Hi. I'm new to all this. Seeking advice.

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I've been lurking around this forum for the past few evenings. I must say the information, advice, encouragement and so on has been quite helpful to me. As of a week ago today I thought my life was in ruins. 

Where to start. Well, I'm 44 years old. I've been drinking since my teenage years. Drinking heavily from age 16 to about 25, socially from about 26-35, and then I ramped up to heavy again over the last 8-9 years to the point where I've admitted to alchoholism. The last 2 years being the worst as I've been drinking anywhere from a six pack of beer to 2 standard bottles of Sake or Wine AND a six pack beer nightly. Over the last 3-4 years I believe I've been self medicating with alcohol to relieve symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. Over the last two years I've even begun morning/day drinking to aliviate these anxiety symtoms. Even though I knew this was a serious problem I never did anything to stop it. Never looked to get help, never went to a physician (I was terrified of seeing a physician as I thought I would have a panic attack, or be diagnosed with something horrible and die) Such an irrational psycosis, I know. Honestly, I hadn't seen a physician in over a decade and have never been hospitalized. My drinking was at it's worst last last year and over the holidays. And then, suddenly, I started feeling some pains. Stomach pains, wierd sensations around my adominal area. Particular on the left side under my ribs. Not a sharp pain, a dull pain - but predominant.  I also started feeling extremely bloated all the time. And my stomach area up to my rib area looked swollen. I was also gaining weight. During these last two years I wasn't getting nearly as much exercise and have been living a much more sendentary lifestyle. Needless to say I started to worry. 

Didn't go to the Doc just yet. Thought I could fix this myself. Started dieting, walking more. Tried cutting back on alcohol - but honestly, wasn't cutting back much if any. Lost some weight, but not belly weight. And the pain just wasn't going away in my abdominal. Still felt bloated all the time and I had really lose and watery stools. 

Now, I was starting to worry. Started thinking the worst. Obsessed now that I had liver disease with ascites. I've never felt so concerned for my health in all my life and at this point felt no other choice but to make an appointment to see a doctor and express my concerns. I'm really scared continously telling myself to expect the worst and hope for the best. I started tapering off the alcohol using the HAMS method I found online as to avoid (in my mind) having a panic attack in the reception area of the clinic.

I finally went into Urgent Care last Friday. I was down to 3 drinks at night, but had probably 6 the night before my appointment because I couldn't sleep as I was raddled with nerves. I made it to my appointment. I expressed to the doctor my concerns (the bloating, the abdominal, the dull pain on the left side, the loose stools) told him all about my alcohol abuse and my concern that my liver was damaged. He felt around and indicated that there was nothing that he felt that was enlarged. No masses, abdomen normal to palpation, spleen normal, liver normal. Nothing there. He thought perhaps It might be a bleeding ulcer. Asked to do a rectal exam. No gross blood present. So we did a blood and urine test. Surprisingly the results are done in like 15 minutes. My nerves are shot by this point. He walks in states my blood counts are normal. However, I have abdormal results of the liver function studies (tests) In his words "they're not horrible" still, I felt as If I was about to pass out. He also mentions that I have slight hyperglycemia with some urinary ketones (early sign of diabetes?) he gives me some recomindations for a gastroenterology clinic to look into my liver and asked me to see my GP about the hyperglycemia, hands me my blood test results and then sends me on my way. At the time I had no idea what any of these blood test meant (since then I've probably done 100 hours of excrutiating internet research trying to figure these out) Anyway, here are what I believe are the important figures:

GLU: 123 (high)

CA: 9.4

BUN: 10

ALP: 39 (low)

ALT: 98 (high)

AST: 76 (high)

Tbil: 0.5

ALB: 4.1

TP: 8.2 (high)

PLT: 274

MPV: 9.1

I was now in full panic mode. The only person I told all this to was my girlfriend (of 9 years) and she was a super supportive. I was worried sick and she was optimistic? I tried explaining to her that I probably have liver disease. I started the inevitable hole of google searching information endlessly about liver disease, blood tests, symptoms, chirrosis, and expected life spans. I felt resinded to the fact that doom was in my near future. 

Over the next day or so I started gaining some hope. I wasn't experiencing many other symptoms. I wasn't fatigued, wasn't nausious, no yellowing. I read that my AST and ALT levels might be skewed due to the fact that I had 5/6 drinks about 12 hours prior to the test. Also, I did not fast. Before the test I had a banana, protein bar, vinegar water, two Bayer asperin, and Rhodiola (an herbal supplement for anxiety) I didn't tell any of this to the doctor, nor did he ask. I found this forum and some others and have been reading through them religiously. I found some hope here just by reading the stories and encourgment. I know things will never be the same for me. If I have something wrong, I feel I can get through it. If not, the doctor, those internet searches, these forums, have scared me straight. 

By Monday I picked myself up and with the help of my GF got back on track. This week I've taken my dog for 2 walks a day (about 2 hours a day) cut my sodium intake (my BP was a very high 145) started eating scheduled healthy meals (lots of greens) drinking lots of water and finished off my tapering. I glass of red wine up through Tuesday. And now the last two nights with zero. Zero drinks for the first time since, well, I can't even remember. 

Surprisingly, the side effects of withdraw have been minimal. I have my appetite, and I feel clarity. I've stayed up late. But I've slept really well. I'm guessing, for me, the tapering really helped with this adjustment. My bloating has gone down and the adominal pains are minimal. I've even lost a bit of weight. I made an apointment at the GI clinic (though the first available isn't until May 22nd) and I'm dead set on retesting my blood work after detoxing to see how/if things have changed. Again, reading this forum has helped me so much as far as coming to terms with what to expect. As much as I regret and wish I would have done things differently (seeing a physican) much sooner. I can't go back. I'm just thankful that I went when I did. It may have saved my life as I'm now ready for clean living regardless of where these future results lead me. Just a few questions: 

1. How much would the drinking the night before effect my blood test? Also, how much, if any, would the foods I ate, and aspirin, effect the test? 

2. When should I go retake the test? Given question 1, if my numbers were skewed should I go straight away? Or should I wait the recommended 30-90 days of abstinense? (I'm really anxious to re test as to give me peace of mind but don't want to rush it)

3. I cannot figure out for the life of me why my ALP is so low (39) I know it's for protien levels. And a low number could be signs for malnourishment - but I've always, even while drinking heavily, eaten quite healthy. Even took daily supplements including B12. 

4. My A/G ratio is right at 1.0 which is from what I read right at the minimum cutoff. Thoughts?

5. The whole slight hyperglycemia caught me off guard. Is this an effect of alcohol and can it be reversed or is it a sure sign of upcoming diabetes?

6. I've started taking milk thistle. Any other suggestions for repairing the liver and/or to help with hyperglycemia?

And just in general, based on everything I've stated - how damaged do you gather my liver is? Chances of liver disease? I know the definite answer won't come until I do the ultrasound and/or liver bioposy. I'm just very impatient and curious as to any thoughts based on where I currently stand. 

I haven't made an appointment with my newly appointed PCP as of yet. So I'm unable to ask such questions. I wanted to make my initial appointment when I feel ready to take the follow up blood test. So in the meantime any insight, advice would be so helpful. 

Thank you so much to whomever read this long post! 



1 like, 14 replies

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14 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi there, Have you made any plans to help you stop altogether? I know you said that you had two full nights sober but we all know it can be hard at times when the voice in your head makes you give in. You should ask your doctor about meds that might be available to help you. I have just recently ordered a herbal pill called kudzu which has had a lot of good reports but to be fair i havent tried it yet as it hasnt come. There are other meds too that your doctor could talk to you about and lots of info on here. Some people also can just stop or as you say ween off it. The amount of drinking that you mentioned i have to honest and say that your liver is prob at a point where you either cut down or give up altogether. At the end of the day there only so much it can take. I am also worried about my own liver but a bit to scared to know the real truth. Hopefully for both of us we have prob done some damage but not to a point where the liver wont eventually heal itself. 

    Drink is nothing but an enemy to anyone and does no good in any amount when you think of it. I am also the same as you as my life is in ruins because of it but more so from a family point of view. I have other threads on here and i can not begin to tell you what damage it has done emotionally to me and my family.

    However, from your health point of view i would honestly say stay of the drink if you can and your mind will also feel so much better.

    Its very hard i know but you sound very worried so just try as much as you can. Keep in touch and let us know how you get on.

    Also try reading a book which is free to download ''alcohol lied to me'' its worth reading the whole thing as it does make a lot of sence. Good luck x

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    • Posted

      Hi Sharon, 

      I've read many of your posts. And thank you for the advice. Hope you're doing well. In regards to quitting entirely. Yes, that's the goal. I was so worried and concerned about going to the doctor for the tests and utterly petrified that they'd take me right there and then to the hospital due to my damaged liver that I prayed if I could get through this I was done drinking. And I'm not even religious. I just had to know. And I still don't know much. My blood tests were not good. However, somehow I feel optimistic. I took the first step. 

      I'm going to follow through with this sobriety thing. I'm already feeling better, the bloating in my stomach is going away, the pains in my abdominal already are not as prominent. I'm still staying up super late into the morning but when I do sleep I'm sleeping restfully. I think I might make it. 

      I want to avoid any PX medicines but will look further into Kudza. I did try this before without success. However, I was already drinking heavily when I was using it so I never tried it entirely sober. I'll read more into it. 

      All I can do is the best that I can do for now. I won't know anything definate until I see the GI GP and can have an ultrasound done. No sense of worring though. Thanks for the book advice I'll check it out. 

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    • Posted

      From what i understand the Kudzu is meant to stop or reduce the need to drink. It may depend on what dose you were on. I have ordered 500mg but i know there is stronger. It can be bought online and isnt very much money if it does what it may do...look how much we have all spent on drink anyway.  Different things work for different people so maybe it wasnt for you but maybe it may help now that your way of thinking has changed to a point, becasue it isnt easy. Like i say keep calm and get the test results and anymore that has been suggested. Your doing well even being on here to be honest, the week i have had i think its the only thing that has got me through it, although i am way, way off where i want to be. There are no words for it in a way. But there are good people on here who will help you along the way too so keep coming back x
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  • Posted

    To be honest, blood tests quite often don't tell you what is going on. The only way you are going to know for sure, is if you see a gastro and have an ultrasound and is he thinks it necessary, a gastroscopy.

    Personally I think the doctor might have it wrong about the ascites. The way you described it sounded exactly like it.

    Waiting a couple of months to have more bloods done, that will look better, because you have kept off the alcohol is masking the issue. My bloods come back fine, all within range. But then that is because I don't drink, but I do have cirrhosis.

    If all you're looking to do, is get some blood tests back, that come back within range, stop drinking for a couple of months and have the test done again. Then you can tell yourself, you're fine.

    If you want to find out the real situation, see the gastro and have the tests done. Then you will know the real situation. The hyperglycemia and the ketones need looking at and can devlop into diabetic ketoacidosis, which is serious. I would imagine your pancreas is not funtioning properly due to the onslaught of alcohol. Alcohol pretty much effects all the internal organs, pancreas, kidneys, gallbladder etc, not just the liver.

    I probably haven't answered in the way you wanted, but I get this feeling, that you just want to wait, have more blood tests, have them come back okay and then put it behind you. Go see the gastro, you will either get the okay or be told the real situation.

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    • Posted

      Thanks for the reply. I do have an appointment with the Gastro but it's not until the end of May. I realize that this is the definate determining factor and will await the results. However, I was under the impression that the recovery time of high ALP and AST levels can somehow at least give an impression as to how fast your liver is recovering. I was curious as to know - if for example I went into have tests done tomorrow (a week after my initial tests) and they were already dropping that this would at least show signs that my liver is recoving fast. Which I thought was a good sign (the faster recovery time, the better early prognosis) but maybe I'm wrong. 

      As far as the ascites. I really don't think I have this as my bloating, fullness, has started to subside since eliviating the alcohol. The doctor didn't even consider this. He had my adominal normal to palpation, normal active bowel sounds in all four quadrants, no bruits. 

      I am worried about the hyperglyceia and ketones and will certainly investigate that further with my GP. 

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    • Posted

      Technically, you'd be right in that there might be marginal faster recovery, but the reality is that this is not reliable and involves so many variables.

      As for the ascites, the abdominal scan will confirm this.

      Regarding the diabetic side, watch your sugar intake. When I came out of hospital, I didn't drink, but had a huge craving for sugar, so I ate bags of sweets everyday - I thought, not great, but at least it's not alcohol.

      That I had follow blood tests and my GP, said that I had moved from non diabetic to the first rung of pre diabetic and if it carried on like that, I would end up diabetic. So, I cut the sugar out and six months later, my tests showed I was well back in the non diabetic score section.

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  • Posted

    Hi derek...like your name..its my sons name too.

    I've been drinking for years. I've been hospitalized...etc....rehabed...detoxed...etc.

    Of course while drinking your blood work is going to be off....my drinking has also always affected my white blood count to the point of the last hospital visit they were going to send me for cancer testing if whatever they did overnight did not raise my count...and what they did was give me a bunch of IVS with nutrition and vitamins.

    Your stomach can't absorb all the good stuff you are doing (eating, vitamins) properly when alcohol is involved...alcohol really messes with so many areas of our bodies.

    12 years ago I stopped drinking because all my counts were high,   I had to start seeing a gastro for loose bowels, possible colitis... I was borderline diabetic, I started having high blood pressure (I was 41)...my liver enzymes were elevated, my blood clotting was a concern because of RBC counts and some other test was off...all I got was bad news every time I went to the Dr.

    I stopped  drinking and within 6 months all of my blood work was completely normal...

    That night at the hospital...the last time...after all the IV nutrition and vitamins..my blood work was normal....

    I go on and off the wagon now and I can tell if I have a physical with blood work and it is close to a period of me drinking....my blood work has highs and lows that shouldn't be there....If I go a long time without drinking and have blood work..my blood work is usually quite normal. 

    I have to tell the DR that I drink when I do because if I don't they are going to think something could be drastically wrong with me by these wacky blood counts. I have an appt. April 12th for a physical..I don't want to tell my dr. I had a heavy binge this past week...but I HAVE To...or I'm going to be scared when I see the blood work.

    Your counts are not that far off..and the Dr. told you that...I think if you just stop drinking...everything will be back to normal...including your stomach and bloating.


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    • Posted

      Think what the other guys have said is very true. Just try your best tho to stay of the drink. Keep your stress to a mimimum and just wait and see what happens. Your doing well anyway as at least you have taken a lot of steps to get healthy again
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    • Posted

      Thank you Missy for your encourging reply. You mentioned 12 years ago that you were borderline diabetic. What ever became of that? Also, you were 41, I'm 44, you also had high blood pressure. Did that subside after you quit drinking for 6 months. 

      It must of felt great after going through what you went through to have all your biggest fears eliminated when things normalized. I'm really hoping I can get to that point. 

      Hope your physical goes well on the 12th.

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    • Posted

      Everything I had wrong with me stopped when I quit drinking...I'm serious...everything...I was only borderline diabetic because of the drinking the blood work was always wacky...she was always catching me at a bad time after a binge or a heavy night....

      Never had a "blood" problem the 8 years I was sober.

      Now that I have been drinking again there are all kinds of "blood" issues...inflamation markers high, WBC low, RBC low, Platelets low...ridiculous...the older we get...the harder it is to bounce back.

      Stop now if you can.  Cause I'm sure prolonged misuse of our body chemistry causes more serious problems down the line..but I think you would be ok..if you can stop.

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    • Posted

      Hi Missy. I drank last night. Only went 4 days sober and was feeling great only to find a way to justify drinking. Irrational thoughts of "it's only one day" "it's April 1st. Now it'll be easy to remember my last drink day" I also was excited to watch the Final Four (basketball tournement) and sports viewing and drinking have always gone hand and hand for me. 

      Bought a four pack of 16oz 5.4% Citrus IPA I had never tried before. I did think multiple times just don't do it. I didn't have to. But I gave in. Once I had that first one all bets were off. I didn't think I would get "drunk" off just four beers but I was pretty sauced up. Fell asleep early, didn't eat dinner. And had insomnia from about 1am-7am. Woke up with a headache. Not pleasent. 

      Lots of regrets. 

      The ONLY bright spot perhaps is that after going four days with clarity and then drinking again I see I can never be a social drinker. It's not worth the temptation. And now I only think about the punishment my body is taken. I'm just done. Regardless of how my condition/health turns out. 

      So April 1st was my last drink. I'm going to give the Kudzu root a go to hopefully curb any temptation. 

      Today sucks cause I'm not feeling well. I did manage a big plate of food and lots of water this morning. I did also have a cup of coffee (only recently started drinking coffee again) but now feel really anxious. I don't even know if I can take my dog for a walk today as I fear I might have a panik attack. 

      Another awful symtom of alcohol withdraw for me is anxiety

      I did make an appointment with my PCP but it's not until the 24th of this month. I wanted to give myself 30 days of sobriety but now I've broken that up a bit. ***** I feel like such a ****up!

      Decided now to get up and give today a go. Nice and sunny out. Going to take my dog for a long walk and face this bull***** fear. NO MORE DRINKING. 

      How's your day going?

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    • Posted

      Great reply!! How honest you are and we can guide you but do take when stopping to drink.....Gastro crucial to get a clear picture ref RHGB reply a few days ago. SUper that you now have decided to stop..your life will improve so much..i feel so much better for certain....you can do it!! The dog agrees...look at him smiling.....Robin
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    • Posted

      Thanks. Yes, I do have an appointment with the GI but not until late next month. Very very nervous about that but know it's necessary. 

      Amazing how much better I felt after only four days of sobriety only to feel the way I do now after drinking just one night. My body is certainy trying to tell me something crucial. 

      I just need to listen. 

      And yes, my dog agrees. She's been enjoying her longer walks and happier me - don't want to let her down. 

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