Pint Sized Promises – By Lucy Thomas
Back at the end of August I decided to set myself a bit of a personal challenge. I’m not, and never have been, a raging alcoholic but I will be the first to admit I am fond of a pint or two. One of the things I consider to be a massive luxury in my life is to is get together with some of my best mates, in my favourite pub, and have a few pints whilst conversation flows naturally; discussing everything from work, to the latest gossip, and then as the alcohol begins to take effect it takes more of an abstract and ridiculous turn. Add in some live music and I’m in heaven. As the well-known saying goes ‘no good night starts with a salad’.
I have four jobs and am pretty busy, all of the time. A lifestyle that I’ve chosen and fully enjoy and on top of all of this I have to manage my type 1 diabetes which I’ll be the first to admit I’m not always great at! I find relaxing extremely difficult; until I have a couple of drinks then my brain stops going a million miles an hour and I can just chill out and enjoy the moment; rather than trying to plan the next 70 moments that are inevitably on their way.
However this summer was particularly crazy. I helped organise a Festival so in the odd ‘down time’ in the run up to that I’d be in the pub, then there was the Festival itself which was a blurred weekend of LOTS of running around, very little sleep and after-show parties which consisted of a fair amount of booze. I then headed off to the States to perform at a Festival there – again very little sleep but lots of drink. August arrived and this time I was off to a music festival, as a punter, so I made sure I well and truly let my hair down…so yes you guessed it, more booze! So after about 4 months of manically running around, having an amazing time and a lot of partying I was beginning to feel the effects of not looking after myself. Diabetics are advised not to drink very much, certainly not as much as the recommended amount for ‘normal’ adults due to the sugar content and how alcohol messes with blood sugars – sending them sky high initially then hitting rock bottom. I’ve lost count of how many nights out have been followed by scrabbling round the kitchen at 4am, still slightly worse for wear, making some toast to wolf down because of an alcohol induced hypo.
So as of the 27th August I decided to give up alcohol. Originally it was just going to be for a ‘little while’ however I was then nominated for this ice bucket challenge that was all the hype at the time. Great thing to raise awareness and get people donating money – but why should people be nominated to donate? Why can’t they just donate because they want to? Anyway that’s another story. Once I was nominated I thought, well rather than get wet for charity why not stay dry? I decided I would not drink any alcohol until 1st January 2015, this will be 18 weeks in total and for every week I don’t drink I’ll donate money (that I would’ve spent on a couple of pints) to different charities – pint sized promises as it were. I announced my intentions very publicly on Facebook because if you make others aware of your goal they can help you succeed.
It’s most likely a cultural thing but if you’re ever in a social situation and you hear someone utter ‘Oh I don’t drink’ you can almost hear the room gasp and collectively think ‘recovering alcoholic’. It’s never seen to be acceptable not to drink – you have to have something wrong with you. However family and friends, though slightly bemused, have been supportive and I appreciate that.
I’m six weeks in and have currently donated to seven different charities. I certainly don’t feel as run down as I did back in August and am sleeping LOADS better. Saturday and Sunday mornings are no longer a bit fuzzy round the edges and there’s no sensation of dread as all the receipts fall out of my wallet signalling just how much my ‘I’ll just go out for a couple of drinks’ cost me.
A friend of mine is a doctor and they suggested that I get a HbA1C test done now, and then again in January to see if this has had any effect on my overall control. Seeing as it covers the previous 3 months if I do it now it’ll cover July, August and September (I think!). If I do get round to doing this it would be interesting to see what a difference it makes….though I appreciate this may be abusing the NHS slightly to do this just for personal experimentation!
I’m pretty stubborn so even though there’s been a few times already where I’d love nothing more than to have a pint I’ve stuck to my guns, and just stuck to diet coke so I’m certain I’ll make it to the 1st Jan without a drink. I would challenge others to try the same thing, maybe not for so long but figure out how much in a week you spend on alcohol then for one week, don’t drink and donate that money where it’s needed. Like Diabetes UK perhaps….?