I am a 41 year old female of Spanish/Mexican/Irish descent. I have abused alcohol for the past 11 years (daily intake of 900 ml wine; 2-5 oz of hard liquor).
About four months ago I developed chronic lower intestinal churning, gas, and very audible growling. Symptoms are more pronounced after eating. About the same time, I also developed pencil-thin stools. I have no history of food allergies and eat a well balanced diet (no red meat). I have been healthy all of my life and exercise regularly.
Two months ago, while in France, I contracted a viral ear infection (my first) that cleared after a series of antibiotics. Mild flu symptoms, shortness of breath, and fatigue persisted for a month after I returned, but have since cleared.
A recent full lower GI series (barium enema) came back normal. Fecal occult negative; other stool samples negative. All blood work was all within normal limits according to my doctor. Cholesterol 140; MPV 7.0; hematocrit 32.5; slight elevation in platelets; lipids not back from lab yet. I know that liver function was tested, but not to what extent.
My husband was in the same spot you are a few years ago. Just beginning to exhibit some symptoms associated with alcohol abuse, but not enough to raise any red flags. He also denied abusing alcohol to his doctor. He just turned 40 and was just released from the hospital after spending 10 days in intensive care. He had to be rushed to the emergency room one night because when I got home from work, I found him in a stupor. Turns out he had hepatic encephalopathy, which is damage to the brain caused by build-up of toxins (he had been fine that morning). He was also bleeding internally from esophageal varices. He had lost almost all of his blood volume and was nearly comatose. He also suffers from acites, a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. He was given a 10% chance of surviving the hospital stay and somehow he made it. The days and nights his family and I spent in the intensive care waiting room were excruciating. It is a miracle that he survived but, now and forever, he has cirrhosis. His future is uncertain and may include life-threatening rebleeding or liver cancer. He can never drink alcohol again or will certainly die a painful death.
Your liver is so important for so many life functions. After too much abuse, it will simply stop functioning and wreak hovoc on your entire body. We were all shocked at how quickly my husband went from "normal" to nearly on his death bed. I urge you to take control of your situation now while you still have time. My husband always planned to quit...he thought he had time.
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