This is probably more of a ‘confession’ for me than for most, for two reasons.
One, I take medications that you should not drink alcohol with. Namely methotrexate and arava.
And two, one of the reasons I separated from my husband was because of his heavy drinking. There are those that call me a hypocrite. I disagree, of course. There is a big difference between an alcoholic and a drinker. Even a heavy drinker is not necessarily an alcoholic.
I have always enjoyed a glass of red wine. But recently my drinking has increased.
I drink because it eases the pain. A glass of wine makes my oxycodone more effective, even though I am well aware that combining alcohol with oxycodone is not recommended. But there are days when I will do anything to relieve some pain. It helps me sleep through the pain.
When my pain levels are low, I don’t drink much. But my pain levels are not low very often lately. I usually have at least one glass of red wine every night.
When my pain levels are high, I drink considerably more. They are high right now. They have been high, with a few days of respite, for weeks now. So I am drinking more. 2-3 drinks per night. On the weekend just gone by, I was in a lot of pain. So I drank most of a bottle.
I want to be completely clear. I am honest with my GP and my rheumatologist about my drinking habits. And why I drink. Both would prefer that I abstain. But when the pain is ramping up, and the oxycodone is not cutting it, and my whole body is on fire, a glass of red wine is my crutch. It has a physical effect on the pain, as well as an emotional one.
As I’ve said before, I’m not a big crier. Sometimes though, I need to cry. But I’m such a hard-faced ice queen that I don’t like to cry in front of people. I tend to hold it together and paste a smile on.
I’m so used to holding it together, that sometimes I need a little help to let the emotions out. A glass or two of red wine facilitates that process as well.
I have my liver function tests on time every month, and so far they have always been fine. My rheumatologist admitted, considering my blood work, I appear to be handling alcohol and medication just fine.
Why am I confessing? Because today started out not so bad. As the day went on, the familiar itch in my bones started. A wave of terrible fatigue washed over me, and I knew that a knock down flare was on its way.
And I realised that I didn’t have any wine in the house.
I sat and thought about it. There was no other item that I needed from the shops. Walking was very painful. I had already taken my usual daily dose of oxycodone by 2pm. I knew it was going to be a rough night. And I asked myself if I could get through the night without a glass of wine.
I knew that a trip to the shop would be painful and slow. And I got in the car and went and bought wine.
Am I becoming an alcoholic? Have already become one?
I don’t believe so. But it’s a habit to watch.
I often get asked how I cope. I have severe RA, Lupus, Sjogren’s, and a few other lesser autoimmunes. I am a single mother. I have two children, one with special needs – Asperger’s Syndrome. I live on a disability support pension. I try to supplement my income with freelance writing work. Life is not easy.
So how do I cope? I’d love to say I have a supportive partner who has big strong arms and is generous with his hugs. But I don’t. I have a vice. A crutch. An escape.
My glass (or three) of red wine.