• author
    • Tom McMasters-Stone

      Columnist
    • February 15, 2017 in Columnists

    I almost died… again

    I almost died… yet again. Concussion.

    I was OK with discovering for sure that my father was not my father after all, for a week or so — until I absolutely was not.

    The overwhelming grief that came with the thorough understanding that I had been blamed and treated harshly by a man for something I had no control over finally did me in. I know, at the conscience level, that he did the best he could, but that was not very therapeutic for me. Nor for him. I was a daily reminder of a sad chapter of his life, early in a marriage full of hope, and carefree love. And also of frustration at not getting pregnant.

    Courtesy of MGM

    So, I turned heavy back to the fruit of the grape. Waking up early, waiting both for the stores to open and being sober enough to drive. Desperate, turmoiled, hopeless and helpless.

    The name of the novel I’m writing is “Crosses to Bare.” The cross on the vodka bottle. The cross of Catholicism. The Maltese Cross, and the things I have seen. The “cross” symbol of being a “man.” The cross of the prescription bottles, for dealing with the things I was heretofore medicating with alcohol.

    I staggered outside to feed the nameless cat that had adopted me and I — literally — hit the bricks hard with my forehead. Concussion. Blood everywhere, not to be stopped, and soon followed by a plethora of bloody rags, inside and out.

    I have always been pretty conscientious about my driving UI, but not perfect by any means.

    Too drunk to drive, too afraid to call what up here is termed the “Aid Car.” I didn’t want my brothers and sisters to see me like this, so far fallen from what I once was.

    The blood was mixed with tears. I texted some friends to come to my aid, yet again, but they were all travelling a distance from home, out of reach. Frankly, there were some I didn’t text out of false pride.

    Eventually, I texted my oldest son. He was breakfasting with some nurses, and they were the ones who put me on to the likely concussion.

    I swallowed my pride, and dialed 911. The response was quick, the service was excellent, and the boys took good care of me. Pretty quickly, I was under care in the ER at Evergreen Monroe. All the tests were negative, and I suffered no permanent damage. But even after a $100 taxi ride home, I wasn’t quite done.

    This was not my first ambulance ride, of course. I once did three in three days, and three emergency rooms, with a total bill of $75,000. Horrible…

    What the hell was going on? I should have been fine — this kind of anger encounter in my life was what AA had been training me to deal with for six years!

    More red wine. More? Hell, up to eight bottles a day.

    Non-alcoholics do not understand the grip this thing can get on us, how deeply it can sink its claws into us. That’s the tragedy I want to capture in my novel, albeit also an arson mystery about revenge — without whining or self-pity. I hope I can do it.

    Since my first taste of wine as a child was my mother’s wine coolers with Thunderbird, white wine does not cross these lips — unless it is a lovely sauvignon blanc. Other than that, Cab and Merlot, or sometimes mead or port. Now I know I’m even more Scottish than I thought — and my ancestors were big fans of mead.

    I started drinking vodka on the rocks in the Evergreen Room, as a tribute in absentia to Herb Caen, but I switched from vodka to wine a couple years ago, or I would be dead.

    I started drinking at 48, which is almost unheard of in my circles. I then was a drinker, but not a professional alcoholic until after the gastric bypass. There is a higher-than-average percentage of GB patients that are alcoholics for a reason — no food to mix with the alcohol, straight to the blood-rich intestines where it gets sucked into the bloodstream.

    Brutal, as we say — incomprehensible demoralization.

    “All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning again.”

    Professional alcoholic? Yup. We describe the 4th of July, Saint Patrick’s Day, and New Year’s Eve as “Amateur Nights,” and we stay home.

    So, I’m back on track, have over 60 days now, and had a medication tweak that seems to be helping.

    This time, to paraphrase Henley, “I got the email that I didn’t want to ‘hear,’ but I knew that it would come…” With 70 days of sobriety, the thought of me moving closer to home pushed her over the edge. I understand.

    Heartbreak. Regrets. Guilt. Anger.

    So now, I am “single,” although not officially, and faced with perhaps spending the rest of my life here on earth alone. Again, though, that’s what I have been training for, aussi.

    Life on life’s terms…

    I don’t know if I ever had any game, let alone whether or not I have any left. My health is good, though, and I am optimistic, of course.

    Knowing what I know about my heritage, I will change my name to “Stone-McCrobie.” Besides being historically accurate, it will allow my good friend Norb Kumagai to keep calling me the “hyphen-tatted one!”

    The literature says we will be talking about things spiritual, physical, psychological, etc, and that certainly the case with me — I had things going on I had no idea about, as I believe many alcoholics and/or addicts experience also. I think that finally all those things are exposed, and are being treated. Perhaps — just perhaps — the Yellow Brick Road is lying at my feet, finally. Certainly, my journey has been “better” than so very many, and shorter than most — albeit very tough on those around me, and for that I am grateful. And that Glenda is hot, n’est pas?

    Follow the Yellow Brick Road… “Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore…”


      • Tom McMasters-Stone

      • February 16, 2017 at 4:46 am
      • Reply

      “I lost me, and you lost you…”


      • Madgew

      • February 16, 2017 at 12:43 pm
      • Reply

      I wish you more days of sobriety.



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