My liver broke up with me
My liver broke up with me. It was a traumatic experience. All those nights spent together, the holidays, the promises to care for each other forever and ever…and it broke up with me. Elizabeth Pratt Reports.
Now before you jump to conclusions I should clarify that I am not a raging alcoholic with an axe to grind against my “ungrateful” ex. It was simply bad genetic luck that led to this inevitable break up. Tragic, isn’t it?
Well, I can think of something even more tragic. The fact of the matter is that Australians just aren’t treating their livers properly…and on average, we just don’t care.
When it comes to liver health the common misconception is that the only people who should be concerned are those who like to drink. Wrong.
Another misconception is that even if hypothetically your liver was to succumb to liver disease…that would only happen in old age, or at least after you hit 40, right? Wrong again.
Liver disease can affect anyone, any age, any time. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never had a drink in your life and you’re only in your 20’s, it can still happen…and it does.
There are two million Australians who are, or have been, affected by liver disease and in many cases (though not always), the cause of liver disease can be preventable. Over use of medications like paracetamol, a diet of foods high in fat or salt and damages from alcohol consumption can all contribute to the gradual break down in function of the liver, gall bladder and bile ducts.
So if you’ve ever taken paracetamol, eaten fast food or had a drink, you should start thinking about the health of your liver.
Nobody likes break ups. They’re messy, they’re upsetting and more often than not they force you to confront your flaws. But breaking up with your partner is nowhere near as bad as breaking up with your liver.
The liver performs over 500 functions in the human body. It helps process food, removes toxins from the body, creates bile to assist in digestion and keeps our metabolism in check. It’s a bit of an unsung hero and without it we’d die.
For some people liver disease will strike without an apparent cause, but for many others, liver disease can be treatable and preventable, and this is why Australians should start addressing liver health as a priority.
We’ve all heard the jokes about Friday night; when you have a few beers at your mate’s housewarming. Saturday; when you roll hung-over out of bed and eat a breakfast of deep fried food (because it’s the perfect hangover remedy, naturally) and Sunday; when you took a Panadol or two to get rid of the headache and then went to a champagne brunch. Thank goodness we all have an opportunity to laugh at our messy weekends…over Monday night drinks after work of course.
It’s very easy to fall into habits that will ultimately damage your liver, but it’s even easier to make simple changes that will literally make a lifetime of difference.
You can still go to the pub every week to catch up with friends; but swap the champagne for lemonade, swap the schnitzel for a salad.
You can still have a great time at your 21st or your 30th,but limit the amount of alcohol and provide mocktails, non-alcoholic punch or sparkling mineral water as an alternative. You’ll be able to remember the entire night, wake up the next morning feeling great and still feel sophisticated holding a cocktail glass…and your liver can breathe a sigh of relief safe in the knowledge that it won’t be taking another kicking.
Naturally, you don’t have to make any changes if you don’t want to. You might think you have the perfect relationship with your liver and you’ll live long and happy lives into your retirement. But it’s a fairly safe bet to say that you’re probably still in the honeymoon period, and you might very well be in denial.
The reality is that making simple changes could save you from a whole host of inconveniences.
Hours spent in specialist waiting rooms, regular blood tests, biopsies and an inability to easily digest foods or drink alcohol are some of the minor inconveniences you could face if you don’t start taking your liver seriously.
Months spent waiting around for an organ donation, increased risk of liver cancer, a lifetime spent on medication and a shortened life span are some of the very serious and very real consequences you could face if confronted with liver disease.
My liver and I are working out our differences and I hope that in time a cure will be found for liver disease so we can go back to the happy honeymoon period. Even though in my case there was nothing I could have done to stop it, I will never take my liver for granted again, it really is an unsung hero.
So here I propose a toast.
Take a moment, raise your glasses (of mineral water) and give it up for the liver. We couldn’t live without you.