Christ, my favourite bloggers are firing off so much interesting stuff right now – they always do, but today I’ve literally read post after post that’s made this little brain of mine almost overheat. Doesn’t take much though, I suppose. You could of course say I’m an over analysing, anxious, over excitable and generally quite bonkers bundle with a mind that’s like Santa’s workshop on steroids and this would be absolutely correct. I prefer, however, to say I’m a thinker. Anyway, reading – be it books or blogs or whatever else – is to me what…. holy fuck, I nearly wrote “what smack is to a junkie“…..! Fuckinell, goes to show how brainwashed I am after all – STILL!! – and how hard it is to get some stains out. Obviously if that were true, reading would feel good only for a short moment and relieve me of the discomfort the previous book or blog post created, ruin my health and my soul and ultimately destroy my life. This, needless to say, couldn’t be further from the truth because reading is a massively positive thing that enhances my life and addiction clearly doesn’t do any of that. Holy shitballs, I’m sitting here shaking my head at my own stupidity – where in God’s name did THAT come from?! Anyway. Let’s keep to the subject here: what they said.
Functioningguzzler talked about how her doctor has added to her medical file that she is an alcoholic without her consent or even consulting with her. Not only that, but they did so yet never made any attempt to offer help or support after their diagnosis. Quite rightly, she isn’t best pleased. I, on the other hand, used to have a really wonderful doctor who I’ll refer to as Dr Bumble Bee because he looks a bit like one. Unfortunately I’m no longer his patient as we moved to a different area, but he was an absolute gem. I once told him I was worried about my drinking. He patiently listened, and then gently asked me if I felt able to make adjustments myself (cut down or stop or whatever) or if I felt I needed help. I don’t think I told him honestly how much I drank – hey, telling people you drink two to three bottles of wine most nights isn’t the easiest thing to cop to when you’re still trapped in the vicious cycle – but I know I did say I felt it was too much without declaring the actual amounts. This was probably a couple of years ago so at this point I wouldn’t have been ready to stop or face up to my drinking problem properly, so Dr Bumble Bee’s approach was especially perfect. He sat back in his chair and listened the way he always did, without making you feel rushed by simultaneously tapping away on his keyboard – he always gave his full attention. That in itself fills me at least with confidence and trust.
“How about this? I’ll refer you for a blood test but I won’t add anything with regards to the drinking to your records, because things like that stay on your file forever,” he informed me, “I’ll just ask for everything to be checked including liver function and then we talk again when we have the results, how’s that?”
For me, that was at THAT particular time exactly what I needed – a doctor who showed empathy and kindness as well as helping me, but also exercising discretion and thinking about the bigger picture. Unfortunately, some things can affect you adversely and having something on your medical file saying that holy crap you are allergic to a highly addictive, extremely poisonous substance which is also a powerful depressant then that can actually do you harm in certain situations. Even if you are taking steps to address the problem. No joke. It’s just a sad fact. I hope with time we can change that, but Dr Bumble Bee was just honest and had my best interests at heart. Plus he knows I’m a mother and I think this probably is the main concern whenever he hinted that I might want to think carefully about having ALCOHOLIC on my medical file. This might potentially be the instance where it could be used against me, for example in any custody proceedings. Thankfully that’s something my ex-husband and I, unlike everything else, managed to get right and figured out between us in what might be considered a civilised manner, but you know what I mean. And I think a good, decent and responsible doctor should alert his patients to all eventualities and possible consequences.
At the same time, of course, I also think a good doctor should take necessary measures as appropriate. Alcoholism is a deadly disease/disorder/addiction that kills the most people in a third place after cancer and heart disease. And if you actually look at the super killers cancer and heart disease, who do you think is lurking in the wings as a prominent supporting cast member of contributing factors? That’s right, booze. So for a doctor to label you alcoholic yet offer no advice or support or even have a chat with you about their observations and diagnosis strikes me as an obscene display of incompetence. I mean, can you imagine a doctor spotting enough symptoms to add to a file that someone’s got cancer yet fail to discuss this with the patient. “Oh, they’ll probably get over it.” This seems crazy to me.
This also highlights the sensitive nature of addiction. It’s still to this day, amazingly, in the year of the Lord 2018 STILL stigmatised and misunderstood. Even medical professionals sometimes don’t have enough understanding of what alcoholism truly is and everything else that goes with it. Not that you can demand that your doctor will know everything about every condition there is, but even so. I sat in an AA meeting once where someone was really, REALLY upset with a friend and colleague. He’d confided in this friend that he’s an alcoholic, and so this person knew the full picture. He then fell off the wagon and disappeared off the radar, shut himself away and made himself unavailable. The friend and colleague tried to get hold of him but couldn’t and got incredibly worried that he was in trouble, which of course he was. She had gone to the boss and explained the situation. And so after his five day bender his boss knew. This made him feel his friend had let him down and he was absolutely fuming with her that she’d gone and told someone else – the boss at that – about his alcoholism. What a Catch 22 though, right? There is part of me that can absolutely see his friend’s thinking. I mean, when someone in my tribe here in the blogosphere goes quiet for a while, I do worry and there is sometimes a little warning bell. An alcoholic who suddenly goes off radar is rarely good news in my view, but of course I base this on myself because when I drink I isolate. When do you take action and when do you just sit back and hope for the best? Not the easiest one to answer, is it?
Anyway. I guess doctors are only human and that makes them fallible like the rest of us. I’d like to see every GP surgery staffed with people like Dr Bumble Bee, but I suppose we’ll just have to be grateful that we have SOME doctors like him and that the majority do their very best too. You get bad eggs in every profession.
Katie over at How I Killed Betty who, thank God, is back in my world after a little break, was talking about camping and reminded me of how I need to rediscover my love of the outdoors. As much as I love running in the park and getting out of London with hubby to find beautiful hiking trails, I felt inspired reading Katie’s last post to start planning something perhaps a little bit more ambitious. I grew up in what to me is the most beautiful place in the world deep in the forests of north Värmland, Sweden, so nature and the outdoors is in my DNA. I grew up running around in the woods and although I know how to rock an evening gown, I know how to make fire, what plants I can eat, how to find my way if I get lost and how to pull up a trout. I’m quite good with knives, axes and guns too although I don’t have a licence to kill the likes of Bambi. I’m Bear Grylls with a little bit of Patsy Stone thrown in, minus the wine these days of course. At some point I really want to explore the north of Sweden and it’d be so much fun to do it as an old school caravan trip – definitely on my bucket list. For all my Bear Grylls talk I’m a bit of a scaredy cat in that I like walls and a door you can lock – actually, I suppose that just shows I’m not very Bear Grylls at ALL – but I reckon it would be amazing to set off and do it properly, sod the caravan and just go with a tent.
Right. Time for a run this afternoon! 51 minutes of running. I managed Tuesday afternoon and it felt GOOD so I hope this one will be another nice one.
Today I’m not going to drink.