Slightly terrified: Hi all; I don’t... - British Liver Trust

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Slightly terrified

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Hi all;

I don’t have a particular question, I just wanted to tell someone about what is happening with me and I don’t want to bother my family.

I think it is very like many other stories written on this forum (sorry to those who have read these over and over again)- I am 35, female and have been a very heavy drinker for 15 years. In my twenties I put it down to trying to have fun and then as a way to deal with my anxiety and depression (which is super smart, given that alcohol makes anxiety worse). Last year I finally came to accept I am an alcoholic and stopped drinking. But it is complicated by the fact that I am very overweight (as in 100+ pounds overweight). I feel my realisation that I need to look after my mental and physical health has come far too late. One of the things that prompted that realisation is daily right upper quadrant pain. I went to the doctor- normal LFTs, normal ultrasound, my doctor was still concerned given my combination of risk factors and the pain. She wrote to a heptologist, who advised a further series of blood tests (not the ELF test or anything- it was PT/INR and clotting time or something similar). He said if they came back fine, I was unlikely to have advanced liver disease- and they came back fine. So I went away and tried to concentrate on being healthier. My RUQ pain had gone. I got CBT therapy, until I could no longer afford it in the late autumn. I did not drink but I only lost around a stone in weight (14 pounds). I had a relapse in the Christmas period, something which I am very ashamed of. The RUQ pains came back. I am now 13 days sober.

I have made another GP’s appointment (for this Wednesday), but I was feeling quite positive, despite everything until this weekend when I noticed spots on my chest, which I am about 90% sure are spider angiomas (not that I am a doctor). So after months of anxiety about my health I am basically now in a state where I can barely keep it together at work. I know that multiple spiders in drinkers have a very high specificity for the late stages of liver disease (i.e. alcoholic hepatitis and/ or cirrhosis). I know this is my own fault and I should have been more proactive in dealing with my mental health problems in my twenties. I am scared of getting ill and dying, but also I feel so awful for what I have put my family though- and what they will go through it I am very ill.

Anyway- any good vibes sent my way would be appreciated.

9 Replies
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Trust1
Trust1Administrator

Hi Hidden

Welcome to the forum and thank you for posting.

If you need to give the helpline another call we are open until 14.45 today and again tomorrow at 10am.

Hang in there, soon you can see your GP for a proper physical examination. Try to focus on the postives, how you are trying to improve your health and you are sober.

Sending warm wishes

Trust1

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in reply to Trust1

Thanks Trust1-

Thanks, that’s kind. I am doing OK, just I know if these are spiders it is far more likely that any liver damage is advanced and it can be associated with a poorer prognosis. I am just trying to concentrate on my work until Wednesday. I might give you a call tomorrow if that’s OK.

Thanks

Hi Dorsetbythesea,

I am not a doctor and what I'm about to say does not in any way constitute medical advice, I can only speak from experience of having had liver failure due to alcohol and decompensated cirrhosis, now compensated. I cannot stress enough that if your symptoms persist you should keep going back to the doctor.

From what you've written I think it is unlikely that you have advanced A.R.L.D. You say that all your bloods came back fine and that your ultrasound was clear. This in itself, I would think, should be enough to say you don't have it. The bloods are self-explanatory to a doctor and although not conclusive, an ultrasound can even show fatty liver, a condition that occurs a long time before cirrhosis. Also, with cirrhosis the liver shows up as very coarse and bumpy and you don't mention this either. Additionally, they ( during the ultrasound, ) would've checked to see if the blood was flowing the right way and wasn't hindered in any way in the portal vein,i.e. checking that the flow was 'patent'. If it wasn't, then this would be a sure sign of cirrhosis called portal hypertension due to the blood not being able to enter the liver properly due to scarring. The blood then backs up and causes varices to form which can be life-threatening if they burst. Again, you mention nothing of this, which I think you would've been told by your doctor because it would've been on your ultrasound report. You make no mention of swelling in your legs and feet or, more importantly, your abdomen ( ascites ) which again are sure signs of advanced liver disease due to low blood protein, which again would've shown in your bloods. I can't comment about the angiomas because they were one of the few symptoms that I didn't have.

As I say, I am not a doctor, but from my own experience, reading what you've posted, I would think it unlikely that you have cirrhosis but I urge you to maintain contact with your doctor if your symptoms persist. If you had had deranged bloods, your ultrasound was suspicious and you'd mentioned fatigue, yellowing of the skin and eyes, ( jaundice, ) change in bowel habits, lack of appetite, etc, ( the most common symptoms of a struggling liver, ) and again you haven't said anything about these, then I'm pretty certain that your doctor would've referred you for a liver biopsy which is the Gold Standard for diagnosis of cirrhosis but he/she hasn't.

I really am truly sorry but I am unable to help you in any way with your anxiety and depression. I'vesuffered from severe clinical depression myself for years so I know how extremely debilitating it is. I would do anything for something to make it go away but nothing seems to work. I take Mirtazapine but as to its' efficacy I cannot comment because I've been on it years so I don't know what I'd be like without it.

I will also say that you MUST stop drinking and stay stopped. I think that your liver is 'firing warning shots across your bows' and if you haven't got advanced liver disease then thank your lucky stars and give your liver a chance from now on. Only you can make you stop drinking and I think now would be a very good time to do it. You say about the upset for your family if you are seriously ill, and believe me, it's heart-breaking for them, imagine their distress if they found out that you knew about the dangers and had a chance to stop it happening but didn't ! Just a thought.

I am very sorry if I don't 'send any good vibes your way' but in my experience where your liver, alcohol and disease are concerned there are very few good vibes to be had.

I sincerely hope that this doesn't come across as 'preachy' because it isn't intended to be and I hope this is of some use to you and your issues get resolved quickly. Take care.

Hidden
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in reply to BSA-3

Thanks BSA-3, for your in-depth and well thought-out response. You are right- nothing was shown in the ultrasound, my GP was very pleased and said there were no signs of fatty infusion (I think that is the phrase she used). But I know it is not definitive. Of the other symptoms- no jaundice etc. I keep on thinking that my stomach is swollen, but that may be anxiety- I was convinced I had massive ascites when I went to see the doctor last year and she did a physical and said that I didn’t (and obviously nothing showed on the ultrasound). I get tired at the end of the day, but that is normal for me (I have a full time job and I am studying for a master’s degree). It’s the RUQ pain and these spiders along with my history that is freaking me out.

But you are right- advanced ARLD or not, I cannot drink. I was doing so well and I am so angry with myself that I had a slip up. I recognise that my alcohol issues are as much of a mental health issue as my anxiety and depression, but it is up to me to take responsibility in getting help, getting better and staying better. And that includes ensuring I do all I can to not hurt my family and friends. Sometimes when you have something like clinical depression you think you’re on your own and you are only hurting yourself- then you have a moment of clarity and realize that it is the people you love the most and who love you enough to stick with you through the worst times that are the same people you are hurting the most with your behaviour. So last year when I first got sober I turned my life upside down to ensure I got the help I needed and I will do it again, because whether I have liver issues or not I am determined to never do this to them again.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to respond to me and don’t worry you were not preachy- just truthful!

BSA-3
BSA-3
in reply to Hidden

Thank you for replying. After I'd replied I re-read your post and thought, " Hmm, maybe a bit harsh ! " but I certainly never meant it that way. I'm pleased that you seem to know what to do now and I wish you the best of luck with your health and also your Master's. Take care

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in reply to BSA-3

Thanks! X

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in reply to Hidden

Hi Dorset not much to add - actually nothing to add - to BSA’s post, but just one thing to say about your post here. Whatever you do, don’t be angry with yourself for a little “slip up”. A lot of us have probably had “slip ups” at some point. If you worry about it it will make you depressed (my own experience - not advice - ahem). Knowing that you shouldn’t have had vimto is the start of winning the battle 😁 and then the war. You’ll get there I’m sure/hope 👍

Best of luck Dorset!

Miles

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in reply to Hidden

Thanks Miles! I know I can't change the past only the future so I am trying to focus on that x

Hi.

This is boldad So what you’ve gained weight. You’re worth it.

Stay strong Be weak. Weakness is a sign of strength. I don’t do Facebook stuff. I am private. My name is Linda. Don’t share. lwhunt51@gmail.com. I’m full fledged cirrhosis. Smile. Hug somebody and as my mom used to say better to have weight in your bones. U will get back to u. Sincerely Boldaf

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