Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Alcohol is very much the flavour of the month in Scotland just now, deaths from cirrhosis are now at an all time high with the ever increasing episodes of binge drinking. The resignation of the Liberal Democrat Leader, Charles Kennedy, over his admission of an alcohol problem has further thrown the limelight on the dangers of excessive drinking. The problem is what to do about it. I don't have a magical cure, nobody does, but as long as our society, in general, is in denial over the seriousness of this illness we have no chance of making things better.

My own family has been dogged by this illness with both my grandfathers, my father and father-in-law, myself and young brother all having suffered the agony of coming to terms with it. There has been a varied amount of success in tackling the problem. Both my grandfathers died through the results of over-indulgenge, while my father-in-law went from a high-flying civil servant to the gutter, literally. I have not had a drink now in over three years and count myself as being fortunate to be having a good recovery. My young brother is still coming to terms with his condition and like Charles Kennedy is a little in denial as to the full extent of his illness. I can't do anything to help him just now because he will not accept it but believes he can defeat it on his own. That, for me, is not a good sign but it's one I have to accept as it is the course of most alcoholics. I just hope he seeks the help if it is needed.

There is the future as well. Will my children become alcoholics? I don't know but I again can't stop them drinking if they choose to. I can advise and lead a live that is alcohol free and show, by example, that you can lead a happy and fullfilled life without the use of mind altering substances.

My biggest wish in all of this is that we can get societies to acknowledge that alcoholism is an illness, that it is not a choice to be an alcoholic and that you can recover if you have the ability to be thouroughly honest with yourself right from the start. That should help extarct the amount of hypocrisy that exists on this topic

Monday, December 19, 2005

Mothers are not indestructable

That dreaded phone call came at 3.15 in the morning. Confused and still half asleep I answered the phone. Who was this? My father told me that mum had had a funny turn ( as he put it!), that he had phoned for an ambulance and could I come to the house and the hospital with them. I couldn't quite take it in. My FATHER telling me my MOTHER had had a funny turn! Wait a minute I thought that is suppose to be the other way round. You are the kidney patient, you are the one who has had 16 good years out of a kidney transplant, you are the one who is supposed to get unwell suddenly in the middle of the night. NOT my MOTHER! She is 81 years young, looks after our 2 year old, does her Tai Chi, eats all the right things, doesn't smoke, hardly drinks and SHE's the one who has had a heart attack.

The knock on affect of this incident is how it has been taken by the whole family. Both my brothers are now more attentive than ever, especially my older one who is trying to offload his guilt at not seeing her too often by smothering her with help that she doesn't want or need. She is not an invalid she has had a setback but will recover. It does emphasise to me though the great influence a strong mother can have. She has been the mainstay of the family through all sorts of illnesses to my dad, my older brother and myself. She has helped look after both my sons and now my daughter and asked for nothing in return only shown unconditional love. She is a mother in a million.

As a little postscript to this, because I started this a couple of days ago, I have seen my mother today, Christmas Day 2005. She looks amazing and in fact, better than she has done for a while. She is calm and has started to make a full recovery
I know that she has many more Christmases ahead of her but we should never take it for granted