Having watched my father die from liver disease brought on by years of alcoholism, I was surprised at how very thin Cecil’s column was on the subject.
The physical effects that were discussed don’t even come close to the actual event.
That beer belly that people associate with drinking? It’s not a big gut filled with beer. It’s fluids that would normally pass through the liver, however because the liver is so deteriorated, the fluids can’t pass, and seep into the stomach cavity. Try having three litres of fluid syphoned from your body. Not pretty. Those fluids also build up in the legs and feet, resulting in grotesquely enlarged, swollen feet.
That liver that’s dying? Well, it can no longer absorb and negate toxins in your body. Those toxins build up and poisen you. You fall asleep constantly, though it’s really more like going unconsious than sleeping. You can’t remember anything. You can’t understand things or follow a plot in a movie. You live in a fog. You sometimes don’t recognize your kids or grandkids.
When those toxins build up enough, you fall into a hepatic coma.
Liver Transplant, you say? Well that’s a great idea, if, of course, your years of drinking haven’t also damaged your heart and driven your blood pressure sky high. If it has, then you’re not a candidate for a transplant. Sorry, charlie. The doctors are also a little peaved at the idea of doing a transplant on someone who did this to themselves.
So, transplant is usually out.
In a few days, maybe even a week, you start to breathe loud enough to be heard 4 rooms away.
In the end, if you’re lucky and there’s a miracle, you wake up for a couple of hours, which is long enough for your family to say goodbyes and love yous.
But you will die. And not peacefully, not serenly.
I thought Cecil’s column would be a little more in depth as to the real dangers of alcoholism.