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Heart failure and alcohol problems…

Posted Dec 23 2011 5:43am

My entire social life, for a couple of years now, has come down to one afternoon a week in the pub (as a spoonie with ME, among much else, evenings are written off before they even start).

Then I was diagnosed with heart failure (and later with aortic valve calcification and stenosis (narrowing), since when I’ve been taking diuretics, in the form of Furosemide (Lasix in the colonies), in an attempt to stop my body hoarding fluid as if there was a world shortage.

I debated cutting out the trips  to the pub, as I figured beer would be bad for me. Then I thought, sod it, one day a week won’t kill me, and if it does, I really don’t care that much as, frankly, life sucks and I wasn’t about to give up what amounted to my whole social life, such as it is!

I very quickly noticed, though, that on my normal intake of booze (I don’t drink at home, by the way – just once a week in the pub), that I was getting apocalyptically shitfaced on an amount that would, normally, give me a pretty good buzz.

Nothing I did changed that – changing what I drank, how much I drank (the irredeemably drunk stage was happening at around a mere 4 pints), whether I ate before going out, or while I was out (always a disappointment!), or both – nothing had any effect.

Then, a few days ago, I had what could best be described as an epiphany.

Diuretics come in two basic types. Ones which, like Furosemide, empty out the water plus everything dissolved in it, and ones which retain potassium. But, I thought, suppose Furosemide was slightly discriminating, and left the alcohol behind in the way others leave potassium?

That would mean little or no alcohol would be excreted in my urine, it would hang around in my blood stream, to be slowly processed by my liver – and I would get far more drunk, for the same amount of booze, than I would expect to.

Well, the idea made a desperate sort of sense, and all that remained was to put it to the test, so yesterday I didn’t take my Furosemide and guess what? I was absolutely fine. Pretty well buzzed, admittedly, but for almost the first time this year I left the pub in possession of my faculties.

Also significant, I think, is that today I don’t feel poisoned the way I have on pretty much every Friday this year (because my liver had been overloaded). The downside? Well, yes, there just had to be one, and it’s that I’ve gained a few pounds since yesterday morning – undoubtedly retained fluid – when, had I taken Furosemide, I would have expected to be a few pounds lighter.

OK, once proves little, and further research is required. I’ll also occasionally reintroduce Furosemide as a control (reluctantly, given what might happen), but, so far, it’s looking promising.

I should, of course, attempt to research this online too, though I’d be surprised if it’s actually been looked at as 99.99% of doctors would simply say don’t drink! However, where I live, the available entertainments for adults are the betting shop, bingo, or the pub. Or, I suppose, at my age, pensioners clubs! And if you ever see me setting foot in any but the pub you have my full permission to shoot me!

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