Bill Fielding was an alcoholic when he was 20 & didn’t know it. He was drinking 6 cans of beer every night to relax. By the time he was 25 it was taking him 12 cans of beer to relax as his tolerance had increased.
He had a girlfriend by this stage who commented on his alcohol consumption. Bill got sneaky. He took to buying bottles of vodka & hiding them outside of the house. He was forever making excuses to go outside. The smell of his beer covered the smell of alcohol but his girlfriend noticed his eyes becoming glazed and him slightly slurring his words.
One morning his girlfriend found a bottle of vodka outside. Bill didn’t have a leg to stand on. The relationship was over. By 4pm, after much scurrying about, Bill found himself a nice apartment. He saw this as an opportunity to drink to his hearts content. So he did.
Within 6 months he was drinking 12 cans of beer and a bottle of vodka a day. His tolerance continued to increase.12 months later he was now up to 12 cans of beer and 2 bottles of vodka a day.
Due to the fact that his tolerance increased slowly, over years, he was still functioning. He was what is referred to as a ‘functional alcoholic.’ He paid his bills on time, did his groceries as needed and was always well presented and well groomed. Nobody knew that he was an alcoholic.
Then Bill noticed that he wasn’t passing much water. This went on for months and he became rather bloated. One day he noticed that when he did pass water, he was passing blood. He paid no attention. Alcohol & logic don’t know each other.
3 weeks later in a moment of drunken clarity that only alcoholics know Bill emptied his last bottle of vodka down the sink. He had decided to quit. For the remainder off the day he felt fine. The following day he began to shake and sweat so he returned to bed with the aim of riding it out.
After approximately 48 hours Bill was sweating profusely and trembling violently. He got out of bed and put the TV on. After an hour he began to feel ‘odd’ in the head. It felt like his brain was buzzing and the TV stopped making sense. He felt that something bad was going to happen but didn’t know what. For some reason he placed his glasses on the table.
No sooner than he had placed his glasses on the table, Bill felt every muscle in his body violently contract. The next thing he could remember was laying on the floor, unable to stand up. When he eventually made it to his feet he was very wobbly and had no idea where he was. He began talking to a wall. He was aware that he was doing it but couldn’t stop. He then did the same with a light bulb.
Slowly Bill got his bearings (just) and sat down. As he put his glasses on he noticed a red stain on his jeans. He had been incontinent. It was then that he realised he had suffered an alcoholic seizure.
Contrary to common belief, alcoholic seizures don’t occur when you’re drunk. They occur 48-72 hours after extremely prolonged, & extremely heavy drinking.
Bill had a shower & rang an ambulance. He was admitted to the ward immediately, due to the history he had given, where he was catheterised, put on IV H2O at a rapid rate and had blood samples taken.
His blood samples were rushed back. Bills kidneys were in really bad shape. The kidneys regulate Potassium which in turn regulates the electrical conductivity of the heart. The normal Potassium level is 5.0-5.5….a very narrow window. Bills Potassium was 7.2! He was a heart attack waiting to happen.
Bill was immediately placed on fluid tablets and his IV H2O was speeded up in an attempt to flush his kidneys. He was also placed on a beige toothpaste-like substance called Resonium which bind Potassium to the gut. Resonium is not a cure but it would buy Bill time. If he didn’t respond ti the IV therapy & fluid tablets, his only option was dialysis; either that or kidney failure.
Bill got the fright of his life when a nurse he knew quite well came in and placed a mobile defibrillator by his bed. “That serious?” asked Bill. The nurse said, “This is as serious as it gets.”
Slowly, over 3 weeks, Bill responded to the treatment and when his Potassium levels were normal for 3 days, he was discharged. No referral to detox. No referral to an Alcohol Counsellor. No leaflets. No support group. Bill was left to his own devices.
On returning to his empty flat, he cried as he looked around. There was nobody there. Bill sought solace in alcohol again. Within 6 months he was back to drinking his usual amount. He tried to quit again, this time in stages. It didn’t work.
Bill became morose. He would suffer another seizure. This time he didn’t call an ambulance. This time Bill committed suicide.
Perhaps had he been given some guidance from the hospital Bill may be alive today.
Bill died when he was 46.