Welcome to HW. Our moderators and other members have given you good advice. Bottom line, you can't force your husband to do anything he doesn't want to do. My situation was similar to yours, so I will share it with you.
My husband, Dougie, was dx with cirrhosis due to alcohol in September, 2010. He was 61. He had been a drinker all of his adult life. It wasn't too bad, just a party guy. No drunk driving or abuse. Started afterwork with the pre dinner cocktail, wine with dinner, after dinner drink, nightcap. Constant pour from after work to bedtime. Falling asleep on the couch, that sort of thing. In the few years leading up to his dx, he was drinking more and more. Eventually, he started his days with a drink. On weekends I would still be in bed and I could hear the screw top bottle on the vodka. Who knew that electric lemonade was the breakfast of champions.
I can't remember the first signs that something was wrong. And we certainly didn't know it was liver disease. But the first thing I recall is that he started having trouble staying asleep all night. He could fall asleep fine, but he would wake up and not be able to go back to sleep. He would toss and turn, read, watch tv. Then he started having a few drinks in the middle of the night to help him go back to sleep. He went to our regular doctor (an internist) who wanted to have him tested for sleep appnea. Later we learned that sleep disturbances are due to liver disease.
Next he started to gag (sometimes) in the morning. He blamed it on a short gag reflex, that he pushed the toothbrush too far into his mouth. Then the smell of the canned cat food would make him gag. This wasn't too often. Over time it was worse. If he was nervous about
something, a work thing that day, whatever, he would gag in the morning. The gagging went from a few dry heaves in the morning, to long bouts of gagging that would leave him breathless, sweating, and exhausted. Over a few years the gagging came at any time of day or night, occurred more frequently, and would last for longer periods of time. He went to the regular doctor for this too, and was also sent to a GI doc. They looked down his throat for some sort of throat cancer. They put him on acid reducers. Later we learned that digestive problems can be due to liver disease.
Dougie would have frequent bloody noses. Over the years they became more frequent and took longer and longer to stop. Later we learned that blood clotting problems are due to liver disease.
a year before his dx he would suddenly get completely exhausted. Sometimes for a whole day he would stay in bed. At a family gathering he would have to excuse himself from the dinner table to sleep for a few minutes on the couch. Later we learned that extreme fatigue can be due to liver disease.
He wouldn't always lift the seat if he urinated in the night. And he wasn't the neatest...I would see dried drips of urine that had kind of an orange-ish coloring. Later we learned that this was due to jaundice, a symptom of liver disease.
He also had a few spider veins on the face, and he went to the dermatologist to have them removed. Later we learned that this may have been caused by liver disease.
Dougie's little man boobs grew bigger. He went to our regular doctor, who sent him for a mammogram and to a surgery consult to rule out breast cancer. Later we learned that upsets in hormone balances can be caused by liver disease.
The last symptom that sent him to the doctor (and I had to beg for this trip) was the whites of his eyes turned yellow. Jaundice. And this we KNEW was from liver disease.
But now that we knew that something was up with his liver, he didn't want to go to the doctor. And he was very vocal saying he would not stop drinking. We argued. I thought about
leaving him. But the bottom line of all this is that we we totally scared. It took about
3 months of negotiation to get him to the doctor. By then his skin was yellow too. And, the only reason he did go was that he failed an insurance exam and we were appealing the underwriting decision by having a doctor’s appointment and redo of the blood work.
His appointment was on a Friday and on Sunday night our regular doctor called us and told him to check into rehab first thing Monday morning and do what was needed to get on the transplant list. This was terrifying.
We went to our new healthcare facility (we had changed insurance over the 3 months) and he saw another internist. He was put on some sort of sedative for a week to get him off the booze. He was in bed for the week, mostly sleeping. He could barely walk from the bed to the bathroom. He couldn’t get a spoon from the yogurt container to his mouth. He couldn’t operate the tv remote control. His handwriting was tiny and wobbly. He couldn’t add simple numbers. He needed help getting dressed. He dripped urine all over the bathroom rug. He couldn’t slip his foot into a rubber flip flop. He was cold all the time. He was exhausted. He couldn’t be left alone. I stayed home from work for one day. Our 24yo son stayed with him for two days. My mom stayed with him for two days. I called his boss and said that he would not be working for at least two weeks. The second week my mom stayed with him. I came home every day for lunch to check on him.
During these first 2 weeks he had the first appointment with a GI, an ultrasound, and several rounds of labs. Following that he had his first endoscopy. He enrolled in an alcohol cessation program with our healthcare provider.
First warning from his GI, if you vomit blood this is a life threatening emergency. Call 911. There is a 50% chance of bleeding out and dying. GI also said the best thing Dougie could do for his health is to never drink again.
His first set of blood work following the dx were worse. Then, they got better each time. A tiny bit each time. After about
9-12 months they settled out. GI doc says this is his new normal. Everything is close to normal range, but just outside. So much better than September, 2010.
Dougie stopped drinking with the help of his program. That is how he slowly improved and got his (and our) life back. At 50 weeks sober he had a slip. He lied about
it in his group therapy. So he was kicked out. He has not enrolled in another program. I know that he has had other drinks. I don’t know when or how many. I am not okay with this, and he knows that.
Just over a year ago I started to go to Al Anon meetings. I went so I could learn how to help my husband stay sober. I was surprised that this is not what the meetings are for. The meetings are for me. To learn how to take care of myself. I could not have written the paragraph above this one before attending these meetings without getting agitated and emotional.
Many folks here have been where you and your husband are. There is hope. If he can stop drinking, he can greatly improve his health. Read through the old posts. Keep posting and ask questions. This site saved me from complete emotional distress when my husband was first sick.
Keep coming back and let us know how you and your husband are doing.
Again, welcome to HW.
Post Edited (healthynow) : 6/17/2013 10:19:03 PM (GMT-6)