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"Alcoholism" on my medical chart

Old 08-29-2017, 05:25 PM
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"Alcoholism" on my medical chart

I looked at the after-visit summary from my latest visit with my GP and there is was - "alcoholism" on my list of medical issues. No wonder people don't want to seek help. It feels like a life sentence.

Her feedback when I asked for outpatient detox was discouraging. She was like "if you need to quit, just quit. I don't think you're drinking enough to go through significant detox." In the same breath, she told me I needed to quit and immediately get to AA. Which is it, do I have a serious problem or am I not drinking enough to need detox support? Against her advice, I quit by tapering. It worked for me, but I know it isn't right for everyone.

What the medical community doesn't know about alcoholism is a lot.
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Old 08-29-2017, 05:52 PM
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True, that.
So much stigma attached to the alcoholic label still.
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Old 08-29-2017, 06:52 PM
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At least from my own experience many GP's are not very knowledgeable in alcoholism. It's better to be proactive in these types of situations and to ask them for referrals/locations of treatment centers if you feel that would be your best plan of action for sobriety.
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Old 08-29-2017, 06:56 PM
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At least she said to get to AA. The program works so well because people won't tell you to just stop drinking because they know it doesn't work that way. They have been through all the things you've been through and there is no one better to walk you through a fire than someone who has already done it!

By the way, have you been to any AA meetings yet?
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Old 08-29-2017, 07:27 PM
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You should ask her how she diagnosed it. What objective examination did she use to qualify you?
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Old 08-29-2017, 10:48 PM
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I was dismayed to have 'alcoholism' on my chart as well. After a year or so sober, it changed to 'alcoholism - in remission.' It's now off completely. I really didn't mind after the initial shock, btw. After all, it was the truth!

On a related note, I just picked up my uncle's death certificate on which 'chronic ethanolism' was listed as a contributing factor. If I have to have alcoholism listed on my med chart or my death certificate, I'll take the former!
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Old 08-29-2017, 10:52 PM
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I would very nicely ask for it to be removed. Only you can make that judgment.
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Old 08-30-2017, 12:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Dropsie View Post
I would very nicely ask for it to be removed. Only you can make that judgment.
I can understand why, but you would be removing a very useful defense against the first drink. It is well known that certain medications when given to the alcoholic can trigger the phenomenon of craving, not to mention become addictive in their own right. I write it in the form myself.

When ever I deal with a medical professional, even the dentist, I always make sure they know about my alcoholism.

Think about the future. What happens when you visit the doctor with depression or anxiety, or you suffer a painful injury, or you are having trouble sleeping. Without all the facts, your doctor will prescribe as if you will react like the majority of normal people, when in fact you may react just like an alcoholic.
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Old 08-30-2017, 01:39 AM
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So. Her professional opinion is:

You are alcoholic
You should stop drinking
You don't need a physical detox
You will need to work on your recovery to make briety sustainable (which is the AA bit)

Which of those do you believe to be false?
Or is it more that you're not so keen on the truth?

And you know - in a way alcoholism ISa life sentence inasmuch as it doesn't go away. We can't unpickle the cucumber. We will always be alcoholic - our choice is whether we are going to be an active alcoholic, or a sober one. And if we choose to be a sober one, we have another choice. White-knuckling it along with all the resentment, shame, insanity and rage while leading a life where we are restless, irritable and discontent. OR working on our recovery so that we can live life on lifes terms and find a place of serenity and fulfilment.

I can understand that seeing the word 'alcoholism' in black and while on your chart brought home to you the reality of the situation. But her WRITING it was not what made it so. No more than if she was writing that you had any other medical ailment.

In AA we ask for the 'serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.' It could be time to start accepting what you cannot change, and cease wasting energy with resentments over others being more honest than you're comfortable with (it's her job, and presumably that's what you told her). And, instead, redirecting that energy more positively towards the things you CAN change - because they are the things that will make sobriety bearable, then comfortable, and one day even preferable to drinking.

As always, wishing you all the best for your sobriety and recovery. BB
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Old 08-30-2017, 03:23 AM
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The main thing is that you deal with the issue at hand. The chart can always be changed in the future.
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Old 08-30-2017, 04:07 AM
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I saw my file once, not long after I had, against all odds, sobered up.

The front page had in very large letters "ALCOHOLIC", and that didn't bother me so much.

What shocked me was a couple of words in ordinary sized print that were contained in a report written by a domiciliary nurse who had visited me when I was near the end of an attempt to stay sober on my own power. He was describing the living conditions in which he found me. "Absolute squalor" jumped off the page like it was written ABSOLUTE SQUALOR!!!

Absolute proof that just not drinking does not treat alcoholism.
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Old 08-30-2017, 05:17 AM
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Previously i have seen various doctors and therapists in attempts to deal with my alcoholism and never felt i got useful treatment. Only when I finally joined AA i found people i believed could help me - and understand me. And for the first time I found hope!
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Old 08-30-2017, 06:40 AM
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Although a person perhaps doesn't like having "alcoholism" on their medical record, it needs to be on there if it's the truth. It's not on there to be mean or rude. Any physician treating you needs to know what physical conditions the patient they are dealing with has going on. It has a lot of bearing on what types on diseases or conditions they may be looking for down the road, as well as helping them determine what kind of blood tests need to be ordered, what different symptoms might be caused by,
and what medications to stay away from. It serves a useful purpose, whether we like the label or not. It's on mine as well, and I'm glad it is. One more piece of information available to my physician to help them help me.
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Old 08-30-2017, 08:03 AM
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I just saw my GP yesterday for my regular checkup, labs and prescription renewals. "Alcoholism - in remission" and the date I quit is in my chart too. He is the man that was there for me at the start of my sober journey as he set up my "at home" detox and referred me to an outpatient treatment program (i was resistant to inpatient detox/treatment).

When we discussed getting sober my BP was 165/95 and I weighed 180lbs (at 5'9"). Yesterday my BP was 110/74 and i weighed 160lbs.

Now that notation in my chart is just a reminder of how far I've come since April 17, 2013.
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Old 08-30-2017, 09:04 AM
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Thanks all. I can accept the label, but I understand why people would fear talking to their doctor about drinking for this reason.

I got my labs back today and my liver is a bit off. More confirmation that I made the right decision to stop.
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Old 08-30-2017, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by leanabeana View Post
Thanks all. I can accept the label, but I understand why people would fear talking to their doctor about drinking for this reason.
Yes, there is fear in admitting/talking to anyone about our addiction - doctors, spouses, employers, you name it. And possible repercussions as well. Acceptance by us is really the only solution though - making decisions based on the fear of what others might think or say ( vs your own well being ) are exactly the kinds of decision that keep some drinking themselves out of jobs, families - life itself

I'm glad you decided to get help too and glad you are here on SR with us.
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Old 08-30-2017, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by leanabeana View Post
I looked at the after-visit summary from my latest visit with my GP and there is was - "alcoholism" on my list of medical issues. No wonder people don't want to seek help. It feels like a life sentence.
.
life sentence of what?? being labeled an alcoholic?

id rather be labeled and alcoholic today- because theres one huge word that can be added now- RECOVERED alcoholic.
ive been through quite a bit with a cancer diagnosis 13 months into recovery. i was able to have no problem, and still have no problem, when asked about alcohol and/or drug use saying,"recovered alcoholic."
i have no shame in admitting it because im not the person i was when i was drinking.

even then, im not labeled an alcoholic. i have sat there and listened to my oncoligist and other specialists dictate into a recorder and they say,"patient( or tomesteve) presents with..."
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Old 08-30-2017, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by leanabeana View Post
I looked at the after-visit summary from my latest visit with my GP and there is was - "alcoholism" on my list of medical issues.
I have alcoholism on my medical chart. I have no problem with it.

Also listed on my chart is depression, anxiety, hypertension, high cholesterol, sleep apnea - it is what it is.
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Old 08-30-2017, 01:02 PM
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Yeah unfortunately most doctors in general practice, internal medicine, emergency medicine, any primary care scenario do not have proper training to refer you to the right resources. I was particularly shocked that she right off the bat said you don't need detox. A lot of people do, if only for a few days, just because quitting can be such a shock to the system. I don't know your drinking history, so I assume you are feeling ok. If your pulse goes over 100 or if you start having hallucinations or seizures, it's best to go to the emergency room. You may also want to give AA a try. Also, try to find a doctor who has some training in addiction medicine. Do a web search. Take care and best of luck
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Old 08-30-2017, 07:46 PM
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I have "Chronic Alcoholic" on my medical records.
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