I am thrilled, honored… even tickled to announce this guest post by a commenter you may know as Whistler. I’ve always been struck by the strength, hope, and humor in his words. For such a limited format, his comments felt powerful and left me wanting to hear more of his story. Alas, he has no blog of his own.
Thanks to a gentle nudge from Christy (in where else but the comments…it’s like a fun after-party, minus all the drugs!), Whistler sent the post below, which shares a glimpse of his experience, strength and hope.
I hope it brightens your day too and please join me in congratulating Whistler on his one year sober.
Went to see the doctor the other day for my yearly physical. Please understand, this doc and I go way back. Also understand, up until a year ago I had been drinking for 30 something years. If I wasn’t a blue ribbon drunk, I’m certain I was at least a prize winning drunk.
And just so you know, alcohol doesn’t immediately evaporate when we drink it, which means my doc is accustomed to seeing my weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and all those other body parts and functions at unhealthy highs and/or levels. By the way, you know he never once asked me about my drinking? Not once. Of course I never brought it up either. Would you, ignorance being bliss? He’s a good experienced doctor so I know he must have known.
Of course when I think about it, I suppose most everyone must have at least suspected. It’s hard to camouflage a drunk, but drinkers tend to walk around like we’re wearing the cloak of invisibility. I went the recluse route, but even little kids and dogs know something’s off kilter when they see it. Denial is strong stuff and a drunk in denial is particularity obstinate.
Anyhow, I have to do a yearly physical with this doc or he won’t continue to order my prescriptions (blood pressure and cholesterol, go figure). Plus every few years (next month) I have to have a flight physical from a different but specially qualified doctor. Yes, I used the word flight but please relax, I am not a commercial pilot and I never drank when flying or flew drunk but… how do you separate daily drinking from daily living? I mean, can one completely separate the influence and consequence of alcohol from that which is a practicing and over-indulging daily drinker?
There’s more to drinking than just being drunk and then hung over. Some of you fellow former drinkers know what I mean. The foggy overall mindset of a drinker combined with the mental race to the next beer can oblige some mighty stupid tricks.
But back to passing flight physicals. It is not that tough if you schedule it on an early Monday morning with your last beer the previous Saturday night, drinking gallons of water, and concentrating like crazy. And it takes great concentration. Like the time I got pulled over by the Highway Patrol and they gave me the eye test finger following thing because I smelled like a brewery. But of course the best way for a consistently heavy drinker to pass a flight physical is to know the Flight Physical Doctor (this doc died last year so don’t go looking for him) for dozens of years and he’s a buddy of your retired commercial pilot step dad who doesn’t drink at all. Remember when it comes to objectives like that, it’s not what you know, it’s definitely who.
So, my doc was happily surprised this year when he saw my lighter weight, my exceptionally normal blood pressure, and my green with envy cholesterol levels. I suspect he thinks these results were an outcome of his good doctoring and suggestions but in truth, it was the simple product of sobriety. No joke, without booze I feel better, look better, think better, live better. Now I almost look like I know what I’m doing some days. My doc probably thinks better late than never.
Oh, and that horizontal gaze nystagmus sobriety test conducted on the roadside by the Highway Patrol? He had me dead to rights but he let me slide. Gave me a warning for failed license plate lights. That was the last time I drove drunk. It was one of the last times I drank. It was one of the reasons I stopped drinking. I framed the warning; it’s on my workshop desk. He will probably never know what a true good he did for me. God, please bless Officer Brooks.