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Advice for our family. Father, likely Wet Brain, Differing Opinions.



Advice for our family. Father, likely Wet Brain, Differing Opinions.

Old 01-24-2011, 09:58 PM
  # 1 (permalink)  
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Question Advice for our family. Father, likely Wet Brain, Differing Opinions.

I'll try to keep this as short as I can, but it will be hard because i think our situation is a little complex (just like everyone's personal situations)

My dad has been a heavy alcoholic for over 40 years. He is now 69 but physically is more like 95. He has "inexplicably" lost most of his mobility, shakes horribly, and in the past couple months has developed severe cognitive and memory problems.

My mom, dad, sister and I live in Northern California and I have two half brothers (my dad's sons) that have always lived in Southern California. One of my older brothers, who is a recovering alcoholic and drug user (clean and sober several years) suggested that our dad has developed "Wet Brain" aka Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. His symptoms are exact, but we are not doctors.

My dad has always been a functioning alcoholic. For the most part friendly, non-abusive, and has taken care of and supported all of us. He was vastly successful in life, wealthy, and generally well-to-do. I believe this lifestyle made it easy for him to protect his addiction. Him drinking is all I have ever known and as a result, I feel that I have always lacked the ability to know what to do about it. My mom and dad have been married about 35 years and while she has suffered silently in regard to his drinking, i feel that regretfully, she has been an enabler and also lacked a full understanding of how to deal with this, especially in regards to us kids.

So we are now at a cross roads. His physical health has declined very rapidly over the past 6 months. So much so that he doesn't even drink that much anymore. Maybe some Kalua in his coffee in the morning and a few drinks at night. This is down from a half gallon of vodka per day. My brother, (the one in recovery) feels that he needs immediate intervention with a professional interventionist and in-patient care in Southern California. While I don't disagree with him that he does need immediate help, I feel that there are a few technicalities that are going on here that need to be addressed.

The situation is this. He can no longer care for himself. He can walk, slowly, but is very unsteady, slow, and even falls occasionally. His can walk to the liqueur, but that's about all he does. His memory is virtually gone. We try to force him to eat but he just doesn't want to. I have tried to explain to my brother the situation, but since he is in SoCal I'm almost positive that he doesn't have a full grasp of how bad my dad's physical situation is.

On top of firmly believing that my dad will strongly oppose the idea of in-patient rehab (to the point of just flat out shutting down), my belief is that he is not well enough for in-patient care unless it is some kind custodial care where someone can assist him all day.

He has seen his doctor frequently for all of these troubles but his doctor has always been missing a piece of the puzzle, and that is he does not know my dad is a severe alcholoic, so to the doctor, these mobility issues and shakes have been "a mystery". My mom is paniced and scared, so she made an appointment for this Wednesday, but she emailed the doctor beforehand to explain the full situation regarding his history with drinking and what she thinks is really going on.

My opinion is that we should seek medical help for him first (we all have Kaiser) see if we can get some kind of diagnosis, and also see if the doctor can instill some fear in my Dad AND THEN we, as a family move on to the next step, whetehr that be a internvention, or some kind of monitored out-patient treatment.

My ultimate fear (and I know I'm not supposed to say or feel like this) is that we have waited too long and he is beyond help. From what I understand about Wet Brain, once someone is to this point, there is no returning. So yes, maybe we can get him to be sober, extending his life, but what will the quality of that life be? We, especially my mother, are all feeling an extreme amount of guilt about the path we have chosen for this family by ignoring his illness for all these years. I almost feel like this feeling i've had in my gut for the past few days about this is my punishment.

So I guess my ultimate question is. What is your opinion? Considering my dad's current health situation, how would you recommend we proceed? There is a strong push from SoCal for immediate intervention (which I am almost 100% sure will fail) while the NorCal side of the family wants to take it a little slower and at least try to progress with Kaiser. I should also mention that my other older brother happens to agree with our stance on the matter, so it is basically all of us against my recovering brother. Don't get me wrong, I completely respect and admire his determination to get my dad better, but I just don't think he has enough of the whole picture to make the best decision.

Lastly, I spoke with the elected professional interventionist that would likely do the intervention (if that were to happen) and he also is fixed on the idea of sending my dad to Los Angeles for treatment. They just don't seem to understand that that is almost an impossibility. Don't we have options here in Sacramento? Or at least in the Bay Area?

Any advice, ANYTHING, would be meaningful and helpful for me. We are all very lost and scared right now. I would appreciate anyone that had anything to offer.

Thanks so much.
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Old 01-24-2011, 10:12 PM
  # 2 (permalink)  
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We, especially my mother, are all feeling an extreme amount of guilt about the path we have chosen for this family by ignoring his illness for all these years. I almost feel like this feeling i've had in my gut for the past few days about this is my punishment.
First of all -- Al-Anon's three Cs are crucial to you: You didn't CAUSE your Dad's drinking, you can't CONTROL it, and you can't CURE it. Stop with the blame -- blaming yourself or your mother does nothing except make you feel miserable. Your Dad, harsh as it seems, is suffering the consequences of his own choices. Not your choices, not your mother's choices.

You'll find a whole lot of people here who wish we had that magic wand, or word, or intervention technique, to stop our loved ones from drinking. Nobody has it. They have to want it.

I have no medical expertise, but from reading your post, I have two gut-level feelings:

One is that the bro in SoCal could get in the car and come see the situation before he decides what should be done. Experience of recovery is great, but it sounds like (Two the most immediate concern right now is your Dad's physical emergency. As I understand it, Wernicke-Korsakoff in some cases are treatable. But my feeling -- and that's not medical advice -- is that in your situation, I would probably deal with what's causing him confusion and making him unable to care for himself first, and the alcoholism in step two.

And I'm so sorry you're having to deal with all of this.
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Old 01-25-2011, 04:10 AM
  # 3 (permalink)  
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Welcome to the SR family!

Pull out the keyboard and make yourself at home. You will find information and support for yourself here.

I am sorry about your dad's health and alcoholism. There are lots of decisions to be made and everyone has an opinion.

Do you need to have all the answers by 3 p.m. today?

No? Then take a few deep breaths and do the next right thing for today.

That advice was given to me by a fellow Alanon member. I was faced with so many decisions about my future with my alcoholic, that I was making myself crazy. I was reminded to stay in the moment and wait for the answers.

It was difficult, but it was also very helpful. After I learned to be patient, I found that more options and information will become apparent.

I learned about patience, options and taking care of myself in the midst of alcoholic chaos through this website, through Alanon meetings and through self-improvement materials.

There are some very helpful postings in the permenent (sticky) posts at the top of this forum. Some of our stories are there and tons of wisdom.

Here is one of my favorites:

Let us know how we can help you
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