Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chose your poison... alcohol or cancer

I sat down yesterday to write a post about colorectal cancer. I’ve done a bit of research and found a few things that I wanted to share, but not really as much as I would have liked. I have been very distracted by Riley’s behavior and the opportunity to concentrate on writing or videoing has been elusive.

So far I’ve discovered that colon and/or rectal cancer seems to be the cancer of choice for the alcoholic’s body. The chance for survival is dependent on how quickly the cancer is caught. Since it’s hard to know exactly “when” the cancer started, the scale for survival rates is determined by using the stage of the cancer.

Over the past six weeks, Riley has been poked, prodded, scanned, vampire-ized, measured, and violated in very unpleasant manners. We still have not been told that the butt tumor (which we have named Tommy) is, in fact, malignant. We know its cancer and that Tommy is growing. We know there is a suspicious something in his groin lymph node – but not one doctor wants to say that lymph node issue is a part of Tommy’s mischievousness. We are told that we must wait for the biopsy on September 8th.

Anyone who knows me knows that is not good enough for me. While in the oncologist office, I said “This is my theory that I’ve surmised from Drs. Google and Wikipedia. Riley most likely has Stage IIIA colorectal cancer classified as such because it has spread to at least one of his lymph nodes. With treatment he has about a 53% chance of surviving.” The doctor’s response was that, in her opinion, I was correct but could not be 100% confident until we get the results of the biopsy.

This is where things get interesting – or – absurd depending on your point of view. Riley states that he does not want surgery if it means he will have to wear a poop bag. He would rather have chemo/radiation therapy. That’s understandable logic. Then Riley continues by saying “I want to have chemo and radiation so that the cancer will be gone in a couple of weeks and I can go back to drinking.” The doc and I look at each other. She is without words. My hands touch my forehead and then slide down my face as though I’m trying to wipe away the confusion.

(I need to explain that I was contemplating giving Riley metered glasses of wine over long spans of time. However, after the first couple of glasses (2 glasses at dinner every three weeks) his behavior became hostile and I stopped allowing any alcohol at all. So he is booze free knowing that no more is on the way. I believe letting him have monitored wine was a mistake on my part – which I have corrected.)

Back to the doctor who is trying to think of a response to Riley. It was a long pregnant pause. She comes back with something about it takes a lot longer than a few weeks for the treatment to work. She also reminds him that the drinking will kill him just as quickly as the cancer. At the present time, it has not been determined if he is healthy enough for treatment at all.

I chimed in and tried to explain that chemo/radiation will not, cannot, fix all the damage that was done to his body by excessive alcohol abuse. That he is still on the brink of another heart attack, stroke and that it appears his brain is still atrophying. I also point out to him that as long as he lives with me, he will not be drinking. Uh… ohh, I’ve left the door open on that one.

Riley: I’m going to have the treatment, get well, move out and drink myself to death. I’d rather die of drunkenness than die of cancer.

Doc: Well, Mr. Riley, with that attitude I’m worried that treatment will be wasted on you and that you will not be a good candidate. It is possible we will not treat your cancer. Turning to me – Is this the way things are at your house all the time? Do you have any help?

Linda: Yes. This is the way things are all the time. No. I don’t have any help.

Riley: She hired a housekeeper to come in one day a week, but now the housekeeper only helps Linda because she turned her into a friend.

Linda: What? No… let’s move on. The bottom line is no decision has been made because not all the tests are completed. Correct?

Doc (relieved that she didn’t have to respond to Riley): Correct.

So, while I wanted to post about everything I can find about Colorectal Cancer, the frustration and confusion has taken hold and I’m fighting the urge to run for my life. I cannot image this situation getting any easier as Tommy grows and Riley’s anger rises to a crescendo.


PS -- Don't forget to get your tickets for the Twelve Stages of Alcoholism Seminar in Raleigh, NC on September 27th. Go to or

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Show us your disease!

Our search for candidates for the major television network documentary production is still continuing. We have several great stories, but there is so much more to tell. I'm reaching out to all my readers who may be willing to share your story in all this alcoholic chaos. The alcoholic in your life must be willing to consent to at least an interview in the videotaping.

Drop me an e-mail ( and briefly tell me about your story. Please provide a phone number and the best times for a phone call with me and possibly the producer. If you have already provided your story and want to be re-considered, please don't hesitate to let me know.

This documentary is a giant step in changing how people view those of us who care take an end-stage alcoholic. It's not always about "co-dependency" or "enabling" but rather about seeing the alcoholic as a person with a disease. If alcoholism truly is a disease -- then let the world see that illness through the experiences of those closest to the person who is sick as well as the one living inside the disease.

If you are an alcoholic and want your story to be told -- please e-mail me immediately. We need brave alcoholics who are still drinking to tell what their life is like. No criticism, no judgment, no urging you to stop or go into rehab -- just tell us like it is and we will respect your point of view.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Repost: Crazy is as crazy does...

In light of the cancer craziness that is going on -- I thought it might be good to revisit a previous post about Riley's immortality and the craziness of it all. I wonder if I'll be faced with this again. The post below was originally published in December 2012. It describes how an alcoholic can still display signs of "craziness" even in sobriety.

Riley has been "less crazy" over the past few months. I'm wondering if the thought or reality of some of the restrictions that will be induced by chemo/radiation/etc is going to drive him back to that crazy place.

December 2012

Just because the alcoholic in your life is sober for the moment, do not assume that everything is back to normal. Be aware. Sobriety doesn’t always equate to normality.

Riley has not had even a sip of anything alcoholic since May 4, 2012 when he had a near fatal heart attack. He’s not supposed to be alive right now. According to numerous doctors, nurses, social workers, etc. he was so close to death during his last hospital stay I was coerced into trying to “get on with my own life.” Believe me, I welcomed the suggestion. But, deep down inside I knew I had been here before and not to completely trust what they were telling me. I went forward, but with guarded trepidation.
I gave away some of his clothing and books. I melded his file folders into mine. I got rid of the old computer monitor that originated in the 80’s. I threw away the very old worn tennis shoes and saved the new ones. His mattress and most of his other bedding, along with his area rug, were sent to the dump because they were so covered in human excrement. It was a step in going forward as I had been advised.
On August 4th I was told the ones who advised me to assume and prepare for his imminent death had been wrong. The situation had changed and I was to take him home and care for him as best I could under the circumstances. I was given vague instructions as I loaded him into my van. This was to become another segment in my journey through this adventure in the world of insanity.
Almost four months later, Riley is walking without assistance from me, but rather with a walker and, sometimes, a cane. He is able to shower by himself and feed himself. He can wash dishes and clean out the refrigerator (well… sort of…). He takes great pride in going around and making sure all the clocks are set correctly in accordance with the time displayed on the cable network channel. The highlight of his day is making lists – grocery lists, to-do lists, phone call lists, etc. When outsiders are around he can communicate with them logically for about 30 minutes. Most of his stories are never real, but they don’t know that.
I know it doesn’t sound so bad does it – or is it? There is an aspect to all this that most people wouldn’t even notice if they did not live with him. Even his doctors are starting to say that he is competent. He knows the date, the president’s name and can remember a list of numbers for a short period of time. In fact, he may even be capable of living on his own. How I wish that were true.
My day starts every morning with a cup of coffee which is gratefully made by Riley. It is between 4 AM and 5:30 AM. Each day I try to only engage Riley in conversations that I think will not create any conflict. I try to suggest projects for the day within his means of ability. I ask what he wants for dinner. Simple little diatribes to start the day. But, things always seem to take a turn for the worst.
Riley will ask me why I have decided to paint the kitchen in certain colors when those colors were never even mentioned in the plans. He will ask me why I don’t do this or that and I will have to repeat everything concerning the subject over again every morning for numerous mornings in a row. He will ask me when he is getting his computer back and when I tell him he can’t have the computer back – he tells me he’s leaving as soon as he is done with his coffee. I try to reason with him that the computer is off limits because of his being visited by police officials concerning his illegal porn usage. He doesn’t remember it and so believes I’m lying about it ever happening.
A peaceful morning almost invariably turns into a frustrating round of trying to make sense of it all for Riley’s sake. He may be able to remember that string of numbers, but he can’t remember anything about yesterday. He does not believe he ever had a heart attack and thinks I just put him into a nursing home because I was tired of him. He wants me to tell him how many days until he can start drinking again. He wants to know when he can drive. And mostly, he wants to know when I’m going to get out of his life.
Riley has turned into a mean old man. He dislikes the grandchildren’s dog, kids, friends and anything else he relates to them. He becomes angry with me and the world at the drop of a hat. If I don’t share his interest in the latest news story, he claims I’m not concerned about political issues. He must recount to me every episode of every NCIS he has watched that day. If I mention that I’ve seen all of them more than once, he replies that can’t be true because he’d never seem that episode before. In Riley’s mind, I’m a lying, conniving, underhanded, prison warden who revels in making him miserable. He doesn’t hesitate to tell me so every chance he can.
I’ve heard that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Somehow I think that if I just keep explaining things to Riley that eventually he will see that I’m not the bad guy and grow to accept his circumstances. The only person I’m hurting is me. The only really crazy person in the room is me. I know better. But, my instincts are to try to answer his questions with honest answers. Try to give viable explanations without being cruel. I’m reaching the end of my ability to keep going in this manner.
Riley has new projects assigned to him now. I suggest he go for a walk around the block since we now live where there are blocks instead of pastures. I suggest he go with me to the grocery store. I’ve shown him how to use the washer and dryer, although each week we have to repeat the lesson. I don’t dial his brother’s phone number for him anymore. In short, I’m forcing him to try to be more self-reliant. Maybe by doing so, he will eventually REALLY be ready to live on his own with just an occasional visit by a family member to check up on him.
Of course, the minute he is in his own place, he will be drinking alcohol. If he has his car, he will drive drunk. His health will fail rapidly and his days of immortality may be over. This is where my moral compass kicks in. I must get rid of the car before he moves out. And I have to turn a blind eye to whatever he is doing during his downfall. It feels like I’m killing him.
There is no great love lost between us, yet I still feel a responsibility. And then, there is forever the issue of not wanting my daughter to pick him up, dust him off and destroy her life. The question is… by the time she scoops him up to take care of him, will he be so far gone that he will not be too destructive to her sanity. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I drink because I'm depressed, I'm depressed because I drink...

About a month ago, one of the greatest actors in our time, Robin Williams, admitted himself into the Hazelden Addiction Center in Lindstrom, MN. He had publicly announced that he was an alcoholic back in 2006. It is unclear, so far, if Mr. Williams, had been drinking recently.

In my opinion, alcohol is a chameleon. It is disguised to be the thing you need, when in fact it is exactly what you DON’T need. The advertising says liquor creates fun when in fact it creates chaos.

In my youth, I remember going out with a group of friends with drinking as the means to “lighten up” and “enjoy the moment.” The next morning, I did NOT enjoy that moment hanging my head over the toilet.

I hear young people now who are very excited about the idea of going out and getting so drunk they can’t walk – “I’m going out and I’m going to get sooooo drunk…” Then you hear about the fights, hook-ups, and general bad behavior nonsense and I have to ask myself, why was that was so much fun?

Later on, if I had a tough day at work, I’d open a bottle of wine and have a few glasses just to take away some of the stress. All the wine usually did was make me open up about my stressful day and re-live it over again. Guess what? The stress was right there in my office when I returned to work.

Our society drinks alcohol. It is a fact that cannot be disputed. We are a society that uses alcohol to celebrate happy times and alleviate the pain of bad times. In my opinion, our society creates situations that generate alcoholics and then we shun them as though they are less human than those of us who are not afflicted with alcoholism. Alcoholics must hide the fact that they are alcohol dependent because they do not want to be labeled as being something as distasteful as an alcoholic. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

Robin Williams was depressed, or at least that’s what the news media is telling us. I believe it. I have no reason not to believe it. However, I wasn't at his house when he died and I have no first-hand knowledge of what actually happened. I only know what the publicity agents want me to know.

What I do know is this: Depressed people often mistakenly turn to alcohol to give them that “pick me up” that they need because the hype is that it will make them feel better. It is not unusual that people mask or medicate their depression with alcohol. However, alcohol is a depressant and the more alcohol consumed, the more intense the depression. The alcohol takes over and the voluntary action of drinking to medicate turns into drinking to feed the alcohol addiction which is making the depression worse. It becomes a descending spiral that leads to many physical complications generating the need to mask other pains from such things as liver failure, coronary heart disease, brain damage, etc. The alcohol now has complete control over the depressed person and adds the gift of poor physical health.

The only way out is through some form of rehab/recovery program. However, if the program only treats the alcoholism and not the depression, the chance of relapse is strong. In my opinion (again), when an alcoholic is admitted for detox and follows with rehab, the rehab portion should be in conjunction with intensive psychological therapy to get to the root of the depression. Without the treatment of the depression it is like removing only half of a cancerous tumor. The tumor just continues to grow and eventually kill the patient.

The first movie that made me fall in love with Robin Williams was Good Morning, Viet Nam! Many of my friends had fought in that war and since Mr. Williams was close to my age, and I had married a Viet Nam vet with PTSD issues, this movie was very relevant to me.

Having had my own life threatened as author of this blog, I understand why celebrities sequester themselves from the prying eyes of the public. There is a danger in notoriety. It’s too bad that celebrities must hide their anguish and put up a brave front for fear of letting all of us “fans” down.  If I could say something to Robin Williams before he did whatever he did that caused him to leave us, it would be: “Thank you for the laughter you bring into my life. If you ever need someone to help you remember that your life is worth living, you can call on me.” I doubt he would have called… but I would have left that door open not because he’s a celebrity, but because he is a human being.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

FREE tickets!!

Do you want to go to the Raleigh seminar in September? Are your funds low and because of that you think you will have to miss all the great info and fun? Here's how you can go for FREE:

Send me an e-mail ( with the names of ten people that you have signed up for a reservation. When all ten people have paid for their tickets -- I'll send you a FREE ticket!!

But wait -- it gets even better -- Sign up 25 people and you get a FREE ticket AND also get a room for the night before the seminar with includes "Breakfast with Linda"!


Want to go to a seminar, but not in Raleigh? Choose one of these cities:

  1. Washington DC -- October
  2. Lake Worth, FL -- November
  3. Columbus, OH -- December
Send me an e-mail and let me know that you are interested in attending in that city. I'll put you on the mailing list and send you details when they become available. Once the hotel site is confirmed, you will have the same opportunity for a FREE ticket as the attendees at the Raleigh seminar.


Want to go to a seminar in a city that is not listed? Send me an e-mail with the name of the city that you want on the list and I'll add it. If I get tentative commitments from 20 people, I'll move your city closer to the top of the list.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Immortal Alcoholic: Fun with alcoholism?

The Immortal Alcoholic: Fun with alcoholism?: One of my goals after creating the OARS F&F Group (Our Alcoholism Resource and Support for Family and Friends) was that eventually I&#39...

Fun with alcoholism?

One of my goals after creating the OARS F&F Group (Our Alcoholism Resource and Support for Family and Friends) was that eventually I'd be creating live support groups all over the country and maybe even the world. I know, I know, that's a lofty goal. In light of the realization that creating live groups is a bit premature, I've decided to do something that is kinda the next best thing.

On September 27th, 2014, I will host a seminar on the subject of alcoholism. The topic will be the Twelve Stages of Alcoholism as seen through the eyes of a spouse who has seen her husband's transformation from heavy drinker to end-stage alcoholic. While giving my presentation, I will ask for audience interaction and participation. Instead of me standing at a podium and spewing out an endless stream of words, I'll be asking for the audience for input. Some people would rather keep their mouth shut while others may be anxious to join in -- speaking up is not a requirement -- but it will be an option.

The day will not just be about alcoholism. I'll be joined by an instructor of Zentangle. This will be a first encounter for me with Zentangle -- which is, as I understand it, a way to achieve a semi-meditative state through scribbles and writing. I've seen some Zentangle work and it is beautiful. When I asked Barby, the instructor, to explain Zentangle to me, she said writing a repetition of shapes and/or letters can help the mind relax and become open to rest. When she explained that, I thought -- I'd love a way to just stop thinking about "things" for even a few minutes. I invited her to join me in this seminar and I'm so happy that she agreed. Materials for this exercise is included in the price of the seminar.

I went to a caregivers seminar once and there was a "Laughter Yoga" session. I was so very impressed that I learned to do some of the exercises myself. It's not really exercise like sweat and raised heart rate. It's more like learning to laugh at things that hold absolutely no humor at all. Throughout the seminar I may sprinkle in some of that laughter yoga just to take a break from the seriousness of the subject.

What would a day at a seminar be without some awesome grub!! Lunch will be included. It will be a sandwich and salad buffet.

If that isn't enough to entice you make reservations -- I will be encouraging networking by not serving dessert until the networking portion begins. Enjoying cookies and brownies while meeting new people gives an opener for conversation. Networking may connect you with someone who is in a similar situation and create an opening for mutual support.

Let's not forget about the door prizes!! There will be several just waiting for you to claim if your name is pulled from the hat. There will also be something special for the person who traveled the farthest; the driver of the carpool that transported the most attendees; and there will be another drawing from the people who stayed at the hotel. Don't worry if your name isn't pulled -- everyone will receive a gift bag when they stop at the seminar registration table before the event.

But wait!!! The hotel has reserved a block of rooms at a discounted rate just for this seminar. If you spend the night before at the hotel, you can have breakfast with Linda at the hotel breakfast bar. This is just a casual meeting without an agenda and a chance to see exactly who The Immortal Alcoholic's Wife really is behind the words and videos.

This event will be in Raleigh/Durham, NC, at the Comfort Suites Raleigh/Durham Airport at 5219 Page Road, Durham, NC 27703. To book a room, call 919-314-1200 and ask for the Linda's Front Porch rate.

The next seminars will be in Washington DC, Lake Worth, FL, Columbus, OH in that order. These are the cities where followers have asked me to hold an event. If you want a seminar in your area, leave a comment and I'll put that city on the calendar.

Order your tickets now for the Raleigh/Durham seminar at the early bird rate of $40. After August 15th they will increase to $45.  Because no one likes going to something alone -- Special bring a friend rate -- purchase one ticket at full price and get the second for $25. (Only one $25 ticket per full price ticket). How to get your tickets?:

Send an e-mail with SEMINAR in the subject line to with your name, address and e-mail address prior to payment.
Be sure to include the info for the friend if using the "bring a friend" rate.
I'll respond with your total cost payable via PayPal or check.

Credit Card through PayPal; PayPal account:

Checks -- Payable to Linda Doyne, mailed to 227 Foreman Lane, Belhaven, NC 27810
(Checks must arrive before September 15th to allow time for them to clear the bank.)

At the door without prior reservation- $50 cash, check or credit card. 

I hope to see many of my North Carolina readers and maybe even some from Virginia or South Carolina at this informative and fun event. Mark your calendar for September 27th, 2014 and get your tickets now!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Regular comments are back!!

I just figured out how to go back to being able to post comments without the Google+ thing. Please feel free to post comments without having to be a subscriber to Google+ Circles!

Adventures in Cancer Land...

I know the end of this video may generate some hostility, concern, controversy... whatever... please leave all you both positive and negative comments on my website in the Immortal Alcoholic page.

In a nutshell...

Ever since Riley had his heart attack and was released from hospice back to me, I have steadfastedly refused to allow him any alcohol. Now, I'm wondering why I did that.
At the appt to have an ultrasound on his tumor last Wednesday, we discovered that they don't want to do an ultrasound, but rather a CT scan. OK. I'm fine with that -- so let's do it. Whoa-- we have to make an appt for that... soonest they can get him in is in 4 weeks! Hmmm... I thought everything about cancer was urgent and needed immediate attention for best results.
But the shock and awe doesn't end there. While telling us that he wants a CT scan rather than the USound, he explains that he would rather go in and surgically remove the tumor because he doesn't feel Riley's health is in good enuf shape for chemo and radiation. Well... if the surgery is easier, then why not? The why not is because he will most likely lose any of his remaining bowel control. I don't know if that means a bag or what. I was too busy trying to take it all in to ask the question.The doctor seems to think it's an acceptable sacrifice. He is certainly entitled to his own opinion.
But... let's break this down... Riley already dislikes his life... he has no social contact, cannot use the computer, isn't allowed to drink, can't drive. His entire day consists of sitting and watching TV. He already feels he has no life. Now consider this -- he had been having very bad diarrhea and only recently has the issue been resolved due to a simple change in medication. He now has control over something -- the ability to poop like a normal person. If that's taken away -- what kind of quality of life will he have since he already feels there's no quality to his life anyway?
I asked Riley if he understood what the doc had said. He said "only marginally." I tried as best I could to explain.
His answer was -- "I don't want surgery. I'll stick with chemo and radiation and see what happens. I've been told so many times that I'm going to die -- doesn't he know that I'll probably survive this too. AND still have no life."
I don't feel that I can argue with logic like that. I gave him a glass of wine with his dinner tonight.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Comments posting...

I signed up for Google+ Circles which includes comments from this blog. I didn't realize that in order for my readers to comment, they must sign up for Google+. That complicates things because I know many of you don't want to do that. You may easily post comments on the new Linda's Front Porch site. Simply go to the site and click on "The Immortal Alcoholic Blog", you will find a "comment" section under each post. Please post any replies there.

Everything I post on this blog is now being simultaneously posted on Linda's Front Porch, Plus there are extra things of a more personal nature in Linda's life on that site.  Please be sure to check that site if you are wanting to comment.

Thank you...