Bingo. My session with my doctor was valuable, informative and a bit shocking. Like a rough rude shove by a stranger that I was in the wrong place and about to get in real trouble.
It was a serious moment when I realized, I was hurting myself. Not just mildly either. Anything that can jack with my heart rate so significantly that I questioned whether I could make it through the night was a problem. And it had been going on for three nights.
As I drove away, I had the realization that I was an idiot. And I couldn’t blame anyone else for getting myself into the habit. Yes, I enjoyed a few drinks hanging out. But between this news and some of my other issues, I decided cutting back was the way to go.
And of course there was the internal look in the mirror of, ‘am I an alcoholic’?
Mixed in with all that were some of my impressions of my father. I remember him saying that people don’t trust someone if they won’t have a drink with them. I was young and impressionable. I remember road trips scrambling in back of the station wagon, grabbing dad a beer and using a church key opener on tin beer cans while he drove the family on summer vacations. While I was in high school I saw a six day a week drinker and frequent driving home after a few.
My father was plagued with what he said was a hiatal hernia and slept on an elevated bed to keep acid reflux under control. He struggled with his weight and conditioning. Going into his late fifties he struggled with getting out of bed before nine a.m.. In his sixties during retirement he lost motivation altogether and seemed purposeless sitting in front of a TV.
During the decline of his retirement the family discovered he never had a hiatal hernia. He just drank so much and so frequently that he suffered acid reflux. It put spots on his liver and I think one of the family told me spots on his brain. In his retirement, he would make it to his favorite chair and watch tv and back to bed. His wife would wait on him. Attempting to have a conversation became ever more difficult. As time went on, he didn’t seem to know what to ask or how to converse except about the most superficial things like his favorite college football team. Eventually he deteriorated into dementia.
Was I destined to repeat the mistakes of my father?
And there are other members of my extended family that succumbed to alcoholism.
As I pulled into the drive of my house, I decided I would get it under control.
I quit drinking for about two weeks. When I did drink again at the end of the two weeks, it was limited. Just a six pack over a weekend.
First the goal was to stop the midnight wake up pounding heart routine. Thank god that was short lived. They stopped after four days of hydrating, sleeping 8 hours a night, resting and exercising.
By the end of two weeks, I felt what I thought was my normal self.
I monitored my stats using my Fitbit Charge HR. It didn’t measure blood pressure. Fortunately what it showed was a progressive improvement of my resting heart rate, which eased my mind.
But, I found that when I did drink, I was more likely to want to drink more. So if someone just happened to have a twelve pack around, after I killed my six pack, I’d get into their beer. I applauded myself for the times when I actually stuck with my limit.
Around that same time, although we had no overt conversations about it, my wife had decided to quit drinking. She made a choice to no longer stop at the liquor store for her favorite ingredients on the way home from work. Two weeks later, on July 6th, I decided to join her.
From that point on there was a continuous learning cycle.