bring in the dead

I have a new job this year. After years of working with children I have jumped to adults. Sure there were forays pereviously – neuroscience stroke team, infectious diseases research, neurology research, ER – and now adult ICU. I’ve been there two weeks, with a christmas to break it up, and I have confirmed a suspicion I have entertained for decades now. Alcohol is responsible for 90% of the problems in society.
Never mind the criminal aspects, never mind the bad behaviour due to poor judgement, just looking at the costs individually to health and to society in general through the huge finacial burden the alcohol associated illnesses cause. Sure, no one actually drinks with the intention of becoming an invalid due to alcohol, but our culture’s minimalistic approach to the dangers of alcohol contributes directly to the soaring health care costs of drinking alcohol.
Of course, it WAS christmas, and being Christmas, and people are expected to spend time with family that they generally don’t like, they drink. Maybe the reason they don’t like their family has to do with alcohol in the first place. I am astounded at the numbers of families who include alcohol as an expected part of any family gathering…alcohol to the expected out come of being drunk. But here, in the icu, I see the casulties of alcohol. No, not those drunk drivers, or victims of drunk drivers; but rather the mothers and fathers and grandaprents who have been drinking their whole life. Having a drink is a part of their life, their day. And they are now showing the signs. Abdominal pain is the usual first indication, perhaps associated with some vomiting of blood. The icu this christmas was full of 40-60 year olds with liver disease due to alcohol, bleeding, shaking, dying.
Physical appearances aside (they look 20 years older than they are), because alcohol is absorbed directed into the blood stream from the digestive tract, it is not broken down before getting to the essential organs. In the stomach it causes an irritation…yeah, in everyone and the faster you drink the more it is irritated. Bubbles cause it to be absorbed faster.
Here is a great site that describes the physical damage done. The biological effects of alcohol tells it clearly without emtional plays for your guilt. Your guilt should be apparent though after you understand what exactly you are doing to your body and to your friends (if you have any left) and family (if they still see you).
Dying from liver failure is not pretty at 50 years of age. Neither is needing a heart transplant due to cardio myopathy cause you ‘liked to party’. Living (if you can call it that) on a ventilator waiting for some poor shmuck to be declared brain dead so you can get his organs is no way to spend your 50s. Just hope that the donor was not the drunk driver who killed but rather the young dad going home from the gym to spend new years eve with his family.

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