My story continued; The Final Straw.
Spring came and with it came another problem. After having been married so long, I figured that I had seen all of the “issues” that my husband had. The disregard for his health, the laziness, the ability to let his faults put us in dire circumstances. I thought I knew them all. Evidently not.
Simply put, my husband had developed an alcohol problem.
To backtrack, we had never been teetotalers. Even after having gotten involved in the Patriarchy movement, we never abstained from alcohol completely. While both churches had followed a lot of Fundamentalists doctrines, neither condemned alcohol use. In fact many of our church friends drank from time to time. Only the abuse of alcohol was considered a sin.
Neither had me nor my husband ever had problems with alcohol in the past. We didn’t drink most of the time, being more of the occasional type. When we did, there were never any problems. My husband was never a mean drunk and although he had a higher tolerance for alcohol, he had a stopping point. He might get a little drunk, say goofy things, but he never drank until he was passing out. Over the years, his drinking never increased.
Flash forward to the present. I had noticed during the winter that he seemed to be drinking a bit more frequently. Instead of once a month or every couple of months, it seemed that we would drink at least once a month. For a while it seemed like it was every other weekend. I wasn’t worried at first. When we drank, it was a couple of drinks on a Saturday night, not some weekend long blitz.. I wasn’t worried though, I have a low tolerance for alcohol. Drinking for me means a few drinks before dinner and then I’m done. Having never had a problem with alcohol addiction and not drinking to excess (I have a low tolerance for alcohol) it was an occasion to kick back with a drink. Since I didn’t drink to excess, these occasions were not tinged with the ruins of excess. If my husband suggested having drinks that upcoming Saturday, I thought nothing of it.That would change soon.
One Sunday morning, my husband had a seizure. One minute he was sitting at the table and the next, he had keeled over. At first I thought that he was having a heart attack. By the time first responder had arrived
(the local fire chief), my husband was walking around, dazed and confused. He not only failed to recognize anyone, but violently resisted any attempts to restrain him.
By the time more paramedics had arrived as well as several Sheriff’s deputies, my husband had regained his senses and had no memory of the events. It turned out that he had had a seizure. He went to the hospital where he had several more. They were able to give him drugs to prevent further seizures and there was no lasting damage. He was released the following day. An appointment with a neurologist showed that my husband was an epileptic. Years before, my husband had a seizure and it was ruled as an isolated occurrence. His neurologist requested the EEG done at the time and she told us that they had misread the test. According to her, the test clearly showed abnormal spikes. My husband should have been diagnosed and treated for Epilepsy back then. For whatever reasons, my husband had gotten along fine for the next couple of years and then the condition had surfaced again.
Better late than never I though. Now my husband was taking medication to control it. He was also told to abstain from driving for a month until a follow visit was made. The neurologist explained that there were things that could lower one’s threshold for a seizure. Among the usual suspects such as flashing lights, drinking and lack of sleep were also triggers. In my husband’s case flashing lights did not seem to affect him. However, alcohol did. Even the paramedics had told him that the previous night’s drinking had probably caused the seizure. Why the seizure occurs the day after when the person is sober I do not know, but apparently that is not uncommon.
I figured that my husband would heed the doctor’s warnings. I was wrong. We no sooner got into the parking lot when my husband insisted that he drive. After an argument it was clear that as usual, he was going to do things his way. He was quick to dismiss the doctor’s advise, claiming that now he was on medicine, there was little risk of his having a seizure.
The next couple of months that followed were pure hell. My husband continued to drink, sometimes it was every other Saturday night sometimes it was every Saturday night. Worse, his drinking now consisted of hard alcohol. In our early years, my husband would drink beer, punctuated with shots of rum. However, in the past year or so, he seemed to have phased out the beer and was drinking hard alcohol only. Lately, his favorite drink was Long Island ice tea.
Now that he was on medicine, alcohol affected him much worse. In no time, he was slurring his words. After a couple of drinks, my husband would nod off. In earlier times, my husband would decide that he had had enough when he felt “drunk”. Now it was different. I would wake him up, telling him that he had nodded off at the table. I would then suggest that maybe he had drunk enough. He would deny being drunk, insisting that he had nodded off because he had been tired, getting up early for church that day (the hideous irony) and that he was fine. Then he would proceed to drink some more!
On these nights, I would have to clear the table of partially consumed food as I realized that he would not stay awake long enough to finish his dinner. I could never get my husband to go to bed, let alone sit in the easy chair. He would insist over and over that he was fine even as his words slurred. Ten minutes later, he would be slumped in his chair, dozing.
I would finally retreat to bed on these nights, full of anger and fear.
After the second or third Saturday night disaster, I remember lying in bed thinking ‘I have a serious problem here.’ I was incredulous as to why this problem had suddenly surface after all the years. It had crept up, but as I lay there I remember an incident which occurred a couple weeks before the first seizure.
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NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce