I'm kinda hesitant to ask this, because I know it'll probably draw another round of "alcohol flame wars". Don't really want to do that, not trolling for another over the top "alcohol is bad" thread. But I would like input from anyone else who may have experienced this phenomenon (or would just like to weigh in on it). First as a quick refresher, I was in the VX950 trial and wrapped up my tx 4.5 months ago and tested UND on my 12 week PCR (very strongly foretelling an "official" SVR in another 12 weeks). Since recovering from my treatment I've been feeling very good, fantastic really. I feel much better than I did prior to treating, the HCV really caused a chronic fatigue sort of thing with me (although I know this doesn't happen with all HCV+ patients), that really seems to be resolved. This has been a very happy occurrence for me, I really didn't expect to be rid of the fatigue and malaise I've felt for so long now, I would have been happy to simply get my SVR with my old symptoms intact.
But let me get to the point of this post - since recovering from treatment, I've rediscovered both food and alcohol. I've always been a fine beer enthusiast, first as a homebrewer in the late 80's early 90's (before finding out I had HCV) and then later but in a much more subdued sense after learning of my HCV+ status. But as I got older, I found myself not only abstaining from alcohol because of my HCV+ status but also because drinking even just 1-2 beers would often just bring me down so badly the next day I just couldn't deal with it. I felt like I had some kind of hangover all spaced out and deprived of energy, just zonked out. Beyond what you would think 1, 2 or maybe 3 beers (on a banner weekend night) would do to a 185 lb person. So as time rolled on I drank less and less and was completely abstinent for many months at a time in many cases. That's how it's been for the last 5-7 years or so, alcohol was just too much trouble for me and it wasn't worth it.
Fast forward to today, almost 5 months after tx with an SVR status. I can easily drink 4 or 5 beers in a night and it just does not have a very profound effect on me at all. And I'm talking about quality microbrews which typically have 6-7% alcohol in them (as opposed to 4.5% found in typical American beers). I mean, I'm not suggesting I'm immune to the alcohol, because I'm not, but it does not give me nearly the buzz it used to. I have to drink more beer and faster in order to get the same feeling I used to get with only 2 or 3 beers over a longer period of time. Also, the next day? No hangover, nada. I feel fine, like I haven't had anything to drink. Basically clear headed and after a cup of coffee or two, I'm ready to go. I can easily repeat the higher alcohol consumption the next day and the next day too. I just don't feel the effects of the drinking like I used to, and I just don't feel the after effects of the alcohol the next day either. It's just damned odd.
All I can figure is that my liver is functioning in a much more efficient manner now. It has to be. It has to be processing the alcohol faster and more completely than it did before. It also must be managing and regulating my normal metabolic functions with more aplomb than it used to. That's probably why the fatigue is gone, and that's probably why I don't get hangovers the next day like I used to. Everything is better, it's just an incredible situation. I never knew how bad I had it, or how good it could be with a fully functioning liver. But it's made me realize something and left me with an unexpected challenge of sorts. Getting my normally functioning liver back has made me realize that my ability to largely abstain from alcohol in the past wasn't so much as a result of my sheer willpower, it was simply because I felt so lousy when I drank. And the reason I felt so lousy was because of the combined effects of HCV and alcohol on my liver. HCV was a sort of alcohol anti-abuse for me. But now that my liver is functioning normally, I can absorb alcohol like any normal healthy person can (for the first time since I was infected 24 years ago as a teenager). And I've still retained my liking for fine beer, and frankly I don't exactly dislike a nice beer buzz on weekends sometimes either. So it's presented me with an interesting challenge that I did not expect. I WILL have to employ willpower to sensibly regulate my affection for fine beers. The old built in governor I used to have is no longer with me. I'm glad it's not there, but it just seems odd to me that HCV was in some strange way actually protecting me from excess alcohol consumption. I'm confident I'm up to the job or regulating my drinking strictly on a voluntary basis, but has anyone else that's gone on to SVR experienced this strange situation?? It's something I really didn't expect after completing treatment and would be interested in hearing input from other "life after HCV" experiences.