Claire’s Story: Addiction, hospitalisation and recovery

We talk all the time about the changes that come from quitting alcohol, but Claire’s journey is one which is particularly extreme in both its highs and its lows. Her dangerously deteriorating health and eventual hospitalisation meant that giving up alcohol was a necessity rather than a choice. Her strength and courage in battling addiction is inspiring, and we share her story here in the hope that reading it will help others in their own recovery.

Before: addiction, hospitalisation

In July last year, I was in hospital with liver and kidney failure, as well as sepsis, whereby I spent 6 weeks in intensive care. I lost all the muscles in my legs due to 3 stone’s worth of fluid gain, and was unable to even lift my legs. I had to learn to stand, walk a few centimetres and then bit by bit. I wasn’t able to get into bed without help and couldn’t climb one single stair. I also developed Ascites whereby my stomach swelled so much I looked 9 months pregnant.

In the depths of my despair today was not even a reality.

I was given a week to live at worst and a definite need for a liver transplant at best. Somehow, I came through it. The admittance for me was paramount.

Today: recovery

I’m pleased to say I’m 9 months sober and fitter than ever, through going swimming and doing a retail job whereby I’m on my feet all day! I walked a 5k charity walk in December. However, I do have liver cirrhosis and just ‘a’ drink will end my life; something which has been made clear from day 1. My first run in with alcohol was in 2013 whereby I was suffering seizures and my heart had to be re-started twice. I didn’t drink for 1 year but I went away with my work on a free trip and I drank, which was the worst thing I could have done. However, these things are in the past now, and I know my life expectancy will be that of a normal, healthy person if I continue as I am. This is purely down to age being on my side and remaining alcohol-free. I’ve since become a bit of an expert on the health side of things!

23 best things about being alcohol-free

I never thought these things were possible:

  1. Look forward to waking up in the morning
  2. Excited for the next day
  3. Able to make plans even if it means being awake early as no hangover/shakes free
  4. Full of energy
  5. No longer bloated with a big, round puffy face
  6. Great appetite and look forward to meal times
  7. Not dreading opening my mail for fear of debt letters
  8. Being trusted with my 3 year old niece
  9. Teaching, playing and appreciating my niece – best thing ever!
  10. Not being dismissed when voicing my opinion because I’ve ‘had a few’
  11. Rebuilt relationships with parents, especially my dad
  12. Compliments galore!
  13. Not skint. Spare money for nice things
  14. Not having to lie to avoid situations
  15. Learning new things
  16. Motivated
  17. Appreciative
  18. Enjoy helping others
  19. No shakes
  20. New friends
  21. Realisation
  22. Pride
  23. Relief.

The future

My advice to anybody struggling is to not worry about telling somebody or asking for help. I didn’t have a choice as I was admitted to A&E, but there’s no shame at all in asking for help. There is so much support out there. I was scared stiff of the shakes and detoxing and that is why I held off. It really comes down to just admitting and accepting that help. The biggest thing for me in my recovery has been, and will always be, honesty with yourself and others. Lying just holds off the inevitable.

When there was literally nowhere left to hide, the relief I had was absolutely amazing. Once it’s out there nothing can touch you. The worst has happened!

I’m really pleased to be part of Club Soda, and hope I can help others somewhere along the journey.

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