Although Sue knew she was drinking too much she still didn’t believe she had a problem until blood tests revealed she had long-term liver damage.
I’ve never looked back since getting help
“My problem with alcohol started over 10 years ago. Although I knew I was drinking too much I still would not believe that I had a problem. I was working full time and had no particular worries financial or otherwise.
I started getting terrible pains in my side and was unable to keep any food down. Painkillers did not help and I was feeling very low. I made an appointment at the doctor and he took a blood sample and prescribed tablets for what he thought was an ulcer. At this point I didn’t inform him that I was drinking. These tablets made me violently ill and didn’t seem to ease the pain. The following day a doctor from the surgery came to my house and told me that I had to go into hospital because there was cause for concern over the blood tests.
I was taken by ambulance to the medical assessment ward and immediately put on a drip. The rest of this time is hazy. I guess I must have been on some form of detox and was given all the necessary vitamins and minerals to regain my strength. Various tests and biopsies at this time revealed that I had liver cirrhosis (cirrhosis is scarring of the liver as a result of continuous, long-term liver damage) and my husband was informed that if I hadn’t have gone into hospital when I did I could have been dead in another 48 hours.
Eventually after two weeks of treatment I was allowed to go home armed with meal supplements and medicine to get my health back on track. At that time there was no counselling offered but I was just required to visit the consultant on a regular basis for blood tests and medical check ups. This continued for the next 12 months until the consultant was satisfied that I was no longer drinking and that my liver was stable. At this point I was discharged.
Three years of abstinence later and I began to get complacent and decided to have a drink. This turned out to be a big mistake. I started drinking lager then strong cider and wine. Before long I was back to square one hiding the amount I was drinking from my family and had stopped eating and had lost a lot of weight. The situation continued until 2010 with me ignoring pleas from family to stop drinking, but it wasn’t until I was sent home from my job for having alcohol on my breath that I knew I had to do something again.
I went to my new GP and was advised that I should admit myself to hospital. I didn’t want to do this due to my previous experience so I was prescribed anti-depressants and a course of medicines to help me cut down drinking. My daughter did some research and found the NHS Calderdale Alcohol Team (CAT) that helped local people with alcohol problems. Although she spoke to them she was told that I would have to ring in and book an appointment myself before they would see me. As soon as I did this my recovery began.
I was given a key worker and attended meetings every week. I was seen by the CAT doctor who said she would leave the medical treatment to my GP, but just wanted to keep an eye on the blood test results to see how I was progressing. The sessions with my key worker Nicola really helped me. She suggested ways I could cope in different situations without turning to alcohol such as Christmas. I found that with her help I was able to by abstinent. This has now been the case for 20 months.
When I was discharged from CAT I found that the suggested support organisations weren’t my cup of tea, but then I was invited to attend a meeting of ex-service users who were still abstinent. The aim of the meeting was to form a group of peer mentors to help others who were recovering form alcohol abuse. The group is now up and running and is called En Route.
En Route provides the extra support that I found was missing and anyone who knows me will tell you how much I have changed as a result of the group. It has given me a purpose in life to help others in the same situation that I was in. From the first meeting my confidence has grown and now I’m out socialising and taking part. As a member of the committee I go to meetings every week, take part in an art course, learn how to work on the radio at Phoenix FM and I will shortly be taking a course on crochet.
I just think ‘hey look at me now’. I hope this helps people to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel and lots of support out there to help you get through.”