Saturday, January 23, 2016

Liver Without Onions

I was diagnosed with fatty liver disease in between Christmas and New Years' Eve 2015. With the diagnosis being so new, I have been learning a lot the past few weeks about it, about what I can do, and why I got it.

Diagnosis. I went in to see the doctor mid-December because I felt a lump with pain in my breast. I first noticed it during my menstrual cycle the week before, in the middle of the night. The pain was pretty startling, enough to wake me up. That is always scary, and even more so since we had lost a dear friend to triple negative breast cancer just 4 months prior. So I went to get a checkup at the urging of my husband.

Because it was near my sternum, I got both a breast ultrasound (not a mammogram, don't get me started on how they tried to get me to do a mammogram, it still infuriates me) and then an upper abdominal ultrasound. Because the area around the lump was super tender, the upper abdominal ultrasound was a smart move.

The breast issue? Turns out it is nothing to be worried about, thankfully. But the upper ultrasound saw something going on with my liver. Somewhat unexpected, but nonetheless, they couldn't fully diagnose it with just the ultrasound. So we went on to get a CT scan.

I don't like exposing myself unnecessarily to radiation. I really get sick in the presence of it (hence me almost passing out as we walked in the CT scan room -- I physically felt as if the wind had been knocked out of me and couldn't get a breathe. I stepped out and I was fine. Stepped in and whoosh! Sort of like the Twilight Zone. Anyway, that is also the reason why I refused a mammogram. I really am not at high risk for breast cancer. I take care of myself, and don't have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutations (I got tested because of the history of ovarian cancer in my family).

But I went and scheduled a CT scan because there is a time and place for it, and this was it. I did the preparations and detoxing afterward, so that it wouldn't affect me long term (iodine, spirulina, zeolite, clay and my detox foot pads).

The results came back the next day -- Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. It is at a moderate level.

And of course, since that diagnosis I have felt a dull ache in my right side. I know it is psychological, but nonetheless, you know how you favor something? Well I am favoring my liver now! hah. Sleeping on my left side, being gentle as if it will break.

This disease normally has certain risk attributes:

1) High triglycerides or LDL cholesterol. My test earlier this year had my triglycerides at 72. Amazing! My cholesterol has been great as well.

2) Diabetes. Nope, not me. I have amazing blood glucose levels and only have reactive hypoglycemia episodes (unrelated to diet) when I go without eating too long.

3) Overweight. I am overweight now. First time really in my life. The last year or so I have been gaining slowly but steadily, and I believe it is because of my liver! It processes the hormones that control the metabolism. I was already aware I have hormone issues, but have been trying to correct them without success.

4) Elevated liver enzymes. AST, ALT and GGT. I have no clue what they stand for, but mine are smack dab in the middle of the range. Not elevated at all and haven't been in the past 18 months that I have test results for.

5) High carb / processed food diet. Nope. Not me. Not at all. I eat a pretty good diet and most of it is not processed. This is one thing I have going for me.

So why do I have this disease? I have none of the risk factors, none of the other typical symptoms that the doctors would have caught based on lab results.

I had an appointment with my naturopathic medical doctor, and he mentioned fructose.  There is a connection between fructose and fatty liver, he told me. And so while I eat healthy, many foods that I eat are high in fructose, including raw honey, fresh fruits, sweet potatoes, etc.

So there was a connection. This might be it.

I did further research after my appointment, and found there were genes associated with fructose intolerance. The ALDOB gene is one of them, and I looked up my raw data on 23andme and found that I have mutations in those genes.

There are other genes that they have connected to NAFLD and I also have mutations on those genes, but only heterozygous (one risk allele, not two). So I don't know if that is related at all.

It makes me feel a little better that I didn't cause this disease myself. That it was out of my control, at least to the point where I didn't damage myself because of poor habits.

Treatment. There are a few courses of action we are taking.

1) Low fructose diet. I am actually shooting for a NO fructose diet. I started about 9 days ago. It is a bit difficult, but I feel it will be worth it. I have printed out charts and tables on fructose content and have to do a lot of math because many charts show the content of 100 grams of that particular food... and so I have to figure out a serving size, then MY serving size (which is always different) to determine if I can eat the food or not. For example, it shows how many grams of fructose are in 3 cherries. Who eats only three cherries? Not me! They are delicious and I can't stop eating them once I start. So, no more cherries for me (sad cry right here).

2) Supplements. These include:

3) Castor oil pack.

4) Liver Flush. Today I am doing a liver cleanse. It is Dr. Hulda Clark's protocol and should get 500 to 2,000 "liver stones" or "gall stones" out. I have done this before and it is not pleasant. But I really want to help my liver. 

It is basically a 2-day process. The first day you don't eat any fat at all (this is harder than it looks, but is doable).  It will build up the pressure in the bile ducts. Then that evening, you drink epsom salt water, at 6pm and 8pm, to clean out your bowels.

Right before bed, you drink a concoction of grapefuit juice (to soften the stones) and then olive oil. You mix about half a cup of olive oil to half a cup of freshly squeezed grapefuit juice. (I don't like grapefruit juice but it will taste awesome tonight I am sure).

Sometime in the morning you will have to go to the bathroom. A lot. About every 5-10 minutes. And what we call it is "butt pee". HAHA! And lots of stones will be coming out as well. The force of the olive oil triggering the biliary ducts to just shoot everything out, will be the reason why this will happen.

I have done this before, a few times, but the last time was about 8 years ago. This will help clean out the liver so that it can function better. And that is what I need.

When my liver functions better, I hope to be able to process my hormones properly, so that my metabolism will increase, so that I can lose the 30 pounds that I need to lose, to get back to where I was before my liver issues started.

So I am looking forward with hope. I am not looking at this as a potential death sentence. Fatty liver can end up scarring your liver and turning into cirrhosis, which can lead to liver failure, and death in 10% of the people with it! No. Not me. I have hope that I can do these things and FIX this.

Dr. Google says there is no cure.

I don't believe that.