Adios 2019

No shoulds or musts this Christmas just past. No presents exchanged. No dessert. Lunch at 4pm. Breakfast in pyjamas. It was just right. Spending time leisurely and watching the Christmas tree lights twinkling, getting Alexa to play Christmas music. No obligations. None. No travelling. None.

Second Christmas sober, yet it feels like my first. Newly sober only a month last year and it felt all so new and weird. It felt more like a sacrifice or a token gesture to myself, a temporary measure. Second Christmas in and I’m loving it sober.

When I watch a movie or a series I no longer get envious of the wine or spirits being consumed. I don’t go down the alcohol aisle at the supermarket. I no longer exchange rewards for alcohol. I don’t feel like I’m missing out by not drinking. I’m letting go of the crutch.

I no longer need actual crutches too. My fibula bone is mending well. The muscles around the bone are getting a workout. I can walk up steps easily but still working on coming down. Physiotherapy continues. Progress is being made.

Appreciation of small things is what I have learnt. Here are a few:

I can place bread in the toaster without needing to remove my crutch.

I can fetch someone else a cup of tea and something sweet.

Having a bath is wonderful.

Listen to your body. When it needs sleep: sleep.

I no longer need to put on a moon boot and gather crutches to get from bed to the loo. Accidents did happen.

Loading a dishwasher is a job of satisfaction now not a chore.

Walking barefoot on the sand at the beach is precious. And then when the water washes over your feet it’s a rush of joy.

I can now sew back on all the buttons that came off the duvet bottom. Each time I fluffed up the duvet the buttons got caught in my crutch, and off they flew. I have collected them in a jar. Time for a repair job.

Learning to be a better passenger in the car. Holding my tongue. Then enjoying being driven. Letting the driver drive without ‘helpful’ comments from the backseat driver sitting in front seat, without the wheel.

Housework is no longer loathsome. It’s growing on me.

I no longer take my body for granted.

Six weeks in bed was actually enjoyable. I had one really grumpy day but otherwise I made the most of it. Reading, writing, drawing, thinking, watching films and documentaries, drinking lots of water. I didn’t have to look after anyone but myself. DH looked after me, fed me and amused me.

Knee scooters are awesome. Mobility increases 10 fold.

Get lessons on how to hold crutches properly. I was holding mine backwards. Yes it is possible but very unstable. Now I am a pro.

Patience is a virtue.

Spending time with yourself is enjoyable.

A tray turned upside down makes a great table in bed.

All the best for 2020!

One year sober

I started writing this blog not with the determination of giving up alcohol completely. I was going to dry out. The title of my blog “Moderately Sober” doesn’t take the journey of sober life seriously. I didn’t really think I would be sober forever. I started the blog and started the sober journey because being drunk and blacking out was not leading to a long life. I was killing myself softly.

My blog title is a reminder that moderation is not possible for me.

Today I am sober. I intend to stay sober. I am glad I am sober.

I found a strength that was already within me to stop drinking. I added one day to the next. I felt lost with what to do with my hands, what to do with the new found time up my sleeve. I was amazed at the money I saved. I began to notice that there were others out there also not drinking. A minority, yet, a noticeable number.

The support of the sober community is not to be underestimated. Nudges and the right words at certain times make the difference to lift oneself rather than fall flat. Thank you. You know who you are.

I had a flash of admiration from someone unable to stop drinking the other day. There is no special blue pill to take and voila I am instantly sober. There is a thought, a choice, an idea, a decision. One and all of them. Sometimes it doesn’t work first time, but with the desire to keep trying, one can stop the drinking. Being sober is not just one decision, it is a daily decision. One that if repeated often enough becomes an automatic habit. So automatic that you no longer think about alcohol. Other things in life take your focus. Your spouse, your family, your pets, your renewed discovery of your passion, your mornings, your lifestyle.

I have got back my love of drawing. It must be about two and a half months and I have been sketching daily. The broken ankle ‘helped’ me get back into this. I wonder where this will lead me?

An appreciation and gratitude for everyday tasks has also humbled me. Again being immobile and not being able to do things for myself has taught me patience and also how to ask for help. I am still unable to drive. I love driving. But funnily enough I don’t miss it for now. Crutches and moon boot are only for crowded areas, more of a safety net for me now. Hurray – I am able to carry a cup of tea, I am able to cook. I continue with physiotherapy and getting back to walking with a more regular gait. The moon boot is off while at home. We are coming into summer so walking about in bare feet is just the best. Having my own company for countless days in bed with a foot elevated in a cast has given me peace. I’m fine with my own company. I have been for a while now. Sure there have been days when it drove me round the twist but it was more of the decision of movement having been taken away from me rather than the company.

Having a sober buddy whether they be online, in the same household, same neighbourhood or anywhere really, is incredibly beneficial and much needed support when feeling wobbly. Thank you to my sober buddies.

“My Year of Sober” was a success. I have been thinking about what next?

My Year of Wellbeing is my next focus. I have concrete goals jotted down. This starts today.

Sober as. Always.

Ch ch change

Change is made when small actions are repeated until it becomes a habit.

Change doesn’t happen over night. Change doesn’t happen when you do a new thing once. Actions must be repeated again and again consistently in order for change to occur.

I am writing this for myself as a reminder that change just doesn’t happen by itself. As obvious as it sounds I keep forgetting this and stumble when change doesn’t materialise immediately.

Change requires patience, consistency and repeated behaviour.

I decided while having a cast on my broken ankle that now would be a good time to lose weight. Not so. To heal a broken bone it requires nutrition and possibly more food than normal. I ignored this fact and installed my “new found knowledge” and had just fruit for breakfast, toast for lunch and you can guess what happened…

Low blood sugar reared its head again. Bananas are food from the Gods. Bananas are my go to food if I need instant energy. So I recovered from my moment slowly.

Throbbing headache, feeling nauseous, shaky, sweaty, chills, thirsty, elevated temperature. Why do I do this to myself? Far from clever.

Sweet tea, banana, water, sleep. Followed by dinner a couple of hours later. Followed by more sleep.

Moral of the story is heal the bone first and then deal with the weight.

It may seem obvious to observers but when you are in the thick of it and with time on your hands stupid ideas can appear sensible and efficient. Well stupid ideas are stupid, before conception, during execution and when they have failed.

Lesson learnt this time.

At no time have I felt like having a drink. Except when I heard good new music and thought that this would go well with a glass of red wine. I then rebuked myself and squashed that thought.

Sober and I know it, clap your hands.

Broken

I lie in bed with my leg elevated. Six weeks of rest, elevation, no weight allowed on my right foot. I am halfway through my stint. A broken tibia.

Forced inertia allows time for one time to think. And I have had plenty of time to think. It hasn’t driven me round the twist. I haven’t felt weak and reached for alcohol. Have you tried crutches lately? You cannot hold anything while walking with crutches. A backpack would help but a cup of tea you cannot carry. A thermos of tea, yes but not a cup of tea. The effort to sit up in bed relying on one foot only, the effort to get to the toilet, to go down steps. I cannot go up steps. That’s where my bottom comes in handy. I creep up steps, one by one on the seat of my bum, with a flat cushion and make it to the top.

Could my fitness have been better before the break? Yes. Would it have made getting about easier. Yes. That doesn’t help me now though. I am not great on crutches.

Let me interrupt and say this: New Zealand has excellent public medical service when it comes to broken bones. I paid NZ$40 for subsidised X-rays and NZ$35 for a subsidised GP appointment and the rest was paid for by the government. Which really means by the people and our taxes. I received a moon boot. There was a long wait in Accident & Emergency. New Zealand hospitals are understaffed and underpaid. Capacity of patients in winter is at 145%. They are busy. That doesn’t stop them from being both professional and caring. I was impressed. Yes I waited a long time but others who waited also waited patiently. I received a cast after more X-rays. And follow up appointments for out-patients.

For getting about home I have been loaned a toilet seat with handles and stability. A shower chair. And later a knee scooter. I had my own crutches. The shower chair actually sits beside the bed so it makes it easier to get up and standing. Who knew how hard it is to do everything on just one leg. I am humbled by my situation. I have time to recover. I do not have children to look after. DH has been an angel with fetching and carrying things for me to keep me fed, watered, amused and functioning.

All this time to think and I have not gone bat shit crazy. I appreciate this moment in time that I have been given. It is a glitch or a correction in my life. A time to reflect and look to the future and see how I can do better, plan better. I can write, draw, use my computer. I can hobble about the house. I cannot clean. I hate cleaning anyway. But that got me thinking. I deserve to live in a clean house. I can look at cleaning as self care. Take more pride in my surroundings and care more. Don’t listen to what I say here, watch what I actually do later. Hold me to what I said here later.

The doctor asked me if I wanted a knee scooter. I said no. Why? I didn’t know what it was and it didn’t sound stable. I was an idiot. When I rang support at ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation), a government department, they suggested a knee scooter when I said how poorly I was managing on crutches. I said yes please. Not realising how helpful it would be. It was delivered to the house the next day. What a game changer. Mobility and stability with getting about. It has a basket on the front so I can carry things at the same time, The catch is, if the basket is on the front then it’s harder to turn. I ended up taking the basket off. Since having the knee scooter I can now do the laundry. I balance on my ‘bad’ leg which is supported by the knee, the breaks are on, with my ‘good’ leg firmly on the ground. I can lean down with the help of the handle bars. It allows me to function more normally. Rather than feeling useless and immobile I feel more independent and capable.

I can eat in the kitchen now for meals. I can turn the jug on. I can gather the placemats. I can do simple things. I can collect the yoghurt from the fridge, the muesli from the bench and the kiwifruit from the bowl. I can carry the knife, the bowl and the spoon in the basket and I can get my own breakfast. I still cannot carry a cup of tea.

I am not writing this for you to feel sorry for me. I am writing to voice how lucky I am. I didn’t need an operation with plates and screws. I can recover at home. I only have myself to look after and get well. DH looks after me. The cats have looked after me too. The public hospital system in New Zealand is excellent. I may have waited many hours for service but I was dealt with empathy, care and professionalism. I wish that others countries have the same level of care that we have here. My next cast will be renewed. My leg is getting skinnier. The cast feels roomier. That is life.

Everything takes longer at the moment but I have an appreciation for each thing or each action. I am lucky that this is temporary. I am grateful.

A Purring

I’m one of those people who like to get everywhere early. Punctual. I allowed for traffic and the unforeseen hurdles. So I planned for bad traffic and a delay at the post office picking up the parcel. And low and behold we were more than half an hour early for our vet appointment. There was no traffic at all. It was smooth driving, interrupted occasionally by a wailing cat. He wasn’t happy. Perhaps he thought he was being returned or abandoned. Who really knows. Maybe he didn’t like the music on the radio.

He sat patiently in the waiting room, caged and smoochy. Was expertly avoiding eye contact with the two dogs and the other cat. All was well. We waited. The canary sang behind the counter. The parrot was grumpy. A blanket was thrown over his cage. He napped after that. It was the afternoon of a heat wave.

Once in the consultation room the purring began. A reluctance to get out of the cage, a shyness to show off his inside back leg. Once it was done he was fine. He behaved like a champion, all 4.2kg of him. He has grown, a lot. We met him when he was 400g. He has come a long way.

It was nothing. It was a war wound, a bite or a scratch, licked to death with a ring of bald skin. Made it look worse than it was. He was thinking why did we bother, I could have stayed on the couch. Antibiotics were offered. We obliged. Pills twice a day for the next five days. Ten pink pills to shove down his throat. He won’t like me for ten moments. I wish for a short memory.

Life without booze is freedom. Early appointments are now a possibility. My head is on straight. I can face whatever life throws at me. Okay except the ice machine. I haven’t won that battle yet. The wooden spoon is not winning again the ice buildup. I have jabbed with a bbq fork. And a large knife. Still not working. Patience. Will try again tomorrow. I have read the manual. It’s useless. Might need to call customer service. Will assess if that’s a must tomorrow.

Picked up pizza tonight, washed it down with fizzy drink. Pepperoni, chili flakes extra. Pizza eaten sober is quite delicious. I didn’t opt for the larger pizza. I chose regular. It’s all gone now. Every bite was hot and crisp. Just right. Not a crust left in sight. Today was a carefree day. No gym, no cooking. A be kind to me day.

Two months sober. Yesss. Pizza was my sober treat.

Day 52

In bed by 11pm after a long soak in an Epsom salt bath with a book. More reading till almost midnight. Lights out. I relaxed every part of my body in anticipation of sleep. Sleep didn’t come. 1:30am rolled around. Light on again. More reading. Light off. Calling quiet now for sleep. Less tossing and turning and sighing last night. Managed to get to sleep somewhere around two. Better. Not great but better. Doesn’t help when my cats wake me up at 7:30am greeting me with ciaos and demanding food and acknowledgement with a tummy rub. I get up without a grizzle. I do it with love and wander off to the toilet before heading back to bed and more sleep. The alarm clock said 8am. I changed it back to 9am. Even then it wasn’t enough. 10am and finally I emerged. Bleary eyed. Not rearing to go but up.

Sleep is not my BFF anymore. I don’t know where we went wrong. It all happened around the time I became sober. I stayed up late instead of going to bed. The evenings were long. I sat in a daze of what now. Either I abandoned sleep or she abandoned me. I’m trying to get in sleep’s good graces but it is an effort. Worth it but exhausting.

Showing up is showing commitment and I will show up before midnight every night and wait patiently for sleep. I won’t get frustrated if she doesn’t show. I won’t get angry. I will not sigh. I will not toss and turn and wrestle with the sheets. I will persevere. Sleep will come around again. I may get up and wander the house and do something else but I will come back to bed and try again. Patience and perseverance will prevail.

The gym today. I made it. I walked on the treadmill to the words of my audio book. I cycled for a bit. Then I jumped onto a bosu ball and tottered awkwardly about. And done. Heat rate elevated more than usual so I took it easy.

Grit The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth is my book for the evenings. It is almost finished. It is fascinating. It is difficult to put down. Perhaps it is the wrong choice to have beside the bed. Instead it should be a boring/difficult book. One hard to pick up rather than one to put down. I will be onto the next soon and it will no longer matter.