Category Archives: Drinking

No TV wanted in Hospital

How was I feeling on the hospital ward for seven days, not my period in ICU?
I was fairly glum. I had little or no motivation and shunned most activities.

I didn’t want to read papers, books or magazines. I had no interest in the portable DVD player. I could have access to the Internet or the TV from the Pay-per- View service, but I just wasn’t interested

It could have been the drugs that made me so glum, but deep down I knew better

I had been hospitalised without any notice. At that time I had no idea what my condition was, nor how it was caused. I knew I had vomited a lot of blood and my surgeon had mentioned something about tying things up when he first arrived, just before surgery, but at that time on the hospital ward, I didn’t know what was up. I didn’t know how long I would survive. No one was telling me anything and so I had no rudder

And I didn’t want to ask, because they were all so damming and critical of my drinking habit.  They did not seem to care that I had no idea I could do this.

My life had always been based on instinct. Instinct to do things based on what I had experienced, what I thought was right and what I thought was fairly well balanced.  How wrong was I?

Something had gone seriously wrong and without motivation to do anything, probably the result of the drugs, I couldn’t steer my thoughts into a positive mental attitude. There was no way of directing my energies towards a positive outcome. As a result I shunned any distractions.

There was no point reading or writing anything, watching or listening to anything. Why would I waste my energy absorbing information on topics I didn’t know whether I would live long enough to actually think about

I became self absorbed and I smiled outwardly, but inwardly I was static

I couldn’t think of death. I didn’t know I had nearly just died. But I also couldn’t think of living

So for the first time in a long time I watched no TV

For those seven days on the hospital ward I just survived on my own. It was just time passing and my memory of it now is mainly just blank


Two Bottle Wine Man

I went to the 7-11 store last night and saw a man in the checkout aisle. Two bottles of matching wine. An offer. There was no way he was drinking responsibly

And then I saw a post from a best friend who said his second bottle of wine had helped his hangover

The world is allowing itself to go mad. Consistent hard drinking is killing livers and making people suffer.

The deportment of that man was just worrying. His stomach was sagging, his chins doubling and it was clear any sense of common sense – when it comes to alcohol and the effect it would have on his body – was just being forgotten.

I hope that others will learn from these stories of mine. No one should have to experience vomiting blood like I did

A Book Delivered to the Hospital Ward

Here is one of my memories from hospital after surviving nearly bleeding out.

When you are recovering on a hospital ward any number of visitors can sidle up to your bed. There is security on the wards, but hospitals still allow various institutions housed within their walls to visit. Usually  its just family, nurses and doctors, but some social workers come along, health care people, tea ladies and of course the chapel has a permanent fixture somewhere.

I had two visits from the church. The first was as interesting as a cup of tea in a seaside cafe; the second was as lovely as lunch at the Ritz in Paris.

On neither occasion was any refreshment served on my hospital ward.

The first church visitors delivered what has become known as “the hotel bible”. Two delegates from the hospital chapel came along un-invited and appeared mystified that despite the seriousness of my hospitalisation, I was fairly chipper in avoiding their attention, especially as it became apparent that they were not leaving unless they had left the book behind

They continued their endeavours to convince me of the merits of the publication, but I was still weak. I did not fancy the discussion, have the stomach, will power nor energy to enter into a theological debate.  So I smiled.  Took their book. Heard their congratulations on my survival and waved weakly, as they left.

The second visit was from an older man with a beautiful smile and a very youthful spring in his step, and was I man I recognised instantly. This vicar – “Ric the Vic” – had buried my mother and christened my son. He had been passing the ward, had recognised by siblings and popped in to say hello to me just by chance.

This second religious visit was much more than welcome, as he recognised my views and scepticism on many things, including my questions over following the bible, a book written thousands of years ago, as a way to conduct one’s life.

He never asked me about my drinking. Just how I was getting on. Like a friend.
I still have the hotel bible in my lockup. It’s in my discharge hospital bag remaining unopened, as is my heart and enthusiasm to investigate the stories within.  It is surprising that the first visitors were permitted to attend at my bed-side, so clearly there were concerns about me, yet even now no one dictates to me on religion.  I know a lot more than most, but we should all be allowed our own understanding of such matters.

A little guidance perhaps, but that’s it.

Walking Hospital Corridors with a Drip

Regardless of what you may think of me, a reformed man, I am quite switched on

You might think me as a fool for causing so much pain to other, for not stopping excessive drinking earlier, but I maintain that I have done everything that was expected of me and that I am very lucky.  I can now mend and do some good.

Anyway. I remember it was the second or third day on the main hospital ward that I overheard my surgeon comment I could go for a walk, if I could walk, other than just to the toilet.  A day or so later I tried my luck to get to the hospital cafe alone. It was a long walk and I needed a rest on the way, but I got there

I really was pigheaded in my pursuit for freedom, but I needed it. All of my adult life I have had complete freedom, so I was determined. The nurses had watched in disbelief as I walked past their station, but I took my drip, rolled it along the hospital corridor and with time got there in my white tunic

The first time was hard work and was foolish. I think someone helped me back

The second time was just fun, but exhausting. They asked me not to do it again!

Yet they had seen me and it was this that got me released early from hospital.  This was what I wanted, but I was not ready to leave. And my friends were petrified I would just find the kitchen cupboard again, because all of the doctors and nurses and counsellors had said I would just drink straightaway

I am pigheaded and I knew the time had come never to drink again, but I went home early and that was a mistake, because I was still very ill and weak, losing weight and refusing anything nutritious.

Yet my determination to walk down that corridor doing just what I wanted to do showed the sort of character I have. I don’t need to drink again and I want to start again

I am at last in control of myself and my thoughts. Everything else doesn’t matter. People I come into contact with shall all be treated well and nicely and I will portray no arrogance.  Deep down I know that I have a second chance and all I can do now is smile inwardly and outwardly, but without doing what everyone else thinks is the right thing to do

The difficult thing to explain is the extent to which I was infirm.  I had lost so much blood, had been chemically taken off alcohol and was now having to recover, with the power of my own mind to not want another drink.  That was the easy bit.  The hard bit was doing the things that had for so long come naturally to me: eat, walk, smile, think, move at all, accept who and where I was in my life.  My best friend became a sofa

A Shower with a Nurse (a note from the hospital ward)

Dear Liver

On about my fourth day on intensive care they gave me a bed bath; when two nurses visited me in Intensive Care, stripped me down and bathed me.  And how being bed ridden and having a poor general temperament meant it is just a memory I would rather forget.

I like to think that I am as normal and amorous as the next person, but I can assure you that any feeling of passion towards anything is lost to you when you are in hospital recovering from nine blood transfusions

It doesn’t mean that you cannot live in hope though and on the hospital ward I was told by my motherly nurse that it was time to shower

At this time I was not steady on my feet.  I had tried walking, could just about manage, yet needed help and support. So off for a shower we went.

The nurse and I entered a white room, which contained a sink, a shower and a white chair.  The door was closed behind us and I took off my clothes, clinging to the seat.  There was a pole to the side of the shower and I was helped towards it, the water was turned on and I was left alone.  The nurse stood away from my naked frame and eventually I sat down on the seat.

The water was nice on my body, but all I was thinking about was the nurse.  Not in a sexual way at all, but I was simply embarrassed.

Until a short time ago, I had only ever been into showers with lovers.  I may have been ill that day and not very with it, but it didn’t take me long before I started feeling very sad.

The water was turned off whilst I was in the seat and I dried myself, before going to the sink and shaving, this time doing it myself.  It was with the same nurse who had shaved me before and she was not going to shave me again after my tantrum of last time!

My want or need for any passion was lost to me for months after I was hospitalised. As I look back on my lone shower with a nurse and my bed bath, I know that they are not memories of sexual fantasies achieved.  Those memories merely reinforce to me how ill drinking caused me to be, how lucky I am now to be in a loving relationship and how easily the chance of having that could have been lost to me forever from drinking too much

The Drinks Cabinet (the day before hospital)


10 The Bumpy Road, Franglasia

Dear Liver

Since I came out of hospital from that drink related incident and started to rebuild my life, I have not had a single drink, nor have I wanted one

I remember the routines I used to follow and remember the taste of all the drinks I have enjoyed, but I simply do not want to consume anymore liquids which could make you cry

I also remember places and things, which used to lead to drinking.  One is our drinks cabinet

As you go into our kitchen, there is a small cupboard on the right below the counter

I remember thinking about it in hospital and what would I think about it when I returned home.

It still contains various different alcoholic drinks, most of which were of interest to me at one time or another, but the actual contents have hardly changed since I moved into this house.  The gin and a sweet liqueur drink have been topped up, but that’s about it

I readily admit I found drinking fun and had no regard for you. Having a drink was enjoyable for my mind, so I over indulged

I didn’t really take to whiskey: brandy was to heavy. Vodka scared me as I was worried about alcohol abuse ( I really was very ill informed wasn’t I) , so my drinks of choice were gin and, in the month or so leading up to my illness a drink of sweet liqueur.

The wine was in a rack somewhere else and beer on the pantry floor, but gin and another sweet liqueur were a bit of fun.

I discovered the fun sensation of drinking that sweet liqueur on the Devon holiday from hell I endured in the weeks before falling ill. All my plans didn’t work out – for a trip which also took into account a folk festival for someone else in my life – and I had a thoroughly miserable time, but that drink was a drink enjoyed by all folkies, so it was in abundance

A nip of sweet liqueur here. A slurp there. A gulp at other times and I smiled.  And it just continued until I fell ill

What I had forgotten – other than the general rule not to drink too much – was its an almond based drink and that the pips of almonds contain cyanide

Anyway that holiday was a nightmare. The next few weeks were a nightmare and I drank and was sad and lost control, yet looking back I cannot believe how lucky I have become, holding within me all of the knowledge I have and being in no way tempted to drink.

Some of these letters do remind me of times when I was drinking and the taste of it, but I now feel passionately its a waste of time and – more importantly – your energy

I wondered in hospital if I would still be drawn to that kitchen cabinet when I left hospital, but I have not.  I have opened it for others, poured gin and sweet liqueur for many, but I have no desire whatsoever to have anything from it.

Everyone thought I would be!

I see alcohol everyday, but now I see it as poison and of no interest to me.  Its of interest to others, because they relax and have a good time, but I hope they learn to rest their bodies to get over the poison.  As for fruit based liqueurs with poison within their pips…I have nothing to say and do not think they should be allowed to readily without major health warnings.

You will not be crying tears of blood again from my indulgences!

Yours truly

John Swan

from his blog of letters at

Loneliness on a Hospital Ward (a note from the hospital ward)


10 The Bumpy Road, Franglasia

Dear Liver

How are you doing today.  I thought I would start my collection of letters about my remaining time in hospital with a few home truths

I arrived on the main ward from intensive care on a trolley.  The last time I had been there was as a child, when I fell off my bike.  How things had changed

The tea lady just arrived un-announced and neither of us knew if I could take what she was offering.  I was so embarrassed and we agreed on sweet tea

I am naturally optimistic, but I was talking to no one. I looked around at my fellow inmates, but had nothing to say. My world had been shattered and every line I could have used would have been a lie, as all of my strutting and gesturing about the lack of risks of drinking were just forgotten in a bloody slurry long since washed away.

I am not discussing the precise logistics of those days with anyone as I write these letters. I am sure I am wrong on precisely what happened and when, but it would be over a year before I began to understand the devastation I had wreaked on the lives of my friends and family by falling ill through drink.  And most of them just expected me to be drinking again within weeks.

That devastation still reverberates at home, so I don’t plan to give anyone a platform.  Whether this is right or wrong I really do not care, because no one I know has gone down to the depths I have been down to. I may have true love at home, but drinkers can test both  people and even true love.

I suppose if you could have given me a hint about your plans to cry tears of blood, I could have done something

On that first day when I could at least move my hands I had no interest in anything apart from being able to walk out, but I couldn’t. I still had a drip, yet I could barely stand up and I had been told I had to start using the toilet on my own again.  I was back in the real world, away from the luxury of intensive care and onto the general medical ward, which was housing patients who were mainly responsible for their own situation.

I had learn to walk again: I had to be carried and guided. Or was there a wheelchair. Or crutches. It doesn’t really matter. And when the medicine cabinet brought presents: a lot of them; I was determined to just get better and get out of there.  My school was a hard place growing up and I felt I was back in the playground looking over my shoulder.

Doctors came. And went. Visitors brought sweets, books, chocolates and company, even porn, but I was trusting no one. I was sure all of them were fighting behind doors I was not allowed to enter

I had no idea about what would happen next. I was not been given anything apart from medicine and cups of tea, new clothes and biscuits

I do not garden much, but I found out on that day what it’s like to be a flower and for the spade to sever the roots at the stem before being placed in the vase on the dining room table.

I wanted nothing, other than to remember what had happened. Blood transfusion is a powerful drug.

I was alone on so many levels, but I still couldn’t quite accept what had happened. I still cannot!

Yours truly

John Swan

from his blog of letters at