(NEW HERE!) - 35 year old male with 15... - British Liver Trust

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(NEW HERE!) - 35 year old male with 15 year history of binge drinking; fearing the worst.

ledzeppy profile image

Hi everyone,

Like most of you I stumbled across this wonderful community trying to self-diagnose. After reading LOTS of posts in search of comfort I felt it best to share my situation and hopefully find support.

My Back-Story:

I started drinking in my early 20's which was limited mainly to weekends. From 23 to 32 my consumption increased to 5-6 days/week at varying levels of misuse. In spite of the prolonged abuse I managed to lead an otherwise very active/healthy eating lifestyle, exercising 5 times/week, maintaining 175lbs @ 6’2” and never taking any OTC meds. That all changed 3 years ago (baby on the way) when I began going really hard in the paint (~8-12 drinks daily)…within a year and a half I ballooned to 225lbs.

Determined to lose the “baby weight” I resumed a strict diet and exercise regimen losing 50lbs over the course of 6 months (in hindsight maybe I was too strict?). It’s worth mentioning that in lieu of abstaining, I switched my beverage to the healthiest concoction I could find: Vodka and flavored water. *sigh* Anyways, around the time I was getting close to my “fighting weight” I noticed a slight discomfort in my upper right abdomen. It wasn’t pain per say, more like an intermittent full sensation that came and went throughout the day. I figured it was due to the drinking and to test that hypothesis laid off the booze; finding the discomfort disappeared after a couple days. Just to be sure it wasn’t serious I had extensive bloodwork done (Oct 2017); everything came back in the normal range. Since receiving the results I’ve ping-ponged between binges/abstinence, junk/clean food and sloth/fitness leading us to the present day and my purpose for posting.

(For what it’s worth throughout the past 15 years they were many MANY random stretches of weeks and/or months where I did not drink or, at the very least, consumed under the recommended limits.)

My Current Situation:

Last week the abdominal discomfort returned, but in a different fashion. Over the past 7 days, anytime I eat I feel a dull ache/pain starting in my upper left abdomen and slowly shifting to the upper right abdomen. I find great relief in the form of gas (either end) but it takes an act of god to get it moving. Nevertheless, even when I haven’t eaten the upper right abdomen sensation varies from burning, to fullness, to non-existent and back again.

Family History and Symptoms:

Family history: GI issues (Diverticulitis, IBS, GERD, etc.), Gallstones.

I am not: Jaundiced, Itchy, Nauseas, Vomiting.

I have: Normal-colored/routine stools (sinkers), clear urine (2-3 gallons of water/day for past ~10 years), good appetite, cut-out booze.

Path Forward:

I’ve scheduled a doctor’s appointment for Wednesday, but in the meantime I’m freaking out. Holding my daughter brings me to tears: How could I be so selfish? I’m supposed to provide, protect and support and I’ve wasted my body for what? Ugh…I’m so scared for what lies ahead.

For You, the Reader:

Do you have any recommendations for tests I should insist on?

Based on my history of abuse have I passed the point of no return?

Thank you for taking the time to read….

26 Replies

Hi Ledzeppy , I have posted here for the first time a couple of hours ago with a very similar backstory and indeed the same concerns. I too have been going mad with worry and I feel ashamed, sad and very scared. This seems to be a very supportive group of people from the many posts that I have read and I wish you well for the future. Do keep us posted.

Kindest regards

x

ledzeppy profile image
ledzeppy in reply to Walnutwhip

Hi Walnutwhip. Thank you for taking the time to reply. I read your story and have to agree, very similar experiences. Have you considered joining AA to prevent future “relapses”? I’m really struggling with staying away from alcohol myself, especially with the amount of worry consuming me.

Walnutwhip profile image
Walnutwhip in reply to ledzeppy

If I'm honest, I haven't considered anything like that. To use your words it's very much a 'scared straight' situation right now. I would certainly consider it if in any way I did have any wayward thoughts. Our little ones need us...so let's stay strong xx

The chances are good that you don't have significant alcoholic liver disease despite the drinking pattern you described. Only about 25 % of alcoholics develop alcoholic liver disease and only 10% to 15% of alcoholics are found to have cirrhosis during autopsy.

You have to work pretty hard plus have other factors (which you don't have) working against you in order to seriously damage your liver. I took painkillers for around 35 years plus I drank alcohol in moderation (I was careful though not to do both at the same time & I kept my painkiller use within safe guidelines) and I looked after myself by keeping fit & not becoming overweight. My over reliance on painkillers evenually caught up with me & I developed liver inflammation (hepatitis) however 2 ultrasounds & 2 Fibroscans plus an MRI showed that I have no liver or gallbladder damage & no fibrosis. My hepatitus is now gone after not drinking alcohol for 3 years & 3 months and not having taken a painkiller for 17 months and I feel as fit as trout for my age (66).

Many of the horror stories you read on the forum are people who either drank heavily nonstop and never gave their livers a rest or had multiple other factors that contributed to their developing cirrhosis. In your favour is the fact that you've had many periods when you didn't drink at all and you've stayed fit and maintained a healthy weight for your height most of the time plus you didn't take over the counter medication while you were drinking. This means that if you have any damage it is likely to be mild or moderate at worst and fixable through following a healthy lifestyle. Now would be a good time to either quit drinking alcohol altogether or only drink occasionally within safe guidelines while following a healthy diet & keeping fit so you can stay healthy & enjoy watching your daughter grow up.

Ask your GP to send you for an ultrasound because you are worried that your drinking has damaged your liver. A FibroScan would also be good a good idea to check for fibrosis and to ease your fears.

ledzeppy profile image
ledzeppy in reply to

Thanks for the insight Edward1952, it is a bit of a relief hearing multiple people respond that chances are unlikely I’ve done permanent damage. Do the tests you recommend also check for problems in the surrounding organs (stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, etc)....The ease your words brought me were quickly washed away by fear that it could be something worse.

It doesn’t sound like you were addicted to booze and/or PKs, or did I misinterpret? If you were did you join a group or was it scared straight sort of response?

in reply to

Really good post edward. My only additional comment is I that had numerous ultrasounds that didn’t find what was really “doing” for me (portal vein thrombosis) but a CT scan did. Just extra info...

Miles

Hi ledzeppy - read a few of my posts. We have a similar story and symptoms.

I’m sure you will be ok - just lay off the booze and revert to exercise and healthy eating x

ledzeppy profile image
ledzeppy in reply to farranccc

Hi farranccc. I cherry-picked a few of your posts and read the replies, you sound as stubborn as me but glad you’ve sobered up and especially happy you may have finally figured out the root of your problem. I particularly found the rib cartilage diagnosis very interesting. While I fully intend to get every possible test performed, one of the first things I noticed when feeling around my RUQ problem area was there are several extremely sensitive spots along the bottom of my rib cage. If I run my finger back and forth I get a pretty significant shooting pain that lingers 5-10 after. Having said that I also share your concern that it may not be liver related but something else, lots of “stuff” packed in that area.

Regarding your experience with coffee, do you think that could be a GI issue?

in reply to ledzeppy

Farranc stubborn - surely not 😁

farranccc profile image
farranccc in reply to

No idea what you mean Miles!

in reply to farranccc

Surely not 😁

farranccc profile image
farranccc in reply to ledzeppy

Hey Ledzeppy,

It is a different type of ultrasound to check the rib cartilage so worth asking for both if possible.

Yeah, the possibility of it being a GI issue remains on my mind. For the first time in a while I had a small decaf coffee yesterday and within 20 mins I had pain behind my right rib cage. I presume that even if it was liver related this would be too fast for the pain to begin? I had my gallbladder checked during the US and all was ok apparently but realise this might not pick up certain things.

Anyone else experienced anything similar?

An ultrasound would check your liver, gallbladder, kidneys, pancreas & stomach and detect any obvious abnormalities however it could miss subtle damage. A FibroScan would check your liver for fibrosis & fatty infiltration and would compliment the ultrasound. When I had my two ultrasounds I also had the FibroScans with the same machine.

I was never addicted to alcohol. I self-medicated with painkillers for stress as well as pain and if I stopped the painkillers I experienced unpleasant withdrawal symptoms so to some extent I was addicted to them. After stopping the painkillers I realised that they caused a good deal of the pain I was taking them for and I was better able to handle stress without them because my brain functioned a lot clearer & better.

The hepatitis I had shook me to the core and led to my giving up alcohol & painkillers. When I was at my worst I told a neighbour that I felt so sick I thought I might have cirrhosis & the neighbour offered to lend me his nail gun to shoot myself through the head with to end my suffering! Then when I told my 'Christian' half-brother about my fears he could barely hide his glee that I'd finally get to burn in hell because I didn't believe that Jesus was my Lord and saviour like he believes! I learned then how lonely and horrible dying alone from liver disease could be. That experience was enough for me to start looking after myself better & putting my health first!

ledzeppy profile image
ledzeppy in reply to

Wow...props to you for overcoming all the negativity in your life at such a difficult time.

I’m going to push for all blood tests as well as an Ultrasound and Fibroscan. Thanks again

Landon11375 profile image
Landon11375 in reply to

I’m one of those who developed cirrhosis so I will die a lonely and horrible death.

Hi and welcome to the forum! I can only reiterate the advice given here, eat healthily and exercise and don’t drink. I had a shock when I first went to the Doc’s and although I am still waiting for a proper diagnosis, with hindsight it actually shocked me into a healthy lifestyle and I was terrified, still am to be honest with you! If I’m really honest would I be leading a healthy lifestyle now if I hadn’t been told my liver was inflamed...no, I would still be eating unhealthily, too big a portion and no exercise whilst being unaware that my liver was totally freaking out.

By being healthy you are giving yourself the best chance of either healing or preventing further damage.

All the best and let us know how you get on,

Owlie

Good morning, your post is almost a mirror experience of mine! I’d like to say that no one in this forum, that I’m aware of, has the medical expertise to say whether you have any king of living ver diseas or not. We are here to share experiences and NOT offer expertise. Please do not think that I’m “telling you off” it’s I find it very unsettling. So back to your post 😊. As I mentioned your back story is very close to my own and I had and done pretty much the same as you. Late 2027 I was suddenly taken I’ll, ambulance to hospital and diagnosed with end liver diseas through alcohol. My liver was all but decompensated through my own alcohol abuse. I had to abstain from alcohol for a period of time, I’m now 15 month sober, and then I was referred , assessed and listed. I was listed for 5 days only and received my gift, which was a match 😊. Again, I’m not qualified to dismiss you but my “experience” tells me that I’d advise you to ask your GP to refer you to your local liver clinic. I really hope that you get the news that you want. Keep us posted. 👍

in reply to Poobear69

Late 2027? What happens after Brexit? Will there be a WW3? Most importantly can you tell me next week's lottery numbers? We'll go halves 😅

Poobear69 profile image
Poobear69 in reply to

As sharp as ever 😂, oh and by the easy good morning 😂

Poobear69 profile image
Poobear69 in reply to Poobear69

More spelling mistakes 🙄

in reply to Poobear69

Good morning to you too 😊. You know you can go back and edit any errors right? Next to Reply --> More --> Edit. Don't change your time travel reference though, you'll make me look like a tit 😂

Poobear69 profile image
Poobear69 in reply to

No I’d rather not edit as your replies are a smaller ke lifter!

Kate50 profile image
Kate50 in reply to

😂😂😂

See done it again!

The 'lonely & horrible death' I referred to in my previous post (which Landon11375 replied to) expressed a fear that I had about my specific circumstance & was not intended to be interpreted as applying to all people with cirrhosis. Every person's circumstance is different. I actually have a very positive and optimistic view of death which I explain in great detail in the link below where my username is 'mareke'.

forums.overclockers.com.au/...

I just had to add see a doctor and don't drink anymore that's all you can do it's pretty simple really I'm the same age as you drank more than you and am not dying anytime soon at least from liver disease but you never know when your times up. Enjoy your sobriety I know your family will appreciate it. I found the comment about a nail gun to the head too over the top to not mention as many people on this site have cirrhosis and have the most optimistic view on recovery they are an inspiration for a reformed drinker like myself

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