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My New Lives - Body And Soul

Audio Version

I live in a small place where everyone knows everyone else. I was a well-known artist and mother of three children who went to our local schools. I came to AA for the first time 18 months ago, having been sober for three-and-a-half years before that. I didn’t think it could possibly be anonymous, everyone would know I was an ‘alkie’. Now it doesn’t matter if they do, because AA helps me every day to stay sober and I’ve learned so much about myself and my Higher Power since I went to my first meeting.

I’d been drinking since I was 19 and I’m now 70. I usually drank alone at night after the kids went to bed, fooling most of the people most of the time, but most of all myself. “It’s only wine” I’d tell myself as I drank the whole bottle and collapsed into bed.

That all changed in January 2011 just before my 65th birthday. On the 2nd of January, my friend took me to hospital because I couldn’t stop vomiting. I was in for months undergoing tests and was too ill to be sent home. I have no clear recollection of that time but my kids have told me just recently that I had a liver infection which was also affecting my spine. I went into a coma and they were told to come home immediately because I had contracted septicaemia and they didn’t expect me to survive.

I remember none of this, but I did survive that night and slowly began to heal, going through a phase of encephalitis, talking rubbish and unable to say what day it was. I lost weeks.

I do not mark the beginning of my sobriety from the day I collapsed, or the weeks I lost. I do remember the day in the hospital ward when I woke up during visiting hours and looked around at the other patients and the nurses. I thought “I can’t do this alone. I’m turning this over to the doctors and God to decide if I live or die now” and went back to sleep. When I woke up a few hours later everything felt different and I knew I would be alright.

That was five-and-a-half years ago and I’ve been sober one day at a time ever since.

After a few months of very slow recovery, most of the time in hospital, it was decided that I could be assessed at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh. This involved a week of physical and psychological tests to see if I could survive a transplant operation if a donor could be found. I passed the tests and in January 2012 I was sent home to wait.

It took nearly three years on the waiting list with monthly visits to my local hospital to have the excess fluid drained from my abdomen. I was unable to walk any distance and became completely chair-bound with home help and district nurses coming in every day.

One particular day in November 2014 I was feeling distinctly discouraged and telling myself I would never be given a new liver. I had persuaded myself to prepare a microwave dinner and turned the dial just as the phone rang. It was the transplant coordinator telling me not to eat anything because they had found a liver for me and all being well they would operate later that night. 

All went well with the transplant operation. I am still in recovery from it and also the fact that I was so ill for such a long time before a liver was donated. I am grateful every day for the donor gift and my new life.

I go to AA meetings locally as often as I can and value my ‘alkie’ friends beyond measure, as well as the reading and sharing which help me in my daily spiritual journey. My life and my decisions are in God’s hands now and I know if I sit still and listen he will guide me and most of all help me to stay sober, one day at a time.

Brodick Sunday, Isle of Arran