Thursday, 22 October 2015

I Need A Drink

I had a bad day yesterday.

Two days after the breast cancer diagnosis and it had started to sink in.

To distract myself, I took #1 (who is on half term) shopping on the King's Road. I was doing fine until I passed one of my favourite shops. It's a boot shop which has been there for about thirty years. It always has kick ass cowboy boots in the window, and it's - quite brilliantly - called R. Soles. (Say it out loud).

Now R. Soles is gone. Boarded up. And I suddenly felt unbearably sad. #1 couldn't understand why I was weeping over a boot shop closing down. But, obviously, it wasn't about the boots.

Then I  had to go back to hospital for an MRI scan. None of this is as simple as it sounds, as it involves finding someone to look after #1, and to pick up #2 and #3 from school, cook them supper and supervise homework.

Mr SM took a half day off to hold the fort, but that meant me going by myself.

I can already see the next few months requiring more of the endless juggling, favour pulling and passing the poor kids from pillar to post, when all they want is their Mum to be there, as normal, acting normal.

The MRI scan basically involved lying on my front with my boobs in two giant buckets (made for better endowed ladies than I), then being pushed into a tunnel resembling something out of Star Trek.

You have to lie still for 45 minutes, so you close your eyes and try to sleep, but it's so noisy it's like trying to snooze in the middle of a motorway or building site.

As I sat on the tube (underground train) on my way home, a giant wave of general bleurgh hit me, and silent tears started dripping down my face. This sort of behaviour in the country that invented the stiff upper lip is generally not acceptable, and is likely to get you arrested or sectioned.

Luckily, the general code of conduct on the tube is to ignore everything and everyone. Pretend you haven't seen it (whatever 'it' is).

(I once saw a man on the tube dressed in a smart suit and carrying a briefcase during morning rush hour. He'd obviously been on a bender the night before as he'd gone green. Everyone sitting around him was looking nervous. Eventually he put his briefcase on his lap, opened it, vomited into it, closed it again and carried on as normal. No-one said a word).

So there I was, weeping on the tube, being ignored like the vomiting commuter, and the wine witch was having a field day:

No-one would blame you if you had a drink! It's medicinal for f***s sake. When you quit you never expected this to happen....

I really, really needed a drink. I needed to take the edge off. I needed to escape for a while. I needed to give myself a treat, and since I've completely lost my appetite, chocolate cake just doesn't cut it any more.

But, at the same time, I know that I need a drink like a hole in the head (or in the left boob, in my case). Because just one drink wouldn't even begin to hit the spot. It would be a whole bottle. And then it would be a whole bottle every day until this has all gone away which - even in the best case scenario - is months into the future.

And there's nothing that breast cancer likes more than alcohol....

So, I used the old 'early days of sobriety' trick. I had a hot bath and went to bed early with a hot chocolate and a crappy novel.

After months of sleeping like a log (see Sleep, Glorious Sleep for more on how drinking screws up your shut-eye), I'm now becoming re-acquainted with my old friend: 3am.

(I went on some breast cancer support forums and, predictably, they were littered with advice to 'pour yourself a stiff vodka').

I've been awake for the last 5 hours fretting about my meeting with the consultant today to discuss my biopsy and MRI results, operation date and treatment plan.

I just don't want the news to get any worse.

Wish me luck x


  1. Wishing you all the luck in the world SM. You are doing so amazingly well getting through this in the way you are, and being so strong in so many ways. Will be thinking of you xx

  2. good luck my dear. I've been thinking of you all week. xx

  3. You are an inspiration to all of us out here, a lifeline we depend on to keep us strong, you are truly exeptional. I just wanted you to know that. Let us keep you strong now. Sending you love and light xxxxx

  4. Good luck SM. I have been reading your blog since the early days so I know you are strong enough to deal with this. xx

  5. Oh good luck sober mummy. You are doing amazingly well and you are ready for this. You've been preparing for it for the last few months and will get through it. You've been such a support to me and so many others - there is no way I would have stayed sober without your blog - and we're all here to support you. Kids are far more resilient than we think and they'll be absolutely fine. You'll find friends you never knew you had. Keep breathing and just go with the flow. There's nothing else for it. I'll keep you in my prayers xxx

  6. Good luck SM! Just remember that those people around you want to help so don't feel reluctant at all about calling in favours!

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  8. Good Luck SM. If your community is anything like mine, when all the moms find out you will have help coming from every which way. You have been such a great source of support for me so now it's time for me to support you! We have your back.

  9. Absolutely - you can do this. And yes, I think that is a common characteristic of an addict. We HATE to ask for help. Have to do everything ourselves. But people WANT to help you. I am sitting here KNOWING that you have a stage 1, non aggressive tumour. Hugs

  10. One of my favorite quotes is "Some day in the years to come you will be struggling with the great temptation or trembling under the great sorrow of your life. But the real struggle is here, now, in these quiet weeks. Now it is being decided whether, in the day of your supreme sorrow or temptation, youn shall miserably fail or gloriously conquer." You have proven yourself very strong by giving up drinking and helping so many of us to do the same. You have all the tools you need to deal with this. Trust that.

  11. can't stop thinking of you and what you are going through. maybe when it all starts it will get easier. I hope so. you are a wonderful amazing woman. i think in all our eyes.

  12. I really don't think friends mind being asked for favours. I think it helps them too - often we don't know what to say to people who are seriously ill (or whose loved ones are) so being able to do something for that person helps us too. There was a brilliant article on just this subject in Porter magazine a few months back - by Vassi Chamberlain. I will scan it and email it to you.

  13. You've been in my thoughts all day.
    About the kids: It would really be a lot better to get some young student to come by and babysit rather than pass them around. They will want to be able to go to their rooms and just be left in peace, rather than having to be on their best behaviour at someone else's house.
    You don't feel lucky right now, I know - but you are really very lucky to be able to get your diagnosis and treatment so fast.
    Beware of the painkillers after surgery, obviously. I was just at an AA-meeting where a man told how painkillers after an operation caused a relapse after 14 years of sobriety. But one thing at a time, obviously.

  14. Thinking of you x baby steps x we'll get through this x

  15. Dear SM
    You are an true inspiration to me & many others. You're blog is so on the button for me. I look forward to reading it everyday.
    One day at a time. Accept the help that is offered. Cry & scream if you need to.... & tell that wine witch to "wind her neck in & bugger off!!". She has nothing to offer you, nor any of us. Sending 💕💕💕

  16. Hey sm been thinking about you all day I know you would have faced the day woth head held high and knots in your tummy - you will know by now the action plan I hope it doesn't frighten you too much ( or be that horrendous ) keep strong you have faced worse demons and not only managed them but looked them straight in the eyes and told them to fuck off - this challenge is no different - remember that - big Friday hugs to you

  17. Been thinking about you all week, stay strong, you're doing so well xx

  18. I hope it went well today. Chin up, I'm rooting for you down here. xx

  19. You might not feel this, but you are so strong and brave, and did so well not to give in to the drink! You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  20. I have been thinking of you and pray things went okay yesterday. You're amazing and such an inspiration to so many of us. Sending big hugs xxx

  21. Sending lots of positive vibes from across the river your way.. I was sad R Soles went too.. We have Phil Glas and Swigget near us... Less useful than boots!

    Take one day as it comes you are doing brilliantly. xxxxx

  22. Very best of luck today SM, my thoughts are with you xxxx

  23. Remember the lies this addiction tells you. They are lies. And you are hearing them loader because of the stress you are feeling right now. You must push away those lies and tell yourself nothing, and I mean nothing will make it go away! Cry, scream, be angry, pray, walk, run, hit a pillow whatever it takes beautiful, just don't pick up that first glass!
    Boston Strong, Boston Sober

  24. I can't imagine how difficult life must be for you right now. I hope so much that the results of the tests etc give you the best possible position to start treatment from. Alcohol may blot things out for a minute or so but oh boy you will pay for that and the last thing you need right now is to hate yourself. You have done so well to stay away from that first glass xx