BBC2 Drinkers Like Me: I was just... - British Liver Trust

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BBC2 Drinkers Like Me

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I was just wondering if those who managed to watch this program found it interesting.

I personally was please to hear something that I've suspected for some time now, and that is that not all Liver Function Test tell the whole story. A person can have liver fibrosis, but still show excellent liver test results. I think ELF tests should be more commonly available and used more often.

Also, I hope for some people it managed to dispel some of the myths surrounding alcohol abuse, and of our culture in general. I did enjoy it and found it very informative.

Nice one, BBC and my hat off to Adrian Charles for being brave enough to look at himself and realise his lifestyle and personal issues need to understood and confronted.

This is still available to be viewed for those who may have missed it: bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bhkc8b

22 Replies
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Hi Richard, I haven’t watched yet but I will do. I wonder whether you know if it is possible for a person to have clear bloods and ultrasounds and still have fibrosis?

Also, I’ve seen the ELF advertised online for £199 and am thinking about ordering as my Dr is unlikely to let me have one as lft and scans are all clear.

Any thoughts?

Hidden
Hidden in reply to farranccc

Hello farranccc, may I ask as to why you need to have this done privately? A lot of the national NHS GP's now have this test available to them. I know up at my own health authority it's been available for the past 5-months. Even if you did have the test done privately, it'll most likely be processed at the local pathology NHS department.

Because some of the markers have been tweaked, this test can be used to also identify fatty Liver. For more information: gpnotebook.co.uk/simplepage...

farranccc
farranccc in reply to Hidden

Hi @Richard64, I need to go private as all of my blood tests and ultrasounds have been ok so my Dr doesn’t support it...

Hi - I watched it, however I was surprised that given his fibroscan score of 8.9 & fatty liver (i think) the advice was to cut down (3-4 day dry periods) rather than abstain for a few months in order to help the liver recover? not sure it tackled a lot of the general issues and impact related to excessive drinking - more guidance and answers required - would be good to see an update in 1 yr.

Peter007
Peter007 in reply to Peter007

Sorry bit too eager - but agree Richard, it raised some good points and a step in the right direction...

I watched it and found it interesting. Hopefully it will have raised awareness of the dangers present if you overdo alcohol. I was slightly disappointed that some of the options would seem unpalatable to some drinkers who are not alcoholic and may put them off cutting down.

Overall I was happy that awareness was being promoted.

Richard,

Thanks for reminding us of this programme.

I thought it really interesting that he lied to Frank Skinner about his true intake, even though he knew it would come out in the final edit. At least he admitted that he couldn't tell the truth, I'm sure Frank Skinner suspected anyway.

Should be made compulsory viewing.

Jim

I watched it despite my being virtually tea total. I suppose I didn't get the same response to the program that others did

I still feel angry that I have cirrhosis when I have never smoked, used drugs ( rarely used prescription drugs) or been much of a drinker even in my twenties. I brought up 3 children on healthy food cooked from scratch every evening. I have only ever had two takeaways. Good grief I sound boring 😟 and now I can't ever have an alcoholic drink.

I always kinda wondered which scenario would drive me more crazy - knowing i did it to myself, or having not known about the cause at all. I have alcoholic cirrhosis - from six beers daily every night for 1-2 years. I’m obese and a woman, so I assume that didn’t help either. I deal with a ton of guilt and ‘why’ and even I don’t know why I did it - and I still was the idiot that went out everyday to buy beer. Through AA I’ve learned it’s a disease and it never actually makes sense. And my friends and family absolve me from guilt - I was alone, in pain, treating depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc. It makes sense but it doesn’t. I’m well educated, there’s no reason I rationally did this. So again, it doesn’t make sense. Also doesn’t make sense that you can meet folks who drink a fifth of vodka a day for decades with no health effects at all. Life isn’t fair. It’s a crapshoot. You can reduce causes, but humans are imperfect. Life is imperfect.

So I guess my point here is you have to absolve yourself and any reason... completely and move on. If there’s no reason, you have to make peace with that as well. Accept. Disregard. Move on and fight. The disease doesn’t care how you got here. Only that you’re here now, and you intend on hitting it head on.

I personally feel that a fibroscan needs to become a check the block health test just like a few others when you hit a certain age. You get colonoscopy st 50, I think they dropped to 45, EKG at 40, ect. Fibroscan could catch early problems in many who end up with cirrhosis because they didn't know they had a liver problem i.e hemochromatosis. Fatty liver, NASH, chronic hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, autoimmune hep, ect. Although an LFT is good, it def doesn't tell the whole story. When my liver was sick from medication my LFT was normal but I still had enough portal pressure to tear my entire linea alba... Unless those LFTs are out of range, doctors and insurance agencies wont act.

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Hidden in reply to kurtymac

Fibroscans are not considered to be very useful in the diagnosis of AIH and can show very normal levels even when there is significant scarring in parts of the liver. They are still trying to establish a role for them as they are relatively new. I have portal hypertension and my fibroscan was normal and not at all high, a result which surprised my consultant in view of the problems that I have had with AIH. In fact amongst consultants dealing with AIH, their view is that they are yet to find a use for the fibroscan score. Fibroscan scores only give an average reading and depending on where the averages on the liver are taken, they could suggest fibrosis one day and cirrhosis another. So for AIH, the message is, with regard to fibroscan "not to place too much emphasis on the results". I know that I have portal hypertension due to where the scarring has occurred. This is information that has come from research done in Germany.

This is the message we were given from the last AIH meeting, conducted by senior consultants dealing with AIH all the time and researching into it. At the moment, they feel that the fiboscan results are confusing and too variable, even on a daily basis. Just wanted to clear that up :)

kurtymac
kurtymac in reply to Hidden

Hey MC, good to know, I want aware that fibrosis from AIH didnt show up well kn a fibroscan. I wonder if it has to do with the location where the fibrosis starts within the liver? We had a guy who had AIH and he was misdiagnosed with pancreatitis until he came to my office and I pushed his care out to a specialist. I know biopsy is still good standard, but unless blood or ultrasound come back bad, we know they wont fo that. The same problem occurs with an ultrasound where they are good at detecting hepatic steatosis, but not good at detecting fibrosis. I believe the detection rate is 68%, they need to come out with something. Too many die each year from liver disease that could have been prevented if only caught early. Did they catch your AIH with blood work? I know there are specific panels they run for it.

Hidden
Hidden in reply to kurtymac

I was diagnosed about 9 years ago, so my diagnosis seems to be slightly different to what is done now with regard to bloods. Anyway, I had bloods- LFTs were way off, then ultrasound. Admitted to hospital. Other causes were ruled out (viral- as I'd had blood transfusion pre-screening days) before AIH was confirmed by biopsy.

I never had a fibroscan until about 2 years ago and that was really only because they were trying to fathom why my AIH was advancing. It was only then that I was told I had type 2, (from the bloods that were taken) which apparently is more aggressive and more commonly diagnosed in young adults (which I am not!!!). These days they also look for autoantibodies, but these were never mentioned to me, so I don't know if this is a recent thing or something that was always done and was not discussed with me.

Just to be clear, my fibroscan indicated fibrosis, but not the cirrhosis they were expecting because of my portal hypertension. It has since been repeated, with a similar result. This is why it is deemed as confusing for AIH. IgG and ALT are the bloods to watch.

Hope this answers your question :)

Hi Richard, I was enthralled by the program and agree that AC was brave to confront things in what appeared to be an open manner. I watched and thought that he displayed the same mannerisms as a lot of my friends who happily identify themselves as alcoholic. I too identify as an alcoholic and for me that simply means I am unable to drink safely (no off switch) and if I wasn’t drinking was thinking about drinking. I thought it was telling that he found it difficult to tell the truth about his consumption, even with his trusted friend Frank Skinner. I have never had a test for fibrosis but my almost tee-total wife has and her score was 3.4. She was told she had a bit of a fatty liver and should change her diet to deal with things. As has been said I hope they do a follow up but fear they won’t. This could spawn a host of educational type documentaries where people talk about the effects of their lifestyle on their liver. I was told that Fatty Liver Disease is the plague of the 21st century, and this can become fibrotic, then Cirrhotic which is the perfect breeding ground for primary liver cancer. This can be caused without any alcohol intake whatsoever thus we have Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. As an alcoholic I abused my liver so imagine my surprise to be told that I had NAFLD which had caused my liver to become Fibrotic, then Cirrhotic and now have primary liver cancer. I suppose what I am trying to convey is we are all different, but our lifestyle choices can significantly alter our life expectancy. I just wonder is anyone brave enough to film people essentially dying because their diet was bad or they drank too much. It will spark a very interesting debate I am sure.

Ray

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Hidden in reply to Barnetaccounts

Really nice comments Ray.

I have to confess that one of my pet hates is the American label that people tend to use is the word "Alcoholic". It seems so unfair as a person just becomes stigmatised and what's worse, is that this label seems to be there for life. At the start of this BBC program, we were introduced to Peter (he was driving the car) and he hadn't drunk for 13-years, yet he's still referred to as being a recovering alcoholic. In my view, all these people have alcohol issues, but if they go on to give up drinking, they should be able and aloud to draw a line in the sand and say, that was me then, and this is me now. I think it sounds so much better to say, "I used to have a problem with alcohol, but I don't drink any more". This says to people, that you had a problem, you've dealt with it, and you've moved on.

Like a lot of people, Adrian seem to have all the facts and information about alcohol-related issues and he still wasn't prepared to change his life style. The culture, and the boy inside the man still wouldn't change. I liked that one comment by someone who said, "if alcohol was to be first introduced today, it would be banned". I think that said it all.

Barnetaccounts
Barnetaccounts in reply to Hidden

I agree that the stigma that surrounds the word alcoholic doesn’t ordinarily help people address the issue of alcohol abuse. We seem to have a preconceived idea that an alcoholic drinks “White Frightening” in a park, has a dog on a piece of string and sleeps on a bench. Today I happily identify as a recovering alcoholic and I haven’t had any alcohol for nearly 16 years. Some would ask why, my response would be that today I can act as an example of how life can be when alcohol once caused me so many issues. Was I scared when I stopped - hell yes. For I latched onto the same things AC was concerned about. How would I ever go out, what about my mates, what if I actually don’t like myself. How could I laugh if my social life was over. All of these things have proved wrong. Today I can walk this planet a free man meaning I can go where I like, when I like, with whoever I like. Alcohol does not factor into my life and people don’t walk on eggshells in my company. My real friends are still there, their wives used to hate me now they love me. My family benefit from every single day that I do not have a drink. They still remember how scared it used to make them feel, because I have encouraged them to talk to me about it even though it hurts me big time. One single drink would undo all the positives in my life that I have worked hard to repair. I never had a drink by the side of my bed, didn’t see spiders on the ceiling, does that make me an excessive drinker as AC would like to believe. No I had a problem with alcohol, it did something to me that didn’t happen with normal heavy drinkers. One drink was never enough. What was the point. I identify as an alcoholic am actually proud that I have stopped and hopefully anybody that knows me who thinks they have a problem can reach out to me and I will be able to listen.

Richard

I really understand what you are saying, I will always think of myself as a recovering acholic as the risk of drinking again is always there even after 10 years.

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Hidden

I really enjoyed the program, thanks for flagging it up. I can’t help wondering if many people have liver problems that they are unaware of wether they drink or not.

I was amazed at AC fibroscan reading! I have never been a drinker yet my fibroscan result was 9.9

Do you think that some people are more prone to liver disease than others.

Elaine

I'm in the states so I couldn't go through your link but I was able to find it online.

I found it to be extremely interesting. My fibrosis is not from alcohol, however I don't drink anymore as a result of it. This has forced me to look at cultural views on alcohol and realize that using alcohol may, in many cases, have very little to do with actual addiction, at least by my definition.

After dating a severe alcoholic in my 20s (who has since died of cirrhosis) I pretty much quit drinking completely. Years later I would drink once or twice a year, New Year's Eve, Super Bowl, etc. and that was it for many, many years. I only began drinking socially again once my daughter grew up. That meant drinking a singular drink if I went out after work or went to see a band play, on vacation etc. Maybe get drunk at a party once a year. Still not a lot. But since my diagnosis not at all.

I see how hard "not at all" is. My friend from college was in town in early August and we went out to dinner and to the bar to see a band. I drank club soda (which they charge $3.00 for!) and kept waiting for the buzz! And I had a great night that night! The band was a good cover band that played lots of music I liked. I didn't need alcohol nor did I feel deprived. But I was still waiting for the buzz! If it's like that for me, how hard is it for everyone else??

It's such a cultural and glamorized experience! The bottles it's sold in are beautiful, I have them displayed in my home. There's a special shaped glass for each type of alcohol and many different ways of serving it. It's served every place you go socially. People look at you like you have 3 heads when you don't drink! I think this film puts that more into perspective than other things I've watched.

I also liked the part that showed his liver enzymes were fine. It makes me even more upset and concerned with our doctors here in the US because they make light of elevated liver enzymes. I had them and my doctor said I was perfectly healthy. I have a coworker that had them but during her next round of bloodwork they fell back to normal. She thinks she's fine. I'm not sure what doctors in other countries say about it.

I wish I could open other peoples' eyes, especially my 28 year old daughter. She drinks more than I did when I was young and she was raised on American food full of crap. When I was growing up the food hadn't been messed with yet. They started adding corn syrup to everything by the early 90s, when she was born. Her generation faces much more risk of liver disease from food than mine. And combine that with the social aspect of drinking...

GrandmaDylan
GrandmaDylan in reply to Lara86

Hi Lara, as I've previously said I'm pretty much tea total but I would have a drink on occasion. For instance we went to the RHS flower show which also had food and drink stands. It amazed me how many types of gin there is on sale. This was before my cirrhosis diagnosis and I did try about 5 or 6 different ones. They were only a tiny drop of each in total I probably had less than a pub measure but I felt really tipsy! We're going to another country fair on Sunday but I won't be able to taste any samples of alcohol. This makes me sad as I would have enjoyed being part of the group tasting different things. It's not because I need alcohol, I never have but I won't be able to have a glass of champagne on Christmas day. Sorry, this seems to be a rambling post but I can't really explain what I mean.😵😕

I watched this. I really don't go with the term Alcoholic - I prefer Alcohol Use Disorder. I think the stigma of the word demoralises a person and sometimes they may give in because it is such a 'dirty' word and gives a feeling of hopelessness.

I really enjoyed the programme - was particularly impressed with Frank Skinner and his ability to 'go it alone' and kick it out of his life.

What I thought was a worry was Adrian is obviously not going to stop despite his Fibro coming out as 'mild to moderate fibrosis'. Now according to all the rules in place for us guys, that is scarring starting and drinking needs to cease, but Adrian is quite happy to cut down which may possibly go back to step up. I personally thought that gave out a bad message of if you have scarring - just carry on drinking, just reduce it. But I don't think that is the case and can give a false sense of both allowance and security.

I, for one, a few months ago, if I had seen this programme then would think along those lines. But since coming on to this forum, I realise that this is so not the case and to take a long hard look at what is going on inside and what you can't see - until something tells you something aint right.

Just my thoughts though.

Really glad I watched it.

G,

Hi Richard.

I watched the program with mild interest. To be honest it didn't seem to go anywhere as Adrian knew damn well he has a problem with alcohol but refuses to see reality and just makes excuses.

I have to be tea total whether I like it or not and I do agree with Frank Skinner that not drinking can lead to an isolated social life.

The program finished with me feeling slightly irritated and I won't watch anymore in the series.

Best wishes

John

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