Valerie's Story of Alcoholic Liver Disease

There Is Life Without Alcohol

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Life Without Alcohol. © Getty Images

We receive a lot of email from family members who are concerned because their alcoholic relative has liver damage and they want to know if it is too late for them to get help. Only a medical professional can answer their question, but the following story submitted by Valerie in 2003 has offered hope to many families.

Valerie's Story

Somewhere about this time four years ago, I was ended up with liver failure, e-coli poisoning, and yellow jaundice.

I had not felt well for some time but even though I went to the doctors they told me I was anemic and to take iron. I also took Tylenol for the headaches and Tums for the upset stomach and Kava Kava to sleep. I just thought I had the flu for a few months.

I continued to drink. I stopped eating and finally ended up in ER a couple of times before they diagnosed the liver failure and the rest. I was dying. The doctors just gave up and shipped me off to a county hospital to die. There I was given Last Rites twice.

Many times they asked my family if they should resuscitate me. I lay there in that hospital for a couple of weeks surprisingly still living. They shipped me out to a convalescent hospital as a hospice patient. For weeks, I had doctors tell me that I would not survive another weekend or another few days.

Seven Months in Hospice

My sister came 50 miles after work every day to be by my side.

If not for her presence I am sure that I would have crossed over to the other side. I was on the edge of the abyss for several months.

To attempt to make a long story short, I ended up spending nine months in the convalescent hospital, seven months of those as Hospice. I believe a lot of prayer and my Higher Power had alot to do with me still being here today.

I tried a few meetings when I got out of the hospital but I really had come so close to death that drinking was not an option ever again. Through medication and proper eating, I have made it four years.

Only 10% of Liver Working

My liver is 10% operating, the rest is full of scar tissue and iron. After seemingly miraculously surviving this for four years, the other day I felt a bit nauseaus and slightly dizzy. I ended up in the bathroom thinking I had eaten something bad for lunch. I threw up. It was full of blood! It was like a bad dream or a terrible horror movie! Then I threw up another stomach full of blood.

I immediately called my sister and then the paramedics who took me to ER where I had what is called a sclerotherapy. I learned my esophagus has vericose veins in it caused by portal hypertension caused by the liver just not being able to handle the blood trying to pass through it. I was given a transfusion and spent three days in ICU and then two more in a regular room.

Bleeding Internally

My esophagus has these veins in it that will burst and bleed into my stomach. I will not know that this is happening unless I get lucky enough to throw up. Otherwise I will bleed to death internally.

These are the effects of end-stage liver disease, which is what they tell me I have.

The next step is to find a donor for a transplant. But my condition is not critical enough, unless I bleed, to promote a transplant. So I will live with the fear of bleeding to death internally.

There Is Life Without Alcohol

My message to anyone who has made it this far through this horror story is that it has not only been a nightmare for myself but the suffering that it causes my family is even more difficult to live with. There is life without alcohol. It's actually a very pleasant and gift-filled life if you give it a chance.

Don't let yourself end up with this terminal chronic condition. It really does cramp your style, in more ways than one! Give yourself a chance and learn to be proud of yourself again. It's not that hard, really. God Bless all of you and I wish you recovery!

-- Valerie

An Update From Valerie

Six years after the above article was published, and nine years after she was given Last Rites twice, we heard from Valerie again. See: Valerie Describes Her Journey as a Liver Disease Survivor.

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