist popped in to see me told me I was free to go - he just had to tidy up some paperwork and one of the nurses would come get me.  Half an hour later I was FREE!!!!

I know I have probably made this sound worse than it is.  It did it's job.  I got over the physical addiction of alcohol.  I spent 5 days in a clinic where I could get over the physical stuff.  Now I need to work on the mental stuff.  It probably is a little bit sad that I did keep to myself and that I didn't have Larry and the girls visit.  But I needed my own strength and I needed to focus on myself which is something that I haven't been able to do for a very long time.  So yes I came out the other side.

All the staff were really wonderful and supportive - the catering staff were a bit sour though but I can understand why - I would be too.

One of the things that really kind made me feel sad.   There's an adolescent unit at the clinic (I was on the same floor) and the kitchen next to my room had some of the their group artwork and these kids have such low self-esteem, I thought mine was bad but there's was just really heart-breaking - about feeling unloved, about people loving them more if they were skinnier, not wanting to be alive and so on.  It was quite shocking and it made me realise that somehow Larry and I have to ensure that Louise and Olivia are raised in an environment where I hope they never have to feel like that.

So there you go a rather long and rambling post...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Thinking about something in relation to equality (USA vs OZ)

Actually thinking about it now that my own personal giddiness has died down somewhat (hey I'm still happy I get to marry the man I love for real!) and we get the chance to start an entirely new chapter of our lives.

It saddens me though that Australia which is meant to be progressive can't afford people the same level of dignity and respect.  Where is Tony Abbott or (now) Kevin Rudd saying this:

"I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."

Whilst I am happy for myself and my family (like for us this really is a big deal), I am actually deeply saddened that unfortunately in Australia - we still have discrimination enshrined in our laws.

Some Dreams Come True

Larry and I have been trying to find a way to get me to the US since we met.  So for nearly 8 years I have been blocked from entering on the sheer basis that we're a same-sex couple.  Now we have tried to find ways around it (me trying to find work in the US, studying in the US etc...).

It's been hard.  Really hard.  Larry loves his country and he wants to go home.  Like a lot of people who are part of a bi-national couple he has has had to choose between the country he loves and his family.  Up until now, he's chosen me.  I would and will go to the end of the Earth for this man - he has for me, so it's the least I can do for him.

So at roughly 2:30am this morning when Olivia decided to climb up into bed with us.  I checked my email and there was an email from the HRC saying that Section 3 of DOMA had been ruled unconstitutional.  I slapped Larry on the rump (he wasn't particularly impressed with that to be honest) to tell him.  We can go to the US finally - after 8 years of trying, hoping and even to the point of almost giving up.

Although there is one minor glitch - we have to get married for real this time...  We had a commitment ceremony in 2008 but I'm not sure if that would be counted.  We can prove our relationship though.  May mean a quickie wedding in New Zealand though.

I'm not sure if the people who have fought for this will see this but honestly from the bottom of my heart thank you so much - this means so much to me and my family.

Hi my name is Michael and I'm an alcoholic...

"It's about being an alcoholic.
It's about me being an alcoholic.
My lips move when I whisper the words out loud. I'm an alcoholic."

Augusten Burroughs - Dry

Probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to say in my life.  Admitting to a (massive) problem is never easy.  It's funny since I've admitted to it - I've had so many people tell me that I am brave and they are so proud of me.  I don't see why.  I have made such a complete and absolute cock-up of my life - I almost lost everything - the man who loves me, my gorgeous children.  I don't feel particularly brave - I feel if anything rather foolish - I let something take control of me...

I guess the other funny thing is when I "came out" as an alcoholic having people tell me that they didn't realise it was that bad.  I'm what's classified as a high-functioning alcoholic;

"high-functioning alcoholic (HFA) is a form of alcoholism where the alcoholic is able to maintain their outside life such as jobs, academics, relationships, etc. – all while drinking alcoholically."

Now like a lot of HFAs I was in denial about how bad the problem actually was.  My psychiatrist and I had been talking about possible "solutions" for over 6 months and I'd always find an excuse to not do it.  It took an intervention between Larry and my psychiatrist for me to finally admit that yes - I was in a dire situation.  If I didn't fix my drinking that I would lose everything - the man I love, my gorgeous children and eventually my life.  So I checked into detox on Friday the 21st of June.  I was scared, petrified.

It's harrowing releasing just how much control alcohol has actually had over my life.  I have been a drinker pretty much since I was 23 and a heavy drinker since my late 20s.  Also both my parents were alcoholics but mother wasn't around long enough for that to have an impact.  Dad on the other hand - normalised drinking for me - to me it seemed perfectly that people drank from as soon as they got up to when they went to bed.  I did hate when I was growing up but it was also the person I turned into and would have would up as.

So I went into detox for 5 days.
Apparently I was a textbook case.

More posts to follow as this is only the start of my journey and I have to relay the comedy that actually is detox =P

The photo is actually from a 365 photo project I was doing when I originally met Larry and I was diagnosed with depression and bi-polar.