Is Getting Drunk Worth the Hangover?
At the tender age of 40 I like to pride myself on the fact that even as a woman I can comfortably hold my own when drinking amongst men. I might be very slight in build, but I can still down a fair few pints with the best of them, and usually end up behaving far more sensibly than my male counterparts to boot.
In my youth I was of course more than capable of socially drinking myself into a state that required at least half an hour of my head being buried inside the toilet bowl, not to mention virtually passing out on friend's floors and even in fields and gardens, (am I the only one to have done this, if so I am now truly worried??? !!!).
The difference is that when I was in my late teens and my 20/30's, I never experienced what they call a "hangover" the following day. Yes of course I woke up looking like my eyes were two "P**sholes in the snow", yes I was exhausted the following day, but did I get a headache?? No, never, and I was soon back to my usual lively self after an hour or two of being conscious again.
This enviable ability to cope with alcohol led me into a life where it was all too easy to enjoy drinking, after all, the consequences were minimal and I could still party and go to work the following day. The trouble began when I got to about 38 years old, and suddenly realised that my recovery was not so rapid as it used to be, and although I could still enjoy a night out with friends in our local bar, the time it took me to recover afterwards was growing noticeably longer. How annoying, I could now see my social life taking a serious downturn! I persevered however, and since I have no set time to be up each day I allowed myself to drift into the habit of enjoying the booze, safe in the knowledge I could get up when I liked, in fact I was now virtually nocturnal!
So I got to 39 and now 40, still drinking more than a healthy daily amount, but not really thinking it was too bad, especially as I didn't like spirits and seldom fancied a drink much before 7.00pm at night. What I had noticed was that I would become quite irritable after a couple of glasses of red wine and that I would end up not eating as I was enjoying the drink too much to feel hungry.
I think the wake up call happened over the last few weeks. Firstly I had to see the anaesthetist prior to my elbow operation, and when he asked me about my alcohol consumption I was totally honest and told him I consume about 8 units a day, (4 cans of cider), and seldom have any 'white' days. His next question was "are you getting any help with this?". This threw me slightly as I didn't really see it as a big problem, therefore my answer was "errrr no!". He then advised me to have a drink in the hospital after my surgery if I needed one to avoid my becoming agitated from the sudden withdrawal. Wow, now I felt really bad and like I should be smuggling brown paper bags containing bottles of alcohol into the hospital with me, (don't worry, I didn't!)
Having survived the hospital overnight stay without the need for alcohol, I realised I had enjoyed the best night's sleep in years whilst in the hospital bed, (in spite of it being a strange bed to me). I began to suspect this was because I was at last enjoying an alcohol free sleep and therefore getting quality sleep rather than "drug induced" poor quality sleep. I would like to say I stuck to this once I came home, but no, one night back at home and I soon enjoyed a couple of cans of cider and was rapidly back to normal drinking levels.
A few weeks has of course since gone by, and now we are on January 2nd 2010, and I have had yet another reminder of just how nasty a hangover can be for one who is not used to the experience. My Sister, two good friends, my Hubby and myself went to our local bar for New Year's Eve. A superb party with tonnes of great quality food and of course loads of free flowing alcohol. As I wasn't driving I pushed the boat out and consumed a good few pints of cider, washed down with a few glasses of champagne. I felt great apart from falling over briefly in the car park on the way out of the bar before we all walked home.
Having safely negotiated the rest of the way home I enjoyed a further can of cider upon our return and a small pizza as a snack. Eventually we all crawled off to bed and at this point I felt just fine. Sadly, this feeling was not to last, as about 10.30am my Mum phoned up to make arrangements to collect my Sister at lunchtime. It was all downhill from there as I lay in bed aware that I was feeling progressively more sick, plus I had the headache from hell for one of the first times in my drinking lifetime! It wasn't long before I was back in "head down toilet land", and after twenty minutes of that combined with the splitting headache I felt like death warmed up. Eventually the need to be sick subsided so I grabbed some Nurofen painkillers and headed back to bed. Perhaps now is a good time to advise you never to take painkillers on a queasy empty stomach and wash them down with Coca-Cola. It took about ten minutes before I was desperate to be sick again, but by now my Sister was in our one and only toilet. Due to the urgency of the situation I bolted downstairs, removed the washing up bowl of dishes from our kitchen sink, and brought up the tablets and the Cola I had only just consumed. Having rinsed the sink thoroughly I crawled back up to bed, still stuck with the most horrific headache.
To cut a long story short I did finally get off to sleep, although unable to face any kind of fluids. By the time I did finally wake up properly and felt a bit human again it was nearly 7.00pm at night, meaning I had wasted an entire day in bed, and New Year's Day at that! At least by then I no longer felt sick, and the headache was virtually gone, although still lingering in the background as if to act as a reminder that I simply can't "cut it" like I used to.
Still, I hauled myself out of bed, walked back to the pub to retrieve my car, and guess what, I found my Hubby was already in the bar enjoying a few pints. End result, we stayed until about 11.00pm before coming home, at which point he went to bed, I had two more ciders and then I started to write this hub! I sure hope the hangover is better in the morning than it was this morning, and it is my full intention to have a serious detox and a good few booze free weeks during the month of January!
Was it worth it you might ask? You bet it was! (Although I still know I seriously need to start a healthier lifestyle booze-wise if I am to survive into old age without liver or kidney failure!)