Chopped Liver – History
Maybe not HIS story – but MY story. As I stated in my latest blog, since I had my stent removed a couple of days ago, I feel that I have reached a, sort of a conclusion to, if not my medical procedures for the rest of my life (I’m not that dumb to assume…), then certainly a rather interesting part of it.
And one of my blog contributors has commented that perhaps now might be a good time to reflect, or more accurately, to summarize how I got to this point from where I started. So, I am going to do that. If you really want the detail, then it is all included in previous posts going back to March 5th 2010 – the genesis of my revelations.
I was considered for a liver transplant going as far back as 2004, although I almost made it to the “list” in 2007 – but it was decided that although my blood results were less than satisfactory, the risks of such a major operation were too great for a not-so-anticpiated increase in quality of life – in other words – I was still doing just about ok.
Further tests in the form of MRI scans, Ultrasounds and “Top and Tail” probing kept my name on the “bubbling under” grouping. Until late 2009 when my doc decided “enough was enough”. My condition, described as Nodular Regenerative Hyperplasia, was showing no signs of improvement on the blood results front and it was felt that, as I was young enough and fit enough (not in the Phwoaar!!! sense, I take it), now was as good a time as any have the transplant.
More tests followed – which revealed, da da DAAA…. a blood clot in the portal vein! Any doubts as to my suitability for transplant were quickly dispersed. I was a… eh.. how shall we say… an accident waiting to happen.
I was on the list.
The only issue was, that, due to the complications of my inner workings – previous operations, random arteries carrying blood where the portal vein couldn’t, and who knows what else, they had to wait for an absolutely ship-shape perfecto-mundo liver, for my size, my blood group and with no abnormalities thrown in. So, I had to wait for that. I had to wait for someone in a good condition to die. Not a pleasant thought, but the medical team have to look at these things in a non-compassionate way – and so, to some extent, do I. Every death can save up to 6 lives – when you take into account the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and whatever else they are able to transplant these days.
So what was life like on the waiting list? I can only speak for myself really. And for my wife and family. Everyone deals with this differently. After a few weeks of realising that the phonecall I was dreading/anticipating was not going to come any time soon I got pretty complacent about it all. I think my wife found it a lot tougher. I tend to find that it is usually the nearest and dearest that suffer the most – certainly psychologically.
The call finally came on the evening of Feb 8th. I didn’t realise it was THE call until half way through when the penny dropped. This really was the real deal. I went home to my wife – and although we had had 11 months to prepare for this moment, we didn’t have a clue what to do.
What to pack for the hospital? (Really, what did I really need? Not a lot). How to say goodbye to my young son – I tried, but he was so far asleep and happy in his blissful state that I was unable to rouse him – unable to say goodbye – he wouldn’t have remembered anyway, even if I had managed).
I got to the hospital. Said goodbye to my wife. Bizarrely I got to sleep. Was woken early morning by the anaesthetist, who administered the pre-med drowsy stuff – and that was it.
That was it for me at least. The team of medics apparently performed miracles on my behalf over the next dozen or so hours (not to mention days and weeks). My family struggled to concentrate on the trivialities of life during this critical period, as you can imagine.
But I woke from my deep sleep in ITU and felt… strangely fine. My wife, brother, doctor were there at the point I was conscious of waking, and they said some mumbo jumbo stuff I barely understood, but all with a smile on their faces.
And I felt…
If I had been able to string two words together I might have asked if they had done the op yet.
Within a day, however, I was sitting up, out of the bed, sipping tea. (That was a mighty fine cup of tea, let me tell you).
For many, by day 2 or 3 they are able to walk about unaided – for me I had a bit of an issue to do with body fluid retention that hampered me for a good (good? it was anything but good – more uncomfortable than the bleedin’ operation if you ask me), and then there’s the talk of being allowed home for the weekend after only a couple of weeks.
Again, for most people, this would be achievable and uncomplicated. For me, unfortunately, I spiked a fever on arriving home and had to return to hospital immediately. But, everyday I could feel myself getting stronger and stronger.
Once home, within 3 weeks, the district nurse would call round regularly to dress my wound. And I would attend clinic as an outpatient – that was a great feeling – an outpatient! And before long, my anti-rejection drugs dosage was being decreased, and I was able to take to the great outdoors (keeping out of the nasty sunshine, of course). And everyday I could literally feel the improvement.
I have a bit of an issue currently regarding the thinning of my blood to ensure I do not suffer another blood clot in my new portal vein – which would precipitate the whole process starting again – and we would’t want that now, would we? I’m sure they’ll sort out this issue and, like all the other “issues” I have faced since the transplant (and which are featured elsewhere in this blog), it will soon fade into a distant memory – a minor blip in the grand scheme of things.
Obviously my journey does not end here. Otherwise why bother? Why not have given that liver to someone else? No. I intend to be very active. I intend to give something back. This blog is a minor start to help encourage others in a simliar position to feel confident and positive to go ahead with their solutions without fear – or, perhaps to feel their fear – but to channel it in a positive manner.
I intend to do more to help the cause. To help my family. And to help myself. And, finally, I owe it to the anonymous donor family to make my future as rich, colourful and rewarding as I possibly can.
It’s simple to carry a donor card.
Just follow steps 1, 2 and 3.</a