Nearly three months to the day of my first post detailing the hellish last eight years of my life and I feel I’m ready to bring this story of alcoholism and other health issues full circle. If you haven’t read the first part, check it out. It’s a long one, but something many of you will be able to relate to and perhaps get something out of. See, this part of the story couldn’t be written yet because I had to shake the booze monkey off my back first.
That day was yesterday, and I’ll get into what happened in just a minute. This post is a commitment to myself, and I’ll never look back — regardless of whatever withdrawal symptoms the Devil inside has in store for me in the coming days. Let’s take a step back to the moment when I realised I wasn’t dying of throat cancer around five years ago.
Finally see my doctor. (2013)
I called my doctor on a whim and without hesitation they booked me for an appointment on the same afternoon. After listening to my symptoms, he got behind me and started running his fingers up and down my throat on either side of my windpipe, near the Adam’s Apple. After, he ordered some blood tests and they came back with hypothyroidism: I had a TSH of ten (10). “Thyroid Stimulating Hormone” is how your brain tells the thyroid gland in the neck to produce more thyroid hormones.
The body’s entire metabolism begins and ends with the hormones our thyroid produces. We’d die without them and, as you’ve already read, life gets pretty miserable when this system isn’t working correctly. That original TSH number isn’t isn’t considered that bad but anything over a 3.0 is considered unhealthy — not to mention my throat had been swollen for over three years at this point!
I think the chart goes up over 300 or so, but usually only people with their thyroid removed get up that high. A follow-up test to confirm had my TSH at 20, so I started taking hormones to supplement what my own thyroid could no longer make. From what I’ve read on great sites like Stop the Thyroid Madness, my untreated condition likely made my immune system turn on the thyroid and try to destroy it, which accounting for the throbbing and relentless swelling.
Image Credit: Treatment and symptom reversal. (2013 — 2014)
After being diagnosed and working up (titrating) to a dose that alleviated most of my symptoms, things started to improve. I was still dizzy during exercise and I’d stopped drinking during this period – alcoholism wasn’t part of my present, or (so I thought) my future at this time. Truth is, I hadn’t really drank too much leading up to this time, maybe 4 — 8 beers daily, because I couldn’t really work much and thus had little money to afford much.
Anyway, after working my dose of thyroid hormone up to healthy levels, the goiter eventually went away. It still came back now and again with stress, or when overdoing it on caffeine. My brother often laughs back to this time, as I showed everyone around me that when I set my mind to something, visions become fast realities.
I lost 60 pounds of fat in 3 months.
I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and diabetes in April 2013, weighing 250 pounds. By the end of August I was a lean 190, standing at 5’11” tall. My fasting blood sugars went from 8 – 8.5 mmol/L (145 – 155 mg/dl) down to a solid 4.5 mmol/L (79 mg/dl).
Blood pressure went from “sky-high” (I don’t even remember) down to 125/80ish during the day while working and 111/70 or lower in the evenings. My doctor was amazed — he said people just never make the changes necessary to correct the level of metabolic issues I first came to him with.
I had stopped drinking, went on a ketogenic diet to stifle my high blood sugars, and started doing body weight exercises and running. The running was incredible, as I was able to work up running a 5k in 21-minutes flat pretty quickly.
Backslide. (Late 2014)
It all started with the realisation that I could drink a nice cold Sleeman’s tallboy before my run and get a great energy blast from it. The indulgence was innocent enough and life was going good — my dog and I went for daily runs in the woods near my home town after I finished working. I was able to write constantly and nailed down two big clients, who, as it turns out would support me with tons of work for years. I even work for them to this day, in fact.
Money started to roll in, credit card companies started giving me tons of plastic, and somehow that one beer before a run turned into another after it. Then, somehow that spiralled into having a few at home every night. My alcoholic behavior patterns had returned…
Big move, big stress, big drinking.
Tail end of 2015 and my landlord suddenly decided to sell the place I was living in. I was drinking hard at this time. It wouldn’t have been a big deal had my entire endocrine system not been flatlined by insane drunken nights drinking lots of beer and occasionally adding a 26er of vodka to the mix.
Turns out that alcoholism actually destroys your ability to handle the slightest of curve balls when you abuse it. This is where I was — anxiety through the roof — full blown alcohol addiction… Man! I was still functional mind you — I worked every day — and had lots of credit to fall back on financially.
But, I wasn’t following the path I’d set out on a couple years earlier. I wasn’t doing a damned thing to realise my potential, or life the virtuous life I desired.
No biggie — I was kicking ass and taking names.
As this backslide began to unfold, I bought the FITE4 domain with the intention of giving back — recounting my story and building a brand in the process. I had big visions of helping people reverse their diabetes simply by eliminating sugar from their diet. I hoped to offer guidance on beating drug addiction. To share my fitness and bodybuilding knowledge.
Alas, the slide began — a few beers turned into many. Some of the weight started to return. Then, I had the bright idea to start supplementing vodka in full time for some of the beers, to eliminate the sugar I was sure was adding on the extra weight gain.
This went on until February 13, 2018.
I never really got the traditional ‘nauseated’ type of hangovers that most of you have likely experienced over the years. With me, when I drank too much, I would get really dizzy for the first several hours of the following day, and any residual symptoms in the evening were quickly fixed with the first few drinks of the night.
However, it seemed there were no limits to the amount of booze I could down. I’m sure it was well over 40 drinks at times, maybe more, though I didn’t always push it this far.
Trouble was, I would sometimes get up early, finish work early, then start drinking early afternoon. Mix in a willing drinking buddy and things could stretch well into the night. Man, I hope I’m not boring everyone with this — I’ll wrap it up quickly, promise.
I woke up Feb 13 with my heart pounding out of my chest. For the past couple of years, due to my heavy drinking, I’d noticed it was taking my body a long time to work up to intense exercise.
I never stopped pushing my physical boundaries, but it was becoming increasingly hard to get my body to do anything.
The drinking and weight gain made it really hard to breathe on the best of days. I’d reached my limit when I got up and my body simply would not work anymore. I went out to do some snowshoeing — I could barely move and my vision was blurred from a pounding heart beat.
Nothing worse than palpitations — a feeling when you become hyper-aware of how fast and/or hard your heart is beating. This is the issue that sent me to the emergency room so many times before. I was a regular at that place and they no longer acted pleased to see me.
So, I suffered through yesterday — sipping a few beers to stave off the delirium tremens that affects most who stop drinking too suddenly.
The journey begins…
Truth is, I doubt I’ll ever have a craving for booze again. I feel pretty good right now, as I write this. There’s no doubt my body will fight me, as alcohol is the the most dangerous addiction to get past.
However, the future is clear. As I mentioned, once I set my mind to something…
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