“Dada dada da.” That’s my daughter’s favorite thing to say when I’m not around. At least that’s the vibe I get from the cute stories my wife tells me when I get home from work every day. I can picture myself all too vividly, watching helpless from the heaven I believe in, as my wife tells her that daddy isn’t coming home anymore… he’s with Jesus now.
What’s the quickest way to lose your man card? Crash into a tree and kill yourself being irresponsible (even if you thought you had sobered up).
It’s terrifying how close that reality became for me less than 48 hours ago. The worst part is, I thought I was being safe. I had a few beers on the course at the company golf outing, but by the time we left my body should have had time to metabolize the alcohol contained by them. I wouldn’t drive drunk. I was about fifty-five minutes into my one hour drive home when I fell asleep, went off the road and hit a tree. So why did this happen?
In my case I believe there were three factors that together combined to put myself and embarrassingly anybody else on or near the road I was traveling, at extreme risk. I will go over each of them, however the lesson here is that, even if your body has completely processed the alcohol in your drink, the risk is not gone.
I spent over four hours that morning playing eighteen holes of golf. Believe it or not golf is a physically draining game. Guidelines published by ACSM as well as others recommend taking 10,000 steps in a day to help maintain cardiovascular health as well as to maintain your weight. I’ve been using a fitbit and that morning playing golf I walked over 12,000 steps during those few hours alone.
Lack of Sleep
I have been diagnosed with a psychological form of insomnia. This essentially causes me to have a very difficult time falling asleep. On an average night it will take me between one and four hours to fall asleep. Watching television actually aids me, however I still have a very hard time. The night before the golf outing I wasn’t able to fall asleep until around 2:00 AM. I had to be up at 6:00 AM in order to make it to the golf course on time. First grade math tells us I only got around four hours of sleep that night.
Effects of Alcohol
Finally the drinks on the course. Although I believe the first two factors played a role in my accident, I’m not too proud to admit that the drinking likely played the biggest role in what happened. The worst part is that based on what I knew of the effects of alcohol prior to this day, I thought I was doing the right thing. I made sure that my body had time to metabolize the alcohol and then I was on my way home. We know how the story ends. I fell asleep, went off the road, hit a tree, and by the grace of God I’m still here to watch my daughter grow up, see my son born in about six weeks, and to hopefully save at least one life by sharing this story. But how did it happen?
I haven’t been able to stop replaying the last few seconds before the crash in my head, unable to believe how lucky I am. I’ve found through some basic research that alcohol is a depressant, although the effects of the depressant aren’t felt while you are drinking or intoxicated. You actually start feeling the effects of the depressant once your blood alcohol level normalizes. Your body removes increased glucose from the blood as it is processing the alcohol by producing insulin. Once the process starts, the insulin continues removing glucose from the blood. You eventually end up with a low glucose level, which has many effects on the body, including feeling tired.
So there you have it. Did I drive drunk? No. Did I think I was being responsible and safe by waiting until I had sobered up to drive? Yes. Was I correct. Terrifyingly no.
Last night I was holding my daughter, replaying the events of the day in my mind, and I began to tear up. I can’t believe I almost did not get the opportunity to take her to Disney World, to go to a daddy-daughter dance with her, or to one day walk her down the aisle. Please, even if you’ve sobered up, understand that alcohol can effect your body in dangerous ways beyond the point of intoxication. Stay safe!