I can't thank you all enough for all your messages and e-mails yesterday. They made me cry. A lot. (In a good way). It felt like a global bear hug from a group of amazing, strong, warm, and kind people, and I am completely overwhelmed.
I am so sorry that I have not yet replied to any of them. Please forgive me.
For decades I have used booze as an escape hatch, a 'beam me up, Scotty' whenever I needed a fast exit from a hostile planet.
And yesterday I really needed an escape hatch, or a teleport.
A few months, maybe only a few weeks, ago, I would never have imagined I could get over a major hurdle without alcohol. I would have accepted that, in this instance, needs must. I would have decided to put the 'not drinking thing' on hold, and come back to it later when I'm feeling stronger.
But not yesterday. You see, the last (nearly) eight months have made me realise that there really is one thing harder than dealing with a major trauma without alcohol, and that's trying to do it with alcohol.
My last big health scare was about twelve years ago. I still remember it vividly. I drank my way through it. I managed to not think about it during waking hours (thanks to the escape hatch), but I'd wake up at 3am with the night horrors, then spend four hours tormenting myself.
Because of the constant escaping, I put everything off for as long as possible, thereby spinning the whole process out and making it far more painful than it needed to be (see my post on Procrastination).
If I had downed two bottles of wine yesterday (which I could have done very easily), then on top of all the general angst I would have had a truly awful night, followed by a day of doing nothing but hating myself and hating my situation.
Instead I managed to get five hours sleep. When I was awake I was anxious, but logical. As soon as the 'phone lines opened I called my GP and booked the first appointment on Monday morning. Then I called a knowledgeable friend and got the number of the best boob guy at the Royal Marsden, in case I need it. And I managed to do a good show of 'normal Mum' for the kids.
The reality is that the booze escape hatch is a bit like the one in a James Bond Movie. You think you've found an easy way out of the villain's lair, but you find yourself falling into an underground pool filled with hungry sharks.
I also discovered that it's true what they say about quitting booze giving you the strength and the tools to do anything. Because now I am one hell of a lot better at dealing with fear (see post on Anxiety and Courage). And banishing that voice in your head which constantly says you are going to die! is pretty much exactly the same as banishing the wine witch. The same distraction, visualisation and self care techniques work a treat.
I did do some macabre thinking. I had a long car journey today during which I planned my memorial service. It was just like my old game of deciding what I'd choose as my Desert Island Disks, but more morbid. (In case you're interested, I'm definitely having The Owl and the Pussycat as a reading, and will insist on them playing my song for Mr SM - Flowers in the Window by Travis).
(I also have to confess to drinking 6 Becks Blues and not eating anything. On the upside, I lost 2 pounds in 24 hours - yay!).
So, I'm fine. The odds, as many of you pointed out, are in my favour. But, if I end up with the short straw, I know that I am strong. I have you amazing people. I have one of the best cancer hospitals in the world just down the road. I can manage without hair if necessary. I can heal myself and help my Aunt too.
It's just a case of baby steps. One day at a time. Sound familiar?
If you're just starting out on this journey, then remember: you're not just changing your life by getting sober; you're also giving yourself the tools to deal with anything. And you never know when you might need them....
You rock. You are my rock.