Safe Drinking Levels

My sweet cousin’s liver is failing, and she is only 40. Are you aware of the safe amount of alcohol that you can drink every day?

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As if losing my mother and hubby’s brother since the first of the year has not been enough, we are now in a crisis situation with my younger cousin who is in ICU in a hospital hours away from any family.  I got the call from her roommate a week ago today and immediately tore out in my car to the hospital three hours away.  I spent most of last week with her, too.  Since that day, she has mostly gone downhill fast, but right now, she is somewhat stable while remaining in critical condition.

My sweet and troubled cousin is almost twenty years younger than I am.  We just learned that she is very likely an alcoholic, just like so many other relatives in our family, including her own father who died a few years ago.  At age 40, her liver is basically shot from drinking, and we are not sure if she will survive or not.  She is on life support at this time on a ventilator and a feeding tube to see if her body can recover and throw off all the fluid and toxins that have now built up to a most critical level.  Believe me when I tell you that this all hit quite suddenly, with only a slight advance notice that there was an issue with her liver.  Her liver decided to revolt on her, and she will be fortunate if she survives now.

I’m not sharing this post today for anyone in particular but just tossing it out for anyone that may be directed to read it today or in the future, especially ladies of any age that drink alcohol every day.  Are you aware of the safe amount of alcohol that you can drink every day?  Are you aware that daily consumption of equal amounts of alcohol between men and women will more greatly impact the woman?  That is a well-documented fact.

Here is what the CDC recommendations are concerning daily alcohol, and my cousin’s ER doctor reiterated the same.  There is a *very good reason* why this guideline is out there, folks.  Break this recommendation at your own peril, especially if you are a woman.  Don’t think that you are that “special” person that can safely drink more than this amount.  I’ve heard that way too often, believe me.  By the time you may see any physical issues, much of your liver function may already be gone.

What does moderate drinking mean?
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans,1 moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. This definition is referring to the amount consumed on any single day and is not intended as an average over several days. The Dietary Guidelines also state that it is not recommended that anyone begin drinking or drink more frequently on the basis of potential health benefits because moderate alcohol intake also is associated with increased risk of breast cancer, violence, drowning, and injuries from falls and motor vehicle crashes.

Frankly, I’m so sick of seeing people I love destroying themselves with alcohol.  To date, they have all been a little older than my cousin, though.  I understand that alcoholism is a disease, but it is also worth noting that you can still destroy your liver and not be an alcoholic.

Here is the link to the CDC website, and I hope that everyone that reads this post today will click that link and read this important information.  If it helps one person today to make the decision to make a change for the better, it was worth the brief amount of time it took me to share it.

If you are in a crisis situation as far as your drinking, get medical help immediately if you need it.   If there is not a medical issue yet, get into Alcoholics Anonymous or a similar faith-based program, such as Celebrate Recovery, and get a sponsor as soon as you can.  Don’t delay.  Do it now.  Take the step.  I’ve seen others do it with great success, and you can do it, too.  Go to a meeting every day for three months, no exceptions.  You can find more information and find meetings near you on their national website at http://www.aa.org.  Whether you realize it or not, you have people in your life that love and care deeply about you that will be there for you.  Quit pushing them away and make some good decisions.  There are people who can and will help you, and it may save your life.

Just over a week ago, my cousin was at work and living a pretty normal life.  Today she is on life-support in ICU.

Ask. For. Help. Now. – Not. Later.

Please pray for my cousin, too.  It may be too late for her.

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My Tribute

A special photo that, to me, represents healing since 9/11

I took this photo last weekend while we were on retreat in the mountains of New Mexico, but as I looked at it more closely this morning while watching the 9/11 remembrances on the morning news, I realized that this photo represents so well the healing that has occurred, at least for me, since the tragedy of 9/11/01.

The darkness is still seen in the background, as well as the “shadows” of what was, but literally hundreds of points of light shine through that darkness to illuminate a single tall vine that is new growth in the foreground.  For me, those points of light represent the lives of those lost that day and the hope that could not be destroyed.  Every little detail of the healthy vine can been seen so well as it reflects the light that is piercing through the darkness beyond, and it was illuminated so brightly that I felt compelled to capture it in a photo.

This brings to mind a special verse for me today, and may it inspire us all to continue to fight the good fight in our own lives, know whose we are, know how much we are loved, and be a shining light of truth and grace to others in our lives every day.  Today, I am grateful for this special little message to help me to continue to move forward as I remember the sacrifices and the exquisite pain that many are experiencing today.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

— John 15:5

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