One day at a time…

An old AA adage.   “How can I possibly stay sober for the rest of my life?”   “How will I stay sober at Christmas?” “My birthday?”  The classic from  my sponsor in his first weeks sober – “My daughter’s wedding?”  His daughter was 7 at the time!!!  The response to all these fears from those nodding wise old sages that sit around the rooms is more often than not “One day at a time”.  It is how I’ve got to be 14 years sober.  The thought of 14 days, 14 weeks, 14 months to me in those early days was just too great but when people would say “Well stay sober today and see what tomorrow brings” that just made eminent sense.  Of course it’s blindingly obvious that if you approach every day like that you will eventually wake up and find that day you are 14 years sober or like a very good friend around my local fellowship 54 years sober!

It actually is, like much of AA philosophy, something that can be readily applied to life in general and other aspects in particular.  My recovery from the operation is a classic case in point.

The operation went well as I posted before.  I was only under the anaesthetic for about an hour so my reaction to it wasn’t too bad.  Instantly as I lay propped up on my hospital trolley in the surgical recovery ward I could tell that the pressure feeling I had grown so accustomed to in my left ear was gone.  I instinctively went to do two of my little ingrained habits to help relieve it.  A hard swallow and my hand was raising towards my left ear to stick my finger in and “pop it” when I realised the swallow was unnecessary and thought “sticking your finger in the ear you’ve just had surgery in for no good reason other than habit probably isn’t a smart move”.    I’ve caught myself a few times making a similar move but the habit has quickly gone as I don’t need it.  Given that reducing the pressure in the inner ear is the primary objective of the operation you can see it was a clear and instant success on that front.

I have not had any major vertigo attacks since the operation – Hooray!   I have had a few at night or early morning in bed normally when I wake from being asleep on my back.    The room is gently spinning not like the violence of the previous attacks and it stops in a few seconds if I just focus on something.  They are a bit annoying and disorientating but really given where I’ve been with this totally bearable.  I’m consciously trying to sleep on my unaffected side as I think that helps.

Balance has been … interesting!  I’ve had moments when everything just feels wrong as though one of my big attacks is about to whisk me off in a 1000rpm spin and throw me to the floor.  But I just steady myself and in a second or two it passes.   I’d spotted one point when they regularly seemed to happen.  If I went from looking up to looking down – imagine getting a tin off the top shelf.  As I brought my head down to look at the counter I was to put the tin on everything felt off kilter.  I also felt it on some turns whilst walking too.   I think it is actually because I’ve grown so used to a broken balance system I’m adjusting to one that works now and that is causing the issue.  Again the good news is that I’m just coming up to 3 weeks since the operation and those moments are getting less frequent and less intense.  I believe the exercises I’ve been given are clearly helping retrain my brain.

I had my hearing aid fitted last week in the affected ear.  That has helped with being able to hear better although I’m having to get used to the echoey and tinny sound.  The biggest thing though is that after the op I felt that the tinnitus was worse.  I did say to my family I thought it probably wasn’t but that as my hearing was worse it was just more noticeable.  With the hearing aid that has made a significant difference – the tinnitus is still there but nowhere near as intrusive as I’d felt in the week after the op.

So overall – good.  As ever I wish it was all back to perfect (which it will clearly never be) instantly.  So I’m reminded as I see a slow improvement over the time to just take it… one day at a time.

Finally – many thanks for all the best wishes I received from fellow bloggers – it was much appreciated.

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Operation update

Just a short update. Operation was all successful. I came out yesterday evening so no overnight stay thankfully.

So far I can tell the pressure is different less which is good but early days. A week rest and recuperation to start then we’ll see.

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14 years

Apparently the average life term prisoner in the UK can expect to serve about 15 years before being paroled.  If that is true my sobriety is therefore approaching a life term.  Today is my 14th AA birthday – that is it is 14 years since I last took a drink.

The journey has been up and down and here and there at times.  The last few years it has been more settle as the road has levelled out or I’ve just got more adept at negotiating the ups and downs and dodging the pot holes etc.

I’ve been invited to speak tonight at one of my favourite groups one that was for many years one of my home groups – it only isn’t at the moment as my limitations with the meniere’s disease mean I can’t easily get there.  But a friend is going to give me a lift which is really kind and I’m really looking forward to being there.

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Spring is Sprung

Only a few weeks ago we were digging out some of the worst snow I’ve seen in the 26 years we’ve lived here. And now look at the garden.

Included is my newly built hedgehog house especially for SuburbanBetty. No sign of hedgehogs yet, I don’t recall seeing one in our area for at least 15 years. But it’s a bit where flowers struggle to grow etc and my daughter and I acquired the wood from some roadworks up the road which had meant a tree was ripped out.

I used to hate gardens and gardening it never ended. Do one mow or prune etc and another was needed. Now I get that in all things it’s not a bad thing to tend to it to keep it in good condition.

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Life on Life’s terms

The title above is a quote from the Big Book of AA.  It is one of the famous stories from the stories section in some of versions of the book.

I’ve recently reflected on it.  There’s a lot of tragedy around me right now.  My sponsor is having open heart surgery a few days after my ear operation is planned for.  He is I know worried about it – who wouldn’t be.  He was lucky it was found – he’s an arrhythmia that they need to fix by replacing a valve.  It was only picked up when he had an op to fix his knee last year.  So they are fixing it early before he has any attack etc.

A friend in AA lost a very young grandson tragically a few weeks ago.  Her son played in the same football team as my daugther’s boyfriend.  He was shocked when I told him the news.

My wife’s cousin died suddenly in a car crash last week.  She’d just got the all clear from cancer surgery and treatment.  How cruel.  He daughter is expecting in a few weeks and right at the start of this pregnancy had to bury her Dad.  Two parents lost in a few months.

As you all know I’ve been stuck largely at home all the time recently with my meniere’s issues.  We had all the stress of moving mother-in-law into the care home and then clearing and selling her house and me taking over all her financial concerns.

And I face this all, my sponsor and my friend in AA face it too – sober.  Actually that we don’t drink is remarkable.  14 years ago I was in the grip of my final days of drinking.  I was failing again to stop and couldn’t go a day without drinking to excess.  I couldn’t face work, a phone call, going out … whatever without planning the drink before, during or after.

Today I truly do face and accept life on life’s terms and I don’t need alcohol to deal with it.

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Operation date

Barring any issues operation is scheduled for 17 May. A few weeks later they’re going to fit a hearing aid too.

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I saw the specialist last week. My wife drove me to the hospital. But the parking was a nightmare. I suggested we park in a nearby street. We did just as I’m paying for the parking. The world starts to rotate at 100mph. I’m therefore on the pavement groaning.

Somehow we walk into the hospital and we arrive just in time for the appointment with me on my hands and knees. The staff were all really nice helping me get about the department for the tests etc.

The outcome. New drug, frankly a week on that is definitely not making any difference, yesterday two massive attacks, three two days before that.

Also though I’m on the list now for an operation within the next couple of months hopefully. They’ll drill into my ear, insert some grommets and inject some long acting steroids. They state it’s been really effective for most people that have had it. For a very few it has no effect, I’m hoping I’m not on that list.

After the operation then I’ll get a hearing aid fitted to try to restore some more useful hearing on the affected side.

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