At the age of 35, a U.K. woman named Jo looked every bit the pregnant woman ready to pop. Strangers on the bus would give up their seats for her or ask when she was due. However, Jo was not pregnant.
The “baby bump” was actually the result of her terrifying addiction to alcohol.
After working in a bar for years, Jo fell victim to the temptations that constantly surrounded her. She developed an alcohol dependence that grew more severe over the course of five years, to the point she was drinking at least three bottles of wine every day. The excessive drinking damaged her liver. Nutrients that would otherwise be processed by the liver built up inside her abdomen.
When cirrhosis of the liver occurs, scar tissue replaces healthy tissue. As a result, Jo developed fluid retention that made her look pregnant. Every three weeks, she had to make a hospital trip and get the fluid drained. It was a painful procedure during which a needle and catheter were inserted into her body.
Thankfully, Jo got sober — but the liver damage was permanent. In between hospital visits, the fluid retention was so uncomfortable that she struggled to walk or dress herself. She moved back in with her mother who took care of her.
Jo’s story serves as a powerful and scary reminder of what can happen in the face of alcohol abuse, and the damage it can cause to one’s body.
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