Alcoholic Fatty Liver

I started having right upper abdominal pain about 18 months ago. I have a history of binge drinking of about 10 years. Never drugs not even a Tylenol. In December of 2014 I had blood work done, ultrasound, HIDA scan and a stomach scope with everything coming back normal. So, like any logical person I continued to drink. Fast forward to November 2015 and the pain intensified. I knew deep down inside that it was from drinking. Most people wouldn't believe the amount of alcohol I was capable of putting down in a sitting. The ultrasound on 09 Nov 2015 showed a Fatty liver. I have been sober since that day. My blood work is and has always been normal. The pain seems to have gotten better. Though still not completely gone away. I have joined this site, because there are times when I am completely panic stricken and it is a place where I can find some comfort. I am humbled, inspired and emotional at everyone's journey and stories. I find comfort and strength in all the sharing. Thank you to those who have and do share their stories, knowledge, advice and compassion. It has provided me comfort in some of my sleepless nights.

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  • Good to hear your story Wendy. Glad you're on the mend. I agree this is a great site, there's a lot of combined experience and knowledge. I only found this site post transplant.

  • Thank you RodeoJoe. How long has it been since you've had your transplant?

  • good for you Wendy-it can take months to lose the twinges. May be worth getting full bloods done after 6 months (GGT etc) and doing a fibroscan if you can get one to check progress. I reversed a most of my fatty liver symptoms (mainly digestive) with abstinence/diet but didn't give up drinking completely although I had two months off back in september/october last year. I always feel better these days when I avoid alcohol so that what I try and do-not always successfully.

    On sunday I have to go and write a tribute for an old friend/colleague who died 2 weeks ago following liver failure through alcohol-he's had cirrhosis/jaundice for years but couldn't stop drinking.

    Sounds like you made the right call at the right time

    all the best

    K

  • Thank you Briccolone. I was going to have hopefully another ultrasound and bloodwork done again in three months that will be my six month point. I'm absolutely terrified to have a Fibroscan done. I am going to do that as well at the six month point.

    I think I read your post when your friend went into the hospital. I am sorry to hear that he passed. Alcohol addiction is so powerful....I don't think I can even describe it with words. I seriously don't believe I could transfer that emotion onto a piece of paper. My thoughts will be with you on Sunday for your friends tribute.

    Thanks for your reply. W

  • I'm sure you'll be fine but keep posting-we like to hear good news stories.

    thanks re my friend-cant believe he's gone-its ridiculous.....

  • I think you won the award for the best looking poster if that pic is you lol.

    I remember the fear and constant thoughts that I was about to die from Liver failure, its the worst thing ever. But my journey has made me realise that sooner or later im going to die of something. Its almost a taboo subject and people think you are weird if you talk about it. so I waste very little of time these days, certainly not drinking.

    Your tests so far are pretty good considering you were a serious binger. A Fibroscan should ease your lingering fears hopefully, I didn't fully relax until I got my 4.2kpa results, best money I ever spent!

  • Hi Ralph-

    I read your posts quite a bit. I always find a lot of useful information. You definitely know what you're talking about. I agree about the Fibroscan and I am absolutely terrified to go and get one. I'm 104 days without drinking and was thinking about giving it a full six months before going. I've become obsessed with symptoms. I look at my palms and then compare them (secretly of course) to those around me. I had a nosebleed the other day and absolutely had a panic attack even though my platelets last week were well into high normal. I check my eyes for jaundice, check my weight gain or loss, check my glucose levels at home...it literally has become an obsession. This experience has certainly opened my eyes up to many things and death being one of them. Practicing the art of gratitude being another, as well as forgiveness. That actually does feel good. I've read that the liver is an emotional organ as well and can be affected by our relationships and moods.

    Thank you for the compliment. It is me and that's nice to hear. I think one thing that may have helped me outside of binge drinking is that I've always been a very healthy eater, exercised a lot and didn't do drugs. But my God did I drink. When I tell people my fears about my liver it's always the same response: "No, you're fine, you don't drink that much". I drank A LOT...more than I ever admitted until now. Thanks for writing back. Any advice is taken to heart and appreciated.

  • Im 592 days now, its flown by!

    It took me about a year to feel better, I have only ever been diagnosed with Gastritis. which I now realise I was having it mildly for years after a night out. I just thought it was part of getting older, bad hang overs and dodgy stomach for days after. But in a way it probably saved me from more serious damage, I would rarely drink 2 nights in a row. It would be 2 bottles of wine on a friday night, feel like crap until Tuesday, feel much better Tuesday evening so a visit to the pub was in order, feel like crap until Friday and start the whole cycle again!

    The symptoms you are talking about dont start to happen until the Liver starts to de-compensate, if your tests are clear you should be some way off that.

    This journey is a terrifying one, we all have to walk it alone ultimately, nobody can take the tests in your place etc. But most of the time people arent as bad as they first thought. For sure healthy food makes a difference. Im disappointed in myself for letting alcohol get a hold of my spare time for years, I too eat pretty well and cycle a fair amount.

    good luck and let us know how you get on x

  • That's interesting that you realized that looking back you could tell your Gastritis had been mildly going on for years. I now can see that some of my digestive symptoms (outside the right abdominal pain) have been going on for about three years off and on and I also thought it was just getting older. What prompted you to finally think that you were having problems that concerned your liver? I rarely had hangovers from drinking. Would feel tired mostly and that would last for a couple of days.

    Congratulations on 592 days...that is great. I was just realizing yesterday at 104 days I'm not even 1/3 of the way through a year. So when you tell me that it took about a year to start feeling better I actually feel better hearing that and know I need to be patient and allow my body to heal.

    During your first year of not drinking did you take any supplements to help your liver? I've read a lot of mixed information on things like Milk Thistle, Tumeric, Essentiale Forte...and so on. A part of me wants to take it but then I wonder if it's helping or just burdening my liver more.

    Thanks Again. W

  • Evening

    To be honest when I think about it, I think I had signs alcohol irritates my stomach in my 20s, quite often after 3 or 4 pints of beer I would have loads of gas and be belching so much I would nearly throw up. Of course I would just stop drinking for an hour and then get back on it.

    Its was in my 30s that the hang overs starting getting worse. I used to eat blazing hot curries and chillis, so I just thought it was a sign of a good curry and night out if I felt a bit sore the next day and with age etc(im now 40). Definitely when I hit 35 and started to drink more (I was generally a weekend drinker before this) I had Gastritis, my stomach used to feel full and burning a little, I would take Rennie for that, my friends did too, I never thought much of it. My hang overs would last 3 or 4 days.

    It all ended when I went out to watch the world cup football in 2014, but really it was a excuse to get pretty drunk for a couple of nights. I felt like crap after the 2nd night, after 3 days I was not better. Ringing ears, stomach swollen and painful, blood shot eyes, yellow stools, kidney pain, fatigue, endless fatigue, some veins appeared around my nose.

    I took to google and started to freak out right away when I realised I could have Acute Alcoholic Hepatitis or even Cirrhosis. It took me a couple of weeks to get to the doctors, its only 100 yards away! I was so sick I could hardly walk to the toilet! I had Liver tests, ALT 23, ALP 45, GGT23, all normal! The doctors were literally laughing at me when I said I feared I could have just weeks to live etc. They told me to eat well and learn from the fear etc.

    I kept going back because I was getting no better, every time I had bloods, ALL normal, ultrasound ALL normal. in the end they were getting pissed off with me and were advising I needed to seek mental help, ppffft! I was getting very depressed and started to consider topping myself, I couldn't live with feeling so bad for ever, I decided to get a Fibroscan to confirm my fears and if I had Cirrhosis I would make plans to leave this planet, I didn't want to die like that, I wanted the control of my life.

    Private Fibroscan came back 4.2kpa and a tiny amount of fat above normal, Liver doctor said I'll be fine and everything is "text book" the little bit of fat was probably from the booze which will go if I cut down the booze. At no time has a doctor shown much concern about my 40 units a week average, sometimes up to 50 or 60, sometimes none.

    After about 3 months and most of this time off work sick, I started to feel slightly better, after 6 I started to feel better still. It was a very long road back, around 12months in I started to look better and feel like maybe I wasn't dying. Even to this day I get a few noises and twinges, but its more in the colon area and stomach, although it could be that im now hyper sensitive to these things, you probably are aswel, its the anxiety.

    The only thing that helped me start to believe that I had some quality years left was the Fibroscan, its pretty much the definitive answer if you are going to be ok or not. But I am proof you can feel like crap and not actually be dying.

    I do sometimes think about what damage there is to my guts etc, but im not dwelling on it. I feel ok right now, so im going to enjoy life while I can. Whats done is done I guess.

  • Well done ralph2014! 👍

    I loved reading your post.

    Well said, truthful and honest 🌟

    X x

  • Your story sounds a lot like mine with your test results coming back normal but still feeling like crap. After my first US (coming back normal) in December 2014, but before the US (coming back fatty liver) in November 2015, I continued to drink. I knew deep down that something wasn't right. Yet, all the doctors kept telling me I was fine. Would actually say to me: "you do not have cirrhosis" and "fatty liver is not cirrhosis, eat better and AVOID alcohol". I eat remarkably well and I was never asked about my diet. It was assumed, I guess, that I had NAFLD. I know with 100% certainty that it is from alcohol.

    I have learned more from my own research, and reading the experiences of others here, than anything my GP or Gastroenterologist has provided me....other than test results. I am going to inquire about getting a Fibro scan done. That week I will be a complete train wreck I'm sure. If there's one thing working in my favor it is my OCD...when I do something I do is all the way...was true with my drinking and now true with my NOT drinking. I don't mess around its all or nothing. So I got that going for me. I will certainly keep you posted on the Fibro Scan date and then results.

    W.

  • Evening

    We are here to support as best we can. I'll never forget my Fibroscan, I had to get a train 300 miles to London for it. I really felt that I was heading towards my "death sentence" my head was swimming with terrible thoughts, 50,60kpa ,Liver like a stone, make your will etc, how am I going to tell Mum and Dad? At that time I still wasn't feeling too good, it took all my energy to get on the train.

    I finally got there and the Doctor asked why I wanted the test, I admitted that it was heavy drinking, up to 40-50 units a week. He actually went "pffffft" and said "youve been on google haven't you." He then casually approached me with the probe, as if to say "watch this" Time just stood still for a few seconds, I held my breath and focussed on the screen. The first number I saw was 200, cant be the kpa, it only goes to 70. I looked to right and it was 4.0, huh? then another shot 3.8, then another 4.2. I then almost burst out laughing, the Doctor had an "I told you so" smirk on his face. To be honest I wanted hug him!

    I do things just like you, all or nothing. I will not drink again, I couldn't take the stress of returning to even moderate drinking. I study alot on relapses and learn from peoples experiences. Everything about Alcohol and the health I study. I think it has got the stage now where I know too much to ever go back to Alcohol. I dont need a higher power, I am the power!

    Good luck, I'm looking forward to hearing good news!

  • Thanks for sharing. I do find comfort in hearing about your experiences. It lets me know I'm not the only one that did and is going through this. My drinking was really bizarre. It started about ten years ago. I have no idea what triggered it. I've always been a little OCD anyways. Ten years ago was my first binge and it lasted for about ten days. I drank from the time I was awake until the time I went to sleep aka passed out. I wasn't able to come off that one on my own and had to be hospitalized for a medical detox. My normal BP is about 110/70. When I was admitted I had a resting heart rate of 165 and my BP was 170/110. I had tried to stop drinking on my own and it didn't go so well. Stayed in the hospital until my BP stabilized. Left and didn't drink for a couple months. Then I'd have a few big nights out but that was about it. Was working out ( actually won a fitness competition) eating well, work was going well and BAM I did another big bender. Lasted about five days. Then I'd stop again for a couple months. That was my drinking cycle. I'd just go so big when I'd do a bender.

    I know what you mean about being on Google. It's a double edge sword for me. Sometimes I wonder if I'm not manifesting the symptoms because I've read about them now and then there are times the panic of what I've learned has enabled me to stay away from alcohol. If it takes that to keep me away from it then I'll take it.

    I laughed out loud about you thinking about your will...I just got my Life Insurance policy squared away for my Mom and told her I wanted to be cremated. She rolled her eyes at me.

    I'm going to make another appointment with my Gastrointestinal Dr...see if he will set up the Fibroscan for me. I'm across the pond (United States) not sure if you knew that or not. So my insurance may cover it....not sure but if not then I'll pay for it on my own. I may need you to coach me through it lol.

    Thanks again Ralph. Your posts are great!

    W Xx

  • This all sounds SO like the symptoms my husband had - everytime he was diagnosed with gastritis!.........and nothing further was done - that is until his liver decompensated with the ascites and by that time it was too late :'(

  • I'm very sorry to hear about your hubby. It seems when it comes to the liver that symptoms can vary so much from each person. I know for me I had a clear Ultrasound the first time, perfect blood tests and my HIDA scan was normal. The Doctor didn't diagnose me with anything but a clean bill of health. The only real symptom I had was bloating, reflux and abdominal discomfort. So then I thought maybe it's just part of getting older. Six months later on a repeat Ultrasound the fatty liver was picked up.

    I'm hoping with no alcohol and clean lifestyle that I can clear that up. Should know on the 24th if I have any fibrosis.

    The liver is a peculiar organ no doubt. It's puzzling why some people can live a rock star lifestyle and never have any issues while others can develop cirrhosis in their 20's.

    No true reason why that is really :-(

  • Thank You Wendy,

    For years and years my hubby had abdominal discomfort - the bloating the wind the poor digestion and even bad pain so bad we go to A and E to be told after various blood tests its " gastritis" how I hate that word! Then later on, that the slightly out' LFT's were put down to Diabetes........my hubbies swollen belly we put down to age and genetics....and, like you said " a part of getting older"

    I wish I had known about this forum and then I would have seen how important it is to check the liver. Hindsight is a wonderful thing..... He drank on occasions.... although like 'everybody else' but, like you say the liver is a peculiar organ......

    I do hope your results on the 24th confirm your liver is smooth and healthy once more, Take care,

    x

  • Thank you for your wishes. I am nervous about the 24th so that makes me feel better. I will post my results when I find them out. I am 'across the pond' in California so I have an eight hour time difference. I did get lucky and am seeing a Hepatologist at UCLA medical center who specializes in Fatty liver disease. I have my Fibroscan that same day.

    I agree with you about this forum and finding it because I have learned more from here than any other place or one person. I do believe it has helped me tremendously. Also it is nice to have people who can understand what you're going through whether it be their personal experience or that of a loved one 😊

    Xx Wendy

  • good post-not going to like it because its sad but a useful one none the less...

    best

    K

  • another thing about stopping or cutting down on drink...it makes you look better....

  • True!! I actually gained a little weight and have had people tell me I look thinner in the face. It took me about a week to figure out why that is....because I'm not bloated looking from boozing it up 😳

  • absolutely. I looked about 10 years ago-lost about 10kgs-looking at you the proof is in the pudding...

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