The Story So Far – Chapter 10 – Withdrawals

CHAPTER 10 – WITHDRAWALS

The only downer of that Easter Sunday 8th April 2012 was the onset of the headaches.  I thought in terms of the drinking everything was going so well, I understood that coming off alcohol dependency there were the withdrawals to deal with.  I thought they would hit almost immediately, I had researched alcoholism and found that it wasn’t always the case, in some cases there were none and in other they can emerge weeks later.  The body becomes so dependent on alcohol, that in some cases the body can go into shutdown if alcohol consumption is stopped, in extreme cases even leading to death, but in almost all cases there were withdrawal symptoms.  So now the headaches began to appear.

I’m not one to suffer from headaches or migraines, if I did get them they were quite mild and usually a couple of paracetamol and they were gone.  At work I had been taking in packs of bottled water, I was drinking plenty of fluids, but that didn’t stop them, paracetamol didn’t help either, I just kept getting headaches and I couldn’t get rid of them.

Over the coming weeks the headaches got worse and worse, more frequent and more painful.  Slowly though the pain spread, firstly into my back, then to my kidney’s and slowly around the body.  As April moved on I seemed to record each night in my journal how bad the pain was getting, how I was beginning to lose my mind because of it, the pain was getting to me and I was beginning to fall apart.

The worst day can on Sunday 22nd April, I remember sitting in Church, in constant pain, I could hardly move because it hurt so much to move, but I couldn’t sit still either because it hurt to keep still, I couldn’t fight it anymore.  Many people came by and prayed with me, prayed for my pain to go away and I just sat there fighting the tears, that was until I spoke with Gareth and at that point I couldn’t hold them in anymore.  By this time I was struggling, really struggling.

The next night it had been a long day at work, with a combination of paracetamol and ibruprofen I somehow got through the day.  When I got home I found myself lying on the settee in the dark, alone.  The pain was breaking through way beyond all the painkillers I had taken, they had taken the edge off all day, but not really taken the pain away, now it seemed even worse and I felt so alone, really so alone.

At this point I knew that my body was screaming for alcohol, my mind was telling me all I had to do was to give in and take a drink and it would all go away.  I don’t remember where the rest of the family were, they were all in the house, but just in separate rooms, I was laid alone, in the dark, in a world of pain.

I didn’t want to drink, but I knew this would all go away if I did, I was fighting it, but I was not doing very well.  But as the evening went on I had this feeling that I wasn’t to do this alone, I prayed and once again I felt I was being told not to do this on my own.  I didn’t really know who to reach out to though, so I grabbed my phone and sent a text to James, simply saying how I was struggling and I needed help.

Instantly as soon as I pressed send the struggle ended, a peace fell and the pain began to slowly subside, it didn’t go away, but it became manageable, the urge to treat the beast with what it was craving for was over, the gloom lifted.  James was in a meeting when I sent the text, but he responded as soon as he could asking how I was doing and if he could help, I replied by telling him how much just sending the text had already helped me so much and I was feeling much better, I was still in pain, but I had it under control.  I was so thankful for James in those hard weeks, he would text me so often, asking how I was and being so supportive, I always felt so encouraged when I got a text from him.

The next morning I was back at the Doctors for more tests.  I told him about the pain I was in, he attributed it to the withdrawals and prescribed me Co-codamol for the pain.  I understood that this painkiller was an opiate derivative and that these too could be highly addictive, I didn’t want to replace one addiction by treating it with another, I guess I was slightly surprised to be given these, but I guess that most painkillers can be addictive.  I decided that I would only take these when I really needed them, I wasn’t going to rely on them, only when the pain was unmanageable.  But actually by the time I was prescribed these I had suffered the worst of the pain, it was actually getting a little easier each day.  I had a prescription for thirty tablets, but in the end I only took about a dozen, the rest sat in my cupboard until I ditched them.

Over the next couple of weeks all the pain had gone.  By mid May I was feeling pretty good, all the pain was gone, I was happy and I was well.  After weeks of various blood tests and blood pressure checks at the Doctor’s, my blood pressure had returned back to normal levels and my liver results were back to normal too.  My early tests had come back with anomalies, the Doctor expected this given what I had told him about my drinking, but had pointed out that the liver also has the remarkable ability to repair itself.  I was lucky I guess, I hadn’t quite gone past the point of no return, I had stopped in time and everything now seemed to be coming together.  The news about my liver results was really encouraging, after weeks of pain and wondering whether this was all worth it, suddenly I knew I was on the right track.

With all the pain gone, I decided it was time to get fit.  Over the last few years I had put on a lot of weight, when I was training regularly I was usually just over 11 stone, when I stopped drinking I was around 13 stone, I wanted to get back down below that 11 stone mark, even go as far as 10 stone, which I believed possible.  So I started watching what I ate and exercising every morning, the weight began to fall off.

I had set a goal of being 11½ stone by July when the National Championship came around.  In the last few years, despite my weight and the drinking I had still managed to perform pretty well, I had won the Senior Men’s Kata back in 2010 and came second in 2011, but now I believed I could do so much better this year.  I actually got my weight down to 11 stone by the day of the championships, I went there with so much expectation, if they couldn’t beat me unfit, then how could I be beaten now, I was in the best shape I had been in for over 15 years, what could go wrong?

Well it did, in my first round match I lost, I lost to someone I should never have lost to, but I did, I slipped slightly, but that didn’t matter in the scheme of things, I had lost, when I saw the flags go in my opponents favour, I was gutted, I was destroyed, so much disappointment, even anger, it wasn’t my opponents fault, he pulled out his best and won, in fact I’m not sure he could believe the result either, I bowed to the referee, walked back to the edge of the area, turned to shake my opponent’s hand and walked away.

Then it happened, I realised that despite all my hopes for winning, I realised that it wasn’t supposed to be, the truth was it was better that way, winning now would be too easy, it would seem like everything was fixed, when in reality it was only just the beginning, there was more work to do, I was far from fixed just yet.

I stopped walking, stood by the area and closed my eyes, I lifted my head and said to God…

“Ok, I’m with you God, I’m not there yet,
I’ve still got work to do, it’s not my time,
it’s not part of your plan, I am with you,
I will trust you to show me when the time is right”

Immediately any disappointment faded, deep down it was still there, but it was okay, there would be another day, it was just not today.  I remember writing in my journal that night and quite clearly writing….

I AM A WORK IN PROGRESS, BUT I HAVE TO WORK IN ORDER TO PROGRESS!

It had been a long day and I didn’t get back home until the early hours of the morning, but even through the disappointment the day had been a good one.  I had met up with many old friends, some of whom I had met up with last at a training session in April, it was right in the middle of my withdrawals and I couldn’t train because of the pain.  That day back in April all my old squad coaches found out my secret and what a mess I had become, now they got to see how I was overcoming it all.

DEAR X (YOU DON’T OWN ME) by DISCIPLE
Dear pain, oh, it’s been a long time
Remember when you were holding me tight
I would stay awake with you all night

Dear shame, I was safe in your arms
You were there when it all fell apart
I would get so lost in your beautiful lies

I let you go but you’re still chasing

Go ahead, you’re never going to take me
You can bend, but you’re never going to break me
I was yours, I’m not yours anymore
You don’t own me

Dear hate, I know you’re not far
You would wait at the door of my heart
I was amazed at the passion in your cries

Dear anger, you made me so high
You were faithful to show up on time
Such a flame that was burning in your eyes

I let you go, but you’re still chasing

Go ahead, you’re never going to take me
You can bend, but you’re never going to break me
I was yours, I’m not yours anymore
You don’t own me

Go ahead, put a target on my forehead
You can fire, but you’ve got no bullet
I was yours, I’m not yours anymore
You don’t own me

You tempted me to look back
But everything that we had together was a lie

Go ahead, you’re never going to take me
You can bend, but you’re never going to break me
I was yours, I’m not yours anymore
You don’t own me

Go ahead, put a target on my forehead
You can fire, but you’ve got no bullet
I was yours, I’m not yours anymore
You don’t own me

Go ahead, put a target on my forehead
You can fire, but you’ve got no bullet
I was yours, I’m not yours anymore
You don’t own me

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