According to a report that was released by the World Health Organization back in 2018, approximately 2.6 lakh Indians lose their lives because of alcohol every year, either due to liver cirrhosis, cancer or being a victim of drunk driving. Dr Cyriac Abby Philips who is an Indian Hepatologist (a doctor who deals with the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, etc.) never recommends even the occasional drink to people, because he has seen too many lives shatter due to alcohol.
Taking to Twitter, the doctor, who is popularly known as ‘The Liver Doc’ on social media, penned a heartbreaking story of a patient who passed away because of alcohol addiction and the pain that was caused to his family because of his condition. He named the story ‘The 4th Laddu’.
Dr Philips had a patient named Paul who suffered from alcohol use disorder. He had been drinking for 15 years and was diagnosed with severe alcohol-related Hepatitis. When he came to the doctor, he was suffering from Jaundice with abdominal fluid and blood infection. A liver transplant was not possible because his family didn’t have enough money.
“Paul owned a small provisions and bakery shop, had two girls, aged 5y and 9y and his wife worked part-time errands, but quit after the girls were born. They did not have enough money to evaluate Paul for the transplant. So we put him on antibiotics, cleared the infection and put him on a salvage stool transplant to increase his life,” the doctor wrote.
Paul soon responded to the treatment and his alcohol-induced Hepatitis was cured. So he returned back but was enrolled in a psychiatry program to prevent him from relapsing. He did well for about three months but then he stopped coming to the OPD.
“Paul’s cousins dragged him to my outpatient department one day and I got to know his relapse was bad. He had stopped meds and was back with his ‘good friends.’ He paid for everyone’s drinks. I spoke to Paul and told him that it was a disease, he needed help, his friends were not real and his daughters needed a father. He cried a lot and told me alcohol was more an attractive option than anything else. He agreed for deaddiction again and went back in the protocol and also went back to drinking,” the doctor narrated.
Because of the hospital visits, medicines and Paul’s splurging on his friends and alcohol, his family suffered financially. So much so, that his wife once came to the doctor and asked him to let Paul remain sick.
“One day his wife comes in alone and tells me not to get him better again. He gets better, he goes back to drinking and we lose a lot of money. Let him remain little sick, so that we will somehow earn enough from the store to get through. He will be home and I can work at the shop and provide for all.”
After a few months, Paul again developed alcohol-related Hepatitis but this time it was worse. His kidneys were injured but his family couldn’t admit him to the hospital because they had no money.
“They had no money to spare. It would have to come from the daughters education, the mother had kept aside. They lived very far. Almost 400km from where I worked. For the next 2 weeks, I regularly prescribed medicines, made suggestions to reduce symptoms and comforted the family over phone, while Paul was treated at home.”
After 18 days of being diagnosed with Hepatitis again, Paul passed away. Three months after his death, on his birthday, his wife visited the doctor and gifted him 3 laddus – one from her and one from two of her daughters each. But all he could think about was the 4th missing laddu which could have been given to him by Paul.
“Because I never stigmatized her or Paul. I did not make her look like a failure. I never blamed her or Paul for his disease. I never shouted at Paul for his behaviour. They were free now. The girls went to school and the wife was now running the shop well. But all I could think about, was that fourth Laddu. The one I never received from Paul, because he died. A woman lost her husband, two bright young children lost their father. All three lives broken and a void that can never be filled.”
Have a look at the doctor’s full tweet here:
The 4th Laddu.
These 3 laddus were given to me by the wife of my patient on his birthday, a few weeks before.
She was now happy and the family was doing good for themselves.
My patient Paul, suffered from alcohol use disorder. He had been drinking for more than 15y. Three… pic.twitter.com/wLjMyuXhNZ
— TheLiverDoc (@theliverdr) May 1, 2023
The dark truth behind alcohol abuse.