British Liver Trust
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Please help! Very concerned!

Hi, Just wondering if there’s any advice out there please. I’m an extremely worried. I abused alcohol for many years of binge drinking for about 15 years. I’m now 37. It didn’t help that I was in an abusive relationship for 10 years and I used to mask the pain on sometimes a daily or weekly basis mainly drinking wine and sometimes vodka to deal with my PTSD.

I’m so worried about my liver. I currently have a gallstone that’s 15mm in diameter and having that taken out in a few weeks. They did an abdominal ultrasound on my gall bladder, liver, spleen etc a few months ago and said everything was fine apart from gallstone. I’ve had an endoscopy also and there is a small amount of inflammation on my stomach lining but not major. Colonoscopy was ok too.

I get itchy skin bouts from time to time but these ease away, my stools are occasionally pale but mainly yellow. I’m over weight but am taking measures to address this.

I went to the docs the other day who did a referral to have my gall bladder removed but I told her about my concerns regarding my liver and she said the ultrasound would have picked it up. My past blood tests have been normal and am awaiting some more results from this over next few days. She examined where my liver was and said it didn’t feel enlarged. I have been getting loads of tenderness on my diagphram though for many months. I’ve read that ultrasound and bloods don’t always pick up cirrhosis and keep thinking I have it with the amount of alcohol I’ve had over the years.

I’m not sleeping thinking I have this and the doctors said I don’t need any more tests.

They won’t do a fibroscan and assured me if I had liver damage it would have been picked up on tests. I can’t see how I can’t have liver damage with the amount I had drank over the years. A typical binge was around 100 units. I could cry thinking about it and have was in a bad place for years.

How common is cirrhosis, does anyone know how many people in the UK are diagnosed a year?

Please help!!

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Hi becca im kinda in the same boat as you plus i have really bad health anxity over liver failure.. ive also had blood tests done and scans before , they have always came back normal which i was like how they can they be normal... im pretty sure the scan would of defiantly picked cirrhosis up . The poo colour could be from your diet or even morenyourngall bladder bial. I would try and trust the doctors specially because you have had a scan , the gall bladder is attached to the liver i belive? So they would of payed alot of attention to your liver then when looking at the stone ect. Also they will be able to see your liver when you have it removed. Maybe ask the surgeon to have a look more closely. (I would haha) im not sure how many in the uk have cirrhosis but ive read alot about it because im totally obbsessed and not every heavy drinker develops it. U said 100 units is that in a week ?

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Hi, thanks for your reply. Those units are over a 3 day binge which is why I’m worried, I also drink a lot every night for many years too as well as been on anti depressants. Hence I’m worried about the damage.

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I drunk a litre bottle vodka one day next litre brandy next litre whisky or litre and bit more mixing them and was a speed freak 20 years 25/30 yrs dependant drink on loads medication took overdoses and now I still ain't got clue what diagnosis is so same no information

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Your doc is correct when he/she says ultrasound should have detected advanced disease. The spleen is typically enlarged, which surely would have been noted. Ascites and architectural abnormalities would also have been noted. Normal labs are also optimistic.

Stool discoloration can occur when gallstones are present, as there may be an intermittent obstruction which blocks bile flow. Bile is what turns stool brown, & any blockage would result in light colored stool.

When you have your gallbladder surgery, the liver will be visualized, and cirrhosis should be obvious if it is present. You might even request a biopsy be done during your surgery if the liver looks diseased, but you'd need to arrange this in advance with your surgeon and have this added to your surgical consent.

Photographs are frequently taken during endoscopic surgeries, and you can ask your doc to do this and provide you with a copy. You can actually see for yourself what your liver looks like and compare this with endoscopic photos of cirrhotic livers available online.

Keep the faith your surgery will provide relief, & save a worry date for after you have your surgery. All should be revealed once they have a peek at your liver with the scope.

Hope you get some good news soon!

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Thank you so much x

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think you should try to stop worrying.

if you have taken away the cause of the problem.. the alcohol then the liver has a good chance of improving.

we can manage quite well with a partly damaged liver... so even if you had some scarring you could be healthy.

if you had any serious issues it should show in blood tests.

the tenderness could be the gallbladder maybe????

i am not trying to dismiss your worries but try to get on and enjoy life...

blood tests are usually the best indicator of damage and ultrasound would show scarring.

best thing you can do is to eat well. exercise if you can and reduce stress...

give your body all it needs and hopefully you will have a long and good life.

i had a transplant in may after 19years of being pretty ill from an autoimmune liver disease.. pbc... and it took all that time for the damage caused by my antibodies attacking my liver to get bad enough for transplant.

the doc sounds like they have done all the right things... so please try and relax a little... you may have done yourself far less damage than you think....

best wishes cazer.

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Thank you x

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Hi Becca,

Listen to your specialists and if they say no Cirrhosis then you probably haven’t developed the condition -YET.

Stopping drinking permanently will give you the best chance of making a complete recovery.

Reading your post brought memories back for me and also a smile as I was in exactly that place about 6 years ago.

I had been an extremely heavy drinker, and although clean for 9 years or so had a bout of hospitalisation with excruciating pain -this subsequently meant that my GallBladder required removing. A year later, I felt awful, a friends sister who worked at the hospital reported back that I didn’t have long left, as I had developed a deathly parlour. Upon investigation they discovered a huge gallstone blocking a bile duct, and nobody knew where it had come from as the Gallstone factory had been removed. This was removed and it was the size of a Malteser and during the scan to ensure everything was gone they discovered a lesion on my liver soon to be confirmed as a tumour. My story is one of ups and downs and I write a blog about my cancer journey 1liver1life.wordpress.com. I have Cirrhosis and it will eventually kill me, but staying clean and sober (15 years now) allow me to keep things in perspective and be where I am told to be when I am told to be there. Thus my day to day health is of the utmost priority. Having this diagnosis, and an aborted Liver Transplant have not stopped me doing anything, I work through my bucket list with steely determination, I have been to Russia, am going off to Singapore cruising down to Abu Dhabi in a couple of months all because I have managed to stay sober.

I hope you get the relief from the pain you are experiencing, and if you stay away from the booze your liver should regenerate and work nicely for many years to come.

Ray

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You are so brave and well done. I plan on really looking after myself . I have children and they are what I live for. Thank you x

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Hope everything goes well with your op. all I can say is stick with it. Booze not only affects your liver but can also lead to brain damage I speak from experience, with hindsight its just not worth it. If your dependant on alcohol its not easy to admit it, it still has a stigma to it but I found it helped talking and admitting it to friends and family not always easy but most if not all helped me through. For your bodies sake give it up and plan on what you will do with the money you save as a target.

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Hi Becca

Your concern over the condition of your liver after years of self-abuse is understandable. What you want is a clean slate from which to move forward in your life in a positive, healthy fashion both physically and mentally.

The good news, I assume, is that you are no longer drinking harmful amounts of alcohol and are no longer in a harmful, toxic relationship. Things have shifted for you...

The doctor assures you from her medical point of view there is no sign of liver disease. However, you feel as if that is not possible...who do you trust, the doctor or your gut instinct? I would trust both.

My advice to you is to keep moving forward..never accepting even once, situations that push you back into that ‘feel bad ‘black hole. You deserve to be treated with respect and that starts by respecting yourself. So, if you truly feel your liver maybe be damaged...and, you are right, you can be symptomless though there is damaged. Have a Fibroscan done privately. It is easy to set up. The hard part is paying for it.

The results may show some scarring, damage from your drinking...but it may also reveal that you do not have cirrhosis. If this is so...and the staff performing the scan will explain all. It may put your mind to rest. Also, it may encourage you to not drink so your liver can continue to heal and, hopefully, no further damage will be done.

It is frightening to have your life threatened on so many levels and it will take time to heal all wounds. I hope you have a good support system that will help you through this. With all your strength and with love, don’t look back. Today is yours.

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Thank you for your lovely words x

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Hi Becks, please take note of the replies you have had as they are exactly as it is. I suffer with cirhossis and it was picked up by deranged blood relults, a manual examination and ultrasound. The worrying is doing you no good and try to stop with the information given. Certainly stop drinking, eat healthy and concentrate on your gall bladder and bests wishes x

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Thank you x

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Becca, Just read about your concern over ultrasounds. I can only share my experience.

I have had ultrasounds for the abdominal area ordered by a GP at a rehab clinic. They had shown fatty liver which I, in retrospect, should have taken more seriously, because at that stage the liver can return to normal if alcohol is the only cause & removed from the equation. More power to you for making that decision.

At the medical talks in a hospital rehab, the addiction specialist doctors say a fatty liver comes before fibrosis or cirrhosis. You can take some comfort that you haven't been diagnosed with that or hepatitis (inflammation of the liver).

My last ultrasound was done in Feb last year yet in October a Gastroenterologist ordered a very specific ultrasound - & it took a lot longer? I was diagnosed with Cirrhosis but this is after having Hepatitis C & being a drinker for 40 years who became alcoholic, & was obese (lost 25kg) & diabetic.

Sounds like you want more information from the most appropriate medico. As you have a referral to a gastroenterologist for gallstone op that may be the one.

It is scary to think you're scarry.

Hope you get all the help you need, regards Scarred, less scared.

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