To think that this doctor let me down..

(33 Posts)
Letdownbydoctor Wed 18-Dec-13 09:40:47

I have been drinking more than I should for over a year now. Generally about half a bottle of wine a night and more that the weekends. I know that this is wrong and want to do something about it, but am always so stressed at the end of the day that I reach for a glass. It has been a really tough year, but most of the pressures have now eased and it is a good time to focus on this.

My DM was an alcoholic and was bi-polar. She committed suicide in a drunken stupor 6 years ago.

I get private health care with work and every 2 years get a full 'health check'. This involves lots of tests, including blood tests and an hour with a GP. They send you a 12 page 'health and lifestyle questionnaire' t complete before your appointment.

I have never mentioned my alcohol intake to a healthcare professional previously, but decided that this was the time to address this and get some help. Even if nothing practical the doctor could do, I felt that just talking about it to someone about this would be a first step.

So, for the first time I was honest on the form about my alcohol intake. I also put on my mums history (previously I had put the bi-polar, but not the alcohol abuse). I also put down 'concerned about my alcohol intake' down as an area I would like to discuss with the GP.

When it got to the GP session, she skipped over that section and then at the end asked if there was anything else I would like to discuss. I pointed out my alcohol intake and my DMs history and said that I was worried that I was now drinking wine every night. The GP said 'you and every mum in Surrey'. I think that your alcohol intake is normal for a busy mum in a stressful job and she basically then moved on and made it impossible for me to raise again (it had taken me so much to raise it the first time).

My blood tests came back and my liver function is fine…I was almost hoping there was something physically wrong so that I could raise this again.

I feel really let down and not sure where to go next….

angelos02 Wed 18-Dec-13 09:43:17

I don't think half a bottle of wine is that much to be honest. I know a lot of people that drink at least a large glass of wine every night. Half a bottle is a little more than that. However, if you are concerned about it then your GP should have provided you with a referral to an alcohol support organisation. YANBU.

JollySantersSelectionBox Wed 18-Dec-13 09:46:43

I don't think your alcohol intake is fine. I'm a busy working mum (who one lived in Surrey) and I don't drink anything like that.

But why rely on this GP, why not go and see your local NHS one? I sometimes wonder if the Private Med GP is under duress to keep the costs down for the company, and she won't have as vested an interest in you as your local practitioner.

Do you have any support at home to help you stop drinking?

trinity0097 Wed 18-Dec-13 09:47:41

Why not go and see your proper NHS GP? I personally think that half a bottle of wine every night is excessive, so you are right to be concerned.

Why not start now by not drinking today and having a night off from the wine?

NotYoMomma Wed 18-Dec-13 09:50:47

why not look at the brave babes thread on the relationship forums? its a group of women concerned about their drinking and trying to cut back and/or stop

its hugely supportibe for many.

also they are probably the best to advise how to get help?

I do think the gp let tou down. I hate this culture of 'parents driven to drink' - pwraonally I think anyone who needs a drink or drinks everu single day either has or is in danger of having a drink issue, there is just no need (my personal opinion, not a dig at the masses)

JollySantersSelectionBox Wed 18-Dec-13 09:52:19

What are the recommended safe limits of alcohol?
Men should drink no more than 21 units of alcohol per week, no more than four units in any one day, and have at least two alcohol-free days a week.
Women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, no more than three units in any one day, and have at least two alcohol-free days a week.

Half a bottle of wine is 4.5 units a night. If you have two whole bottles over the weekend you are consuming over 40 units of alcohol a week. And having no alcohol free evenings.

Joysmum Wed 18-Dec-13 09:56:10

As someone with addiction/unhealthy attitudes to food rather than drink, I think I understand where you are coming from.

I place importance on my reactions to, and use of food, the amounts aren't as important as wanting to be normal and being frightened of things sliding so I'm out if control again. It's the mental aspects that are vital, not so much the physical affects.

Letdownbydoctor Wed 18-Dec-13 09:58:11

Notyomomma - thanks, I will look at that.

I agree that I should see my GP, but that seems too close to home and I am ashamed of how much I am drinking.

Almost every morning I wake up thinking that tonight will be the one I do not drink, but then reach for the wine bottle...

SettingPlaster Wed 18-Dec-13 09:58:23

I don't think your alcohol intake is fine at all, and your liver function is irrelevant if you feel dependent on wine. Go and see your own GP, explain things clearly, and move ahead from there. This GP has a skewed and irresponsible view of a normal alcohol intake.

I certainly know busy working mothers who drink as much as you, but the difference is that you know you have a problem.

quesadilla Wed 18-Dec-13 09:58:26

For me its not so much the alcohol intake itself (which I would say is borderline), its that the GP is being dismissive of a genuine health concern.

I think doctors can be quite blasé about booze. My dad, who drinks too much although its just about under control, has been told several times his alcohol intake is fine when he drinks three large glasses of wine a night.

Frankly I think some GPs say this because they don't want to think about their own booze problems.

Maybe try another GP...

Letdownbydoctor Wed 18-Dec-13 09:59:10

i am also taking pain killers every night to stop me getting a headache, so i must be doing damage somewhere....

SettingPlaster Wed 18-Dec-13 09:59:59

Honestly, OP, GPs have heard it all. If anything, s/he would probably admire you for deciding to tackle a problem which will eventually cause physical problems, even if it's not doing so now.

lyndie Wed 18-Dec-13 10:00:42

The private Dr won't be able to refer to alcohol treatment services, maybe see your own GP? AA, drop in clinic, look for private alcohol counselling?

Letdownbydoctor Wed 18-Dec-13 10:01:05

quesedilla - interestingly the doctor was a similar age to me and had already mentioned earlier in the consultation that she has children of a similar age to mine, so may be related to her own drinking.

The private GP just seemed like a 'safe' option to have this first conversation.

Middleagedmotheroftwo Wed 18-Dec-13 10:01:57

Try your NHS GP. They have more of an incentive to look at your long term health.
Or, alternatively, there are lots of self help groups you could get advice and support from, not least AA.

As a previous poster said - could you start this evening by having a cup of coffee instead of a glass of wine?

I'd find it easier to resist at the point of sale, and not buy any alcohol, rather than resist drinking it once it's in the house. If you have any unopened bottles, could you donate them towards a Christmas raffle somewhere, or give them to someone, or pour them away even, to reduce temptation?

NationMcKinley Wed 18-Dec-13 10:03:18

Good for you in recognizing that you may have a problem. Alcohol units aside, IMO it's how you feel that's at the heart of the matter. Any amount if alcohol, be it half a glass or half a bottle a night, is a concern if it's something you feel you're dependent on. I second seeing your own GP if you feel you need professional help, or why not see if you can cut down of your own volition? I think it's unlikely, especially as your liver function tests are normal and on the amount you drink, that you'll suffer any serious physical withdrawal symptoms. Maybe try drinking on alternate nights to start with or just weekends? Very best of luck, you've taken the most important step grin

BitchyFestiveFace Wed 18-Dec-13 10:11:15

Well done for recognising a potential problem. I wouldn't read too much into the liver function test - I have a friend who has been seriously abusing alcohol for decades, I mean, REALLY abusing it, you wouldn't believe the amount he drinks - and he's had two liver function tests that have come back fine. As I understand it (and I'm not a doctor so I may be wrong) the liver can take a lot of shit and just keep working, until one day it doesn't.

See your GP. The fact that you intend not to drink in the morning, but then find you can't help yourself come the evening, rings alarm bells for me.

WipsGlitter Wed 18-Dec-13 10:32:22

I agree, a private GP is not going to be that interested in this. You would be better going to your own GP. Do you want to give up completely? Would you consider AA? I know there are some threads on here where posters who are giving up give each other support. I think they call themselves the brave babes if you can find a link.

Letdownbydoctor Wed 18-Dec-13 10:40:44

Thanks for the brave babes suggestion. I have joined their latest thread.

I do not want to give up drinking socially. I just want to break the habit of wine every night, even if I am alone.

quesadilla Wed 18-Dec-13 11:02:29

letdown I just wanted to add also that my drinking habits were more or less like yours until about three years ago (basically when I got pregnant). I've made a concerted effort to drink minimally during the week -- I average about two to three units between Monday and Thursday and then give myself more of a free reign at weekends. Its not perfect but I'm comfortably within my safe units range and I don't miss it on the off nights.

It was scary at first but actually you start to get a strange buzz from being booze free after a while when you get used to it -- or at least I did.

It takes a while to get used to but as long as you don't have a serious dependency problem -- and it doesn't sound as if you do -- you will probably find once you get past the first few weeks it will fall into place.

It might also be worth speaking to a counsellor about it as opposed to a doctor. Not necessarily AA but just someone who can walk you through your feelings about alcohol and stress.

OatcakeCravings Wed 18-Dec-13 11:07:33

What exactly do you expect your Doctor to do? You are fine physically, you think you drink too much then drink less! If you can't then look for some help - Google would be your friend here - there must be some sort of alcohol support in Surrey.

Letdownbydoctor Wed 18-Dec-13 11:09:49

Quesadilla - Thanks. That is exactly where i have always been until this past year. An odd glass during the week and then a shared bottle of wine with DH on a Friday and Saturday. But DH has been severely depressed this year (hence one of the sources of stress), and I think it is the drinking alone that has tipped me over.

Mumsyblouse Wed 18-Dec-13 11:18:21

I completely get that you wanted the GP to acknowledge your concern, however I am not sure what treatment you wanted. You are, probably by all addiction measures, not an alcoholic, and so treatment on the NHS wouldn't be appropriate at this stage. What would be appropriate would have been a discussion about why you felt concerned, and for you to set some goals around perhaps not drinking two nights a week or so on.

I have lots of friends who drink a lot of wine, and when they feel it's getting too much, they often rein it back in again, or agree with their partners to have an alcohol free month or whatever. I think expecting the NHS to leap in and offer you something is probably a little much at this stage because whatever they offer, it would still depend on you exercising some power in the situation and restricting or stopping drinking.

I don't think you were being unreasonable to expect the dr to be sympathetic and acknowledge your concerns, but ultimately it's like eating a bit too much every evening when you want to lose weight- there's no magic pill that is going to stop you, and at least in the early stages, it's about finding that control/determination/weighing up the pros and cons from within. I think hanging out on the thread you mentioned and getting support from friends might be a more realistic way to deal with it anyway.

greenfolder Wed 18-Dec-13 11:21:25

I can understand your worries esp with history. How do you feel if there is no wine in the house? Would you go out to buy it specifically?

OTheHugeManatee Wed 18-Dec-13 11:24:10

The definition of an alcoholic is someone who drinks more than their doctor. Clearly this doctor drinks more than you do. I would suggest finding one that doesn't drink at all, so they can panic about your (IMO really not that excessive) alcohol consumption with you.

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