...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, January 9, 2012



What is a hangover?

From the NIH-published Alcohol Hangover: Mechanisms and Mediators by Robert Swift, M.D., Ph.D. and Dena Davidson, Ph.D.:
A hangover is characterized by the constellation of unpleasant physical and mental symptoms that occur after a bout of heavy alcohol drinking. Physical symptoms of a hangover include fatigue, headache, increased sensitivity to light and sound, redness of the eyes, muscle aches, and thirst. Signs of increased sympathetic nervous system activity can accompany a hangover, including increased systolic blood pressure, rapid heartbeat (i.e., tachycardia), tremor, and sweating. Mental symptoms include dizziness; a sense of the room spinning (i.e., vertigo); and possible cognitive and mood disturbances, especially depression, anxiety, and irritability. The particular set of symptoms experienced and their intensity may vary from person to person and from occasion to occasion. In addition, hangover characteristics may depend on the type of alcoholic beverage consumed and the amount a person drinks.
From Wikipedia:
A hangover is the experience of various unpleasant physiological effects following heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages. The most commonly reported characteristics of a hangover include headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, lethargy, dysphoria, diarrhea and thirst, typically after the intoxicating effect of the alcohol begins to wear off. While a hangover can be experienced at any time, generally speaking a hangover is experienced the morning after a night of heavy drinking. In addition to the physical symptoms, a hangover may also induce psychological symptoms including heightened feelings of depression and anxiety.
And concisely phrased by the Mayo Clinic:
A hangover is a group of unpleasant signs and symptoms that can develop after drinking too much alcohol.

It can start before the night is over.  It can hammer down in the morning.  It can pin a body down onto the carpet, dizzying the universe.  It can seize one's neuro-receptors and make one weep while listening to syrupy pop music and sitting in traffic.  The more religious-minded of us see it as cosmic punishment for our pleasures.  It feels like failure.

They set up shop in the brain with greater ease the older that brain gets.  I drank irresponsibly for at least three years of undergrad, hangover-less.  Then the morning after graduation, the lead-heavy beast seized me up into its raging grasp and squeezed my brains until nightfall.  But now, after my second glass of red wine the headache sneaks in and nothing is fun anymore.  Yet those red wine aches are mere squeaks compared to the nerve-shredding toxic spills of the morning after a lovely party-night.

Everyone has their own remedies.  To some folks, a good puke does wonders.  Bloody Marys for others.  Or a greasy cheeseburger with a fried egg on top.  I used to go for a long run to sweat it all out......TEN YEARS AGO.

I've actually only had two hangovers since I've been a married man.  One of them was this weekend.  You see, normally, a couple glasses of whisky and I'm set.  But my dearest wife and I decided to check out a local sushi place as well as an Irish pub (both walkable!) and......we had cocktails here at home before it all began.  It was a great night.  It was a terrible morning.

Here's a list that I made when I was feeling like a sweating lump of coal with a headache:

Things that are good for a hangover:
Cold Water
Quiet early-era Miles Davis (volume low)
Fried potatoes (any kind)
Club Soda
Beer - Just one or you're starting up a whole new problem
Dinner for breakfast, Breakfast for dinner
Football on TV
Sunglasses (indoors)
Curling up on the floor
Antiques Roadshow Marathon
The magical nap - The one where you fall asleep at 11am and wake up at 1pm
Other people's pity

Things that are bad for a hangover:
Fire Ass
Fire Trucks
The bad nap - The one where you fall asleep at 11am & wake up at 11:15am, feverish
Brushing teeth - It hurts, it hurts
Nodding head "Yes"
Shaking head "No"
The smell of day-old spilled liquor
Loud avant-garde Miles Davis
Physical intimacy beyond "Hi."

There really aren't any consistent remedies, though hydration and zinc can go a long way to letting your body repair what you'd just f**ked up.  What you can do is avoid the hangover in the first place.

How to avoid a hangover:
Don't drink
Hydrate between drinks
Pick your poison - None of this beer-then-whisky-then-vodka-then-wine-then-gin-&-tonics
Stay away from mixers - All of their sugars contribute to the impending horrible crash
Don't do shots
Don't get old
Cut your head off

Drinking is a lovely thing.  There's no need to be physically punished for it.  Sexually?  Maybe.  Ere, I digress.  It's about treating yourself right.  Having a glass of great single malt scotch is treating yourself right.  Drinking everything that's wet and within arm's length is not treating yourself right.

Since you're reading this blog, you know that I like a malt beverage from time to time.  So I don't say this lightly:  Drink Responsibly.  Don't punish yourself over a love of the good things.