Emergency Room Diagnosis with Liver Cirrhosis
I lifted the round plastic cover and peeked at the slice of roast with mashed potatoes. The nearby white Styrofoam cup contained a glob of shiny brown gravy. It was my first meal since being admitted through the emergency room. Less than 72 hours before, after bicycling in humid, triple digit heat, my liver had failed.
I soon learned that cirrhosis was staged by numbers. I was beyond 4 – End Stage. The Hepatitis C Virus was raging through my body and the only cure for the virus had a success rate of less than 15%. The doctor told us that death would probably occur within a couple of years without a liver transplant. He then flatly stated that the transplant list was long and the virus would continue to deteriorate my liver. At one point, I literally ran out of the hospital trying to escape the news. My family and friends caught up with me in the parking lot and convinced me to return. The nightmare had begun.
The diagnosis had come out of nowhere, touching everything in my life. Like an Oklahoma twister, it swept through my health, finances, job, and relationships; it threatened my entire future. It sucked up all of my dreams, shook them like a rag doll, and then slammed them back on the ground. It was just like when I was a kid coming out of the cellar, or fraidy hole, after a tornado. I was alive and could see what was left, but I hardly recognized my life.
The blood transfusion had helped clear up my mind a bit, but I was still as yellow as a daffodil. The rapid onset of ascites and bleeding varices had required bandings and paracentesis. No one in my world even understood what those words meant at the time. After the nurse delivered a dinner of roast and gravy on the second night, I was bumfuzzled. It seemed odd that the hospital tray was full of salt, and had very few vegetables. Didn’t my doctor just tell my family that a person with liver disease should eat less than 2,000mg of sodium per day? The meal in front of me, prepared by nutritionists, was nowhere close to that.
For my first 48 hours in the hospital, the only thing served was through an IV. I had a meal of jello, and now this. I gave the cold beef a scathing glance and sent my sis for a cheeseburger with some onion rings. If I were going to eat salty foods, it was going to be something I loved. That wasn’t so smart, cause within hours, the swelling began again. I was honest, and confessed my sodium sins to the nurse. She told me not to worry, that diuretics would take the water off of me. My thoughts started clicking a little, but not too clearly.
My family wasn’t sure what to do. So we did what was easiest. We got in a fight. One sis is a good cook, but loves salt. Her granddaughter was admitted on another floor with the flu. My other sis eats out a lot. At first, she acted like it wasn’t even happening. They both have always teased me for being addicted to homemade organic granola.
When we got to the topic of who would have to take care of me, my middle sis left the room crying. That was encouraging. She went to talk with a nurse and came back with the news that none of them could donate a portion of their liver. We cried some more. I was too far gone, and quickly growing too tired to care. My sibling group was in shock. We didn’t know how I was going to stay alive.
TheEmergency Room Diagnosis with Liver Cirrhosisis an excerpt from The Liver Loving Diet – Your Best Friend’s Guide to Low Sodium and Healthy Protein. You can buy it now by clicking here.