17 August 2007

Death, Jails and Institutions

[This post was inspired by one I read over at Stop, Drop, Recover and the comment I left there, most of which I repeat here.]
I too am a former first responder on a volunteer ambulance squad. I too have seen a wide swath of death created by drug abuse and particularly alcohol, including the following incident, which haunts me to this day.

One winter night, a man went out with his friends to celebrate the birth of his child. Afterwards, they dropped him off—drunk—in front of his house. He never made it indoors. Neighbors found him the next morning frozen to death outside his front door.
He was lucky. Imagine the suffering his wife and child have been through, will continue to go through for the rest of their lives. There are a lot of scary stories about us alkies dying from our disease. But I believe there's a worse fate in store for me if I ever pick up a drink.

Maybe I'll kill someone. Run them down with my car. My cousin's wife ran over his own baby daughter and killed her. He's had to live with that for more than twenty years. And it wasn't even his bottom; he went on drinking for several months afterwards. Maybe I'll accidentally decapitate a friend without even knowing it, like John Kemper Hutcherson did three years ago. Or maybe I'll spend a few years as a wet-brain before dying, like I believe William Roscoe Kintner did. You'd never know it (i.e. that he had a wet-brain [added 22 Aug]) from his obituary, but I knew him personally. I think about the difference between him as a vibrant and reknowned teacher of mine in college, and him as an old man with a permanent dazed and unresponsive expression on his face, slowly and painfully shuffling his way to the Post Office—a distance of a few hundred feet at most—to get his mail.

These thoughts scare me. They remind me there are fates worse than death, and that we alcoholics are particularly prone to them.

God save me from myself!


Pam said...

I think this is why suicide seems to be an option for sober alcoholics in intense pain. Knowing that drinking again would be such a slow painful death, or in cases like you were talking about...someones elses death.

An Irish Friend of Bill said...

Cool post. I have always felt that way about drinking again as I heard so many horroe stories from newcomers. I just dont think of frinking as 'glamourous' or appealing at all.
Those were great accounts. Thanks for sharing them. Some of these types of stories are just incredibly tragic.

sharonsjourney said...

My ex boyfriend got in a bad car accident (he was driving) & his girlfriend was killed. That haunts him tday.

My brother died prematurely of alcoholism First he got diebetes, then he had a massive stroke, then he got vascular disease, & that caused him to have little strokes everyday, his brain was literally slowly dying. He had no memory of his childhood, or his family. His eyes were vacant. He suffered so much, he finallly asked to be taken off his meds that were keeping him alive. He knew my mom, my sis, & me, only because we were with him often. We all suffered thru that, but my mom especiallu did. I think she gave up on life after that, she never could get over it. It was a very painful process for all of us. He was only 43 when he died. It said in the paper he died of complications from diebetis. That was what my mom wanted, I wanted it to say from alcoholism, but that would have hurt mom even more, so I didn't say anything. It very seldom says someone dies of allcoholism, if it did, maybe more people would take note..who knows? I don't want to live or die that way. I don't want to suffer like that, but also, I don't want to put my family & friends thru that, I'd kill myself first, well, that would do the same thing to them, wouldn't it? So I try & live by the principles of the program, & I live a good life today. It's all good.

Anonymous said...

I just recently loss my ex-fiancee to this disease. He spiraled out of control very quickly, and after spending 6 months in jail he still could not stay sober. Too much in his past he could not let go of. He was homeless, jobless, and chronically drunk. He was found unresponsive and could not be revived. Sober he was a wonderful, loving, talented musician. I will miss him.

Namenlosen Trinker said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Anonymous. May god bless you and keep you.

Anonymous said...

I just lost my husband because of alcoholism, I don't even have cause of death yet (10 days ago)

He couldn't go to the birth of our first grandchild because he had alienated the kids, so he was here alone. I don't even know what day or time he died, or what exactly of. But he bought two party pleasers on his way home from taking me to the airport that were found in the house per the police report. So I had conversations with the morgue while coaching my daughter's labor.

Please don't drink. It makes death even more difficult, because unlike normal grief, we also have terribly conflicting feelings: relief, freedom, reduction of anxiety - while mourning the brilliant, loving person we loved and cared and shared with. Grieving is hard enough, conflicted grieving is like cutting off your head while you are still alive.

Toni said...

I lost my partner to alcoholism 6 weeks ago. I found him dead and had to try to revive him. Yesterday I went to visit his 2 day old grandson. It is hard to remember the beautiful man without remembering the pain we both went through. We both talked about drinking killing him but I am am sure it was a shock for both of us that it actually happened. My tears are for all the losses we went through over the last few months.

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