'Alcohol turned my face yellow'

Suzanne, an ex-waitress from Nottingham, nearly died from drink and has damaged her liver so much that drinking again could kill her.

She looks back at the days of her serious drinking and knows how close she came to literally dying for a drink.

“I’d always been a drinker,” says Suzanne, “but when my mum died in my early 30s I started drinking heavily for comfort. I’d start with about six cans of lager in the evening and then move on to sparkling wine. I would drink on my own or when I had company, it didn’t matter. My husband and daughter begged me to stop but I just carried on drinking.

“After a year I had an epileptic fit at work and split my head open. I was admitted to hospital and the doctor said the epileptic fit had happened because of my drinking. But when I got out I just carried on drinking too much alcohol. My life was chaotic. I hardly ate. I wasn’t interested in anything except drink.

Liver damage symptoms

'Hard drinking turned my face yellow and my eyesight was so bad that I couldn’t focus'

“After another year of hard drinking, my face turned yellow – known medically as jaundice – and my eyesight was so bad that I couldn’t focus. These were both signs that something was badly wrong with my liver. I went to hospital and had tests, which showed that I had cirrhosis of the liver. The hospital health team said if I didn’t stop drinking I would die.

“The nurses at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham saved my life. They detoxified me and motivated me to stay off the drink. They also made me realise what a fantastic family I have and that I needed to get better for them as much as for myself.

“I’ve stopped drinking now, but it was incredibly difficult. I’m eating a lot better and no longer have the shakes. These days, when I go to a pub, I just drink orange juice with lemonade. The awful thing is, I’ve got liver damage that will never go away and I know that if I drink again I could kill myself.

“It's possible to get your life back from drink. You need to get good medical help, that’s the first step. But I couldn’t have done it without my family. I regret all the time I missed with them, but we're definitely making up for it now.”

Now, read tips on how to cut down on drinking.

Liver disease

Alcoholic liver disease is a range of conditions and associated symptoms that develop when the liver becomes damaged due to alcohol misuse. In this video, consultant hepatologist Mark Wright talks about how avoiding alcohol can help those with the condition.

Media last reviewed: 19/07/2016

Next review due: 19/07/2019

Page last reviewed: 09/01/2015

Next review due: 09/01/2017

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