Abnormal Liver Function

Hi!

I'm new to blogging and new to this website, so please bear with me!

I was diagnosed 2 years ago with having an abnormal liver function which by my own admission was caused by excess alcohol. I reduced my alcohol consumption significantly, but then last year it gradually started to increase again. I have had further tests and the levels have increased and I've been warned that unless I take action now and either stop drinking or reduce it to the Government guidelines that I will have irreversible liver disease in the very near future.

My health is never brilliant, I am always getting infections, colds and tummy bugs. I have IBS and PCOS which doesnt help and I have to take anti depressants to help me with my depression and hormone inbalance.

What has concerned me is why I have had to have a flu and pneumonia vaccination (I did have pnuemonia last year) - My GP just said it was because of my liver problem. Can anyone tell me why that is? Also, how long it will take for my liver to repair itself after cutting down alcohol levels? Can it stop you from losing weight?

Any help would be grately appreciated.

Many thanks

Wendy

19 Replies

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  • Hey Wendy!

    Great job on your first post!

    With your repeated rise in liver problems over the last 2 years you MAY either have Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD) or MAY even have crossed the line to cirrhosis (scarring of your liver). Cirrhosis is also known as end-stage liver disease, carries a whole bunch of other issues and is permanent. ALD can be mostly reversed where as cirrhosis can only be slowed down if treated properly. Cirrhosis will continue to occur in the liver if no action is taken.

    The best thing you can do for your liver, which should help your depression, IBS and PCOS as well, is to remove ALL alcohol from your diet FOREVER. Stopping should NOT be considered temporary as returning to alcohol use in ANY amount could damage your liver more quickly and more extensively than it may already be!

    When you liver becomes damaged for whatever reason, your immune system becomes compromised. The reason for getting the vaccines is to protect you from getting the flu or another bout of pneumonia. You should probably ask about getting vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B for the same reasons.

    Hope that helps!

    Dennis

  • Hi Dennis

    Bless you, thank you so much for your kind response. Your advice and suggestions are very much appreciated.

    I have been told the damage can be reversed, and I understand it will take time. Stupid thing is that I've ignored valuable information from my GP and friends for a few years until now.

    You are absolutely right in what you say about diet etc..... when I drink I dont eat til late then it's convenience food and I over eat. I have been going to the gym 3 times a week for the past 4 months and it's really helping. Work pay for the 1-2-1 gym sessions and also for me to see a nutritionist and counsellor (I am on a Wellbeing Programme), so the support is there. Stopping drinking altogether will be very difficult for me, but with a wedding to arrange for 2 years time, I will succeed. My diet has improved over the past 3 weeks as I've cut the alcohol down and am cooking proper nutritious meals and not skipping meals either. My goal is to stop drinking completely. These are small steps I know, and my journey is long, but I dont want to die young and I actually want to get better.

    Thanks for your support Dennis.

    Wendy

  • I forgot to answer two of your other questions--sorry!

    Everyone recovers from alcohol use/abuse at a different rate. You need to have a healthy diet, exercise more that you have been and work closely with your GP to make sure you get as healthy as possible. Remember that any liver damage did not occur overnight (as an example of a short timeframe) so don't expect it to recover overnight as well. I've heard of people taking more than a year sometimes to return to full health. Your approach to recovery is probably the biggest determining factor in how long it will take.

    Actually, given the advice I just gave on diet, exercise and working with your GP, you should start to lose weight more easily. Often the diet that you follow when you are using alcohol is not the best thing for you--more fast food, eating out and probably a bit of "junk" food. Not too sure how it works in the UK, but some sort of registered dietician or nutritionist can also help with education about what foods to eat to help with both your alcohol/liver recovery and to lose weight whilst doing so.

  • Hi Wendy,

    I agree totally with the above posts. I have fatty liver disease. Like you my liver function tests are way abnormal. I to have been ill with lots of infections,especially throughout last Winter. I now have type 2 diabetes.I couldn't have imagined my life without alcohol but since attending the hospital,about 8 weeks ago,I firstly reduced my intake and have now completely atopped.I feel so much better,livelier,I am losing weight and people are noticing I am different (in a good way). I am having a liver biopsy next Monday and I am hoping for good results now. Good Luck and start to look after yourself.x

  • Hi there!

    Thank you for your kind message. Although I have cut down on the alcohol (and people have noticed me looking 'well') I am having to reduce it gradually. How did you cope with 'no' alcohol? Was it the diabetes that made you take action? Before living on my own 10 years ago, I never used to bother drinking at home. I've got into a bad habit of drinking alone since then. My fiancee likes a drink but doesnt drink as much as me and has said he will do whatever is needed for me to get well. I desperately want to get better and I cant imagine never having a drink. I think you have amazing courage and Will power to have given up drinking, and I can only imagine how well you must be feeling now. I really hope the liver biopsy comes back with good results. My GP wants to repeat blood tests again in the New Year and I am hoping it will be better news than last time. Thank you for inspiring me. Look after you, and enjoy being a healthier and happier you! Wendy x

  • Hey Wendy!

    I used to only drink alone. I was told I had end-stage liver disease many years before I actually stopped drinking. I never equated ELD with cirrhosis (they are one and the same thing) so by the time I quit, my liver was severely scarred and I was going to die. I just knew that I was sick and tired of being sick and tired and I had to do *something*. I had tried AA and even a "28 day" program but never was able to make the program work for me.

    I researched Rational Recovery (rational.org) and SMART Recovery (smartrecovery.org) and found so much information that fit my way of thinking. Armed with my new-found knowledge, I made a commitment to myself to never drink again and never change my mind. That was 6 years ago. I was fortunate to be the recipient of a liver that was transplanted just over 4 years ago. I still honor my commitment as it is now to not only myself but to my donor and his family.

    Of course my liver was so diseased by the time that I quit abusing alcohol, I was in and out of hospital for the better part of the year after I quit. You don't want to experience what a failing liver does to your body--both physically and mentally.

    If you need assistance making the jump to complete sobriety, reach out and find it. There are many programmes out there waiting for you to make the call. There is no embarrassment in reaching out, only in ignoring the warning signs. You will not regret getting sober! In fact, you will see that life is a lot of fun when you are totally in control of your faculties!

    Dennis

  • Hi Dennis

    It's been an eye opener reading other people's experiences, and I'm telling myself that I have an opportunity to do something before things become irriversable. I cant imagine what you have been through, really I cant. I admire you immensley as your journey has been a rough and frightening one from what I have read. I am so pleased that you had a liver transplant and that life is good for you now and that you are able to help others through your own experience. I've certainly learned alot from you and the other people who have contacted me.

    I know if my mum and brother were alive they would be begging me to stop drinking. It was actually after their deaths that I started on the rocky road of alcohol abuse. I owe it to myself and those who love me to stop now. I've found this site an amazing help and comfort. I dont feel as alone as I did.

    xx

  • Hi,

    I was exactly the same as you,I couldn't imagine not having any alcohol. I tried cutting down but it always made me want to drink more,one glass/bottle wasn't enough.

    My 2 children aged 21 and 12 started 'nagging' me to stop drinking.I never ate a meal in the evenings with them because I had my alcohol to fit in.I am a nurse so I knew all the risks.My health started to suffer,IBS,Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in JulY,sore throats,infections etc. I continued to drink until one day it suddenly hit me what I had to lose.

    In my work,lots of my colleagues probably drink excessively when they go out but I preferred to drink at home on my own.I have kicked the habit.I have been out socially a few times and drank lime and soda.I find I can do this if the company is good,if it's a wedding or party. It's lovely to drive home and not feel 'groggy' the next day.

    I am learning to eat 3 healthy meals daily.Christmas will be a challenge but I am determined to continue this new lifestyle.

    Good Luck.xx

  • Gosh, I can relate to you alot. I've cancelled so many arrangements because I would miss out on my own private drinking time. I suppose because my family are no longer here and I dont have kids that I have nothing to lose, and what the hell. Since meeting my fiancee 18 months ago, I have a new family who I am close to and I've finally found my Mr Right. I'd like to be around for a long time to enjoy life with him, so now I have a different perspective on life and how prescious it is.

    Christmas will be a challenge for you, but given your determination and commitment to your health recovering, you will be ok.

    Take care xx

  • Hi Wendy,

    First, well done on the positive changes you've made so far, I'm sure they'll make a difference. I really hope you can go on to cut alcohol out completely because while ever you don't its a serious risk factor for you.

    I gave up drinkiing alcohol completely in March last year after drinking too much for over twenty years. I'm fortunate that I did it before causing any damage to my liver but my younger brother was not so lucky and died just over two weeks ago of alcoholic liver disease and serious related problems, having given up alcohol completely three months earlier when he realsied he had cirrohsis. I'll leave comments on whether or not the liver can recover at all from cirrohsis to those who know more then me but it was the giving up alcohol I really wanted to comment on.

    You say it must take amazing courage and will power to give up drinking completely and to an extent thats true but the thing that takes most courage is realising you've got a problem with it, asking for helping and beginning to consider that you might be better off without it completely.

    I can honestly saying that actually doing it and sticking to it is much easier than that with the riight support and you soon start to appreciate how much happier you are and better life is without it. If you haven't already, get your GP to refer you to a drugs and alcohol advice service, or contact one yourself, You can Google them or I'm pretty sure the Liver Trust will have detaills of services where you live and they are really helpful, lovely people to talk to.

    What happened for me after referral was I saw a counsellor once a week for a few months, reducing my drinking to within naitonal guideline levels. I had to keep a diary of what I drank, when , why and how it made me feel. Once it was manageable and I could stick to it, I started going to an aftercare service where I did a lot of group work with others who had problems with alcohol or other substances. I didn't want to go to start with, I thought "I'm not an alcoholic, I dont want to be seen in a place like that, thats for no hopers.".. you name it, I thought it. I couldn't have been more wrong. I met ordinary people struggling with dependence and addiction and handling it with great courage, honesty and wisdom. The counsellors had all overcome personal issues with substances and were open and honest about their own journeys which helped. Within the first couple of sessions I'd decided I needed to give up completely , having argued like mad to start with that I didn't need to and didn;t want to. I planned for it, thought about ho I'd manage it, how I was going to handle temptation etc through group work which was invaluable.

    I actually told everyone I was giving up for Lent on the basis that forty days was frightening but felt manageable and I didn't have to explain the whole thing to people. After forty days I carried on not drinking and have now been sober for over eighteen months. After I'd stopped I carried on with one to one support for nearly six months because I wanted the reassurance, but cut down how often I went. I celebrated finshing support and my birthday last year by doing a zipwire jump off the Tyne Bridge!

    Wendy, I'm fat, fifity five and female, I'd never done anything like that in my entire life and wouldn't have done it now except for being able to think - if I can give up alcohol, I can do anything, and its true!

    I'm now in touch with some wonderful women who are setting up a website called Soberistas, for women like me and hopefully you who are finding out that life without alcohol is a lot better than life with it. They tweet as well so if you're into all that search for them.

    I really hope you feel able to ditch the booze, its nowhere near as scarey as you think it is and you've got the best possible reason to do it - and you're worth it, give yourself a chance to have the best possible lifee

    you can.

    Wishing you lots of strength, love and support with your journey.

    Sue

  • Hi Sue

    Thanks for your lovely message. My goodness you really have been through so much. I am so sorry to hear about your brother passing away.

    It's strange as the lovely people who have contacted me through my blogg have very simliar stories around alcohol etc as me. I am actually a psychotherapist, and a close friend of mine who is also a therapist checked herself into AA 6 years ago. She's been alcohol free since then and her life has changed so much for the better. She also works as a practice manager at a drugs and alcohol rehab centre and can relate to the people she counsels and helps. I went ot an AA meeting with her once, and, yes, they are every day people with different backgrounds but all with one thing in common. I learned that I was a secret drinker who only ever drank at home when alone. I also would often cancel plans because I needed to fit my drink time in. I have also been in denial that I drink too much. I used to have around 80 units a week, which has dropped to 40 a week, and each week I drop off another 10 units. Cider is my big downfall and so I've been diluting it with sparkling water which is helpful until I get to stop. I did stop drinking for a few months around 5 years ago but then started again. I have booked myself back into counselling to help me with the changes.

    I still find it hard to understand and believe that my health problems are down to my liver not work working properly. Even the shock on doctor's faces hasnt shocked me. It's only since seeing my GP yesterday and being told I need to have vaccinations due to my liver condition that I actually became shocked! His words are still ringing in my ears! I also texted a friend of mine who is a nurse and asked what the liver actually did etc. She scared me with what she said. I decided that I didnt want to go down the AA route, but as I was searching the internet, I found this wonderful website. Of course I do now understand that my body isnt well. I am constantly unwell, always getting abscesses, have worsening IBS, worsening depression, my tiredness is always there and I just never feel well. I suffer from horrific nightmares, which I have been told will be down to alcohol.

    I think you are an amzing lady in how you have turned your life around, and I'm inspired by your drive and determination. Already I am feeling more positive about my future as I am talking to people like yourself who know what a battle it is and how poorly liver problems can make you feel. It's actually really nice for me to speak to people who understand as I am embarrassed to discuss it with some of my other friends.

    Thank you for your support Sue.

    Sending you lots of love and wishing you a continued healthy recovery

    Wendy xx

  • Hey Wendy!

    I started a response to one of your responses last night and didn't finish until this AM (I'm in the UTC -06:00 time zone) so please check it above.

    I love that you are getting so much support! I also thought I would pass along my website address MySickLiver.weebly.com. It is a non-commercial website that describes just about anything you can think of regarding all types of liver disease. We are not medical professionals, just patients, caregivers and liver transplant recipients like me trying to make a difference for others suffering liver problems.

    Dennis

  • Hi Dennis

    Many thanks for the weblink. I've just had a look through, it's amazing. You are so dedicated in helping other people through your own journey.

    I cant imagine how frightening your liver transplant must have been. You're very brave! I know of a few people who have died from liver failure, and also some counselling clients I have seen in the past have shared their experience of losing a loved one through alcohol abuse. Very sad.

    Thank you again for your support

    x

  • Hi again, I'm really glad you're finding the right sort of support here, I know exactly what you mean about friends you can't discuss it with. I do think its strange that if you say you want to give up smoking everyone agrees its a great idea and will support you, but if you say you want to give up alcohol somehow that is less acceptable and people seem to feel threatened by the idea. My guess is a lot more people know they have a problem with it at some level but don't feel able to admit it, so we need to change the society norms that say you need alcohol to have a good time and its not really bad for you unless you're a street drinker. Forums like this really help challenge all that.

  • Hi

    You're right! In my work as a psychotherapist most people I see drink way above the Goverment guidelines.... and they often say they that they are in denial with others about their alcohol consumption. I spent years in denial trying to convince myself that drinking 5-6 cans of cider a night and twice that amount on weekends was ok and acceptable. Of course it isnt. Although it's difficult, I know I am on the right path now and that I will feel well.

    Take care x

  • Hey Wendy!

    Glad you like the website! The thought of getting a transplant was not the scary part--there were only 3 possible paths to take: 1) have a successful surgery and hopefully live a while longer; 2) have the surgery and it fails; 3) not have the surgery and, well, not be here anymore. The brave part is what you are doing now--making the right decision! Hang in there, you now have a lot of virtual friends to lean on for support!

    Dennis

  • Hi Dennis

    The support I'm getting from this site is appreciated enormously. I actually got home last night and told my fiancee about the website and how supportive you all are. He is pleased I have somewhere to go to share my thoughts and feelings with. I also saw my nutritionist this morning and shared with her that I'd sought support from this website and how helpful it is. She is really pleased and sees this as me being ready for the changes and is confident I will stop drinking.

    Do you ever look back Dennis and wonder where and why you started to drink? I am reflecting on my life with alcohol and it started with me after my mum died. I would say I became an alcoholic for 2 months immediately after her death, then I just stopped drinking. I did the same thing when my now ex husband had an affair and left me. I stopped the binge drinking then after moving to the Midlands on my own due to job transfer, I started drinking alone. That was 11 years ago. I wish I hadnt gone down the road of alcohol, looking back I've spent just over a quarter of my life drinking. I can also see where my health problems come from. I do regret drinking for so long, but I cant change what's happened. The important thing is to move forwards and to look forward to a healthier and more fulfillied life without the booze.

    Again, thank you for your support

    x

  • Hey Wendy!

    At 60 years old now, I find myself reflecting on a lot of things in my past. The old cliché "If I knew then, what I know now..." has so much more meaning to me, especially knowing that I survived liver cancer, a transplant and extreme alcoholism. By all rights I shouldn't be alive today! I am so happy to be here!

    I've tried to think back to when I crossed that line from being a social drinker to being a closet alcoholic but I can't think of a single event that might have sent me over the edge. I've resolved, thru my transplant psychologist and her university master students, that finding the reason is not all that big of a deal--like you said, moving forward, not backwards!

    If you will pardon the crudity I once heard a statement from a wise old man that kind of explains my outlook on the fact that I will always be an alcoholic, I just stopped feeding my addiction: The statement goes like this:

    His statement:

    If you have one foot stuck in the past,

    and one foot stuck in the future,

    you're just pissing on today!

    Which is to say in my philosophical thinking:

    If you spend all of your time thinking about the past,

    and worrying about the future,

    you're not living for today!

    BTW mysickliver.weebly.com automatically reformats for viewing on a smartphone, tablet/pad and e-readers. (It's a feature of the website host, not my efforts)

  • Hi Dennis

    I hope you had a good weekend. Yes, I get the stuff on not worrying about the past and focussing on the here and now and the future.

    x

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