Cruisin with the Real"s

Cruisin with the Real"s
Joe and Nancy Grand Cayman 10-07

Loma Linda Medical Center

Loma Linda Medical Center
Where the magic happens........

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Speaking of alcohol. Here is some of my story I haven't talked much about.

Since we are on the subject of alcohol. I haven't really spoken much about how I got in this predicament of needing a new liver.

I was answering a letter today by a friend regarding alcohol in her life and the fact that she was having high liver enzymes show up in her blood work which resulted in some further testing, (an ultrasound and a biopsy) that showed she has fatty liver. She is my age and our drinking habits over our lives have been similar. She wrote and asked me a couple of questions and as I started answering here I actually wrote a *book*..... Well, it was a long answer to some brief questions.

When it comes to my drinking history, my disease, and my obvious regret to not heeding the warning signs that were there if there is anything I can give back or help give people an awareness of who are at risk I want to help them with the truth.

My Doctors never gave me *THE TRUTH* about what I was facing. It was all pretty sugar coated. *You should think about cutting down,,,,,,,blah, blah, blah,,,,,,,, and never really telling me what might happen to me if I didn't stop in time. I didn't know the difference between high liver enzymes and anything else. They never mentioned the word cirrhosis or what end stage liver disease is like.... nothing. I truly think if someone had taken the time to explain the consequences of NOT stopping I would have at least had a chance to make a different choice and my path could have been completely different.

Here is my response to her. I now have over 400 readers around the world, (check the map!) and if what I have to say helps one person........then the blog will all be worth it..... That and helping people realize the need to make the effort to go to donate life and become an organ donor.

I am glad that you took my e-mail as it was intended. One thing that I want you to know is that I am NOT at all judgmental of you or your drinking and that I will always be honest with you. I am worried that you believe that you have fatty liver because you are overweight or *obese*, which is an absurd word…. Some extra weight might not be helping but I don’t believe it is the cause of your fatty liver. I also don’t think the Dr’s are always straight shooters because they like to skirt around the alcohol issue or just say to you…*don’t drink*. Mine said… *go to a meeting if you have to*, like that was an answer to anything!

I know that my cirrhosis was caused gradually by my drinking habits which started when I was around 16-17 and was part of my social life from then on. Neither I nor my friends or family considered myself *an alcoholic* or did I have trouble with shaking, vomiting, or any of the other nasty problems with the exception of the year or two prior to my hospitalization when it was to late. I am certain my liver was cirrhotic by then. My problem was I was a *daily* drinker. Not every day, but most days. Like you, in the evenings, weekends, vacations…..well, you can drink all day on vacation, right? Is it noon yet? Ever heard of a mimosa or a bloody mary? LOL….I could pretty much fit alcohol into any social situation appropriately. No one thinks twice when you have a tropical drink in your hand on vacation… right? and Vodka seems to go with everything and don't we all consider wine ok? It all seemed very normal to me. So, it was the ONGOING assault to my liver as the weeks, months and years past that was my livers demise.

With all the research I have done since I found out I was sick I have determined that alcohol is harder on women, it is harder when we don’t give our livers breaks….so even if it is just a little but on a frequent basis……..that is a huge problem… *FOR YOUR LIVER*, it may not be a problem as in affecting your day to day life….but could be advancing your liver disease and you wouldn’t even know it. Liver disease, doesn’t hurt, doesn’t make you *sick*, (until it is too late and cirrhosis has kicked in). My Dr’s are telling me that I have a 50/50 chance of surviving 5 years if I don’t get a new liver soon. A 50/50 chance???? I am not very happy about those odds.

So my advice to you, as hard as it is for me to give it to you is to NOT drink, AT ALL. You are not doing yourself or your family any good by quantifying it by saying * I only drink this or that…….* Your liver doesn’t know the difference. It is a toxic substance that is very, very hard on it and it is throwing up warning signs IF you will listen to it.

I know the thought of not drinking at all is daunting. I couldn’t imagine my life without drinking. Joe and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks and I told him….Can you believe we won’t be drinking a great bottle of wine with our dinner celebration????? Doesn’t seem right. But it just is, now and from now on. Which is fine with me. I really like life without alcohol! Who knew????

If you have the opportunity to stop your liver problems now, and you do, you should take that opportunity and thank God he gave you the warning signs that many of us didn’t get. I so wish I had a biopsy when my liver was just a fatty liver and hadn't crossed that hard line in the sand of cirrhosis.

I stopped with the help of SMART RECOVERY. And a drug called naltrexone. I believe that alcohol affects our body and brain is certain ways after years of use. Our body is USED to operating with it and it feels normal to us. What naltrexone does is basically put *coating* on some pleasure points in our brain that make us like alcohol. (That is the short version.) You can drink on naltrexone. It won’t make you sick like antibuse. You just do not enjoy it. It is very weird. I had heard that and tried it…While taking it I tried to drink a glass of wine that would normally have been gone within 45 min and 2 hours later there was still ½ in the glass. I just didn’t want it….

When I really decided to stop totally I drank the day I planned on stopping, took my first dose of Naltrexone that night before bed and didn’t want any alcohol at all the next day and haven’t had a drop since! I was ready to stop, it just helped my brain from wanting it…it is a physical addiction, like cigarettes, and also some of us are just pre disposed to not being *real social drinkers* which by the way drink a couple of times a year at a wedding or on a vacation, etc. NOT ON A REGULAR or DAILY BASIS. Woosies…lol. . I know it was the help I needed to stop my addiction.

Re read the article I sent you. Especially the part regarding women and the progression of the disease. Right now you are still in a position to reverse the effects of alcohol.

As always if there is any way I can help or encourage you or you need an ear or shoulder you can count on me.

Maybe you should come see me when I am in ICU recovering from transplant with dozens of tubes coming out of me and the stapled torso where they cut me open to put my new liver in, spend time with me for the months of recovery and live with a compromised immune system for the rest of my life because of all the drugs I will now have to take and then ask yourself if the evening cocktail or 2 is a good idea.

Very sincerely yours,


1 comment:

Aiyana said...

Hi Nancy,
I tried the email you have listed, but it doesn't work, so I'll leave this comment on your blog. You asked about the Desert Museum Palo Verde. Hope you started with a 15 gallon container. The 24" box trees are problematic. After 2 years, you won't know the difference in size anyway. The most important thing with desert trees is deep, infrequent watering one established. Establishment takes about a year. Depending on your rainfall, you should provide water about twice a week--enough to penetrate 2 feet down--preferably delivered with a drip system over several hours. Watering should occur not near the trunk base, but out about a foot, all the way around the tree. After the tree is established, water should be cut back to once a month, and should reach a depth of two feet or more at each watering. If you have a rainy season, you can turn off the water during that time. Always remove the nursery stake that comes with the tree. Place two larger stakes directly across from each other, parallel to the prevailing winds, and use a figure 8 rubber insulated wire that encircles the tree very loosely. Make sure, as the tree grows, the wire remins loose. It is important that the tree can move in wind but not blow over. The ability to move with the wind strengthens the trunk. The stakes should be removed after about a year. Wait at least a year to prune the tree, and then only enough to shape it. Never more than 1/3 of the branches and/or foliage should be removed at one time. This tree needs no supplements or other amendments. Hope you enjoy your new tree.

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