Life on a roller coaster

It has long been said that you never know what goes on behind closed doors. We can all look around at the people we know and think they all have perfect lives. We all believe that we are the only ones who have problems. However when we begin talking to our friends and neighbours we start to realise that everyone has their own cross to bear, we just don’t always know about it.

I have decided to make a record of the roller coaster that my life has become. It is going to be public but only for those who know how to find it. My decision to do this is partly as therapy for myself and partly so that the few who choose to read this will have an idea of what goes on behind these doors. It might even be helpful to me one day.

Right to start at the beginning.

Those of you who know me personally or have been reading my blog since the beginning or near to will know that back in March I got married for the second time. I was happier than I remembered being in all my life. I am not saying that life was perfect. My new husband and my sons do not live in harmony. But I know that it takes time for a new family to become easy with each other so time should heal the majority of the rifts. (I am working on it).

In June my new husband and I went to California for our honeymoon and to meet my new step daughter and step son. As you can read on the main page of this blog we had a brilliant time.

But within days of coming home things began to change.

Here to make things simpler I am going to include an excerpt from a letter I gave to our GP prior to her seeing him at a time when I felt my husband’s health had reached a stage where he needed more help than I could give him.

I am extremely worried about his current mental health. At first I thought it was due to him not working since last May and not having any structure in his day. He doesn’t see anyone except my sons and I or the staff of the local corner shop. He has mood swings and sleeps a lot. I believe he is depressed and mentioned this a few months ago. He couldn’t accept my observation.

He has no interest in doing anything. He has so many things that he will do tomorrow but never does do. Things that he would never have thought anything of doing are now a chore that he can’t quite face doing. He is constantly tired and sleeps on and off most days, then can’t sleep at night. He has always loved walking but now cannot walk far before he feels weak.

My husband was diagnosed some years ago with a hiatus hernia. He has never been a big eater, but this is severely restricting his diet. He frequently has to leave the table either retching or being sick. He always cuts up his food up very small and eats slowly. He says he eats like a sparrow, I say he doesn’t eat enough to keep a sparrow going. Some days he eats fairly well (for him) although still not a lot. Other days it is a struggle to get him to eat more than a few mouthfuls of food.

In recent months he has had ‘’the wobbles’’ a number of times, usually when there has been a journey involved. We travelled to New Forest for a 70th birthday with my family. By the time we arrived he was very shaky and could only walk with assistance and was too poorly to eat. The same when we went to Norwich to see an old friend of his. Again when we flew to San Francisco a few weeks ago. He collapsed when he tried to leave the plane and had to be put into a wheelchair. I think all these incidences are linked to him not eating enough and going too long between eating.

In recent weeks he has been too tired to wake up for meals, when he does he shuffles around like a much older person, he doesn’t sit down but finds something important (to him) that he must do first…this can take 10 or 15 minutes before he will sit down. He then pushes his food around eats a couple of small forkfuls then announces he can’t eat any more. He will eat it later but never does.

He gets very confused over what day it is and even where he is. He gets grumpy with me for not being there when I am actually at work. He can’t remember people or places and gets a lot of things muddled up. His conversations are becoming muddled and confused. I am not the only one who has noticed this. My son who is home from Uni has noticed a big difference since last September. I find myself doing things for him that I would do for a small child because they frustrate him when he can’t easily do them. I didn’t do these things before.

My husband is increasingly getting distressed and worried about himself.

He will get in a mood about something, have a sleep and wake up behaving as if nothing had happened. I could go on and on but won’t. I feel like I am betraying my husband who I love.

He lost his mother in January last year, and doesn’t seem to have quite got over her loss. (He had been living with her at the time, before we were married earlier this year).

It is my belief that everything he is experiencing now is related to his tiny intake of food. I am worried that he has a lack of thiamine.

On the days that he eats he is very coherent and doesn’t show any signs of being unwell.

Now I shall try to explain how we got to this stage.

I mentioned earlier that things between my husband and my sons have not been easy. I believe that it isn’t my boys in particular that are the problem. I believe the problem is sharing the house with anyone other than me. But that is just my opinion.

Almost as soon as we returned from California my husband began to fret about having the boys in the house. The more he frets the more stressed he becomes. The more stressed he gets the less he eats. The less he eats the more confused he becomes. He is rarely rude to my boys but he is rude about them and they are aware of this. (which doesn’t make for a happy house especially when it is the summer and we are sat in the garden under Skater’s window).

Over the next few weeks my husband began telling me that we were over, finished! In the next breath he would tell me that he would miss me because he really loves me. At first I found this very hurtful, but then I realised that he didn’t mean it and often didn’t even remember having said it. Then there would be the times when we would have a conversation then he would go to the bathroom and when he returned he would be surprised to see me and ask when I had got home?

He began to get people and places muddled up, I was starting to feel that I needed to put something with his name, address and my phone number in both cars and in his pockets. It was nerve racking for me every time he left the house wondering if he would find his way back. He began misplacing his phone, I would be phoning and texting him all day and getting no answer because he had put his phone down and not known where. (I usually found it very quickly).

My son and I were getting very concerned about his mental state. It was like living with someone with dementia. I looked up the various types of dementia and found something that I felt fit in with his symptoms. Remembering that he was less muddled on the days that he ate more.

For example, individuals may seem able to carry on a coherent conversation, but moments later be unable to recall that the conversation took place or to whom they spoke.

sounds like him

One Thursday he told me that he was going to our beach retreat for a few days. I was at work and could do nothing until I got home to discover whether he had in fact gone. More than that had he actually found his way there without mishap (it is a good 40 minutes drive from our home. It took me several attempts to get him on the phone, when I did he was quite happy having a drink in the bar. But what concerned me most of all was that he told me he had £2000 in his pocket. I didn’t believe him but he had recently taken to withdrawing large sums from the bank to pay workmen when we had new windows and guttering etc fitted. Always more than he needed so it could be possible, I sincerely hoped he didn’t. He then checked and told me that no it was £180. Phew relief but I do hope that he hadn’t told me that within anyone else’s hearing. I spoke to him several times during the evening. I agreed to go there the next evening after work if he was still there. This was the first night we were to spend apart in over a year. Actually I enjoyed the relative peace.

Next evening I joined him, we had a nice evening and he seemed to be relatively coherent. Saturday was equally good, I made sure he had food inside him and had begun to keep a log of what he was eating. On this particular day he had:

half a buttered crumpet, 2/3 of a kids meal tomato penne pasta, 2 x half a strawberry,carrot sticks with cheese n chive dip, half slice marmite toast and a handful of hula hoops. Remember this is his total intake for a whole day not just one meal  and this was a good day.

Sunday was not such a good day, he was more unsettled. At one point I went for a walk along the beach, I was gone for an hour, during that hour he phoned me 3 times to ask where I was. His total food intake for the day was;

Banana, a few strawberries and cream, some maltesers, another banana,three onion rings, few bites of a cheese burger, few almonds.

Just after 9pm I set off home as I had to go to work the next day. My husband wan’t ready to leave so he was going to stay for one or two more nights.  It was almost 10pm when I got home. I phoned my husband to make sure he was ok. He wasn’t, he was very much not alright. He was almost crying and telling me that he was having a breakdown. He needed me. After a cup of tea and a pee break I was back in the car. It was midnight when I arrived. He had phoned several times whilst I was driving. But he was calm when I arrived. Next morning I woke at 5am (I was going to need to leave early to get to work on time). However I didn’t leave until about 7am as I wanted to be sure that my husband could be left.

Once I was satisfied that he could be left I set of for home to get changed for work, with the proviso that I would book a Dr’s appointment and he would make sure he got home in time for it. I managed to get him an appointment at 5pm that evening. I quickly wrote the above letter which I hand delivered to the surgery in my lunch break with the instructions that the Dr should read it before seeing him.

I left work half an hour early to take him to his appointment. When I arrived home there was no sign of him.  Minutes until his appointment I was getting worried that he wouldn’t turn up when he called me to say that he had gone straight there. I met him in reception, it was the first time I had been there other than my brief visit a few hours earlier. I asked him if he wanted me to come in with him or wait. He wanted me to go in with him. He was already being called so we went straight in. The young lady Dr was very pleasant, and started off by asking what she could do for us. My husband explained that he was experiencing numbness in his hands. (I think it was in his imagination). He was not experiencing any tingling or pain and could feel even the slightest touch, very puzzling.  Dr K M was very good with my husband asking him all kinds of questions about his hands, then she asked him if he was sleeping alright, which led to a discussion about his sleeping on and off all day then being awake most of the night.

Next she brought up the question of his eating habits, this was discussed at length. Dr KM didn’t once let on that she knew anything about my husband other than what he was telling her. But to me it was very obvious from her questions that she had read my letter. It was agreed that a fasting blood test was needed. Before we could leave Dr KM asked if there was anything else that either of us wanted to discuss. This was my cue to mention depression.

By the time we left there my husband was very impressed with this new Dr and how thorough she is. He wanted to go for a drink at the pub where we first met. Just 5 minutes away from where we were. I had been there for half an hour before he rang me. He had got lost! Instead of turning left he had turned right. But he couldn’t possibly be where he said he was, he arrived 5 minutes later. We had one drink then set off home I was dead tired and wanted to sleep. He said he would stop off at Tesco to buy our dinner. I stopped at Tesco for fuel and kept an eye out for him but never saw him. He finally arrived home about an hour and a half later with a bag of shopping, he hadn’t been to Tesco but I couldn’t find out where he had been. Nothing he said made sense, I couldn’t get to the bottom of it.

The next few days are a blur to me. I remember being at my wits end not knowing how I was going to cope. The weather here was hot, very hot for us here in the UK. But I couldn’t enjoy our unusual summer weather. I was caring for my husband who had become child like but with the fragility of a very old man.

Friday evening I persuaded him that we should visit our favourite pub to hear the live music but if we got there early enough we could eat there too. He struggled to get his socks on and I had to help him with his boots. This was not like him.  I had ordered our food before we left home as we were running late. He ate only a few forks of chilli, then he wanted to go home. We had been there an hour, he had enjoyed the music but wasn’t interested in either hearing any more of it or talking to our friends. He was a bit wobbly when we got home.

On Saturday I was working on my laptop in the kitchen whilst my husband was sleeping upstairs, he had been feeling too shaky to manage the stairs so I was letting him sleep, whilst I worked downstairs. In the afternoon I watched the women’s tennis singles final (wimbledon) then dosed in the armchair. I was woken by knocking coming from above. I wondered why he was knocking when he could have phoned me. I went up to see what he wanted only to find him on the floor half in the bedroom half in the bathroom. His legs had given way and he couldn’t get up.  I called for an ambulance. I was told not to move him and help was on its way. I was 1hr 35mins before the ambulance arrived. It was a very busy day apparently with lots of heart problems due to the excessive heat.

The two paramedics managed to get him up and sitting on the end of the bed whilst they did their obs. I explained to them about his lack of food intake. He admitted that he is afraid of being like his dad who had been overweight and diabetic and had a heart attack. I commented that he only died 15 years after his heart attack. The paramedics explained to him that by not eating he was causing more damage to his health than if he was overweight. They noticed a bottle of lucozade beside the bed and told him not to drink these too often as they make you feel as though you have energy so you don’t need to eat. He hasn’t drunk any since.

While he was talking to the paramedics my husband was quite calm but when they tried to move him, the plan being to take him into A & E he became extremely anxious. They taught him to take deep breathes in through his nose and then out through his mouth. This worked until again they tried to get him on his feet.  Their special chair was collected but after more discussion it was decided that A & E would probably cause more upset. A call went into out of hours doctor who said I must get him to his own doctor in the next few days. After they had gone (they were here 2 hours) he stayed in the bedroom. I managed to get him to eat some toast.

Next day he managed to eat a buttered crumpet. He did retch a few times but managed to not only eat all of it but kept it down. This seemed to be the start of him getting better, he had a good day managing to sit in the garden. Once he realised that he could keep some food down he got better at eating more. It seems that his talking to by the paramedics was having a positive effect.

For a few days he seemed to be making progress, but then his eating began to slow down again. The conversations were still erratic but the vague confusion had disappeared. He was coherent even if he was not consistent. We could be having a pleasant time when he would suddenly say something irrational. However after he had had a dose he would be calm as if nothing had happened. I never knew from one minute to the next what he was going to do or say but at least he was not mumbling curses. I had got used to strings of um er um shit um fuck er um fuck fuck er um shit um …….and so it would go on for sometimes up to 10 minutes.

The conversations in the middle of the night where he would suddenly out of nowhere tell me that we are finished. Or the announcements that I am not affectionate. These were very hurtful.

It was to be another very hot day when we were going to my son’s graduation ceremony. There were to be four of us going, obviously my son, plus the two of us and my mother (proud grannie). After the stress of recent days I asked my husband if he wanted to go or would he prefer to stay at home. He wanted to come with us and organised his suit ready for the big day. I organised a picnic to take with us so that nobody had to go too long without food. I didn’t want my husband to collapse. The ceremony was under way, We had good seats just in front of the stage. The speeches had been made  and the students were lined up waiting for their turn to be called onto the stage. My husband got up and left. I assumed to find the gents. He didn’t return.

When we left the Cathedral I found him wandering around looking for our car. I had driven my mother’s car but he was looking for one of ours. There was a reception in a marquee which we would go to next. My husband and son would walk down the hill and I would drive round with my mother as she is not good at walking far these days. On our way to the marquee, mother decided it was going to be too far so settled on a bench outside a coffee bar. I set of to join the men. They were together eating and drinking the exotic offerings. We didn’t want to stay too long because we didn’t want to leave my mother for too long, besides it was so very hot that my face was streaming.  When we decided to leave my husband refused to leave. You know what it is like when a toddler doesn’t want to do something. He was behaving just like that. £ times I had to go back to find him before he would leave. He had never been there before and didn’t know his way around.

The next day (just a few days before his children were due to arrive from California) he told me that he was feeling weak and couldn’t stop shaking. By this time he was hardly eating again. I left work in the middle of the day determined to get him admitted to hospital so that he could be given treatment. I rang the emergency number, after several minutes of describing his condition I was told that they would pass the details on to our Dr’s surgery and I should call there within 2 hours. I phoned within 10 mins and spoke to one of the practice Dr’s . He agree to see my husband later that day if I could get him there. Shortly after this it became apparent that my husband was unable to stand even with help. I was not going to be able to get him out of our room and down the stairs then out into the car even with help from my son. His condition was worsening.

Again I phoned the emergency number, I explained what was happening they again contacted our local practice and one of the Dr’s agreed to come out for a home visit even though home visits were finished for the day. I had been trying to get my husband to eat, hoping that he would gain some strength. I was beside myself with worry by this time. I tried feeding him some cereal but only managed to get 6 bite sized pieces into him.  I had sliced a banana but even that was too difficult for him to eat. He didn’t even have any chocolate. When the Dr arrived he diagnosed extreme anxiety. He prescribed diazapam, which much to my surprise my husband agreed to take. He was given enough for a week. He was due to see Dr KM in a week anyway. When he was leaving the Dr told my husband that he must start eating more, little and often even if it was something he didn’t like.

I did my best to get him eating but he was still shaking too much to be able to hold anything. Next morning I went back to work, before I left I spoon fed my husband some cereal, he did manage a little more than the previous day.  During the morning I asked my son to make him some toast and jam. Apparently he managed to eat this and text me that he was going to try to get downstairs to sit in the garden.

When I got home from work, I looked in the garden, no sign, I went up to our room, vacant. His office, empty! so where was he? I picked up my phone to call him and found 3 missed calls from him. Yes he had managed to get downstairs. Whilst he decided that he wanted a bottle of sparkling water from the shop. He walked to the shop, I have no idea how long that took. (on a normal day just 4 or 5 minutes). Once there he knew he couldn’t walk back so I had to drive round to collect him. He had walked there in his slippers and his casual trousers, not something he would ever do.

I was almost speechless, how does one person go from not being able to dress or feed themselves in the morning to walking to the local shop in the afternoon! Over the next few days he gradually got a little stronger.

A few days after his children arrived in the country we took them and 3 of my lads ten pin bowling. He wasn’t strong enough to drive so I had to drive everyone about. There were 7 of us and our Chevy Blazer is a 5 seater so that meant 2 trips in each direction for me. I didn’t mind that too much it just meant it all took longer. My husband has always been a fairly good ten pin bowler, but on this day he could barely throw the ball hard enough for it to reach the pins.

One Monday evening I came in from work to find that my husband was out. He arrived 20 minutes later asking me where I was going to take him for a drink. I commented that he had already been out. I had tummy ache when I got home so had changed into pj’s for comfort. I was not thinking about going out. As it happened I had been asked out with my colleagues to say goodbye to a former colleague who was moving away. I had declined, as I didn’t want to leave my husband at home. I hadn’t mentioned any of this to him, I didn’t want him to feel guilty that I wasn’t going.

My husband told me he would go out without me and went. I assumed he had gone to our usual pub for one pint. I couldn’t believe it when I began to get messages from my friends saying that my husband was in the pub where they were having their meal. He hadn’t seen them, he had no idea I should be there  but he was tucking into a big plate of food. His explanation later when I could bring myself to speak to him, was that he was driving around and felt hungry. He knew we didn’t have much food at home. He didn’t worry about the rest of us.

I was so very angry that it took me most of the week to be able to talk to him.

One evening I went to visit my mother after work, I don’t recall the exact reason why, on the way home I stopped off for a few groceries. Imagine my surprise, when I got home to hear footsteps behind me, turning around I was faced with my husband in a terrible state. There was blood all over his face and hands, he had leaves and dirt on his jacket. I cleaned him up as much as I could. I wasn’t sure if I should take him to hospital to be checked over. He didn’t want that so I just did what I could. Having searched our medical drawer, bathroom cabinets for antiseptic I ran round to our neighbour to see if  she had anything, but I couldn’t get her to hear me. My husband didn’t leave the house for a week he was so embarrassed by the scabs on his face.

One afternoon I was sitting in the sun after work, my husband joined me in the garden. My son came to tell us that there was a policeman at the door. We both went to the door to find out what he wanted. You could have knocked me over with a feather when he asked about my husband’s whereabouts during the previous couple of hours. It turns out that he had driven to the local pub had a pint and driven home. He was breathalysed and was found to be over the legal limit. He was taken to a police station where they tested him again, this time he was only a fraction over the legal limit. He was cautioned and brought home.

Last night my husband who had earlier fallen off a garden chair into a rose bush, breaking the chair in the process. Decided to go for a short walk as part of his efforts to build up the strength in his weak legs. I made him take his phone with him as I always do these days just in case he needs to be rescued. He had not come back into the kitchen for sometime but I wasn’t worried thinking he must have gone straight up stairs when he came in. But as time went on I started to think maybe he was asleep. I went to see where he was. He wasn’t in the house. I woke my son asking him to go with me to look for my husband. He said he could hear movement at the front of the house. I phoned my husband fearing what I would hear. He said he was by the front door could I let him in please. My heart was pumping, has he fallen over again what state would he be in this time? As soon as I opened the door I could see blood, but I was more surprised at the sight of two paramedics with him. They came in and he escaped up the stairs to the bathroom.

I took the paramedics into the lounge to talk. Apparently my husband has been drinking. I told them that he hardly drinks at all. On the occasions that we go out he has maybe 2 pints 3 at the most before he feels he can’t drink more. What I was now being told was that he had drunk a bottle of vodka and had another bottle in his pocket. They also believed he had drunk some tins of beer.

I guessed that someone had seen him fall and called the ambulance. I was right he had fallen and not been able to get back up. Even the paramedics had struggled to get him on his feet. But once they did he was ok. A little battered and bruised but not too badly this time. They were more concerned that he had low blood pressure. They were happy to leave him in my care as he didn’t want to go into hospital, providing I make an appointment for him to see Dr today. During the conversation he admitted buying the bottle of vodka and where he had now hidden it. He also admitting having a couple of pints during the day at a local pub. I knew he wouldn’t have been able to walk there so he must have driven. He admits that he did. Does he not learn? it is only 2 weeks since he was arrested for drink driving.

He agreed with the paramedics that he shouldn’t be drinking at all while he is taking his medication. He also agreed that he needs to get help with his drinking. Experience tells me that he just said that to appease the paramedics and me. When he wakes today he will probably think he doesn’t need help.

I told him that I would make a Dr’s appointment for him. He said he didn’t want me to. When I asked why, he said he didn’t want the Dr to see his cut face. (His cuts were nothing compared to the last time). I made the appointment anyway. After I finished work we went to see his favourite Dr. I said I would come in with him if he wanted me to but was happy to wait if he preferred. He wanted me there so that was fine as I did want to hear what he told the Dr. She wasn’t at all surprised to hear he has been drinking more than he has previously owned up to. In her opinion his shaking that has been going on for weeks is directly connected with his alcohol intake.

He has agreed to talk to a help group which operates on a self referral basis. Again I am not holding my breath on this. We have been talking about his drinking and particularly his secret drinking. I have been trying to get him to understand that it is not his drinking that is the biggest problem although it is a problem. The damage that has been done to our marriage is that he was drinking secretly, I feel so stupid for believing that he was seriously ill, that it was not connected to alcohol. How blind could I have been. How did I not know that he had been drinking all this time. How did I not know it was alcohol that was causing his ill health.

Recently my husband found this blog about our life over the last 5 months. I was worried that he would be upset or angry but he has actually had a good, positive response. Reading this has helped him to understand how I have been feeling about everything that has been going on. I have been having a good think about whether to continue writing here now that he has found it. One argument would be that instead of writing everything down I should be talking to him about it face to face. I have come to the conclusion that I do need to keep writing. I have been talking to him face to face, telling him how I feel day to day or even hour by hour. We have long discussions about what he has been going through, the effects it has on me, where we go from here and how he can improve his life.

The difficulty is that although he takes in everything we discuss at the time, he soon forgets. We have more repeats than ‘Dave’ or BBC TV Christmas viewing.

Recently and especially since Owl began to read this (he reads it frequently) things have begun to improve.

I have begun to feel that our relationship has begun to get back to where it should be. There is a light at the end of the tunnel even if that light is still a long way off. Owl has good days and not so good days. I have noticed over recent weeks that there is a definite change in his face when he is not so good. When he is having a good day his face is open, and looks much younger. When he is not so good, it looks more scrunched up and 10 years older. I have told him this but he doesn’t believe me. We still have episodes where he will see me and ask when I came in, this could be several hours and conversations after I came home from work/shopping. I am proud of my son who copes very well with the repeated conversations that they have. He patiently answers the same questions time after time without any show of annoyance. I can’t say the same for myself.

Last week we were enjoying a pleasant evening, we had discussed our relationship and how it was starting to get back to where it should be. We also discussed his drinking, he was telling me that he had not had a drink for weeks. I reminded him that he had had a couple of pints 2 days previously when we were at our beach retreat. He got a bee in his bonnet about the car insurance so I went up to the office and retrieved the relevant documents. During my search I also came across an undated letter, from  a consultant at one of the local hospitals, giving the result of a liver scan and recommending a drastic cut back on alcohol intake. He now tells me this is from 3 or 4 years ago when he was unwell. So I now know that he has liver damage as well as brain shrinkage (due to excessive drinking) that showed up on an MRI scan that he had last spring.

He was in the kitchen with me whilst I made dinner and talking about a tv program I wanted to watch later. By the time I had served up our dinner he had disappeared. Nothing unusual in that so I ate mine and waited for him to return. It was about 45 minutes before he came back into the kitchen, not looking so good. I asked if he had been drinking but he said no as he struggled to sit on the chair properly. He began to eat his dinner but it was cold so had to be heated up. After several attempts to operate the microwave and failing even with my instructions …. Press time then the number of seconds then start, he agreed to let me do it for him. I could tell just by looking at him that he was not right. He proceeded to try to eat his dinner with his head hovering just inches above his plate and food falling off his fork. He was so pissed (drunk) that he even told me he was pissed. However he insisted that he had not been drinking. Having said this he thought he should tell me that he had been to the pub at lunch time for a pint of beer. (As if I would believe he had suddenly got so drunk 6 hours after drinking just one pint of larger.) I went in search of the bottle that I knew with certainty was there somewhere. I didn’t find it and returned to the kitchen. Not long after this Skater came home and talked about his evening, not doing or saying anything to give away the fact that he could see Owl was drunk.

I left the room for a few minutes, when I returned my husband was eating a banana, most of which (complete with peel) lay in the centre of his plate. On another day it would have been comical watching him trying to eat his dinner getting his fork tangled up with the banana skin. I know it sounds cruel and I felt cruel but I took a few photos of my husband to show him the next day so that he could see for himself what he looked like. He was still insisting that he was fine, nothing wrong with him.

It was not until the morning that he admitted that he had drunk a bottle of vodka (not a full litre but a 1/4 bottle). He must have drunk the lot straight from the bottle in under 45 minutes, no wonder he was so drunk so suddenly.

It has been a few months now since I wrote anything here.  It was mid March when my husband had the fall in the road in the middle of the day. I took him to hospital because he had a head injury, this turned out to be superficial. But because of his bleeding head he was treated in major trauma.  It was there that the Dr tried to get to the bottom of why my husband’s legs gave way. After tests and x-rays on his broken hand the Dr confirmed that the injuries were a direct result of drinking. It was after he had been patched up that the Dr referred him to a clinic at the hospital for people with drink problems. He promised that my husband would be prescribed drugs that would help him to give up drinking.

It was a few weeks before his appointment. I wasn’t there but he told me that the woman he spoke to said he was a binge drinker, he should cut down his alcohol intake for a week then stop drinking. I didn’t think this was very helpful. He went from drinking a couple of cans of beer several times a week. To drinking on average 4 to 6 cans every day.

December 2017

Here we go again!!

Several times in the last year my husband has been in hospital (usually having had a fall). He cut his head open at the beginning of the year and in November whilst we were in Spain he fell and broke his shoulder and upper arm. There have been a couple of other instances where I have needed to call the paramedics. Back in October he promised me and the Doctors at the hospital that he would get help to cut down his drinking so that within a month he would go from 4 or 5 pints a day to zero.

He has not asked for help, he has not been to see our GP nor has he been to any self help groups ie AA. Instead of reducing his alcohol intake he has actually increased his consumption. I would love to cut his access to beer and not buy him any, however because he is not a binge drinker, it is when his blood alcohol level drops that he loses control of his legs. It is a very fine line between enough and not enough.

I now find myself feeling very resentful that I work hard 6 days a week to be able to pay our bills with no help from him. Not only is he not earning any money but he is spending everything I earn on beer. I provide him with 4 cans of beer each day because that is what he needs to function. However when I get home from work he then insists that I take him to the pub. He doesn’t like it when I say no, often then taking himself on foot. He isn’t beyond taking money from my purse, not that I very often have cash. I prefer to pay for everything by card.

Sometimes, I agree to take him to the pub but don’t have a drink myself, other times I sit in the car and read. I don’t find any enjoyment in being in the pub when it is just us two. (it’s different when we are with friends (very rare).,

He is at the pub now, his excuse being that he needs fresh air and to stretch his legs. I’m sorry but he uses these excuses all the time even when we have been out somewhere else.  I am going to bed as I feel very achy and can’t get warm, I hope I am no coming down with something. He didn’t take his key, he might have to wait in the cold before he wakes me.

Another day and again he is at the pub, I refused to take him so he has had to walk. I left him with 2 cans of beer this morning to keep him going until I got home. Both were gone by the time I got in from work at about 12.45. It really worries me that he is drinking in the mornings. I think I will refrain from leaving him any beer until I get home. He can’t be trusted!

Ist January 2018

I began the day feeling so angry, I told my husband not to even think of speaking to me. What a great start to the New Year. Yesterday (obviously New Years Eve) I gave my husband 2 cans of beer, I didn’t give him his allocation of 4 cans because I knew it would be a long day and he would want to raise a glass/can when the clock struck midnight. In the afternoon he went to the pub with enough money to pay off his debt from the previous day and have 1.5 pints. During the evening he demanded to know where I was taking him for a drink. That would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. I reminded him several times that all the local pubs would be ticket only. Not only that but where was hr going to magic the money from? Thirdly he not care that I was feeling unwell and in pain.

He hardly touched the curry I had made for him, he drank both the cans I gave him (that’s #3 and 4 for the day). He then proceeded to drink the two extra cans I allowed him to have because of the occasion.

I was in bed attempting to read, when he brought up two champagne flutes to see in the New Year with. This confused me, what was in the glasses and where had he got it from? “BUBBLY” was all he said. My curiosity was piqued but not enough to go downstairs. The drink tasted familiar, but not being much of a drinker I didn’t figure out what it was.

This morning when I went into the kitchen I saw immediately what it was. I had bought a pack of 4 cans of Thatchers Gold Cider for my step daughter who will be staying with us for a week from tonight. She loves it but can’t get it in California where she lives. Now I would have been cross that he had drunk one of the cans I had bought for his daughter. I was disgusted that he had not just drunk one can but 3. Later he asked me to get more for her.  I said I am sure she would be happy with just one can tonight. Little did I know that he had by that time drunk the final can.

I know that he loves me, I know that he loves his daughter even more, he loves alcohol more than he loves either of us

21st January 2018

A week ago today I moved out, I didn’t take much with me just some clothes, my essential oils, laptop etc. I am now staying with my Mum. I waited for my husband to get up, I didn’t want to leave without explaining to him why I was going. I had also written him a kind of letter to help him understand.

This is not easy for me, just as I know it isn’t going to be easy for you. I am writing this even though by now I will have explained to you what I am doing and why, because I want you to have it in writing so that there is no misunderstanding.

I am going to stay with my mother for a while. Now I don’t know whether that will be days, weeks, months or more permanently. That is up to you. I know that right now you would prefer it only be days.

I am going because I can’t stay here living the way we have been.

I cannot continue being the one who goes out 6 days a week doing a very physical job to earn money for the bills whilst you spend the money we have on beer.

You had promised the Doctors and me that you would cut down your drinking. You planned to go from 4 pints per day to zero in a few weeks. Instead you are now averaging 6+ per day. It doesn’t bother you, that you are not the only one this affects.

After much thought I have realized that all the time I stay here I am just making it easy for you to carry on the same way if not steadily getting worse.

I need to go away so that I can make myself better, I have lost my sparkle, my smile, I feel I am being dragged down, I don’t want to lose myself completely. I also need to go so that you can start to live in the real world. I dread to think which way you will go. I hate the idea that you could fall apart and spiral downwards. I have to hope that instead you will pick yourself up and get your act together. Until you start getting help and taking responsibility for yourself we are broken.

If you really want me to come back to you then you have to work hard, I’m not asking for words, they don’t mean anything it’s action that I need to see from you.

Your daughter is really worried, that you need to hit rock bottom before you can get better. She is really hoping that this is rock bottom for you and it doesn’t get worse. I hope for everyone’s sake she is right. I don’t want to see you lose everything.

Please believe me when I say that I do love you. I just can’t stay here at the moment. I am not making any promises about the future. I am not going to completely abandon you so don’t start celebrating your freedom. We will have to work out what to do about the bills once we have a better idea of how our future will pan out.

Once he was sitting down I explained that I was going and why. His only response was to say ‘Drive carefully, bye.’ He then stood up and left the room. I don’t know what I was expecting but I had expected more of a reaction than that.

In the week since then he messaged me late on Monday night to say that he doesn’t want me back and I need to sort out my stuff as he is selling up and moving away. On Wednesday evening (again quite late) he phoned me saying that he had fallen and hurt his arm again. He didn’t say much else. The call only lasted a minute. On Friday night I had a text message “I’m dying”. I really didn’t know how to respond to this.

On Saturday I visited the house after my work. He was in bed, he came down to the kitchen and asked me to put some money in his account. He didn’t seem to be doing too badly, he must have been eating although he says not. ( I had left him with enough food for a month). I didn’t see any beer cans. He has obviously made the effort to shave. Our neighbours are keeping an eye on him so I am not as worried now as I had been in the first few days.

Sunday 28th January 2018

It has been a bit of an up and down week. There has been communication from himself, mostly late at night, often unpleasant followed by cries for help because he is in agony and has nobody else he can turn to. Then there are the requests for money. This week I have sent him a total of £380, including the money to pay for his car repairs. He doesn’t seem to understand that sending me a nasty message doesn’t do his cause any good when he then either needs my sympathy or money.

He has told me that he has been looking into his divorce rights and has taken off his wedding ring. He also said that he does want me back and knows that it will have to be on my terms. Since then he has told me to get a removal truck to take away all my stuff, oh and the only thing he wants me to do is sign divorce papers.

None of this sounds to me like a man who is desperate not to loose his wife who he can’t manage without. I have begun looking into the cost of storing my belongings until I figure out what I need to keep and what can go. I am so sad that our marriage has come to this. The more he sends unpleasant messages the less likely I am to ever consider doing anything for him let alone going back. I had hoped that he might realise what he was missing and do everything in his power to make me want to go back. I know it has only been two weeks but he is doing everything to push me away.

Yesterday I visited the house to see how he was and collect a few more things. He wasn’t there, I had seen his car parked outside the pub as I passed. I left him some fruit juice, fizzy drinks, bananas, chocolate  as well as more pain relief tablets and gel. I won’t be doing that again. I do care about him and worry about how he is coping but I won’t be treated this way.

18th March 2018 – decisions

I have had to make the difficult decision that I won’t be going back to my husband. I now consider us to be seperated.

In recent weeks I received numerous unpleasant text messages from my husband in the first few weeks. After a long conversation between him and his daughter he changed his attitude. Suddenly he felt that he couldn’t afford to lose me. He still loves me and wants me back. He has given up drinking. (Really!). He has put the house up for sale. He has told me the various places he is thinking of moving to once the house has sold. Not once has he included me in this decision. He hasn’t thought about asking me where I would like to live if we get back together. He tells me that he is seeing other women. He is finding women online. I don’t think he has actually met any of them yet. He is very inconsistent in what he says.

For me the last straw was earlier this week. I had been to the house to help him with something. Later he told me he had fallen down the stairs. I asked if he needed an ambulance, he said no. Later still he asked me to go over there to ‘look after me’. I didn’t go. The next day I received a poisonous email from him which stated that he never wants to see me again.  Although I knew that he would change his attitude again, I felt that he had proved he can’t be trusted to stay civil. As soon as he doesn’t get his own way he becomes malicious.

I am not going back to a life like that. He has been civil in the last few days. He did ask if I will go back and I said NO. He then started talking about starting divorce proceedings. That is up to him, as far as I am concerned I have no need to get divorced. He says he will never get married again so I don’t know why he feels he has to rush this through now. Oh well that is his choice.

May 2021

My husband sold the house in July 2018. He was due to move into sheltered accommodation but a week before the move he changed his mind about buying the flat. He moved into a local b&b for a while so he could sort something out. He was there for about 9 months. During that time he had several hospital stays and went through detox a couple of times.

November 2018 he fell down the stairs, there is a question of whether he was pushed. He had been in hospital for a week or so and was getting better. Then one day I phoned the hospital to be told that he was refusing to eat or drink and not responding to the medication. I assumed he was just being fussy so I bought a load of snacks that he likes and visited him. I was so shocked when I saw him. He looked about 90 and wasn’t able to do anything for himself. He looked like he was dying.

Over the next couple of weeks he began to recover. He agreed to go to a rehabilitation program as soon as a bed could be found for him. An hour before transport arrived to take him there he got himself to the hospital entrance and called a taxi. He left the hospital. The ward sister rang me. She couldn’t find him or get him to answer the phone. He was reported missing to the police. He was missing for about a week.

Eventually i found him late afternoon on Xmas Eve. He was in a pub next the adjoining hotel where he had been staying. He had told them he had been in hospital for 3 months following a car accident. I took him back to the b&b. His place at the rehabilitation center was no longer available.

In spring 2019 he moved into a 4th floor studio flat. I visited him a few weeks later, I can’t now remember why. I helped him set up his Mac computer. He had stuff everywhere (nothing new there). I told him to out it all back in the storage boxes and sort out one box at a time.

It was either June or July 2019 when he crashed his car into two others. He broke his arm. Obviously he was drink driving! His car was towed to a garage near here. I collected him, took him to the bank to get money then took him to the garage to pay his fine and sign over the wreckage. I collected what I could from his car including his walking frame. He bought me lunch then I took him home. That was the last time I saw him. Over the next couple of months his phone calls and text messages got worse.

He would phone me numerous times. When I didn’t answer he left messages. I blocked his number but then the voicemails became so numerous that I had to do something. I reported him to the police. I chose not to have him charged just earned.

Everything went quiet but not for long. Gradually the calls started again but not malicious. He needed help. He wanted the number for a taxi or how did he do ….

He continued to call or text me intermittently until January 2021. Most of his calls were for help with something. He always said he wanted me back, what did he need to do to get me back.

The last I heard from him was in January. It was a text message from an unknown number.

I really miss you XXX

nobody else would have sent that.

Last night I learnt that he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Part of me wants to reach out to him. I need to make sure he is getting the care he needs. I had a long conversation with his sister who has reassured me that he is getting the care he needs.

My friend who works with Dementia has told me that I absolutely must not get sucked into caring for him. I have my own health to think about. My head knows this. My head tells me to keep well away. My heart is struggling.

I have felt quite stressed about it all today. My paternal grandmother had dementia at the end. She was in her mid 90s by then and only lived with it for about 18 months. I found visiting very difficult. The hardest time being when she told me that she had a son who got a girl pregnant. He didn’t want to keep the mother only the baby. I was that baby and my mother was in the room with us.

7 years ago after our honeymoon I thought my husband had early dementia. Looking back I still think that was the start of it. His alcoholism both contributed and masked it. Now he has the diagnosis and can be helped. I can’t help thinking that if our marriage had survived I would now be his main carer. It’s bad enough being the carer for a grumpy old woman with MS. There are days when I wonder if her memory lapses are old age/ms or is there the start of dementia with her too.


6 comments on “Life on a roller coaster

  1. Wow, you have a lot to deal with. I haven’t been reading your blog for long, but will be keeping up in the future. I send thoughts of strength to you and your family during this difficult time.

  2. thank you much appreciated and returned to you too 🙂

  3. what is your book that you are writing?

    • Finding Hope, I have not considered writing a book about this. Although who knows one day I might do just that. My current thoughts on writing a book are more along the lines of surviving cancer and how it affects all the family in different ways.

      I guess I possibly have three books I could write from experience, surviving Cancer, surviving emotional abuse and lastly living with an alcoholic.

      I really must find a more cheerful aspect of my life to write about.

      • Wow, you are an overcomer! You should definitely write about your experiences. And as for writing about something cheerful, I’m not sure that would be the right thing. I personally think you should write about the things that were tearing at your heart, and then how you made it through. People love to read encouraging stories of how people have made it through difficult situations and survived. It wouldn’t have to necessarily be three books. It would focus on how life is relentless and tries to kick us down, but it doesn’t matter how many times we fall- but that we get up one more time and try again. You know that quote from Winnie the Pooh ” You are stronger than you think.” This is you! You can do anything. Meghan

  4. Thank you Meghan 🙂

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