We Need to Talk about Your Liver with Karla Adkins: A story of recovery and freedom from drinking and liver disease.

Episode 80 September 21, 2022 00:47:47
We Need to Talk about Your Liver with Karla Adkins: A story of recovery and freedom from drinking and liver disease.
Alcohol Tipping Point
We Need to Talk about Your Liver with Karla Adkins: A story of recovery and freedom from drinking and liver disease.

Sep 21 2022 | 00:47:47

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Hosted By

Deb Masner

Show Notes

Karla Adkins is a Certified Senior Coach through This Naked Mind, and the author of And She Came Tumbling Down- Breaking the bonds of alcohol and creating a life of freedom.  

Karla is on a health journey and proudly 8 years alcohol free. She bravely shares her story of drinking, quitting, and living with cirrhosis of the liver. Karla’s eyes are no longer tinged with the dull yellow of shame, secrets, and sickness but bright white with hope, light and healing.  

If you are scared about the health consequences of your drinking, please listen to this inspiring episode, read Karla's book, and know that there is hope and healing. 

We talk about: 

Find Karla: 

Listen to the Alcohol Tipping Point episode on liver and alcohol: Alcohol Tipping Point: Day 5 of the 7 Day Alcohol Free Challenge: Alcohol and your liver on Apple Podcasts 

Free resources from Alcohol Tipping Point:      

Find Alcohol Tipping Point at:      

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And, if you're ever in Boise, Idaho let's meet for a real-life coffee. Thank you so much!!! 

 

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Episode Transcript

Pod 80 Karla Adkins Deb: Welcome back to the alcohol tipping point podcast. I am your host, Deb Masner. I am a registered nurse health coach and alcohol free badass. And today on the show I have Karla Adkins. Karla is a certified senior coach through this naked mind and she's the author of a newly released book called “and she came tumbling down.Breaking the bonds of alcohol and creating a life of freedom.” So welcome Carla, to this show. I'm so delighted to have you. Karla: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here. Deb: Yeah, I, I was saying earlier, before we started recording that I read a lot of Quit lit and I just, I loved your book. It was just, it was well written. It, it took some deep dives into topics we don't always get into like about liver disease and our relat. With our healthcare providers and hospitalizations in a different way. And, and then it just had so much hope and whatnot. So I, I would definitely recommend this book and she came tumbling down. So thank you. Thank Karla: you. I like I shared with you. I, I really, I love quit lit too. And so I stayed away from reading it while I was writing, because I really needed it's my story, you know, and I, I just needed to stick to that and, and I knew it was important because the details and people will see themselves or see a loved one. As I tell my story and it, and it really helps normalize this and helps most importantly start to remove the shame around from this topic. Deb: Yeah. Well, before we kind of dive in, can you just add to who you are and what you do? Karla: Yes, I'm Carla Atkins. I am a senior coach with this naked mind. I found this naked mind as I was on my healing journey this past Saturday, September. 10th was eight years for me being on this, I call it my health journey, cuz that's ultimately what it was for me. And, you know, as I, I had so many questions, so many questions about how to do this. And so I found this naked mind their podcast and reached out and immediately. I wanted to do something with my story. And at the beginning of my process, and even as the process of studying to become a coach, I still carry shame. Especially around my diagnosis of cirrhosis. And I work with my own coach. I think all coaches, we need to have a coach. Right. She helped me look into that. Into that closet. I didn't wanna open. And that's where I've really, you know, knew I needed to share my story. I love coaching others. I'm a coach in a group called the zero proof life. It's a group of other senior coaches with the snake in mind where we talk about like the next steps after you stopped drinking, cuz it's, you're, you know, being exposed to a whole new world when you've stopped numbing. So we dive into that in a beautiful way. And we also do zero proof, five challenges where we do six week challenges to help people start the process of walking away from alcohol. I'm a wife and a mom and those are my biggest. And I love being able to again, be present for them. And yeah, that's it. So that's a little bit of wrap up of who I am. I live in South Carolina on the coast of South Carolina. Oh, I've Deb: always wanted to go to the coast of the Carolinas. Karla: It's beautiful. I live in a place called Poly's island. It's a small it's north of Charleston, South Carolina. Deb: Ooh. Okay. Bucket Karla: list. yes, it's beautiful. You have to let me know if you come. I will. Deb: I will. Cool. Well, can you share what your experience was with Karla: drinking? Sure. I mean, it, it goes way back and I, I would really say, obviously, I think I started some in high school. You know, my sisters and I will talk now and cringe at. Stories of, you know, sneaking around and drinking. But again, all of that I always thought was just normal. I would say in college is where it started to become an issue and really not because of the amount of drinking, but that's when I can look back and realize that's when I started giving alcohol a job. and that to me is, is a big root of how I found healing and too, from it is really seeing each role that I gave alcohol and really having to pull those layers back and debunk it and realize what it was really doing. But I really struggled with anxiety and I had started that started in high school for me. And I, I say in the book in college, it, it came along with me and packed its a game mm-hmm back then. We didn't talk about anxiety as much as we do now. It, I knew about it. I didn't know how physical it was. I didn't understand it. And it definitely made me feel different from other people. I thought I was. Strange and weird. And why couldn't I just relax? That's one of my favorite things by the way, when people will say just relax and that's why you wanna yeah. Roll your eyes at that one, because I didn't know how to, you know, I didn't know what was going on. I tried to get help. But it started, you know, kind of weaving its way into my life and, you know, I would have it while I was driving. I would have panic attacks and grocery stores. I would have panic attacks and malls. And so for me, the way anxiety worked is when I would have, you know, a highly anxious moment, panic attack in a certain place. And. Place became scary to me. It's like your body is this amazing thing your brain remembers. And so all of a sudden this simple place of the grocery store was it was a huge challenge for me to go and doing all this while trying to be, you know, a normal kid in college. And, you know, going to school and working and, and figure out life and really try and manage this anxiety. And it was a lot harder and I look back and have a lot of grace for myself. Cause quite honestly, I, I don't know how I did it. But that's also, like I said, where I started to put two and two together of, you know, drinking, which we say is, you know, normal. For kids in college. Right. Which, you know, Deb, I'm sure you probably feel similar to me now, everything that I know about alcohol and what it does to the brain. And it's just, it's so crazy to me that we just think that that's a really normal time for, Hey kids with forming brains. This is when you really wanna PO yourself with alcohol, but that's a, a different topic from a different day. It's where my brain started to attach the fact that man, this, you know, this helps me feel a little more normal. And I say that because I did feel so different with my anxiety and alcohol will work initially at those things. So it did make me feel like it relaxed me some and I could socialize. Feeling so different and anxious all the time. But again, that's what I look back on my drinking story, where I see the problem where I didn't see it as a problem, but I can now looking back, look at it and go, wow. That's where it really started to grab a hold because I gave it a job. And and I think that's a, when I describe that to people, it can, it makes sense. And then I it's really starting to learn how many jobs I started to give it. So. But that's and, and, you know, again, my drinking story then just continued again, just thinking it was normal and but also never really asking myself, okay, Carla, is your anxiety going away? Because if we really stop to ask ourselves those really if important questions and realize, okay, it's not, I, I really, again, if I, especially at the end of my drinking, if Alcohol helped with anxiety. I would've been the calmest person in the room, you know, but it was so intense, but I believed so strongly that it's the thing that helped me. And I think it's the dangerous mixture of, okay. Like it's an addictive, highly addictive substance, and then we're using it to again, in our life as a tool. And that's where I think a lot of people get into trouble. Deb: Yeah, so common, you know, just having the culture that you're part of having the alcohol be the norm, and then also having alcohol, taking the job of relieving your Karla: anxiety. Yes. Yes. And again, I think that's, again, a lot of people give it several different jobs. That was the main thing for me. And again, as you get older, stress is always gonna come. Life's gonna throw you curve balls and you hear all the time. You can hear it in, you know, the commercials that you see on TV, you see it in the books that you read. You know, you can see that. Again, this boozy culture that we live in, we've been, those seeds have been planted for us for a very long time. The fact that this belief that alcohol helps for these certain roles, alcohol helps when you're sad. Alcohol helps when you are stressed, alcohol helps when you're angry, alcohol helps you sleep and relax and sleep and you know, never challenging. and asking, okay. Is the science true around that? What does the science say? So, you know, again, as I kept moving forward, alcohol, just, just like anxiety did. Alcohol started to weave its way in my life. And, you know was a part of my, my norm. But again, I was working, I was thriving and doing well. And of course I would have my wine at night, which again, that whole picture to me was the picture of a normal life. And so I will say this though. I, I think I always worried because I had always been taught. There's like this line in the sand. It's why I. Struggle. So greatly. I have a, with the word alcoholic and because I think it creates this line in the sand. It creates this us versus them concept of some people can drink and some people can't. And so what I spent my time doing is kind of fighting against that word and trying to just prove myself wrong. Well, I'm not that. Right. Like, I've never lost my job. I've never gotten a DUI. You know, we, you have these lists in your head of that belief of what that word means. And listen, that sounded miserable to me. I, I was gonna do whatever I could to not be that. And again, my parents were just teaching me what they had been taught, what they believed to be true. And I think I just knew I didn't want that. I didn't wanna have that thing. And so I would do whatever it took to not. And so I, as you know, time went on, I definitely worried more about my drinking. And of course this is everything I kept all of that to myself. You know, we, we mentioned earlier, before we started recording just the. Role that shame plays. And it it's such an anchor when it comes to this in drinking, because there's so much shame of why me, why am I different? And I had already had that with anxiety. So I felt like this was this. Double whammy of Carla is different. And now I have this thing that I'm worried about. And so I really tried whatever I could to stop. I put rules around my drinking, you know, just drinking, you know, five o'clock or just drinking certain types of alcohol. And I did give it up, you know, for like lent a few times and just to prove to myself that. I was okay. And again, meanwhile, never asking myself, how is it, how am I doing? How is it really serving me? And I'm giving alcohol these jobs. You know, if I was the boss in that situation and I was giving it a review, was I really challenging? What alcohol and how it was actually doing what it was actually doing for me. And I never challenged it. I just always wanted to be this normal drinker. And I and again, that's why I'm so passionate now about really, really challenging the narrative that we've all been taught in, changing the. And understanding, you know, that we've gotta stop looking at the person so much and really start to understand and look at the substance. And what is that thing that I wanna drink so bad? What is that? You know, thing that I think is helping me and asking myself if it really was. Deb: Yeah, I think that is so key. I mean, that sounds similar to myself too, where I was like, justifying my drinking and like, no, I'm a normal drinker. I can take breaks. I can quote unquote moderate. Like I'm not an alcoholic and doing everything I could just to avoid that. And I appreciate how, you know, the medical community. Now recognized it's and has for years, decade, even that it's alcohol use disorder and it's on a spectrum and it's goes from mild to moderate, to severe, and you don't have to call yourself an alcoholic and really put yourself in that box. And that box that keeps people from getting help. Karla: Yes. And we've gotta talk about that more because I think there's so many people that still use it. And I honestly, I, I have a physical reaction in my body when people say it and it's truly just because I see the damage that that word does. I've seen people where it's like, well, I'm, I'm, I'm not that though. And it's like, if we could just remove that word mm-hmm , which, like you said, it has been, but most people do not know that, that, you know That, you know, medically speaking that isn't in the books anymore, and it is alcohol use disorder, which makes so much more sense. There's an illustration in the book that I worked on with this woman, Chrissy Bonner. She's amazing. And what I loved about the person that did the illustrations for the book was that she had. Just recently challenged her relationship with alcohol. Mm. And so as an illustrator, she knew and could feel exactly what I was talking about. And there's a, a picture in there of like traditional thoughts of what normal quote unquote drinking is, and then the alcoholic. And it's just this. You know, clear line there of what that is. And it is so not true. If you look at the world and the person that struggles, there's such a huge spectrum. And also the person at the end of the spectrum is not all is not gonna be that person on the street, you know, with the bottle in their hand that you have. Picture of that a lot of people have, and it's not necessarily true. And so that's also dangerous. It's dangerous because so many people are drinking this addictive substance that is. Massively impacting people's health. And we, we definitely saw that. We're still seeing, I think medically, they are still seeing the, the impact of the pandemic in people's drinking and what it did to people's health. But I, we just uh, we have to start talking about it more and more. So it's the norm alcohol use disorder, and again, it makes a lot more sense and you know what, it makes it a lot more Easy to talk about. We have got to stop having this be a hard conversation. This shouldn't be, and, and it's a hard conversation because society has made it that you know, where it has to be this intervention where, okay, you're, you're this and pointing the finger and you have to stop. Instead of God, we gotta create a safe space where someone could say, you know what? I'm really worried about my drinking. I'm starting to really worry about my drinking without the fear of being label. You know, it, that, that fear, that label, that line has created the silence and the shame. So no one has a place to a safe place to talk about it. And then before they know it, they're in trouble. You know, and that's the picture that I see for myself, you know, just trying desperately internally to fix this thing. Cause I didn't know where to go and who to talk to. You know, and I did try at some point to talk to, you know, my physician and you know, we've gotta remember healthcare providers are brought up and have a lot of the same beliefs around alcohol that anybody else does. You know, they're watching the same TV programs where the guy gets off at night and. Cracks open up year, they're reading the same books. They're seeing the same social media. They have this many times the same beliefs. My goodness. A lot of people, you know, are how do they get through the stress of medical school? There's a lot of people that are drinking and struggling and it, healthcare provider doesn't make them immune, you know, and I know that. It's it's, it's hard and it's a hard topic for them to tackle. And that's why I really want to, and, and, you know, to continue this conversation with them, because as much as I had healthcare, healthcare providers that, you know, some did judge me and some did look at me in a different way, but for the most part, there was people that really wanted to help me. And, you know, two physicians that had a massive impact. On my journey in such a beautiful way. And so it showed me like the level of impact that they can have. And a lot of times that's just gonna be, you know, changing the conversation up in that room. Oh, Deb: I agree. 100% with everything you're saying, you know, since. I mean for those that haven't read your book, you are married to a physician, you worked as a physician liaison, is that right? Yes. Yeah. Mm-hmm so you worked in healthcare and We can get into that a little bit later, but I, I think this would be a good segue into your experience with the health effects of alcohol and what that did to your body and how you did meet those physicians that were so helpful for you. Can you share Karla: about that? Absolutely. I was getting to a time and this is, I think at this point I. 36 37. And I knew, like I definitely knew my drinking was a major issue and I re I'll never forget I was needed to be, I was in a wedding this one weekend, and again, it, it speaks volumes of my people pleasing issues, but that I couldn't say no. Like I have to just get. One thing. I physically felt horrible, but you know, it was such a gradual thing. And my anxiety, so historically was very physical where it made me feel physically bad. Tired. You name it? Nauseous. I, I, I didn't know the difference between the two. So is this my anxiety? Is this alcohol, everything was so blurred. And, and again, many of these symptoms you can, you know, blow off on the stress or not feeling good. Where if you looked back and had me look back and asked, like, what were you feeling? There was, there was fatigue definite fatigue and nausea, getting sick. But for me, that was kind of my norm for years. That was my norm with anxiety. And so I didn't know the difference. And there was this thing that I started doing, and I'm so glad I talked about this in my book because there's a lot of people that have this me too moment because we don't talk about it cuz there's shame behind it. And where for a while I was checking the whites of my eyes and my car rear, my rear view mirror. And before I go to work, I'll just take a peek. And again, that shows you that deep down there was clearly a concern of mine. And, you know, it was from my Google searches that I saw, you know, the turning of yellow and the yellowing of eyes is usually the first place that starts to turn yellow. Again, this is just me pulling stuff off the internet. And I'll never forget that feeling of doing my routine, checking the mirror and seeing yellow mm-hmm and it, again, I, again, I just get overwhelmed with the feeling it, I was just this frozen, this fear no clue of what to do next and fear. Is really what came over me, but again, I had to move forward. I had to keep going. I think that was what I always, this is my motto. I'm just gonna keep moving forward. I'm gonna get this fixed and everything will be okay. That was just how I kept pushing myself and thinking, okay, I have to do this thing this weekend. And I'll get through that. And at that point, you know, I'll, I'll talk to my friends. I'll talk to again, Grady was just my boyfriend at the time. And I'll get through this. And again, the fatigue really started to take over that weekend and shared with them. My concern still don't know how I made it down the aisle in that wedding. Crazy to me. I didn't do any wedding celebrations at this point. I was really physically feeling sick and not, not doing well. And so Grady and another really close friend of mine the next day took me to an emergency room in Charleston, South Carolina which is again about an hour from where I live and. and I think it was just at that point, my body, all that pushing, you gotta keep pushing, you gotta keep going. My body just said, I can't do this anymore. And it just, my, my arms started turning yellow. And at that point they took me by ambulance from that it was like a remote ER took me down to the medical university of South Carolina and. This is when it was really chaotic. I was still trying to just scramble and make excuses. It, it, the excuses, I didn't want anybody to know my big secret, you know, that was the, my big, big secret, my big piece of shame that I just thought, okay, this is gonna be enough to scare me and I'm gonna be okay. I was in the hospital there. Probably it was just overnight and they basically were gonna have to wait on a lot of blood work. So I think because of Grady and who he was, they were trusted me to leave the hospital and knowing that I would get blood work done a couple days later. So I was able to go home and. This is when really everything started tumbling down. Got my blood work done the next in the next day or two. And you know, physicians, a lot of they will get with blood work comes back and it's a critical level. Mm-hmm , you know, they get those calls right away, you know, about that. And this is when I was getting the call from Dr. Jolin, Dr. Jolin is the one that wrote the forward in the book. And and I'll never forget that moment. It's a very emotional moment. And it was because I recognized the number. I was just trying to stay away, get home and. I could hear the concern in her voice. And she said are you okay? And I said, I think I'm dying. And she said, I think you are too. And it just it's like the rug was pulled out from underneath me and really hit me what was happening. And so from there Obviously Grady came immediately back. He took me to the hospital, my parents, and it just was, again, it, it was my reality of what was actually happening and I was in acute liver failure. So again, it's. I think we don't realize so many people make those, the jokes of, oh, you know, the liver and it regenerates. And it does all these things, which absolutely it does. It is this beautiful, amazing. Organ that we have, but let me tell you when it stops working it is it's devastating. I just became unrecognizable, you know, between the, the fluid and the belly, the yellow, you know the yellow and color of my entire body at this point. And at that point it was a waiting game. And that's why I, I. Again, I'm so passionate about getting my story out there because I do not want people to be in my shoes at that point. Because sometimes the liver doesn't always start back, you know, mm-hmm, , mm-hmm, it's then there's really nothing they can do. And and especially this, you know, eight years ago, you know, there was the time, you know, there's the six month. Waiting rule between you have to stop drinking in order for them to do like any kind of surgical intervention, that sort of thing. But there was really nothing they were gonna be able to do. So it was a waiting game in the hospital. And again, it, it was the story of, I couldn't believe it happened to me. I mean, I was working on a Friday. I was going to this wedding, you know, on that weekend. And it was just. How quick things really can happen. You know, I, I, hadn't been getting warned from my physicians to stop drinking. I think that's what I was expecting. For me it didn't happen that way. And it was, it was pretty fast in the way that it, it did. So again, from there, I was in the hospital for a while. I was there for a couple of weeks and again, left with the intention of course, of never drinking again. And this is where I felt like the forward of the book was absolutely so powerful because knowing what I know now about, you know, The brain and you know what alcohol does and those pathways that we have set up, our subconscious beliefs of, you know, believing, believing in every fiber of my being the alcohol was the thing that helped me. You know, I, I, there was, I was going to drink again one day, you know, I, because I was leaving that hospital with willpower and I was leaving there going, okay, I'm gonna do. I'm strong. I wanna feel good again, you know, all of these things and which work they work for a certain amount of time. But then again, you know, those subconscious belief, they, they, they come and they win about 99% of the time. And I still. I thought, you know, again, drinking was normal. I wanted to be the normal drinker. And you know, it's amazing what we, the excuses and the lies that we can tell ourselves to excuse the drinking. And and so I actually started to get sick again and it turned out that it. Mono. And I went straight back to the computer because I just thought surely that's probably the reason why I got so sick to begin with. And I do feel like you can always Google yourself an answer that you wanna hear true. Yeah. And yeah, I wanted that answer to be true. And, and of course the shame piece, I wasn't gonna tell anybody that I was gonna drink again. You know, I was just gonna. One glass of wine, that's all. And you know, everything would be fine cuz I had been away from it for a while. So surely I was fine and that was probably the slipperiest slope I've ever stepped on. And again, speaking of shame how could I tell anybody that I did that? Like who in the right mind would go through what I went through? Get through it. And then drink again. That was one of the hardest parts of my story to tell, because it made no sense to me again now, knowing what I know. I know that that was just, it was, I was basically a ticking time bomb. It was going to happen. It was a matter of when, cuz I was never addressing what was underneath. I was never addressing the, the science. I was never addressing my belief that it helped me. And challenging that and understanding that it was actually not helping me at all. Alcohol was actually making my anxiety 10 times worse, you know? And so, you know, I, I really, I talk about it in the book and this is where I met the other physician that wrote the afterward of the book that had such a major impact on my life. And, you know, quite honestly barely got through that one was hospitalized again and again, just waiting to see if my liver would start working back and thank goodness it did. This is where I had a really powerful encounter too, with. Dr. Jolin who originally had been my physician. I was so ashamed to see her again. Like she had been really good to me and I just didn't think I could look her in the face. And Dr. Allen, let, Dr. Jolin know that I would have been hospitalized again. And she came to visit me one day and that visit. It was a very pivotal, pivotal time in my life because I just couldn't get over the shame. And she took the time. To come see me talk with me share what she knew about alcohol and what she had seen and experienced, and really looked at me and just said, you don't have to do this anymore. You know? And, and she shared me, you know, that she didn't drink. And it was this moment of seeing this young, healthy, successful woman. Just tell, like put her guard down. I put my guard down and it had a massive impact and I just knew, I was like, I wanna do that for somebody else one day. Like I want to, you know, help them see and give them hope. And because that little bit of hope that I got there that day just was the energy that I got to leave there and go. how can I do it this time? Like, I've tried it before, you know, I had tried, I had been in rehab before I had tried AA, you know, those things just didn't work for me, it worked for many other people and I'm happy for that. It, it just didn't work for me. And for me, it was crucial that I found something to make it make. You know, I needed it to make sense. And that's where, as I mentioned earlier in the podcast that I found the naked mind, Annie grace, I found this podcast and I just could not get enough. I couldn't, I was soaking up all of, all the information and the science, the science completely aligned with my journey. You know, why it's it did help initially with, you know, anxiety, why it did help initially and why it, you know progressively got worse. You know why I went back that second time when it was just so crazy to anybody else, why I would, I needed to, I needed to understand. So I could learn from that and really break down the truth about the. The truth about what it actually did and what it did not provide and how it made things worse. And I really to understand it, and I remember, you know, digging into the data and digging and, and, and really figuring out like, I am not scared of the substance anymore because that's another thing I think people can walk away from drinking, but still not be free of. Because they still think it's the thing that helps them in some way. Peeling back those, the layers and understanding the truth about it to me is the key to freedom from this substance. Yeah. So Deb: powerful. Thank you for sharing that. And sharing, you know, about your personal health. Struggles and, and your hospitalizations. And I think that we don't talk about liver disease. Like that is not like there's all this breast cancer awareness mm-hmm and all these other kind of can all kinds of cancer awareness, but we don't talk about liver disease. No, there's no like fun runs or anything related to liver disease. And it's so common. Karla: It is. And I think that's the shame piece and you know, there's nothing pretty about it. And that was the, that was the hard part about coming out about the truth. All of my story, cuz at first, you know, it was really easy for me to talk about my anxiety and alcohol that, you know what I started right out of the gate. I was good with that. I could tell people, you know, I really struggled with anxiety and you know, then I drank too much. I was self-medicating to me. That made sense. It was okay. But man, there was still some shame behind that liver disease and especially cirrhosis. I'll be honest with. the fact that I'm saying it out loud. I have got very dear friends that know full well, two years ago. I was not even speaking it. I was not even saying it. I didn't want to, it, it, to me, it just carried so much weight mm-hmm and I had this really powerful moment with my own coach, Laura Wilson, who was so amazing. And she could tell that I struggled. With that word. And so she's like, well, tell me, tell me about sous. What is it? And I, you know, started to tell her, and again, it's a very, I am not a healthcare provider. I'm not a healthier, my husband laughs a lot. He likes, he jokes that I like to think that I am, but I'm not. So. It again, my physicians made, it made sense to me. They were like, you know, it's like when you fall down and you get this wound, you know, you get a scab, it's like a hardening of that area. And I said, you know, it's, it's my wound. It's my scar. And it's my battle wound. And when I said that, lemme tell you the tears started coming and this just weight lifted. Because I needed to turn that around too and see the truth around that. You know, the truth is that my scar, my wound, my diagnosis is a, a sign of my body fighting, like, you know what, to keep me alive. It fought so hard and, you know, kept going, kept pushing through when I kept pushing it. and so I needed to no longer look at that with shame. I needed to look at that with empowerment and understand that, you know what, I'm still here. And there's nothing about that diagnosis. That is a death sentence for me, it means I need to take care of myself and I do, you know, pay attention and get screenings cuz I'm, you know, at a higher risk for liver cancer and those sort of things. But you know, Quite honestly, I'm the healthiest I've ever been in my life. And I'm, I, instead of looking at that with shame, I needed to look at it with pride and say how strong I am. Deb: Yeah. I, I think a lot of people who are listening are going to start thinking about their liver more mm-hmm Can you share some things that they should be looking for or talking to their doctor about when it comes to their liver health? Karla: Sure, sure. And again, these are just some things that, and I, and I did ask Dr. Jolin cause I was like, I always wanna stay in my lane and I'm I'm the patient. Mm-hmm but, but there are things that, you know, like the fatigue, you know, feeling cold, poor appetite, you know, I definitely poor appetite was one for me. Nauseous. There's also there. Little red spots that you can get they're I think it's spider and genomics. They, I have those on my chest. You know, and again, yellow in the jaundice is what, you know, obviously that is The, the accumulation of society's the, the fluid and the, the belly, those are kind of the later signs. And so I, again, that's why I always talk about these things. Cause I want people to be able to have conversations with their provider. Before they get to where I was. But again, I'm sharing this because you, you are or do get to where I was. It doesn't mean that's over for you either. There's hope in all of this, you know, my hope is that we can have conversations. With our providers beforehand and just say, you know, I'm worried. I don't like how I'm feeling and knowledge is power and, you know, they can do stuff. They can run tests and see what's going on. And, you know, it's so important to not put your head in the sand when it comes. You know, to your liver and not, you know, oh, everything will be fine and it could be, and it could be absolutely fine and great. And listen, when you stop drinking, it's gonna be even happier, but it's important to get the numbers and really find out what's going on and, and they can do that. And, you know, and I call it my, you know, health journey for a reason because I, again, stopping drinking was just the first. That needed to go. There's work to be done, you know, in all areas, you know, nutrition, I mean, food is medicine. Absolutely. And I, you know, because, you know, think about your liver, it's this gigantic filter for your body. Right. And getting rid of toxins. And so always thinking about what you're putting in your body and you know, Dr. Jolin did say drinking three cups of black coffee can help You know, that can help and somewhat even sometimes reverse the fatty liver. It just depends, but it, again, you always wanna make sure that you're going to someone that knows what they're talking about. I really ran into a lot where people, and I know they meant well, but they were selling something that, you know, oh, this is great for your liver. I just want people to have like all kinds of red flags to go up. And you really, especially if you have liver disease, Or afraid of that. Number one, talk to your provider and see where you're standing. But number two, you recognize, okay. I need to definitely only work with someone that really knows about the liver before I take something. You know what I mean? Before, you know, they do that thinking that it's gonna help, but really whole foods in a, in a good diet makes a huge difference. And again, number one thing you can remove is alcohol that's. Step one. Yeah, Deb: that's so helpful. And like you said, like for the most part, your liver is a great organ. It can heal itself. It's resilient, it's durable. Like it is there for you. Right. And yes, it can progress to where you do have cirrhosis that it, like you said, that is a permanent scar. From your wound. But for the most people, like you can reverse the damage that's been done simply by Karla: removing alcohol. It's the most beautiful thing. There's not many things in this world that really can, it just takes one thing. Right. Mm-hmm and, and again, and when I say it takes one thing, I don't say that lightly alcohol is hard. Let's it's, it's everywhere in our culture. I think I am personally like a big believer in that we, I was numbing things. I was numbing hurts and wounds that I, I got over time through this thing called life, you know, and you know, the next step for me was healing. Some of those traumas with you know, professionals that know what they're doing, but it is amazing with just removing the substance. That's it just, just removing alcohol. What, how your body will respond. And like you said, that like, I, you know, I do have cirrhosis and my body still responded in, in such an amazing way. And, and again, see that as a sign, you know, people, when they put alcohol down, they give it these 30 day, 40 day challenges. They look and they feel so much better. Give that have that be a sign that your body's like, thank you. Thank you. Just, I, I needed you to stop putting that into my body, you know, and but instead they just are kind of clearing their conscious, okay. I'm not an alcoholic, so I'm just gonna start drinking again and it all starts over again. But it is, I mean, my liver numbers are beautiful. Again, I do a lot of, I do preventative care and screenings to make sure that nothing's getting. And those sort of things. But other than that, I, you would have no idea by looking at me that I was even sick. Deb: That's fantastic. I mean, that's so good. Like your body does love you and it is, it was protecting you and it is taking care of you. Karla: Yes again, I say in the book, like even the best fighter goes down sometimes and when we keep you pushing it, it, it, it does. And, and the sad thing, what we're seeing is is there is, you know, such a dramatic increase in liver disease. Mm-hmm since the pandemic. And that really was. This big part of me that like, I can't stay silent anymore because if I can be the voice for those people that are still struggling with shame, still struggling with it, then I wanna be that voice to bring them hope to understand that you can not only live without alcohol. Oh my gosh. Life is so amazing. On the other side, I had no. Had no idea how amazing it was. I was given that thing way too much credit. So I, I wanna be that voice of hope for people that are struggling. Deb: Oh, you're definitely a voice of hope. And so I, I just recommend everyone. If you're looking for a new book to read, to check out Carla's book and she came tumbling down, cuz it's well written and Carla goes way more into like her journey. And her experience in the hospital and with cirrhosis. And so, and then the hope part, there's so much hope in it as well. Karla: Yes. Thank you so much. And listen, thank you for letting me be here. I love your podcast. And so thank you for letting me take this time in this. Well, thank you Deb: for being on here. How can someone find you? Karla: They can just go to my website Carla atkins.com. And from there they can even find out where I do the work with the challenge, the zero proof life challenge. That's gonna be coming up on September 26th. You can get my book from there, but you can also get it on Amazon or Barnes and noble. Deb: Great. And I'll put those in the show notes. And I also have just kind of a mini episode about loving your liver that I'll put in the show notes too. Just to kind of give you a little bit more information about alcohol in your liver. Nice. So thank you. Karla: Thank you so much.

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