Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Not-so-happy New Year

By early December 2013, my spirits had hit a low... not just because of health issues, but also because my husband was laid off from his job. Fortunately, he received a generous severance package and we were optimistic and hopeful about his ability to find work. Nonetheless, it was very stressful.

With a lot of planning and steady effort, we had a nice Christmas. My kids were home from college and we especially enjoyed spending time with them and seeing their friends. It was nice to relax a bit because I felt very tired from the all of the holiday prep.

However, I felt even more tired after Christmas and began sleeping nearly all day. And then I began to have trouble talking: I couldn't think of the right words to say, or if I did, I couldn't speak them. And some of the things I said didn't make sense, which was frustrating because my thoughts were pretty logical - or so I thought. It was alarming to watch my decline. My biggest fear: Was this situation permanent?

My husband talked to my transplant coordinator at least once a day. Lactulose was prescribed, but not in enough quantities to make a difference. On the evening of Jan. 3rd, we ended up in the ER of a local hospital and, long story short, I was admitted and spent six days there flushing the excess ammonia from my body.

Turns out that I was experiencing an episode of hepatic encephalopathy because of too much ammonia in my system. My brain didn't work as it should, or as it usually does, and the only way to eradicate the ammonia is by excreting it via bowel movements. That's what the lactulose does - it's a syrupy, sickly sweet liquid that stimulates one's bowels. Finding a balanced dosage is done by trial and error, and what a freakin' mess that was!

It seems that 2014 is a year of challenges, because there has been plenty to be concerned about since January. And I'll tell you more about that in my next post...

Photo courtesy of Andrej Troha

Monday, January 27, 2014

Years After My Liver Transplant, Am I Simply Waiting to Die?

I wrote this on November 18, 2013, but never got around to posting it. So much has happened over the past month - things I want to share on my blog for other liver transplant patients and people who have Hepatitis C - that I believe it's worthwhile to post this now.

On December 3, 2006, I had a liver transplant that saved my life. Afterward, I was exceedingly grateful. Because of the transplant I knew I’d be able to continue to raise my children through the tough high school and early college years, and hopefully enjoy that ride with my husband, Gene.

In general, I’m an optimist: I embrace life with gusto, cherishing moments, loving family and friends, and laughing and learning along the journey.

But I now realize I no longer live my life this way. Instead of making plans for the future, I have spent the last seven years trying to survive an unending onslaught of procedures, treatments and bad news about how Hep C is wreaking havoc on my new liver. It's been exhausting, frustrating and depressing.

Instead of living it up, I've been waiting to die.

I had this "ah ha!" moment over the weekend and was shocked. I consider myself to be an optimist, a "the glass is half-full" person. I'm so fortunate to have had this transplant. When did my spirit break? 

Photo by Julia Freeman-Woolpert