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Couple of questions .....

Old 01-28-2012, 09:53 AM
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Couple of questions .....

Hi all,

Today my stepdaughter's mother came to visit. This is the fifth time in 7 months. Anyway, we had heard, on good authority, that mum was getting worse, on 2 bottles of vodka a day, with significant weight loss and yellow skin, but hadn't seen her ourselves (not that we do see her), nor had stepdaughter seen her since this revelation. Anyway, when SD got back from her visit with mum we said the usual stuff 'have a nice time? How's your mum?', to which she replied that mum looks terrible. She said her skin is yellow, very much so on the face, she has red around her eyes and her hands are very very pale but all the knuckles and finger joints are red. So, it is confirmed that mum is indeed yellow, and now weighs under 84lb (BMI of 15). SD asked us, outright, if this means her mum has liver disease, and if so was it serious (my aunt died recently of cancer of the bile duct, which affected her bilirubin and she was badly jaundiced, so SD knows yellow skin means liver problems). We decided that it's best to tell her truth and told her that yes, it would indicate she has liver disease, and coupled with the weight loss it's likely her liver is becoming cirrhosed. She asked if it was life threatening, and we told her it was. She also asked how much time her mum has left, but we couldn't answer that question, and also asked if mum stopped drinking today would she get better? Again, not able to answer that question as we don't know if the liver can recover from cirrhosis.

Anyone able to advise?
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Old 01-28-2012, 12:00 PM
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I asked my wife who is a transplant nurse and sees those people all the time and she said it varies so much from person to person, she might even die of malnutrition or some other disorder caused by her drinking before she dies of liver disease, my mothers drinking caused destruction of her heart muscle that has put her in the ICU twice in the last 18 months, also pnuemonia is a real possibility when you have done this to yourself.

I wish we could be of more help, I am so sorry for all of you, I will send prayers.

Best of luck,

Bill
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Old 01-28-2012, 12:15 PM
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Thank you Bill, and thanks to your wife also. We know she doesn't eat much, if at all, and on the 5 occasions she has visited SD she has only eaten in front of her twice, and that was salad with no carbs whatsoever (just lettuce and tomatoe). SD had a go at her and told her she needs to eat more carbs so she puts weight back on.

Is the redness on the joints of the hands and around the eyes anything significant? I ask because SD seemed overly concerned about this. Gosh this is so difficult because on the one hand we don't have sympathy for this woman (sorry, I know it's a disease and all, but if it has already caused you to lose both your kids then why the heck wouldn't you do something about it ... grrrrrrr) but we care deeply about this child who is probably going to have to suffer the loss of a parent through alcohol abuse, and even though we don't think mum would ever make mum of the year, she could remain in her daughter's life. She has never done anything, or been anywhere, has never worked or contributed to society and has been an addict since the age of 14, so in that sense she has nothing to offer her children (ie experiences, achievements etc.,) and isn't a good role model at all, but she is their mum and they love her. I personally would not care if she died tomorrow, but it's not my feelings that are important is it!

I do wonder sometimes, recently since she lost the kids, that she could be literally drinking herself to death deliberately. I cannot imagine, not for a second, losing my children, and if one had left at the age of 12 and the other had been removed at the age of 7 then I would be feeling just about as low as you can get, and I know in these situations people reach out for a 'rock', which is often drugs or alcohol. But this isn't a rock for her, it's what she's always done and is now doing even more. I guess you could probably guess, and be right, that she's drinking more because the children have gone, but nonetheless she surely looks in the mirror and sees a yellow person. Most people would rush to their doctor, wouldn't they?

Sorry, rattling on here, and I know no-one else has the answers either
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Old 01-28-2012, 12:22 PM
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(((NikNox))) - As ((Bill)) said, it's hard to answer that without knowing how much damage has been done to her liver. That really wasn't my area of expertise back when I was nursing, but from what I've read, IF she has cirrhosis, it can not be reversed. A person can, however, keep it from progressing by adopting healthier behaviors and staying away from things like alcohol, tylenol - things that stress a liver out.

Again, though, it would depend on how much damage has been done. As far as answering your stepdaughter, I guess that's what I would tell her...no, you can't reverse cirrhosis, but if it's not too bad, you can keep it from getting worse. Sad fact is, even then, many still die. I remember what one of my instructors taught me years ago..."the word 'liver' contains the word LIVE - you can't live without it".

Sadly, as ((Bill)) said, it's not just the liver that is affected by alcohol. The intestinal tract and heart are also affected. Malnutrition is common when someone is deep into drinking, and it also stresses out the heart.

I'm sorry I can't give better or definite answers. However, I'm so glad that you are being honest with your stepdaughter and she is also getting some "outside" help in counseling. She's learning that she can ask you anything, you will be truthful. She can express her anger, frustration and fears, and you will listen to her and validate her thoughts and feelings. You can't fix any of this for her, but you will ask questions if you don't know the answer, and you will be there for her every step of the way through this.

That, my friend, is priceless. Especially knowing that this all is painful to you, too. We may not always know the answers to your questions, but we are most definitely here for you.

Hugs and prayers,

Amy
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Old 01-28-2012, 12:25 PM
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((NikNox)) - sorry, we were posting at the same time so didn't see your question about the redness. I've not been a nurse for 8 years, but I don't remember that being part of liver failure. I could be wrong, but it could be from a number of things...something simple as a skin irritation, but blood vessels do get fragile from alcohol abuse. Hopefully, ((Bill and his wife)) or someone else knows more about that.

Hugs and prayers,

Amy
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Old 01-28-2012, 12:40 PM
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Thanks Amy, much appreciated. This site is amazing!! So much support and help, and a place to vent where you don't get judged for venting. I really need that!! Sorry, that sounds selfish, but it's hard on my husband and I too I guess, knowing more just because we're adults, seeing the harm she is doing to her children and knowing that this could affect them for the rest of their lives. We will always be truthful. I don't believe in 'beating around the bush', and have always, always told my own kids the truth (appropriate to age of course). My stepdaughter started her periods last week, a big occasion in any girl's life, and she also has a boyfriend (very innocently). Two big things. Her mum had always told her, when she lived with her, that she was forbidden from even thinking about boys until she was 18. Last week, at SD's birthday party, one of her closest friends from her mum's home town came (as a surprise which we organised), and SD told this friend she had a boyfriend (he was at the party too). Today, when she saw her mum, one of the first things her mum said to her was 'you'd better NOT have a boyfriend young lady' (we think she's probably found out that she has). SD just said that she didn't have a boyfriend, that she was too young etc., and mum said 'well if I ever hear that you have ....'. She also didn't tell her mum she'd started her periods, and I think this is all very sad because alcohol has turned her into a person her daughter doesn't want to share these important things with. She said that they went to a cafe, and as she sat there she felt angry with her mum, mainly for being yellow because she knows what that means, but also for sounding her out about boyfriends. My husband said to her 'why don't you just tell her, face to face, what you feel? Why don't you just tell her you know why she's yellow?'. She replied that she didn't have the confidence to confront her about it, or to confide in her, worried because she knew her mum would flip out or tell her to mind her own business. She said she wants to 'have it out' with her, so we've suggested she writes her a letter, but did reiterate that even spilling out her innermost feelings and fears about her mother's illness probably won't have any effect on mum.

It just might make her feel better.
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Old 01-28-2012, 01:17 PM
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I just searched alcohol and joint inflamation on *****, and there are several links that say the first thing you should do when you have joint inflamation and redness is to stop drinking alcohol and check your medications.

Something else that could be a real problem and possibly fatal is potassium deficency, it is very common in people with poor nutrition, a group which alcoholics usually fall into.
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Old 01-28-2012, 04:29 PM
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I am a nurse, not a doctor. I won't speculate on her condition but to say she sounds very very sick.

I think what needs addressed is the fact that her mum CAN'T stop. The alcoholism is a disease in itself and your daughter needs to understand that even though her mum knows that it is killing her, slowly and painfully ...it will always come before her, her mums health, and anything or anyone else.
whether her mum stopped tomorrow is irrlevent because she won't. She can't.
It's okay to have hope. But to tell her yes, sets her up for thinking when her mum does pass away (and she will)... that had she only asked her to stop, begged, pleaded and cried for her to stop....that she would have and would still be alive.
She would be shouldering guilt that is not hers to carry.
Seeing how serious the situation is now I would suggest a therapist for your daughter that specialized in alcoholism in families. it is better to have her aquainted now with the idea of sharing her feelings and trusting someone outside the family rather than when her mum does pass...
good luck. Praying for your daughter.
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Old 01-29-2012, 04:03 AM
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Thank you. We don't give her false hope because we know that it is pointless. Hope is something we all cling on to when faced with adversity, but alcoholism (or indeed any addiction) cannot be given hope until such time as the addict admits they have a problem and actively starts helping themselves. Mum is nowhere near that stage, as her friends have been telling her for a long while she is sick, but she denies she even drinks, let alone doing something about it.

We think it would be good however for my stepdaughter to write her mum a letter. Not to beg her to stop drinking because she knows that won't work (not to mention, as you say, the guilt she would shoulder because her mum won't take any notice), but to tell her mum she knows what her problem is, knows she is an alcoholic and to tell her how SHE feels about it, how it has affected her life thus far. She is quite low today following mum's visit yesterday, and it has shocked her to see her mum so yellow. Of course she is worried about her mum, that's to be expected.

The road we are travelling is a long one, and I agree, counselling needs to be put in place as it's gonna get a whole lot harder!
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Old 01-31-2012, 05:57 AM
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Hi guys

Just to let you all know we are attending an Al-Anon meeting this evening. SD really is quite distressed at her mother's ill health, particularly at how she looks. She text her mother yesterday begging her to stop drinking, and my husband followed that up with a text to her from him saying that their daughter is distressed at her yellowness and that we are taking her to Al-Anon this evening. Think she has a right to know, but we're not expecting it to trigger a guilt reaction and a visit to the doctor!
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