A lot has changed in the past eight months. So much in fact you can almost say that I am not the same bubbly, easy going person that I once was. Instead I am now facing my own mortality, depression, huge life changes, and uncertainties in my family life. It amazes me that in a course of 5 months I have transformed into a shell version of myself. These changes have been influenced by both chemical and environmental influences and I am not sure how long it will take for me to leave my new cocoon to become a new brighter butterfly. Until then you are left with a more somber version of me.
I am going to start where it is easier – the physical and chemical side of things. You will still find emotions attached to these, but these emotions are easier to explain and understand. So let’s begin…
I recently was faced with a medical emergency. For days I lived with intense upper right quadrant adominal pain and assumed it was nothing more than a stomach virus. With each passing day the pain intensified until it was unbearable to stand. It was this moment that I knew that I needed to react and had my mother in law drop me off at the ER. After bloodwork and a catscan I learned that my body was in extreme distress. My gallbladder was on the verge of bursting. I had a monster inside of me that I was told was only hours to days from exploding bile all over my internal organs. I had my own silent killer.
I had no other option but to undergo surgery immediatly to remove my enlarged, fluid filled gallbladder. While they were poking around my internal organs they took images that revealed that I was leaking fluid which was slowly filling pockets inside me. During the exploration they noticed the discoloration and enlargement of my liver which lead them to remove a chunk for a future biopsy. The surgery lasted roughly an hour and my bloodwork after the gallbladder removal showed some, but not enough health improvements. The liver biopsy was the next clue needed to find all the answers we seeked.
My biopsy results revealed that I had suffered chemical accute hepatitis which lead to necrotic masses and a side of hepatic steatosis. In short I have an inflamed liver, fatty liver disease and some dead liver masses. My poor life choices and drinking finally got the best of me. I am still undergoing testing to figure out the full extent of the damage, but either way you slice it I have liver disease, which is lifelong, and an entire new lifestyle to embrace. The only thing I am sure of is that I am towards the beginning stages of the disease which means I was given the chance to make the needed adjustments in order to prolong my life. I guess you can say my gallbladder attack saved my life.
My doctors have said that I was lucky for my gallbladder to have had a reaction when it did, because it provided an early warning to my liver disease. My gallbladder attack was believed to be brought on by a virus, or rapid weight loss, or some other unrelated issue that did not involve my liver. I believe my gallbladder attack happened for a reason. Most people with liver disease do not show or feel symptoms until they are at the later, more critical stage which tends to require immediate attention and the possibility of a liver transplant. In that sense I am lucky. Even though I do not have all the answers yet about the full extent of the damage, I at least know I am at a stage where it is manageable with a healthier, alcohol free lifestyle. This disease will eventually lead to my death either through complete deterioration of the liver or liver cancer, but I hope that with this early intervention I can not fear this until my 60’s or 70’s.
I have been given a gift that many people do not get to have. I get to see the world in a different light. I get to feel more inspired to do the things I always said I would do. I get to embrace and cherish more of the little moments, because life is short and everything should be enjoyed. I get to do things differently and grow my mind, emotions, and overall self in a different way. I get to discover me.
“I have come to know that it [death] is an important thing to keep in mind — not to complain or to make melancholy, but simply because only with the honest knowledge that one day I will die I can ever truly begin to live.”
—R.A. Salvatore, The Halfling’s Gem