Friday, March 25, 2011

An Embarrassingly Personal Post

I guess it's obvious to everyone who follows my blog that lately, I've had the blog on auto-pilot. The number of posts I have saved for a rainy day are dwindling as I role them out near daily. First things first, to everyone who sent me a trade package, thank you. I promise that I will get around to individual acknowledgements soon. (I believe I only have one package that needs to be sent out. I've got a stack of Twins off the Rhubarb_Runner's trade list that need to be mailed. I'll get them out tomorrow David ... I promise.) Also, I had several email threads going about potential trades. I apologize for having dropped these, but if you still want to deal, let me know.

So, heed these words of warning, if you have no interest in reading stuff about my personal life, I would advise moving on to that next web page or clicking that next post in your RSS reader. Not only will I not be offended, I might even do the same depending upon the day. This is a blog about baseball cards for Pete's sake! For me though, acknowledging a few things publicly will be good therapy. So, off I go.

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About a year ago, my Dad had a heart "episode". After a series of tests, and an attempt at a full "cath", it was determined that his carotid was 100% blocked. We were told by the surgeon that this wasn't as bad as it sounds. We were told the biggest danger was from a vessel that was almost totally blocked, because at the point of total blockage, that's when you could have a heart attack. Dad managed to avoid that. With therapy, and the right drug regimen, he could expect to live for a long time still.

Well, last week, Dad had a heart attack. Turns out, there wasn't a 100% blockage after all. This past Monday, he underwent a triple bypass. The surgery was a success and all of his heart numbers are looking good. Dad should be on the road to recovery, but he isn't. Dad is going through the DTs and he is still lying sedated in a bed in the ICU. They haven't even been able to get him off the ventilator. Yes, my Dad is an alcoholic.

That's one of those things that I refused to admit to myself for a long, long time. He was always a binge drinker, but he wasn't someone who used it to get through the day. Still, it was often enough to do damage. 16 years ago, my Mom had enough and left him. My brother and I maintained our relationships with him, no matter how hard it was. Our support didn't help anything as the drinking only increased as the years went by. Two years ago, he was laid off from his job of almost 30 years. It was, admittedly, a sucky thing to have happen and the way it was handled by his employer was despicable. Still, he couldn't cope.

Yet, after the first heart episode, he seemed to be getting better. He seemed to be his best version of himself for longer than any period I could ever remember. He was eating better than he ever had. He was trying his best to get some exercise. I was there for him every step of the way to carry him to his visits to the cardiologist. You have no idea how great it was for me to be able to call Dad and know he was sober and would remember the conversation. Things seemed to be going great, until, you know, they weren't.

I have no idea what it was that triggered his resumption. I suspect it was the usual: he felt lonely and, as usual, he could place the blame on me or my brother or his brother and sisters because we weren't calling him enough or visiting him enough. For all I know, he was just hiding it from me the whole time. I've been told that in the days or weeks before the heart attack, he may have been drinking two boxes of wine a day.

Of course, I'm certainly not the first child of an alcoholic who has lived in denial of his Dad's problem. It's his denial that I find stunning. You see, even though he was about to undergo major heart surgery, he neglected to tell anyone at the hospital that he was an alcoholic. If my wife, my Aunt and my Uncle hadn't been at the hospital and if all of us hadn't disclosed it ... if the ICU hadn't been prepared for his withdrawal ... he wouldn't be alive right now.

There's more. There was an incident that precipitated his hospitalization. I have no accurate description of the ins and outs of the situation yet, but it ended with him hitting someone's BMW with a blunt object and Dad's arrest. In fact, it was the police who came to arrest him that called the ambulance. Yes, my father, who has been lying in an ICU bed for almost five days now on a ventilator, will have to turn himself into the police as soon as he recovers from his surgery.

I'm not prepared to cut my Dad out of my life, but I can't be an active participant in it anymore. I can't be there to carry him to his appointments this time. I can't help him get a lawyer. I will not handle his affairs if he gets jail time or has an extended hospital stay. I don't even know if I'll be there when he's finally taken off the ventilator. I'm out of the taking care of Dad business. I'm told that if something bad happens, if his life spirals further out of control, I will have a hard time living with it. Maybe so, but where my Dad is concerned, I've already had to learn to live with a lot.

I love my Dad and there's nothing I want more in this world than for him to get sober. If he does, anything he has done the past is gone as far as I'm concerned. We can't change it after all. However, it is up to him to decide he needs help. Until he makes that decision, I will not actively watch him kill himself and I will not be actively involved in cleaning up the messes his drinking has made.

So here I sit, in a Starbucks near my home, feeling guilty about a decision that I know is the right one, while 160 miles away in a hospital in Columbus, GA, my Dad lies in an ICU bed.


The Dimwit said...

Wow, that's pretty strong stuff and my heart goes out to you. I understand your need to detach from the relationship, and sympathize with the struggle to do so. My best wishes to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

This is my first comment on your blog, but I just wanted to say that my best wishes are with you.

cubsfan731 said...

I'll be praying for you, man.

The Lost Collector said...

Best wishes to you and your family. Hang in there.

dawgbones said...

As the offspring of an alcoholic family, I can see parallels and eerie similarities. I feel your pain, I both understand and agree with your decision.

My Grandfather (on Mom's side) died from complications of drinking. Both my mother and father are alcoholics, I've hopefully convinced them to not let it affect others lives (ie. don't drink and drive). I reached that point in my life where I saw how easy it would be to follow that path, having a beer first thing after work, etc... One day I decided to see how long it would take me to have another drink, so far it's been 16 years and counting.

You want to be there for them when they hit bottom, but when they hit bottom and start digging, you'll end up in their hole with no way out.

Good luck with your decision, lean on your wife and your other family. There are groups (Al-Anon) for the victim of alcoholics. People who are dealing with situations like yours (and mine) and can relate to what you are going through.

Your friends here in the blogosphere will be here. I started reading these blogs to find baseball cards for trade, I've stuck around cause I feel I've made friends with my same interests. I don't mind reading the non-baseball stuff, cause it occasionally leads to other interests between new friends, but it also helps to know that there are people out there in the world that have daily problems to deal with beyond our little hobby. And maybe I can just offer some helpful advice, or just a kind word to help someone through their day.

Anonymous said...

You and your family are in my prayers.

The cards can wait, man.

Derek said...

You are in my thoughts and prayers. I know what you're going through can't be easy. My Grandfather was an alcoholic and my dad has always had to deal with that. I didn't know him as an alcoholic b/c he was sober by the time I was born but I have always felt bad that my father and his brothers had a bad childhood due to it. It won't be easy to stand by your decision and I want to wish you the best of luck. If you need anything from us just let us know.

Ryan aka Orioles Magic said...

Good luck making the right decisions. That's some heavy stuff.

longlivethewho said...

Good luck with everything. Don't be afraid to post more personal stuff... we're very accepting.

Don WickedOrtega said...

From a guy that's been there and done that, i understand what your going throught. But you see my dad was and still is a drug user (mostly coke) its been hard for my sister and me since where the only family he has left. He always calls needing money, but we don't send any cause we know what he wants the money for. We pay for an apt. for him to live and we also share the cost of his living. He's almost 70 year old and still hasn't given up his habbit. We live with this everyday and it really taken a toll on us both. But he's our dad and he's the one that gave us life, so no matter what he does we'll always be there for him. I pray that you will find forgiveness for your dad and that the lord will help guide you and help you do the right thing. My best goes out to your family and yourself.

Play at the Plate said...

Wow. I feel for you man. Some of that is like my story. Fortunately, my dad was able to go in the right direction and got better. I'll send up some prayers for you.

BA Benny said...

You can only control what you do in your own life and should feel no guilt with somebody else's bad choices no matter how much you care about them. With situations like yours, the "sick" perswon MUST hit bottom before they will really seek help. Sounds like your dad is close to that point so maybe a turnaround is near so your decision to seperate yourself from the situation is probably a good thing because it will help send the message that you will no longer accept what's going on. Hang tough as many times these situations do take the turn for the better when the person finally has nothing and must enter recovery to survive. My prayers are with you and your family.

MNicoleM said...

You know that I love and support you with all of my heart and being but I wanted to let you know again.

MattR said...

ouch -- what a tough deal. I hope things turn out well for you.

Anonymous said...

I don't have any earth-shattering words of wisdon - but just wanted to wish you the best in a tough time.