By Christopher Green
The crowd that I hung around while attending Ohio State were taking bets that I would not live to see 30…
Notice that I did not use the word “with” but specifically chose around because no one wanted any part of me. Because of my excessive drinking, I existed on the fringe, on the outer ring, always looking in and never really being a part of any of the wide variety of social groups a campus the size of OSU has to offer.
There was a nickname, there is always a nickname, and it was inventive, to say the least. One of the wags had seen the movie, “The Lost Weekend,” and the title character, a man who was drinking himself to death, was played with gusto by the actor Ray Milland. After only two quarters at OSU, people took to calling me Ray.
Every weekend at OSU was lost to me.
But after my first Fall Quarter at OSU, I knew that I could not handle life on my own at that particular time. In fact, I had decided to come back to Cleveland and had gone so far as to re-enroll back at Cuyahoga Community College. I was chastised and knew it.
But then one of those curses disguised as a blessing just happened.
I had always been interested in politics and the chance of a lifetime came my way. I was offered a job as a page for the Ohio House of Representatives by a shirttail relative who happened to be a member of the House.
My father and mother both talked me into giving OSU another try because it was, after all, the chance of a lifetime.
Well, I went back and it was my spectacular descent after returning that really earned me the nickname Ray.
I am 53 today and looking back realistically, the probability is good that I have already out lived some of those kids who were willing to write me off so easily 35 years ago. I guess college kids of that day, although judgmental to a fault, were really not that great at judging the true character of one Christopher Green.
Or, perhaps they were and were just not willing to watch a promising person waste his life away.
This is yet to be determined.
After a long, tragic, and purely selfish battle, I find myself here today, still alive 33 or so years after my worst days at OSU.
I plan to address my alcoholism in greater detail down the road a bit. I just wanted to show once more why, even though my life did not turn out as I planned (Whose really does?), I have much to be grateful for.
It has been over 26 years since my last drink. I know I would have never made it this far if I had not decided almost three decades ago that my life was simply out of control.
When I wrote this part yesterday, the first draft, I had just finished riding the bike, at 2:30 in the morning, 31 minutes. Of course, I needed the aid of my handy-dandy Oxygen Concentrator and it was cranked up to 4.0 liters per minute, but I am still very proud that I have been able to claw back some control over both of my affliction and my disease.
Last year, for my birthday, I was in an isolation room at Fairview Hospital. Powers that be strongly urged people who came to visit to wear a mask.
They still had not determined what bug I had, but whatever it was that I had, it was dangerous. I was bleeding so much from my lungs that I was, for the first time in my life, actually worried about dying.
When I was in that drug-induced coma back in 2004, I was not aware that I was in danger simply because by the time I woke up I was out of danger.
This time, I was awake for the whole ordeal.
I have mentioned a couple of times that my pulmonary doctor, Dr. Haddad, told me it would take at least a year to get back to the way I was before I got sick.
Being who I am, of course I took this as a challenge.
And so, late last night, after we had gone to Sokolowski’s for Stuffed Cabbage and Pierogis, after a stop at the Cheesecake Factory for snacks and after a trip to Barnes and Noble to grab some bargain books, we ended up back at home, my birthday celebrating safely over for another year. After Elliot and Margaret left and Laurie went to bed. I jumped on the bike and rode for 34.00 minutes.
It really speaks about how much good eating and exercise can help in the well-being of people. In just a little less than a year after that 18-day stay, I feel better than I have since the 1980’s.
I have more energy now, but it comes in bursts. I am not kidding myself about my underlying illness; it is still there and rears up in waves of deep weariness that sweeps over me. This is the real reason I cannot hold a steady job. The daily danger from this is that I would get discouraged.
So far, that has not happened.
But, I am always on the lookout for an onset of the why me’s. The people I met in the program explicitly told me that those were the days you had to look out for.
Now I don’t believe I am in danger of taking up the drink again, that part of me is safely ensconced in the past, but I am worried about depression and how that could sink me down enough that I would end up on a hospital bed being visited by people who have to hide behind masks for their own protection.
So far, that has not happened.
What I have noticed is the alarm that goes off in my head every time there is a slight uptick in my body temp or a lower than normal reading on my pulse ox. I try to measure both at least twice a day in order to keep an eye on the fluctuations, so I can determine what may be a spike and what may be a downward trend.
I am an accountant. We like to quantify stuff.
The long of it is, I am fairly certain I can make it through this winter without any major health problems. But you never know and that is what keeps me going. Stay on my medical regime, stay on my healthier diet and by all means, keep on the bike.
In other words, take it all one day at a time. That phrase is just too to large to be applicable only to alcoholics.
My life could very well depend on it.