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 ;)