My sister is sick

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New Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 4/15/2008 8:13 PM (GMT -7)   
My sister, Shelly, has been a heavy drinker for some time now (at least 15 years). In the last 5 years at least, I do not recall seeing her completely sober. The alcohol has definitely aged her. Recently, she lost a significant amount of weight, and appeared weak (at least to me).
Four years ago, I relocated with my husband and children to a city over 500 miles from my sister. My relationship with her has been strained, to say the very least, for years (our whole lives practically). I have never understood the reasons why my sister treated me the way she did (which was never good). Those close to us would tell me it was because she was jealous, etc. But I was never really sure. In any event, however, I felt that I needed to distance myself from her almost completely for the last five plus years. Alcohol was part of the problem, but I cannot say that I blame all of the stress she put on me on her addiction. I saw her and spoke to her a couple of times in those 4 years, and we were friendly, but only spoke very infrequently, and we were very guarded when we did.
At the beginning of this year, our oldest sister Jenn informed me that Shelly had become ill. Jenn said that Shelly was so bloated in the stomach that she looked pregnant (very pregnant). Her legs and feet were extremely swollen and painful. Her skin and eyes were yellow. She was not able to work, and was apparently at home, trying to get well, which included staying away from alcohol (or so she claimed).
Since becoming ill, Jenn found Shelly completely drunk one time, and took her to the emergency room promptly. She was admitted into a detox center, and the professionals assigned to her began looking for a rehab center for her (we're not sure where this went, as Shelly has become decidedly private about the status of the proposed rehap program). She remained a week at the detox, and then went home to await approval for admission to rehab (apparently). During the time since she went home from detox, she has still not been able to work. Jenn reported to me, by telephone, that Shelly did begin to look better for a time. The yellow in her skin and eyes faded, and she began to lose a bit of the fluid in her stomach and legs due to medication. However, when Jenn arrived to take Shelly to a dr. appointment two weeks ago, she was so swollen in the stomach and legs and feet that she could not move without severe pain. Jenn took her to the emergency room, and she has been a patient in the hospital since.
I have talked to Shelly on the phone almost daily since being admitted into the hospital. She has admitted to Jenn that the dr. told her she had cerrhosis recently. She claims that she has not had a drop of alcohol since detox, but her companion is sure that she snuck some drinks here and there. At times, Shelly sounds weak when I talk to her on the phone, and last week I thought that she sounded slurred at bit (sounded very, very tired). Shelly reports that she is very swollen and uncomfortable. She is very, very tired. She tries to get up for a walk now and again, but it is very hard for her. She said that she has to stop and rest constantly as she gets out of breath very quickly, even from just taking a shower. She has pains in her legs at night that make her cry out. This week, I have not noted that she sounds slurred in her speech at all, but she does sound tired. They were going to drain her stomach, but decided to see how medication would work at doing the job first (not sure why they would want to leave all that stuff in longer than they would have to). Since being in the hospital (and far away from alcohol), she has lost 5 pounds of fluid. The dr.s are going to decide at the end of this week whether to drian her stomach afterall. Shelly claims that the dr.s don't tell her much about her condition. Jenn and I  worry that she is not asking the right questions (denial and all). We cannot get answers, as the dr.s are not obligated to tell us anything I guess.
My question is, how sick is she? I know she is very, very ill, but I am not sure if she will live or not, and if so, for how long. Jenn said that Shelly has said one or two "loopy" things in the last couple of months, and I noted that she did sound slurred without impairment of alcohol, but perhaps she was just tired. I am not sure if her brain is effected by all of this, yet anyway. However, she is definitely bloated with fluid in the stomach, swollen in the feet and legs (painfully), and is jaundiced. She has gained at least 60 pounds of fluid since becoming ill early in the year (she has lost a little of this in the last wek or two).
Any help would be great. I have read many, many of the old posts. They help, but most patients seem to be having difficulty with brain functions on top of everything else. I am not sure that Shelly has experienced that yet. I also have no idea as to her ammonia levels etc, as Shelly is either not telling us, or is simply not asking or listening to the dr.s when she is told....
Thank you.

Pink Grandma
Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 2445
   Posted 4/15/2008 8:53 PM (GMT -7)   
Hello Worriedsister and welcome to HealingWell. As you probably
know this is a very hideous disease.
The ammonia levels can cause the slurred speak and the off the wall behavior. Like trying to pick up things off the floor that are not there.
Sometimes it can appear that they are drunk when they are not.
The meds that they are probably giving her are probably water pills. (Lasix and Spironolactone) It makes them have to urinate a lot.
It's a lot easier for the patient to take meds, than it is for them to have the fluid drained. Also cirrhosis patients blood starts thinning as the liver gets more and more damaged. That may be a factor also.

There's a good chance that your sister is not asking the right questions. She maybe too sick or even too scared. My husband was too scared. He didn't want to know.
And then some doctors aren't too nice to people who have cirrhosis due to alcoholism. I have witnessed it myself. Liver disease patients really need someone to be their advocate. Because if they are experiencing bouts of high ammonia levels, they maybe just too sick to know what going on and what should be done a lot of the time.

I had bumped up the Stages of Liver disease. You can probably figure it out by the symptoms that she has as to what stage she is in.

Good luck and take care........
Pink Grandma
Forum moderator-Hepatitis

When the going gets tough....the tough get going! Don't always know where I going but I get there anyways.

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