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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.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Finding a doctor

One of the OARS group members expressed some difficulty she was having in trying to find a doctor to treat her alcoholic husband. She surmised that he is in end-stage, but has nothing to go on except what she has read in this blog and her own instincts. In a rare moment of sanity, her husband told her he wanted to go to the doctor if she could find one that would see him. Of course, he did not want one who would insist upon detox or rehab.

Mrs. X began her search and quickly realized that her task was harder than she had thought it would be. After several days of phone calls, she was about to give up and tell her husband she had failed, when her husband announced that he would like to go to the hospital. She called the paramedics and was transported to the local emergency room.

Mr. X was examined and admitted for pancreatitis and several other alcohol related maladies. But to really figure out what the doctors were telling her, she had to go home and refer to her Wikipedia. That was how she learned to get the answers to her questions and understand all the medical jargon.

Now that things have calmed down a bit, she asked me how I was able to find a doctor who would treat Riley while he was still drinking. Well, Mrs. X, I can tell you without a doubt that it was certainly not easy. When I tried and failed, just as she had, so many times, I decided I must find out answers for myself. I did what anyone who uses a computer would do. I consulted with Dr. Google.  In turn that lead me to the NIAAA website where I read everything I could about alcoholism from the biological point of view. I took those terms, conditions, etc. and plugged them into Wikipedia. The further I dug, the more there was to learn.

When I thought I had learned the basics of what I needed to know, I compiled the information into a matter-of-fact order. Then there was more research. Only this time, I researched for physicians who would be more open minded when it came to alcoholism. I looked at things like, the doctor’s age, where he/she went to school, military experience, specialties, etc. In short, I learned everything I could the doctors before I ever picked up the phone. I knew I was seeking a doctor between 45-55 in age, preferably served as a military medical professional, experience dealing with alcoholic patients, and a friendly attitude.

After getting my list together, I began making phone calls. I asked straight out, if the doctor had served in the armed forces and if they had actively drinking alcoholics as patients. If I got the right answers, I asked if I could make an appointment for my husband. When asked if my husband was interested in detox or rehab, my answer was always no. However, I made sure there was a logical reason for him to see the doctor – i.e. I suspected he had injured his shoulder and that injury needed treatment. I never said, that I expected the doctor to treat the results of the alcoholism – there was always some other issue that needed to be treated.  Sometimes it was that he was congested or he was having many nosebleeds. Remember, you don’t want to say that you want them to take his alcoholism away. We all know that’s not a realistic request.

Now that you have the doctor’s appointment make sure to take a copy of your medical power of attorney with you for their files. The POA is a “must have” for anyone who is involved in any type of caring for an alcoholic. Once that piece of paper is in his file, you will have access to all the information that the doctor has including lab reports. The lab reports may be vital to you in calculating his projected life expectancy using either the Child-Pugh or MELD Scores. Also take with you the medical, detox and rehab histories, family medical history, and, all the basic information.

Once you are inside the examining room and have a chance for a face-to-face with the doctor, remember to treat the doctor with respect and speak to him in a respectful manner. This should be a no-brainer, but even I often have wanted to scream at the doctor and say “Are you kidding me right now???” But, hold your tongue. Even if this doctor may be a bit condescending, remember that you want something from this person and to best way to get it is to use honey not vinegar (as the old saying goes). When you get home, you can call a friend and tell her/him about the stupid doctor, but for now, in this moment, he is the king of your world.

Ask questions. Even if you know the answer, ask every question you think is relevant. Asking questions is a way of showing interest and the desire to work WITH the medical community. The alcoholic may not be able to do this, he/she may not be able to show respect – it’s up to you. You are the sane one and you hold the key to getting what you want.

Oh… What is it that you want?  Make sure you know what you want before you ever get to the doctor’s office. When asked, “How can I help you today?” One of the best answers is “I have some concerns about how my husband/wife’s drinking is affecting his overall physical condition.” State that he/she has had some issues and you are not sure if it’s part of the drinking or not. If not, maybe those issues should be addressed.” Make sure you convey that you are interested keeping this person as healthy as possible even though your spouse may not want to become sober. Let it be known that you want straight-forward honest answers even if the truth might seem harsh or hurtful. You do understand that he will die if he doesn’t stop and you are prepared for the inevitable but in the meantime all the other bumps and boo-boos may need to be addressed. Ask what you can do to make things easier. If you want him to be considered for hospice – ask for it. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.

Now that you’ve developed a relationship with this doctor you may be surprised how supportive he and his staff may be. It has always worked for me, so I hope it works for you.

WORKBOOK for CARETAKERS
of END-STAGE ALCOHOLICS
BINDER FORMAT

The perfect way to tract your alcoholic’s health with charts, graphs, record and history keeping. Also contains explanations and definitions of a variety of alcohol related health issues; resource listing; and instructions on how to use the compiled information.

Now in BINDER FORMAT!
Includes the printed pages from the CD version;
Three ring binder;
Section dividers with printed labels;
Pocketed inserts for loose papers;
The CD version of the book
All arranged and put together for your immediate use.

To get your copy go here:

Friday, May 22, 2015

Relapse Prevention & Post Treatment Survival

Below is a guest post from a recovering addict, Justin. The content is written with the help of other recovering addicts and treatment professionals that help him on his road to recovery. Article courtesy of A New Start Treatment and Recovery, Drug Rehab Center in Los Angeles

            The term ‘Relapse Prevention’ is an often discussed and occasionally misunderstood phrase. The easiest way to understand it is simply break it down

Monday, May 18, 2015

For your resource list

I’ve been doing a great deal of work on my family’s history from the time they came to America to the present. When I discover something especially interesting, I write a long, descriptive version of the story. Since I have to fill in the blanks of things I don’t really know or can’t confirm, I can’t say it is a true biography. Let’s just say the book will be based on a true story. That sounds good.

I also write a shorten version which will take its rightful place in my book of short stories (titled That Reminds Me) which I hope to publish before July. That Reminds Me will contain family stories, stories submitted by family and friends, little quotes and other fun stuff. It’s purely entertainment. As with all my books, the proceeds are used to fund the support groups, OARS, and other related projects
.
I’ve been asked by my friends producing the documentary to compile information for a resource directory that will be available at the film’s website. A select few will be featured in the film.  I have no problem finding rehab centers that fit our criteria. However, I only have a few support groups: Al-Anon, Smart Recovery; OARS; and individual counselors. If anyone has a support group, other than the ones mentioned, please e-mail me the info to ImmortalAlcoholic@gmail.com. Please put the word RESOURCE in the subject line.

On the subject of resources, I want to encourage my readers to develop your own

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A state of mind...

I've been spending a lot of time with my cousins lately. Over the past 20 years we haven’t had much contact. They are older than me and I think it was only natural that we distanced ourselves unintentionally. We became the relatives that we saw at weddings and funerals. Of course, we always said we’d stay in touch, but that seldom happened.

This reconnection began when one cousin called and said they would like to visit for a few days. I was so excited I coulda pee’d me pants. We had a wonderful visit and while he was here, he put me in touch with his sister. AWESOME!

Left to right: My older brother, My cousin who is holding Me; and her younger brother.
In one of our conversations the sister asked me “Are you happy?” She wondered

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What's yours not mine!

Anger is a healthy emotion. I had someone in my home that became quite angry at something over which she had no control. No matter how she tried to resolve the issue, the anger continued to be fed by the antagonist. She was at the point where she was wiping down the counter tops over and over again. I was beginning to think she would scrub all the decorative flecks from the granite.

Eventually, the issue was resolved to her satisfaction, but all that anger energy was still right there on the tip of her brain. I suggested she go take a long bath as a means to calm down. Instead she said “It would be a shame

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Courage

Sandy James, a friend and fellow blogger has written an interesting post that, in my opinion, is a good explanation of why women married to alcoholics stay rather than leave. You can find her post titled “Courage” here: http://takingbackme.net/?p=635. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

"Taking Back Me" is the name of Sandy's blog. It is her journey to re-finding herself and re-establishing her life while still married to her functional alcoholic husband.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A million requests...

I started this blog on September 9, 2010 with an entry about how I got to where I was at that time. How I Got Here  I remember that once the site was up and running and posting several times, I tried to make some changes to the format and lost all my posts. I re-did the layout and re-posted the posts on October 19, 2010.

Since then I’ve published 317 posts over 4 ½ years. I’m very proud to say that I am celebrating my one millionth hit (view). I never in a million years imagined I would ever have my blog viewed a million times. In honor of the occasion, this post will be a review of the journey that the blog (and both Riley and I) have taken.

September 2010 – Riley was drinking but still moderately functional. I started the blog as a means of communication for my family and a way to put into writing all the research information I had gathered. I thought that possibly the information I gathered could help other people. Some posts were my own point of view, others contained factual information and some were about my life with Riley in the past and also in the present.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

It's OK...

Everyone lives by their own set of criteria. That means that the decisions we make are ones that make sense only to us as individuals. Of course other people understand, accept, question and comment, but in the end we own our own decisions. When it comes to deciding to leave or stay, most people who are not involved with an alcoholic will question a person’s choice no matter what the decision is.

If the decision is that you are going to leave, but really want to stay, the real question is how to do it. Is there a way

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A wise old person...

It is difficult to be of an age when you have become “experienced”. I often heard said that older people are sagacious or sage, wise, and/or educated. Not educated as in a Master’s degree in anything, but educated via the school of life.

In other countries the senior citizens are revered for their life of information gathering. In the USA, unfortunately, that is not the case. Instead children are intent on having to do things by self-learning which is often a “hard row to hoe.” But none the less,

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Silence of the children...

Most of the people who contact me are spouses of an alcoholic. But the alcoholic family extends far beyond the wife or husband. The children of the couple become damaged just as much as the spouse. A blog follower contacted me about her son’s acting out. She was in tears because she didn’t know or understand what the problem his adolescent mind was addressing.

Way, way back when Riley was in his very first ever rehab center – a Navy mandated and operated facility – I was fortunate