It’s something we all know about, but none of us ever really talk about.
It’s something I’ve recently had to come face-to-face with. As I’ve mentioned on the ‘Dry January’ thread, I’ve had some abnormal blood test results. These did not come with a “you have to stop drinking”, but a reminder that I should take a few nights off a week and that a unit of alcohol is smaller than I think it is.
It’s also something that we’ve touched on in the recent thread on sulphites. Regardless of marketing, current trends or any manufacturing processes, the most dangerous chemical in our wine is the alcohol. We all know this, we all know the impact it can have.
I guess what I am aiming for here is a safe space for us, as avid, but on the whole sensible drinkers, to share any experiences of the ill effects or alcohol and our ways of sensibly coping with the health implications.
In terms of my journey, as I have mentioned rather a lot, I’ve spent a big chunk of the past 18 months trying to buy a house (this post is being written from the dining table of that house, covered in “Enchanted Ivy” paint!). When sorting out the in case something bad happens to you insurance for the mortgage I had to do a medical. I got turned down by the insurance company. They didn’t say why, but said they’d forwarded the results to my GP. (two whole months of back and forth with the insurance company and the GP about whether or not the results had been sent/received later) I got a call from my GP saying that my cholesterol was a bit high (family thing, also not high enough to actually treat, especially as I am slap bang in the middle of where I should be BMI wise and my LDL/HDL ratio is very healthy thanks to my gym-bunny status), and that my liver results were odd. His words not mine. I’ve had some of these tests rerun, along with a whole lot more (I mean a lot, I’ve never seen so many different vials taken). Yesterday I had the follow up call to those tests with a “your liver is closer to normal than it was, but still odd” and “your Iron and Ferritin are oddly high, are you Welsh?”.
There’s still a chance that blood tests were taken too close to a bit of a session (which has happened more than is healthy, potentially very literally, during the latter part of last year), so we’re actually keeping an eye on the liver function still with another test happening this Friday, when I’ll have had nothing to drink since NYE. In a better safe than sorry type way I’m also being tested for Haemochromatosis (too much iron - genetic blood disorder and mainly effects Celtic men apparently) and having an ultrasound on my liver (still awaiting an appointment - it turns out St Thomas’s Hospital is a bit busy at the moment). Physically I am fine. I don’t have any symptoms of any of these problems at all, so any potential issues have been caught early.
While none of these issues are caused specifically by my drinking, they’ll certainly have been exacerbated by them and won’t be helped in future. I’m currently reflecting on what I am going to do, booze wise. In the short term I am going dry until I know what’s going on. I was already thinking about doing this for a while as I’ve had a few too many excessive nights and needed to reset my relationship with alcohol to back to being something I drink for the flavour rather as a crutch (particularly while gyms are closed).
Longer term I’m not so sure, but this’s definitely given me quite a scare. I’m aiming to get more careful with glass sizes and may even consider coravin/vacuvin/eto type things. I think my biggest problem is “the next drink” where once we’ve finished a bottle of wine, particularly in a social situation we’ll have one more (it’s never only one more, and is usually a hand poured spirit - strict use of jiggers is probably another step I need to take), so stopping this, or at least making sure it’s actually only one more, is something that needs to happen. I am very much open to/in need of suggestions on this one! Fundamentally I don’t want to have to stop drinking, and to do that I may need to start drinking very differently.