Posted 9/16/2015 12:14 PM (GMT -7)
Thanks, Ziff, and to others who have replied.
Until late 2012, I was an insurance underwriter, generally working in an office, got promoted a few times to being joint second in command with three others. But, those four roles, mine included, were to be reduced to one, I didn't think that was feasible, I didn't get on with the new boss, the redundancy package was generous, so I decided to go.
Now, in all that time, I drank moderately (except at Christmas and when away on holidays). I would have beers with work-colleagues on Fridays, have a glass or two of wine at home during the week if I was cooking, have a few beers if I was watching a game on TV, and share a bottle of wine with my dad on Sundays.
After redundancy, I pottered around, quite content with life, doing plenty of walking, still drinking moderately, and decided to do something new: teach English abroad. So, I went to Budapest for four months. It was testing, but generally enjoyable, and I was still happy - and still drinking moderately.
Then, all changed. I thought I had contracted HIV. I had had a possible exposure, then suspicious symptoms. With that, acute insomnia set in, quickly followed by anxiety and depression. By the time I was sure I was negative, mental health problems were ingrained. Aside from that, my mother had just been diagnosed with dementia, my father was ageing, and my former partner - the love of my life - had found someone else. We hadn't been together for three years, but it hurt - and I knew that the HIV scare would never have happened had we still been together.
Visits with various therapists and trial and error with various medications (not liver-friendly!) started and continued. I was in hospital for a while. I even had ECT, seemed to recover, then relapsed.
But I didn't seriously hit the bottle until August last year. It wasn't every day, but it was steady, with occasional binges. Plus I was still taking various psychiatric meds. Then, from November to February, I generally drank moderately again. But I went back to the steady and occasionally heavy drinking in March this year, still combined by some liver unfriendly meds. The drinking included some short but very heavy binges - litre bottles of spirits in a 24 hour period on occasion.
A few months ago, I started to get regular, profuse sweats. I just put it down to hangovers when my body craved a drink.
It was only in August, when my energy levels and appetite reduced, and I saw several doctors who talked to me about liver function tests and the need to stop the heavy drinking, that I started to think about my liver. I had drank a lot on 1 August, but then much less until 27-28 August - my most recent binge (2 large bottles of spirits inside 36 hours). That landed me in hospital, and it was there that I started to panic when strange, unpleasant visible symptoms appeared overnight: bruises, red spots under the skin, dark patches on the back of my hands, darkened genitals, red palms, minor hair loss and thinning of hair. I suddenly thought: cirrhosis.
A junior doctor on the hospital ward could see how anxious I was, and agreed to do a whole range of blood tests. When these came back, he said two enzymes - AST and GGT - were elevated, but not by much, and everything else was in normal range. He said I did not have cirrhosis or hepatitis.
Those physical symptoms, apart from the hair thinning, have all improved or gone, but I've still felt ill: low energy, poor appetite, sweating a lot. My own doctor told me I do not have cirrhosis or hepatitis, and didn't need scans. Of course, I then arranged an ultrasound privately, and that's where the fatty liver showed-up, and I'm thinking what else could my doctor be wrong about. I got all the blood tests repeated yesterday, and am due to see my doctor again on Friday.
Truly, every day seems to bring a new symptom. I went for a walk at the coast today, walking 8 miles. It was hard work at times, yet this is a walk I've done a hundred times over the years and have hardly broken sweat. Today, I sweated a lot - and the sweat was oily. That's strange. But my skin has an oily feel to it. When I got home, I took-off my sweatshirt, and there was body hair (from my chest) stuck to the inside of the shirt. Again, that's strange. The hair on my head is also thin. I am balding and do have receding hair - I'm 46 after all - but it wasn't like that even a month ago.
I've been doing loads - too much - research. Loads of sites and loads of people have said that it takes years, not months, of heavy drinking to cause serious liver disease, not months - with gaps - as in my case. But I wasn't just drinking too much for several months. I was also taking a few different meds which I know are hard on the liver. I fear that, whereas drinking too much or taking meds would not have been good for the liver, the two taken together have been a dangerous combination and caused me harm. My body just feels bad, and I can't believe that "just" a fatty liver would be making me feel this way. I'm sure it's worse.
As you all have gathered, my anxiety levels are through the roof. I feel like I'm in limbo, just waiting for bad news whenever it comes. I'm even afraid to blow my nose, clear my throat or go to the loo in case there's a load of blood. I'm continually looking at my belly to see if it's swelling, looking in the mirror to see if the whites of my eyes are yellow, for prominent veins, for swelling in my ankles, etc, etc. I'm torturing myself.
I'm praying for a miracle and not drinking, and there's nothing else I can do.
Thanks for reading my story so far.