Yup. I used to drink. And when I drank, I drank a lot. I wouldn’t say I was addicted to alcohol, but I definitely didn’t drink in moderation.
I think brain cancer at 18 left me thinking two things: One, my body could take a lot. Two, I thought it gave me the right do whatever I wanted to my body. And even though family and friends voiced their concerns about my drinking to me, I didn’t care. I loved the feeling that alcohol gave me, and I dealt with the consequences. I had emotions that needed to be let out, and drinking provided that outlet. Not the healthiest outlet, but one I chose to use.
The night of March 19th, 1994 (during my sophomore year at BC) can be traced all the way back to the beginning of my freshman year. I didn’t start my fist year in college like most of the students around me. I was bald, puffed up, and had the track marks of a junkie. But, I wasn’t about to let brain cancer tell me when I could start at BC.
I made a few friends in my dorm, and assumed everyone in my classes was wondering what was wrong with me. Then, in one of my psych classes, M was there. I may have looked like a post-chemo freak, but my sense of beauty wasn’t impaired. She had long blonde hair, blue eyes, and everything else. I told my new dorm friends about her, and promised I would point her out if we saw her on campus.
After that first week of class, while most of my classmates went to the first home football game that Labor Day weekend; I was heading into my sixth round of chemotherapy to treat a cancerous brain tumor. It had introduced itself to me towards the end of my senior year in high school, and I was in treatment all summer. I knew it probably wasn’t the ideal way to start at BC, but I was glad treatment was coming to and end.
When I returned to BC, I didn’t have the courage to talk to M, but I talked to her a few times that year (including the morning after my first drinking experience – when I found out she saw me being carried back to the dorm), and I sent her a couple anonymous poems.
We were in the same history class sophomore year, and eventually I called her to ask her out…and she said yes (I know). After talking another time on the phone, we agreed to go out on March 19th. I called her the Friday before to make specific plans, but by Saturday afternoon I hadn’t heard back form her. When I called her on Saturday, she answered and told me that she had auditioned to be in a talent show a couple of weeks earlier, and they called her that morning to tell her she had a spot playing piano. So, she was talented too. And, I was devastated.
Instead of seeing if we could reschedule, I took it as a total rejection and immediately started doing what I knew I had to: drink and drink and drink and drink. Vodka was my poison of choice, and I started seconds after the phone was back on the receiver. It didn’t take long for things to get “fuzzy” after that. I remember watching Pump Up the Volume with my friend Chris who lived across the hall. I remember my friends Neal and Julia (who was my ex from high school) coming over. By that point, I was mixing screwdrivers with Zima (I know). I don’t remember much after that.
I don’t remember taking a chair and smashing one of the bathroom windows. I don’t remember passing out on the sidewalk in front of my dorm. I don’t know how my wallet went missing. I don’t remember the ambulance showing up and my friend Drew (an EMT) trying to persuade me to go to the ER.
Drew has since told me that it took a group (6?) of BC police officers to get me on the ambulance (I was really like the Tazmanian Devil when I was drunk). Once on the ambulance, Drew stayed in the back trying to calm me down. He wasn’t very successful. When St. Elizabeth’s radioed to get a status update, he said they couldn’t hear him because I was screaming expletives at the top of my lungs. I was completely out of control, but in my mind I thought I could stop whenever I wanted. I just didn’t want to stop, even after this episode.
Flash forward to a year later, and I was still drinking. Instead of vodka, it was “just beer” at this point. I had survived my 21st birthday a week earlier, and heard about a party in The Mods (party central for the BC seniors). I don’t know if I found the right Mod, but I was went up to a party that some guy wasn’t letting a girl into. I wouldn’t let such an injustice happen to me, so I saw fit to tell off this senior. I vaguely remember getting into someone’s face, and then everything went blank. Apparently it was just two hits – me getting hit and then hitting the pavement.
The next thing I knew, I was in the ER and having stitches put into my head. The doctor told me that she was finishing up the stitches and the plastic surgeon would be in to see about covering up future scars I was sure to have. I told her I was a hockey player, and there was no need to cover anything up. At least I was only .28 this time.
This episode landed me with an appointment with Dean Ryan, and I tried to explain my love affair with alcohol to him. When he found out I was over 21, he couldn’t do much but offer me advice. I still wasn’t ready to stop.
But that day did come a month later. I haven’t had a drink since May 7, 1995, and I have no plans on starting again.
With my marks of .36 and .28, I was curious as to what sources would say to how serious those numbers are. I found Blood-Alcohol info from Party Smart, Wikipedia, and WebMD, and yeah, I could have died. But, I didn’t.
Thank you to everyone who stuck with me through my drinking years. I know it must have been difficult, and I know I did a lot of upsetting things. I hope you can understand I was dealing with a lot, and I thank those of you who have forgiven me.