Alcohol and Pain Management – Day 609

It’s been 609 days since my last drink.

In retrospect, I look back not because I feel myself tempted, but to understand why and how I unwittingly used alcohol. And I realize that I occasionally used it as a means of dealing with pain.

My life is no different than anyone else and I’ve gone through some of life’s difficulties. But, I’ve had to ask myself, “did alcohol ever really help?”

I recall spraining an ankle and spending an evening with the guys hanging out and getting trashed. That was a rum and coke night. They were pouring and got amused as I slurred and struggled to stay balanced with my crutch. I remember single leg hopping to the rest room and struggling to get to bed. Next day I conveniently forgot the hang over.

Then of course are the other pains.

There was the pain of my 24th birthday. I was in the Navy, in the shipyards, working Monday through Friday with twelve hour shifts overlaid on top of that covering all seven days, with one rotational day off. The luck of the draw meant I had the day after my birthday off so I took advantage of it.

I was at a low point. I was finishing a divorce from my first wife wondering if I would ever have a chance at love again. (Clearly the naive viewpoint of youth). It had been more than a year since I saw family. And I was feeling the oppression of ‘Dogs and sailors keep off the grass’ from the Navy town atmosphere and felt really isolated. And the work regimen was such that you really didn’t have much opportunity to connect or befriend anyone outside of work. So I pulled up a stool at the enlisted club with one goal in mind. Drink to drown it all out.

One high point out of that. I was joined by a shipmate just by chance and I proceeded to get pie-faced. Completely blotto. I don’t remember how I got back to my room.. I think he helped, but it’s lost on me now.

The next morning (surprise duty) I was roused from my bunk. The guy that woke me had to jump back from my breath. Surprise, they changed the schedule, I had to go in and I was to lead a training session on something that was very detailed, intricate and involved in front of about 45 of my peers. I gave everyone fair warning that since this was unplanned it was anyone’s guess how this would go. An hour later, when it was done, I got a lot of compliments on how well it went. It became obvious that someone had heard about my night before and thought they would mess with me. Fortunately, I was still a bit buzzed while presenting so any pretense of nervousness in front of a crowd was gone, I knew the information cold and the presentation flowed comfortably. I even fielded a few questions intended as gotchas, but I crushed it.

As I look back, this was one of those moments that made me think drinking was something easy to handle. That it might actually have some positive impacts. How silly that was.

I’ve used alcohol for pain suppression through surgeries, broken bones, sprains, strains, worries over kids and family, health scares, heart aches for break ups, divorces, loneliness, funerals, jealousy, work stress just to name a few. I’ve also used it to fit in with the crowd socializing and ease my own nerves. And in every sense of the word, it would bring a momentary relief only to frequently have the pain redoubled or complicated by the symptoms of a hang over.

Fast forward to 2016 and it’s very obvious that I was using it to deal with so many little minor things that were ‘pains’ that there were few things I could look at positively.

In fact, I’ve realized that many of the ‘pains’ that I was drinking to deal with turned out to be conditions complicated by the drinking.

In the past 609 days I can honestly say I’ve never been truly ‘sick’, where before it was a matter of weeks between bouts of severe diarrhea or sinus issues that would make me useless. And I know longer suffer ‘mysterious’ joint swelling or pain. Any joint pain I suffer now is because I did something strenuous.

Am I pain free? No. I’m in my upper 50’s with normal aches and pains.

At the end of the day, when I’m sitting around with the wife, we will look at each other, a knowing look will pass between us. Almost without speaking we acknowledge that our lives are so much better without the fuzz, haze and side affects of alcohol. It’s so much easier without it now.

 

 

5K a Month for a Year

In early 2017, realizing the positive health progress I was making with sobriety, I decided to set goals. I needed something to strive for. I’m not sure if everyone is like this, but I’ve come to recognize that I appreciate things more when I’m challenged. Something that comes too easily is just not very rewarding and can easily be taken for granted. Continue reading “5K a Month for a Year”

Guilt from 1983

This is personally a hard post. I’ve started this numerous times. In 1979 I signed up for the U.S. Navy. That’s how, as a scrawny 6 foot tall awkward fairly athletic young man, I found myself deployed off the coast of Beirut on board the USS Virginia in 1983 with 550 other guys. As I understood it the Russians, Iranians and Cubans were working together to incite civil war in Lebanon. Our ship and others were intended to provide necessary support if called upon. Little did we know what was to come.  Continue reading “Guilt from 1983”

To hear the whisper of angels wings ….

This was a phrase I heard while in the military.File:Peter Paul Rubens - Music Making Angels - WGA20442.jpg

The context was that when you near death’s door you may hear the whisper of angels wings.

It’s a sensation of realizing how close to death you were. And how thankful you are that it was a close call rather than a foregone conclusion.

I can say I relate to moments when I might have been close to deaths door. There aren’t many of those moments.

The most poignant time resonated I felt this way, after drinking for years at an ever increasing rate, I realized that I was slowly killing myself. That was a Bingo. At that realization, that point of clarity of how definitively I was hurting, punishing and committing unintended suicide, I forced myself to cut back and eventually quit altogether.

Day 561 sober, feeling pretty dang good and still here.

 

The Pocketwatch

After my father passed, I received an old Waltham pocketwatch from his belongings. The story behind it was that he found it and attempted to find the owner. He even went so far as to contact the pocketwatch company and attempt to track the owner with the serial number. His effort failed.PocketWatch

As I thought about it, my dad was filled with a lot of conundrums. On one hand, he was a successful accountant, trusted by a lot of clients, carried a certain amount of prestige in our small two and was a president of the state CPA institute. And the pocket watch showed his desire to go above and beyond with honesty and pursuit of truth.

On the other side, he spent years in an affair while married to my mother. When discovered, instead of being clear about what he wanted and honorably facing up to his Continue reading “The Pocketwatch”

I Can Run Again And Thank Sobriety

I’ve been a runner since the early seventies. I joined Cross Country duand loved it. Being able to jog the trails in the cool early morning hours was a freeing experience even when I was competing with others. Continue reading “I Can Run Again And Thank Sobriety”

I Dream of Drinking

Yep, it’s true. With more than 450 days dry, it happens.

Does it mean, I feel conflicted about alcohol? I didn’t wake up tempted, so I guess not.

During the first dream, I felt the warming euphoria of the alcohol, in my dream. The spreading warmth and relaxing feeling was very reminiscent of the first good long pull of a tall strong one. Continue reading “I Dream of Drinking”

Security Camera Systems – What I want

If you saw my previous experiment with Zmodo Mini Wifi, you realize it was just one step in my figuring out security camera systems.

Why do I want a security camera system? Because security camera systems can be implemented that cause little or no impact to your life. I’ve had old fashioned alarm systems and frankly have had sub par experiences regardless of how simplistic or sophisticated they are supposed to be. Not because of the engineering or design, but because of the users (room mates, spouse, off spring, and visitors) unwilling to learn and use the systems. Of all the security systems I’ve had, the only person I could count on to actually use them was myself. And basically that meant they were useless.

However, with a security camera system, there is no active arming or disarming. It normally won’t cause an alarm to go off and scare someone off, but it certainly would provide a means to prosecute
someone. And, after setting up the necessary parameters, the only thing I would need to do is manage the video memory. I wouldn’t have to count on anyone else to ensure they arm a system or check a zone or choose the right option, etc. Movement alerts would be ideal. Movement alerts I can adjust are far better. And the more discrete and functional the cameras are the better.

That’s my logic for wanting a security camera system.

With the experiences I’ve had, I would like to have a set of IP addressable cameras where the streaming or pictures are captured to a NAS in my own network. If cloud storage is inexpensive enough, I’d be game for that so long as the price and retention are long enough and the

I don’t want to deal with proprietary code or strain my tech skills to crowbar a solution in place. I can handle straight forward DIY efforts that don’t require significant skill, but I’ve played around enough to realize that the time invested relative to the quality and benefit are significantly not in favor of a DIY solution inside my skill set.

That’s a simple run down of what I want and some of my logic.

Kaizen – I did that!?

I’ve been working incrementally on me.

And without realizing it, I was doing something that has a cool name like Kaizen.

I’ve been working incrementally on me.

And without realizing it, I was doing something that has a cool name like Kaizen.

What is Kaizen? The best explanation comes out of an episode by the Art of Manliness hosted by Brett Baxter and his guest, Robert Maurer called “The Kaizen Method — Get 1% Better Each Day”

Basically Kaizen is a form of continuous improvement in an incremental fashion. Originally brought to public attention through corporate culture to improve Japanese manufacturing after World War II, the podcast discusses how it can be applied individually.

How does it relate to my situation? Because all of the personal changes small and large, have come about in a very incremental way. I would identify one thing that I didn’t like and set about to address that one thing.  Continue reading “Kaizen – I did that!?”

Day 365 Flew By and ….

July 6th 2017 was the 365th day of not having a single drink of anything with alcohol in it.

As I sat back and looked at how different things have been in the past year, I’m very thankful for quitting.

Things I’ve been accomplishing:

  • I’ve been running an organized 5k a month for the past six months with a goal of 12 continuous months.
  • As a result I’m definitely in better shape.
  • I blog more often than before.
  • I go fishing a lot more. At least a couple times a month.
  • I’m better able to cope and let go of the pressures of life.
  • I’ve lost some weight. Right around 20 pounds from my worst a year ago.
  • My gut health is much better, where I measured gut problems on a weekly basis and now it’s been twice (due to my own self abuse) in the past year.
  • I’ve had no sinus infections since I quit and only one possible cold that I shook off quickly. Previous years I suffered almost like clock work every two months as average.
  • I read more often. Magazines, books on fiction or non-fiction. I realized that I wasn’t reading anything of substance.
  • I’ve begun a routine of becoming much more organized.
  • I listen to pod casts and audio books actually remembering the gist of them, rather than through the muddle of blurry memory.
  • I listen to audio books, both fiction and non fiction. Not only to be entertained, but to learn and retain something.
  • I call family more often. I believe that I’m more regular in trying to be in touch at least once a week.
  • I now participate in a local civic philanthropic organization and expect to continue.
  • I’m much more mindful of where my head is and what I find fulfilling. I’m much more able to appreciate where I am and devote the small continuous efforts to stay more centered for myself and others.

Continue reading “Day 365 Flew By and ….”