That was the diagnosis, in all its Latin, fear-inducing glory. “Heretic what now?” we asked Google.
“Fatty liver”, Google sighed and suggested some further reading. My throat caught. Fatty liver was something to do with cirrhosis and with alcoholism and with dying in a gutter, choking on your own vomit. Partner 2 ignored me and referred instead to Wikipedia, in this case a more credible source.
“Huh, that’d be all the beer then,” he summarised and closed the tab.
Unsatisfied with his response, I sent my Mum a message. “partner 2 has fatty liver!!!”.
Thank you, that’s much better. Reaction justified, I continued indulging in a bit of panic and existentialism. Maybe we’re not invincible? Maybe we won’t live forever? Unthinkable.
Fortunately, some obsessive-compulsive reading was enough to dispel me of these ridiculous notions. As it would happen, my initial reaction had granules of truth to it. Fatty liver can progress into cirrhosis… in one or two percent of patient over 20 years. Admittedly, we’ve made some safe assumptions about our resident fatty liver being alcohol-related, seeing as diabetes, weight, diet and pregnancy can all be pretty much ruled out.
From my Google-acquired understand, Hepatic Steatosis, or fatty liver, is the first stage of an unhappy liver: there’s no inflammation just a bit of fat build-up. The next stage is steatohepatitis which is when there’s inflammation resulting from the toxin build-up. There’s various grades of steatohepatitis and a much higher chance of progressing to cirrhosis, which is scarring of the liver: irreparable damage.
The liver though, bless its squishy, brown cotton socks, has a remarkable ability to heal and repair itself. It rebuilds new cells when the old ones are damaged, clever organ, if only the brain was that smart. Apparently, the fat can disappear within six weeks of not drinking, or not damaging your liver any further.
This prompted the inaugural “No-vember”, as in no beer, no whisky, no drinking etc… No-vember commences on November 2 (Halloween party! Come on!) and runs through until December 5 (Christmas party!). This gives fatty the liver a chance to get in shape and get swimsuit-ready for the festive season, when he will no doubt get fatty once again. But won’t we all!
So as No-vember draws frighteningly close, I am made aware of the fact that we’re not 18 anymore and that maybe sinking a six-pack of beer on a Friday is not necessarily the best way to spend calories/time. Who’d have thought?
In the interest of perpetuating the over-dramatic tone of this post, I’ll end with a thought about drinking from, who else, but Charles Bukowski in an interview in 1974.
“Drinking is an emotional thing. It joggles you out of the standardism of everyday life, out of everything being the same. It yanks you out of your body and your mind and throws you against the wall. I have the feeling that drinking is a form of suicide where you’re allowed to return to life and begin all over the next day. It’s like killing yourself, and then you’re reborn. I guess I’ve lived about ten or fifteen thousand lives now.”
This is about living ten or fifteen thousand more. Happy No-vember.