Due primarily to health reasons, I haven't had a drink of alcohol since July 20th of this year. My doctor advised me a while back that the sooner I got this monkey off my back, the better I could live my life. I owe it to my wife Chris and our family to stay healthy.
What Makes a Person Change?
I always wondered what makes a person change their behavior? In my case, fear played a large role. I was afraid that things could get worse. Cirrhosis of the liver on top of the stroke. Not a pretty picture.
Can you imagine the pain and discomfort? The frustration alone would cause me to lose hope. And on top of that, I couldn't have a beer, wine, or tequila to alleviate the stress and help me escape. "Don't wanna go down that road, again." But I think I caught myself just in time.
I Had an Alcohol Use Disorder
Thing is, I just liked having a beer or wine in my hand and another one ready to go, in case I needed another.
I had an alcohol drinking disorder. Because I stopped, it's no longer a problem. Just the health residuals are my concern. Now, I'm just a stroke survivor, and that's a disorder unto itself.
My brother had a premonition about three months ago where my deceased mother's spirit appeared and warned him: alcohol has been the downfall of our family and will continue to be so if we can't break the cycle.
Two years before I was born, my maternal grandfather, a heavy drinker and smoker, died from a stroke caused by cerebral thrombosis. He was 58. Also, two aunts and two uncles died in their late 40's, early 50's. All had issues with alcohol. I attribute alcohol abuse, in part, for my stroke at 56.
Alcohol was, by and large, tacitly accepted by my relatives, and its use was generally winked at. Near the international border between the U.S. and Mexico, my grandfather had owned a linen supply company in El Paso, a stone's throw from the Rio Grande. We would park behind his New Linen Supply Company before crossing the Stanton Street Bridge into Juárez for a night on the town.
The first little drink I ordered at the bar was a daiquiri at El Submarino, a tiny subterranean bar off Avenida Juárez. I paid 50 cents for the drink that was more like a slushee you got at 7-Eleven. I was 16.
Ciro's was known for their legedary flautas, which came topped with crema mejicana and salsa verde. Carvern of Music, better known as The Cave, had stalagtites coming out of the ceiling and sold fancy cocktails and pungent gardenias. A man would come around to everyone's table asking, "Flower for the Lady?" or "Gardenia para la novia?"
For the long night ahead, we usually started at Fred's with a sandwich to settle our stomachs then usually ended up at Ciro's for flautas or menudo. "Menudo para el crudo."
The time I spent carousing with my friends in Juarez was priceless and memorable. We bonded around alcohol, not as wholesome as our parents would have liked. Thankfully, we had other lives.
But Vic, you don't drink that much . . . Do you?
I tried to limit my alcohol intake to 2 beers a night, but that ploy wasn't always successful. My doctor weighed in by telling me I needed to quit abusing my body. That was a first from a doctor.
"Alcohol destroys your tissue in so many ways," she warned. When she suggested abstinence, I chuckled to myself and thought this woman's crazy -- a miss goody two shoes. Chále! That'll never happen! How could anyone survive without a beer now and then? I disregarded her advice, but heeded the warning.
My idea was to keep on as long as I could. At the first sign that my body was deteriorating or causing me pain, I would stop.
The night of my last beer we were at an art event at the Canopy on Springdale Rd. I was sucking down a free Hi-Lo pale ale while my brother enjoyed a Waterloo blueberry sparkling water. Again, he brought up his premonition to remind me.
As if the ghost of my mother wasn't good enough reason, I looked towards science to determine my fate. A simple blood test revealed that my Albumin level was high, as was my Hemoglobin A1c-- both have to do with liver and kidney function. Also, my Glucose was elevated.
End of a Career
I rationalize the end of my drinking career this way: I've had more than my fair share of booze in all its forms. Why not quit while I'm ahead? I have enjoyed great laughs and insights, but also suffered great pena (embarrassment) at the hands of my demon.
There you have it, wrestling fans, why I quit drinking after nearly 47 years of alcohol abuse.
Healthy Mocktail Recipes
1 medium seedless watermelon, cut into chunks
.5 cup fresh lime juice
4 tsp agave
5 tbsp sparking water
In a blender, puree enough watermelon chunks so that you have 4 cups of watermelon puree. Add lime juice and agave and mix again. Pour into 4 cups. Top with sparkling water.
6 cups water
.5 cup light-colored honey
5 tbsp dried lavender
1 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
Bring water and honey to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Gently crush the lavender in a mortar and pestle or in a bowl with a meat tenderizer. Add the crushed lavender to the pot then remove it from the heat. Cover, refrigerate, and steep for 2 hours. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve. Stir in the lemon juice and serve over ice.