- It enhances mental sharpness, especially in seniors, and
- It creates opportunities for life-giving socialization.
But within a year or two, I was playing bridge for real. Living on my own for the first time in 20 years, I was lonely at times. My almost daily attendance at AA meetings helped deal with this. Hanging around gay bars was a mixed bag. I made some new friends but I often ended up feeling even more lonely. (I would not recommend a recovery from alcoholism that mixes AA meetings and bars but, thanks to the Antabuse, I somehow remained sober.)
Gradually I constructed a new life that proved to be very satisfying and filled with friends. I joined St. John's Church at Lafayette Square. I became actively involved in the Whitman Walker Clinic, which had been serving the gay and lesbian community for many years but, at the time I joined, it was just beginning its transformation into the leading institution in the Washington area dealing with AIDS.
And I found a group of bridge players among my coworkers at BNA. Another bridge playing group evolved out of my friendships as St. John's. As it turned out, this group of about a dozen players included a number of recovering alcoholics like me.
Out of this group and my BNA group a regular quartet of players developed. For about a year, we played every Saturday night. During the warm months, we ate and played on my back porch. We were all competitive and took the game pretty seriously. But we also enjoyed the good-natured bantering that accompanied the game. It was NOT tournament bridge.
The Nantucket Nightmare
No need to go into details, but the next day when the plane from Nantucket landed in the Boston airport,each of us scurried off to find a private hideout in which to spend the hour wait before the Boston-Washington plane took off.
Time – the great balm -- has allowed us to laugh about it now. But whenever we want to conjure up an image of conflict and discord, we only have to say one word: Nantucket.
I wondered if my malaise might be related to the changes in my medication. But I also wondered if I might just be imagining the whole thing.
One of the things that had concerned me was my feeling that I'd been really out of it in my bridge playing recently and that this coincided with the change in medication. I decided to ask a regular partner who knew my game well… a person I could trust to give me a forthright, honest answer.
She said she had noticed a deterioration in my game. I asked if she saw this as part of a long gradual deterioration or as a sudden and recent development. She said it definitely was something that began about three weeks earlier -- soon after I'd started the increased levodopa.
With this reassurance that I wasn't just imagining things, I got myself checked out by two different neurologists, both of whom agreed that I was seriously overdosed on levodopa
The dosage was reduced, and my game soon returned to “normal.” As did I.