I have been viewing this forum for several months now, and am just now feeling courageous enough to post.
I struggled with alcoholism for the past 7 years, and was always a heavy drinker off and on since the age of 21. I am going to turn 34 next month, but there was a period of 2 years or so where I would drink a bottle of vodka (35-50cl) almost daily, or a bottle of wine, or several G&T's. I feel so ashamed, but I was what many would refer to as a functioning alcoholic, no one knew about my problem and I would sneak booze wherever I could, away from other people. I was in a bad relationship with an abusive partner. One night I collapsed, after that sought out CBT counselling through the NHS. I was able to reduce my drinking significantly over the past two years, but sometimes do still overdo it and always feel terrible and guilty afterwards. I don't drink every day anymore, and have gone weeks/months without a drink, but sometimes it feels like a slippery slope.
I am American and went home recently for several weeks. There was wine or beer every night I would only have a glass to fit in (as people put pressure on you to imbibe), but since I've returned from this visit I still feel the urge to drink and have been doing so more often into the holiday season.
I am conscious that I could have seriously damaged my liver already, but I am not really showing any signs that would indicate as such. A had an absolute panic attack one day and went to the doctor, who felt my abdomen and thought everything felt normal (nothing swollen etc), but given my history he ordered a series of blood tests. I was always too afraid and embarrassed to talk to the doctor up to that point, and still couldn't fully bring myself to admit how much I had drunk in the past.
The blood test came back totally normal, and he explained that the liver can be "a very forgiving organ." Nonetheless, I have been reading and some sites say "A liver function blood test is a good way of checking for any immediate problems, like a fatty liver. However, it wouldn’t be able to inform you of any long-term damage."
So I am looking for reassurance and advice, is it possible that I have something long term that could have gone unnoticed? And if so, how do I find out before serious problems do start to manifest themselves?
Again I have not noticed any symptoms really, I sometimes feel pain in my right side around my ribs, but I also have digestive issues so have attributed it to that. Would the pain be constant if it were my liver? I find I feel intoxicated now more quickly if I do drink, but I also drink less frequently and have made an effort to maintain a healthy regime of low fat vegetarian diet and exercise daily, so I have lost two stone and am now down to a healthy weight. No change in my bowels, no swelling etc in my body.
I know that often times liver issues are asymptomatic, should I ask my doctor about further tests/scans, even though my bloodwork came back normal and he didn't seem to think there was anything to worry about?
I have anxiety and depression, and a family history of alcoholism, so it is a fight every day to resist drinking. I grew up in a household where my parents would drink a bottle of wine or a half of liquor (each) every night, so it took a long time for me to understand that this is unhealthy because they were never belligerent or behaved drunkedly. They haven't had any health complications yet (touch wood). But there have been several incidents over the years where I have almost hurt myself at worst, and seriously embarassed myself/others at best.
I am currently engaged to a very supportive partner who drinks very infrequently and moderately. I can be honest with about my history, and he has helped in so many ways. I am so afraid that I have damaged myself so much up to this point though that I'm not going to be able to live the full and exciting life I see ahead of me, and these feelings of sadness make me want to have a drink! What a horrible cycle alcoholism is!
I'm sorry for such a long post, if you have made it this far, thank you for your help and advice, and for hearing me out.