Indeed. I have unspecified liver issues that could be anything from a reaction to antibiotics and Advil use, to autoimmune hepatitis (basically lupus moving into my liver), coupled with heavy alcohol use, so my doctors have ordered me to quit drinking. It's unclear to me if they told me this because any quantity of alcohol would be unequivocally harmful to me, or if they're worried that a heavy drinker like me is constitutionally unable to drink in moderation, but either way this request from a doctor is what's known in the biz as a "wake-up call."
How Long Are You Sober For?
I'm to come back and see the doctor in three months, so that's the lower bound. There was a tossed-off reference to reevaluating in "a year or two" that I didn't ask any follow-up questions to because that's a little terrifying. The upper bound is, of course, the rest of my life (at least, I hope the upper bound is in fact higher than the lower bound).
Is It REALLY True That You're Sober Now? Your Handle is "Post-Modern Drunkard" after All?
Yes, it's really true. I've been mostly sober since my liver was confirmed to be on the fritz back in March, and completely sober since the doctor told me I needed to quit entirely. That was eight days ago so I'm not pretending the fact is super impressive yet. I did spend a fair amount of time in the Bargaining stage of a Kubler-Ross journey, but at this point, yeah, I'm not drinking. at all. I will continue to use wine and spirits for cooking as it's called for, but that's it for now.
After all, what's more post-modern than a drunkard who isn't? [Temptation to go on a long rambling allusive reference to drinking and postmodernism replaced by this block of self-reflexive meta reference to doing the same. This is a joke I assume is only enjoyed by me. Lost in the Drunk Tank for Dummies.]
How Are You Handling It?
Better than you'd expect? It hasn't been sorely tested yet--I've not spent hours at a party where I'm desperate for anything to make my social anxiety go away yet--but I HAVE done karaoke sober, which is a trial by fire by any definition. I miss drinking, I won't lie. I enjoyed drinking--a lot, both with others and on my own, which is probably a sign that it's good for me not to drink for awhile. But my doctor asked me if I had trouble stopping, and I was able to truthfully tell him, "No, I can do it." And I can. Even if I don't like it.
So Have You Switched To Other Drugs?
Of all the FAQs I've received since my diagnosis, this is by far the most frequently AQ, either as a question or as helpful advice: "Why don't you just switch to pot?" usually is how it goes.
While I'm not anti-drug and I'm certainly not anti-people-who-drug, alcohol has always been my one and only drug love. The only drug I really care about, really. Other than a brief time where I was receiving morphine injections which miraculously made my pain go away in an instantly wonderful and intensely noticeable way, I've never much cared for any other drug. I take my Advil when I need it, and my Vicodin when I really need it, and I notice it works, but I don't get the same excitement I've seen in some others when it comes to those drugs.
But more importantly, every chemical that makes you intoxicated goes right through your liver. There's no shortcuts around it; anything I'd do to substitute for sweet delicious booze has the same problem as sweet delicious booze. So if I was going to cheat, it would be back with the bottle anyway.