If you’ve read my previous posts about how I was coping after detox, you will have seen months 1 and 2 and got the general picture, so I won’t repeat any of it here.
However, if you feel you’ve missed out in life then here are the links. It’s a bit like catch-up on i-player but minus the alcohol.
The idea was to keep updating on a monthly basis until I got my yearly blood results in October, which would be month-4 of abstinence. Somehow I seem to have missed month 3, so it can’t have been that exciting. And if I’m being honest, it wasn’t.
Again, as previously mentioned, this time last year I was faced with the prospect of fast approaching type-2 diabetes, which I really didn’t want so I decided to change my lifestyle and change my health prospects.
This of course included things like changing my diet, losing some weight, reducing the amount of wine that I liked to consume in an evening, and taking alcohol free days.
The aim being that I’d reverse the threat of diabetes, my blood pressure would come down, I’d reduce my cholesterol levels, and my liver function test would get back into the normal range.
This of course all sounded great in theory, and very doable while sat in the doctor’s surgery. After all, when you’re listening to a health professional tell you that diabetes, if left uncontrolled, can lead to blindness, strokes, heart attack, cancer – and for a bit of extra cheer – loss of the odd limb or two, then obviously you’re going to agree to change from white bread to brown, look at reducing your alcohol intake and not drink wine on a Monday and Wednesday night. (Yeah, right. Even the GP knows you’ve got your fingers crossed behind your back when promising that one).
However, I decided that this is really important so I uncrossed my fingers and thanked the Lord for giving me the strength not to be deceitful to the good doctor.
Unfortunately, I quickly found out that In practice the reality was a completely different story.
While changing from white bread to brown bread was a simple transition, and much easier than changing from white pasta to brown pasta (who on earth eats brown spaghetti? – It just looks wrong on the plate!), adding soda water to my evening wine was pure sacrilege. It tasted no better than salty grape juice and caused me to break wind while walking up the stairs.
And as for alcohol free days…..Well, that was like taking a rat off a Jack Russell.
It was at that point I realised that perhaps some help was needed. If I couldn’t go a couple of nights a week with a nice cup of tea instead of a bottle of wine then maybe the years of partying had finally caught up.
It happens. It’s called life. You work hard, you play hard, you give your life to family and career, you think your body is invincible, you give it some unintentional abuse, you think you’re in control.
Then one day your body starts to kick back and tells you it can’t cope with much more of this, and providing you wake up to the threat instead of wandering about with your eyes wide shut then you might just win yourself 25 to 30 more good years instead of 15 mediocre ones.
Fortunately, once I’d come to this realisation I think fate lead me down the right path, and a lovely health worker introduced me to a wonderful organisation called CGL (Change Grow Live).
It was at my local branch of CGL that I met the most dedicated non-judgmental people who gave me the inspiration and confidence to change my entrenched habits, take control and decide that alcohol consumption didn’t need to be a part of my life anymore.
After wasting weeks of trying to cut down on alcohol, switching to different lower alcohol versions and trying umpteen other things that simply didn’t do it for me, I elected to have a full medically supervised alcohol detox.
You can read about the start of my detox here.
Did I have reservations? – I most certainly did…
Was I a little apprehensive and scared? – Too f***king right I was…
You sort of get used to living life a certain way and functioning under certain conditions. I was concerned about silly things which felt very real at the time. Things such as how will I have fun. Life will be so boring without a drink. Can I ever go to the pub again. What will it be like going out for a meal.
Even now, I still get the odd thought creeping in like how will I enjoy going on holiday?
How ridiculous!. Why would I worry about going on holiday?
For a start we’re in the middle of a pandemic and I won’t be going abroad until at least the back end of next summer. As it stands at the moment I can’t even holiday in Wales, and that’s only 40 miles down the road, so what am I fretting about going to Spain for?
The point is that all these insecurities about how your life might change start to creep in, and that’s what freezes most people and puts them in to a form of analysis paralysis. In other words they give up before giving it a go.
But I was well prepared, and that was all thanks to the folk down at CGL, and I’ve said it many times throughout my blog, if you’re considering changing your life and health by cutting down or quitting alcohol completely, then get support off one of the many organisations out there. It will save you months of procrastination and increase your chances of success massively.
And the best part is there’s no judgement and no stigma attached. Just focussed people who know their onions.
The results are in.
So last week I went for my annual check up and blood tests at the doctor’s surgery, and although because of the current situation it’s a bit of a faff trying to get in, once you are in it’s nice and quiet. You actually have time to discuss your concerns rather than being hurried along because there are twenty kids with a runny nose in the waiting area expecting a miracle cure for the common cold.
In fact, one good thing that’s come out of the current pandemic is that the GP’s surgery, who I have great respect for have had to adopt technology to handle appointments and prescriptions. It’s so much easier than having to call in for everything, or wait in a huge long telephone queue.
Anyway, among other things, the results I was most interested in were:
Obviously the first two are self-explanatory, but for those like myself who thought a Gamma GT was an Italian mid-engine 1970’s classic sports car, let me explain.
A Gamma GT test is a gamma–glutamyl transferase test (GGT). Naturally, when you’re given this result at the doctors it’s expected that you discuss GGT everyday in the pub with your mates and you know exactly what it means.
However, a Gamma GT test measures the amount of GGT in the blood stream. GGT is a natural enzyme found throughout the body, but mostly it is concentrated in the liver where it does its most work.
If the liver is damaged or suffering then it can leak GGT into the blood stream, and this is how levels are found in a blood test.
Levels are measured in units per litre u/l. According to the Mayo Clinic, a normal range is between 9 and 48 units depending on sex and age. Higher levels are an indicator of potential liver damage.
So, getting back to the results, this is what I discovered today.
Diabetes. No longer a threat. I am fully back into the healthy non-diabetic range.
Cholesterol. Dropped from a level of 6.1 to 4.4 which again puts me more or less into the normal range. Another win.
Gamma GT (Liver Function). This has dropped from a whopping level of 100 u/l down to 30. Frankly I was blown away at this result.
And lastly, just to top it off, my weight has dropped by some 31 pounds without hardly trying.
Without labouring over the obvious, I think the results speak for themselves, and that’s in just 4 months!
So if anybody is worrying about the effect alcohol is having on their health and wondering if stopping drinking is going to be of any benefit, then I urge you to read those results again.
As usual, if you wish to add anything or share your story then I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a message below and I’ll respond asap.
You don’t have to use your real name, and your email address is not displayed, so don’t worry about confidentiality.
Good luck with your journey.
World-renowned Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology David Nutt breaks down the science and effect of alcohol on our health, mood, sleep and productivity and how it travels through our bodies and brains and explains on a practical level how we can make changes to positively impact our relationship with it and understanding of it, thereby improving our quality of life for the long-term.