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03/02/2012 03:58 PM

My friend has Cirrhosis but drinks and lies

Posts: 8
New Member


I'm so glad I found this support forum because I have many questions and I hope others who have been at this place can offer some advice. I'll try not to give out too much long and drawn out info, my friend was diagnosed with cirrhosis last summer (probably longer ago than that - she was ill for a long time and I have since learned that she has been lying to me about it all along). I know alcoholism is an illness, an addiction. I struggle with drinking myself. I have tried to be supportive and empathetic, I have gone crazy with worry every time she has almost died (two times in the past 6 months). She had ascites, she ruptured blood vessels because of portal vein backup and blood spewed from her mouth and she would have bled out if she had been alone. She lost, like 6 pints of blood or something - it was a lot - and had to have a transfusion. Her skin and eyes were yellow, she looked 8 months pregnant but her arms and legs were very thin. It is classic, I was so afraid she would slip into a coma at any minute. I was three hours away, and was terrified for her every time.

She somewhat recovered but I have now learned she is drinking again. She has Hepatic Encephalothopy with ammonia building up in her brain. She actually had to be "rescued" twice from PA where she gotten had a job, the third job she has gotten up there because she was fired from two others because of drinking (but of course lied to me about why she had to change jobs). No one wanted her to go that far away but she did it anyway and left her daughter here to be "mothered" by her sister, and now is taking advantage of it. In PA, she was hallucinating and it was so bizarre. I spoke to her when she was in the midst of it and it scared me so bad I called her sister and that's how I finally found out the REAL story. Someone had to fly up there two times in six weeks, at their own expense, to drive her back to Texas. She insists she could have driven herself (although she was having visions of cars driving right at her when she was on the road!). Would not allow an ambulance that her family called to take her to the hospital, just flat out refused to go.

Now I hear she has been drinking and says her doctor told her it's OK to have wine "here and there". WHAT DOCTOR WOULD TELL AN ALCOHOLIC WITH CIRRHOSIS THAT IT'S OK TO DRINK!!! I find this impossible to believe. She says her liver is doing great, it's all hunky dory! She says it's working so well that it's pushing the ammonia out into her brain and so she is on Lactulose. (I have read about the ammonia situation and this does not completely ring true, isn't it more so because the liver can't process the blood to filter the ammonia because of too much scar tissue and damage?) She says the hallucinations were because her doctor mistakenly told her to take the Lactulose every day, and it caused her to have NO ammonia in her brain at all so she hallucinated. I cannot find anything online to back up this story either. Her family told me they aren't allowed to discuss anything with her doctor, but she lies about that to me and says they are the ones who are lying.

I called her today and told her I knew she had been lying to me and that I was concerned that her sister told me she was drinking. She went off on me, flew into a tirade and called everyone a hypocrite and called me a BAD FRIEND. She railed on me for 10 minutes and hung up on me. I have been there for her for 15 years through all her trials and tribulations and I will not stand by and watch her voluntarily kill herself. I didn't get a word in edgewise. I couldn't even tell her that I know know about other things she has lied about - like being fired from two jobs - and that I believe her sister. Her sister has NO reason to lie to me!

I then got a vicious e mail from her, throwing a massive guilt trip on me. I am wondering how to respond, if at all. I don't want to separate myself from her - what if she dies? And I know she will. But I cannot pretend to go along with her BS (excuse me, but she is full of it at this point) and be a part of her pity party and act like I believe her. I am fed up with it because I know she has been lying to me for 5 years. (We don't live in the same city, so it's mostly phone conversations so she can SAY whatever she wants and I have no way of knowing.) But she came to my house for Thanksgiving three years ago with tremors, enlarged pupils, said weird things, got extremely wasted, basically acted bizarre and blamed it on a brain tumor! So, why am I the bad friend? She's the one lying! How stupid does she think I am, anyway? I googled everything she has told me and what she says does NOT add up with the facts that I have found.

Her daughter recently told a family friend "I don't know why you think you can help Mom. She will always drink, she will always lie." She is 13. Her father died 4 years ago from pancreatic cancer (also an alchoholic), and she had not been a part of his life since she was 3. I feel so bad for her, it breaks my heart! But I cannot keep getting these emergency calls and living this drama, having this worry, crying and watching her kill herself and expecting me to pat her on the back and say, "there, there". I think she is being selfish and manipulative, and while I want to support her, I can't be a hypocrite. I can only pray for her.

Any advice on what I should do? I am full of emotions...thank you so much...


03/02/2012 04:05 PM
Posts: 8
New Member

Also, I have another lifelong friend who was just diagnosed with cancer and it has spread to her liver and bones. She is fighting for her life and so it makes my other friend's refusal to help herself even harder to watch.

03/02/2012 07:41 PM
Posts: 339

It sounds to me like you have done everything possible in your part.

The saying " You can bring a horse to water, but you can't make him drink" applies.

She is probably not going to stop drinking, until she finds herself in the hospital for a long time, or dies.

Her liying is just to give herself permission to drink.

You have done the best you could.

She is lucky to have you as a friend.

Good luck.


03/03/2012 06:38 AM
Posts: 3275
VIP Member
I'm an Advocate


Sammy is right there really isn't much you can do for her.

The lies probably are just to cover her own fears. denial is common with any life threating disease with alcohol also involved it's so much worse. The truth is her daughter is probably right.

Of course what she is saying about the ammonia is not true. She should be taking enough Lactulose to cause 2 to 3 loose stools per day. And the Brain doesn't need ammonia to prevent hallucinations . The ammonia causes hallucinations.

Knowing alcoholism is a disease doesn't make it any more pleasant to deal with.

All you can do is be there But only to the point where you can handle it. Everyone has a line they can't cross. you have to decide how far you can go. Setting limits is not being a bad friend.


03/03/2012 09:25 AM
Posts: 8
New Member

Thank you both so much. It helps to know that her explanation of her hallucinations is indeed false. You have helped me find some peace with this, because I truly didn't want to abandon her. I had a dream last night about a friend being in a room that I knew was going to catch fire, and I didn't warn her at first because I knew she wasn't ready to leave the room. When I finally said, you have to go now and I opened the door, it was a sea of fire and she was gone. I woke up in a cold sweat thinking about her. Thank you for telling me it's ok to set boundaries, if I can't help her I have to do it. I can only keep praying for her.

03/03/2012 11:15 AM
Posts: 942


Like the others have are NOT a bad friend. An alcoholic will not stop drinking until they do it 100% for themselves only. In AA, often it is said that some alcoholics end up institutionalized or dead from their disease and that without sobriety most will end that way. Perhaps as unbeleivable as it sounds your friend hasn't hit bottom yet.

Be a good friend to YOURSELF right now...don't let her hurt you over and over, it is her disease lashing out at you.

Best wishes


03/03/2012 09:10 PM
Posts: 1181
Senior Member

Cat - I echo what Marg said - couldn't have said it better myself - I'm 6 months sober...Transplant Eval end of March. Hang in there - and my prayers go out for you both. Ru

03/04/2012 03:56 PM
Posts: 201

Hi catNAustin,

I am so sorry for what you are going through, My best friend for 25 plus yrs is a raging alcoholic as is my mother that I take care of now (Alcoholic cirrhosis, primary billary cirrhosis and HE)...As hard as it is to watch, you can't make grown folks do anything...Alcoholics and addicts in general will do what they want, good for them or not. All you can do is tell her that you love her and when she is ready for help you will be there. Try not to get dragged into the drama of the disease. It is hard and heartbreaking, I went to my friends house for 6 weeks last summer to help her through the death of her mom. Traveled 1300 miles twice (FL to NJ and back 2x), first drove up for 2 weeks and then flew back a week after coming home. It was brutal honestly, she blacked out everynight, I had to put her to bed, she fell and banged herself up and remembered nothing, tried to cut her boyfriend with broken glass. almost got into a fist fight with me. Cries unconsolably night after night anfter night...collapsed in the street and had to be carried home, etc.

Since I left she has been arrested, charged with domestic violence and battery on an officer and hospitalized twice, once for suicide and once for fighting the cop and then collapsing. I love her and all this really rips my heart out, but she has to help herself...she is still drinking, and actually landed some work as a home health aid (right????) but she is showing a bit more stability, though the court dates are coming up.

Good luck to you and your friend, I know it is so hard, but take care of yourself and try to let her do the same. BTW, I know all about the lying, my mother hasn't 'drank' since 2003 and she lies to me daily about everything...stay strong. Big hugs.

03/06/2012 07:24 AM
Posts: 8
New Member

@Krishemp - It looks like your friend might end up in jail, which is sad, because she really just needs help. Sometimes free will works against us, especially when we use our own free will to harm ourselves over and over again. Traveling so far twice to help her was a great thing that you did; it's hard to lose your mom and it obviously set her back even more. I hope that she will somehow figure it out, I know that it's easy to slip into a dependence on alcohol (been there, done that!) and even harder to keep it in check.

@Ruth - Congratulations are in order for you, I am so happy for you and I will pray that you get that transplant!!! Stay strong!

@sadly - how right you are, I have to keep reminding myself that it is her disease talking, not her. Because if I thought it was actually her, all of her vicious comments and her tone of voice coming back at me the ONE time I challenged her would have made me say, good riddance. I didn't reply to her "writing off our friendship" e mail, but yesterday her sister called me and said that my friend had just told her that we had a "fight", but she was vague about what started the "fight". (I have "fight" in quotes because she basically fought with herself and cut me off every time I opened my mouth). However, and I quote, she said that I "...YELLED at her, and she couldn't get a word in edgewise so SHE hung up!" IT WAS TOTALLY THE OPPOSITE! Fortunately, her sister has known her long enough to know the truth. I would like to be honorable and say it just hurt my feelings, but it really ticked me off!

@Mpmom - I have taken the step to set limits, thanks to the sound advice of everyone here. I agree that it's denial - guess what, in her email to me, she said "YOU may say it's denial, but my doctor said..." well, I NEVER said she was in denial (she wouldn't let me talk!) but obviously SOMEONE else has, or she deep down, knows it herself. (Also, is the mp in mom because your child is in the military? Thank him/her for their service, I'm reading "Seal Team Six" and "A Table in The Presence" and it reminds me to be so thankful for our military.

Here's an update if you are interested Smile . My friend had to put her 14 year old dog down last weekend, and I was sick that I couldn't be there for her. But she sent me and two other friends - that said she has also "written off" - a picture of the dog, with a short message that he was gone. I do see this as manipulation, another "feel sorry for me" move, and I was not surprised to be included in the list of friends she considers EX-friends.

But I replied with an e mail telling her that I was sorry and that I would pray for her and that I would talk about my faith any time should she want to hear. But I also told her that I had learned much about her disease and that I knew things she was telling me were questionable. (No big details, if she wants to talk abou them, she can call me.) I told her that she was hurting her family and herself, but there was nothing I could do to stop that and that I could NOT stand by and be her "go-to girl for sympathy friend" when she was near death or in crisis if that meant I had to also watch her continue to drink and self destruct without saying anything. It was very difficult to write. But in my own family I have had to watch people struggle with addictions over and over again. It is a horrible thing to be sucked into the vortex. This time, I have a choice to make a stand. I hope that it somehow gets through to her. I'm not very hopeful.

Blessings to you all today!

03/06/2012 05:54 PM
Posts: 100

My Daughter had to go into liver failure to finally stop drinking. She is now three months sober. I had paid for two private rehabs and she had been in two county supported programs. All failed. I am here for her and it is a joy to finally be able to help and to make a difference. If she relapses I will drop her off to detox and "let go and let God".

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