Friday, February 24, 2012

On Drinking

I was an unusual child. Obvious biological imperatives were always something I resented. When most children were learning to go to the bathroom or pee themselves, I was learning to hold it. I would go longer and longer without finding a way to relieve myself. As a result of this, between the ages of 8 and 12, I got a lot of kidney infections and bladder infections, often associated with a high fever and a trip to the hospital. Often, at the hospital, they would have to draw blood two or three times because the pain of the needle was so much that I would struggle, breaking the red blood cells. I believe this is where my irrational, or perhaps not so irrational, fear of needles came from. I was 18 before I conquered that fear with a sheer act of will. I still have to watch them stick me to completely control it.

I spent a lot of time in the hospital and I did permanent damage to my body. I remember one of the radiologists telling my mother that I had the bladder of a 65 year old after one of my tests. Eventually, I had surgery to remove one of the causes of my kidney infections. By then, one kidney only functioned at 30% effectiveness. I'll probably never be a kidney donator.

Part of the course of treatment for my problems was drinking, a lot. As I look back on it, that doesn't make sense. The kid is too stupid to go to the bathroom when he needs to. I know. Let's make sure he has to go all the time. Anyway, by the time I was ten, I had to drink a gallon of water a day and generally a 32 oz bottle of some form of cranberry juice. Imagine, 50 lbs and drinking at least 1.25 gallons of liquid a day. I had to drink all the time. If you put a glass in front of me, I had to drink it. No hesitation. No thought. Just drink, glass, drink. As you can imagine, this formed a strong habit towards drinking.

This habit of finishing whatever glass is in front of me posed a challenge as I started to consume alcohol. No one ever taught me about pacing. I just sort of pieced it together. After a few problems with getting quite drunk, I figured I had to do something. First, I tried drinking one and then two glasses of water for every alcoholic drink I consumed. This was moderately successful although I can still be pretty stupid about using the facilities when I need to instead of when it seems convenient. Eventually, I learned to pace myself and when I pay attention to avoid severe effects from alcohol.

Still, if I don't pay attention, say I'm distracted by someone, I don't control myself as well as I should and I might drink four drinks in a row without realizing just how much I've drunk. And sometimes, though not recently, I do just let loose the controls and drink to capacity and damn the effects. This has become more likely in the last couple years but it is still a pretty rare occurance. Generally, attention is more than enough to control my drinking, unless distracted.

1 comment:

  1. as a legit alcoholic, attention is insufficient in limiting my consumption. :/

    but at least you've learned and are improving.