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This Fibro Liver

Dear purple butterflies,

A year ago, I learned from my family doctor that my liver enzymes were extremely elevated. After many medical options, I was referred to a Gastroenterologist who confirmed that I have a fatty liver.

Fatty liver is a reversible condition wherein large vacuoles of triglyceride fat accumulate in liver cells via the process of steatosis (i.e., abnormal retention of lipids within a cell). Despite having multiple causes, fatty liver can be considered a single disease that occurs worldwide in those with excessive alcohol intake and the obese . The condition is also associated with other diseases that influence fat metabolism. When this process of fat metabolism is disrupted, the fat can accumulate in the liver in excessive amounts, thus resulting in a fatty liver. (WHAT IS FATTY LIVER?)

You can imagine that I was not thrilled with this diagnosis. To be honest with you, I was not exactly shocked. I already knew I needed to lose weight for health reasons. One of the first things I did was cut sugar out of my diet all together. This included any dessert for the most part. When I craved a sweet, I looked towards recipes that included fruit. I’ll admit it was harder when birthdays came around. I still behaved myself! I was proud of myself; I grew up on coke, and I ended my love affair with it overnight. I haven’t looked back since. My downfall was that I was not actively exercising due to increasing pain.

I was relieved that my pain medication was not affecting my liver. At this point I was prescribed a medication to assist me with losing weight. I knew that I couldn’t count on the medication alone; I had to get up and move around. With chronic pain, it’s very hard to plan out the week, let alone the next day. I used my treadmill, and I went grocery shopping when I could. I kept all my doctor appointments, and little by little I began losing weight. Before long, it was time to get my blood work done. My GP has me do this due to the fact that I practically take a pharmacy worth of medicine every day! Despite all of my efforts, my results came back even worse than before! Within minutes, I went from frustrated to worried. My doctor set up an appointment for me to see a Hepatologist as quickly as they could see me.

A Hepatologist generally only assesses patients after they are referred by their doctor. A hepatologist may also be involved in the follow-up of patients who have received a liver transplant.
Some of the procedures hepatologists are required to perform include the following:
· Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, which is used to diagnose and treat many biliary and pancreatic diseases.
· Transhepatic pancreato-cholangiographywhich is an X-ray used to detect obstruction in the bile ducts or liver.
· Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt, an artificial channel made to create a connection between the portal and hepatic veins. (What is Hepatology?)

I had my first appointment last week. So far, the only test I am set up to do is a Fibro scan on September 1st. Words cannot express how impressed I am with my new doctor. “Everybody has a different level of interest and knowledge, but I find that if patients understand a bit about their conditions and why certain things are happening, they’re more likely to follow our recommendations and get better,’ she says.” “She also takes seriously the role she plays in patients’ lives. My doctor tries to treat patients as if they’re an extension of her family. It is clear just from my first visit that, she will go out of her way to do the best can for her patients. “People trust physicians to be in their lives and care for them – sometimes when they’re at their most vulnerable – and that’s not something I take lightly.”

A few days after my appointment, I went over her notes. She noted that I have NASH, which stands for Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH), in addition to the fatty liver. This is where the term “fatty liver” gets dismissed. I have learned over the past few months, there is no such thing just a “fatty liver.” When you are diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, as I am, it is important to note that:

An association between fibromyalgia and hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been previously described. However, the relationship between nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and fibromyalgia symptoms has not been assessed, though they share several risk factors. We aimed to assess the factors associated with fibromyalgia symptoms across etiologies of liver disease.

In addition to all this new information, I found this could be very beneficial: The Connection Between Fibromyalgia, the Liver and Digestion. Every month to six months, I return to my doctor to get my Hep A and Hep B vaccines. Thank goodness I am not to the point of cirrhosis. This is why I am actively reversing whatever damage I may have done to my liver now.

All of what I’m talking about is not meant to scare anyone or look for sympathy. My doctor told me that I am young enough and that I should be fine. As long as I get serious, and concentrate about what is happening to my body. Frankly, I don’t know how much more serious you can get than taking care of your liver. Have you ever been to a Gastroenterologist, or Hepatologist? I’d love to know about your experiences. Have you ever had your Gallbladder out like me? It’s perfectly fine if you don’t feel comfortable sharing personal details. I love that y’all are starting to leave notes for me to read. It makes me feel so appreciated and supported! Thank you so much!

Please continue to stay safe purple butterflies! Till next time! Be well!

~ Rachel

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