Cirrhosis is Not The End –
When I first got diagnosed with liver disease, it seemed like The End was scrolling across the last page of my life. Not a happy beginning, but it’s my story. Maybe it’s yours too. I like happily ever afters. I believe in pixie dust, and magic wands. I really am a day dreamer.Cirrhosis is not the end.
I have been teaching a unit recently that grabs my heart and I wanted to share it with you, dear Best Friend. Have you ever noticed that most fairy tales have a similar plotline? It’s one of the things we look at in language arts. I can always count on my student’s excitement. The main reason they love this lesson plan is because it gives them a chance to watch a movie if they pass the test. One of their assignments is to analyze the familiar character traits in heroes, damsels in distress, trolls, and princes. A bit of magic is always thrown in and gives them an opportunity to look at how the use of spells and potions are metaphors for powerful tools we use every day.
Throw in some history and background of the Grimm brothers or Hans Christian Anderson and we can quickly make the leap to how each of our lives is filled with elements of a fairy tale. That is one of the things that make them so endearing to us. Sure, they were written to teach moral lessons, pointing out right and wrong behavior. They were a warning about safety and about consequences. But they also give a glimpse into our real lives. You cannot help but see the similarities in fairy tales and life with cirrhosis or Hepatitis C.
Once upon a time – Just hearing those words gives us the feeling that we can settle in for a good story. The plotline in fairy tales is quite predictable. There is the setting, which tell where it takes place and who the characters are. Then the rising action builds tension and finally leads to the climax of the story. From there, the falling action resolves the conflict and ends with another comforting line – And they all lived happily ever after.
What the heck happened to Happily Ever After? Can the dreams that we wish still come true? Many of us who have Cirrhosis, Hepatitis C or any other related illness can certainly relate to the Once Upon a Time. We start off with childhood hopes and dreams of a happy life surrounded by those we love as we fulfill our destiny. We are the main characters. Perhaps you are a damsel in distress, or a boy who has been tricked by an evil force. Both of those hold some truth while living with Hepatitis C, Cirrhosis, or just life in general.
We watched Shreck this week and it was hilarious how they introduced Cinderella as a verbally abused girl who is shut off from society. Snow White was a homeless woman who moved in with seven men. It’s clear that Jakob and Wilheim Grimm understood how life is less than pretty for everyone. Disney has definitely taken a lighter hearted approach to fairy tales, but even the movies leave us covering our eyes during the scary parts. But those movies also have some well placed songs and jokes to keep us engaged.
Cue in “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” or “ Second Star to the Right” –
We all start off singing a tune that is full of innocence and joy. We look fresh, happy, and gay. As we embark on our journey, our hearts are brave and our vision is clear. Life is not always pretty, or safe. Dangers are lurking in the form of big bad wolves, trolls, witches, jealous queens, and fire breathing dragons. Don’t forget the giants. The action in our lives can rise rapidly as we realize our future is in jeopardy. Relationships can be disappointing. Unfortunately, failing health contributes to the stress in our families. Financial difficulties can really cast a spell that seems to hover over everything, blocking out the sunshine and song.
This is when we need a hero. Into our lives, at our darkest hour, a hero or heroine always shows up. They may come in the form of a family member, friend, or spouse. They may have a title such as M.D. or R.N. A social worker, pastor, or psychologist may be the one who helps your triumph in your darkest hour. The suspense builds as we wait for our hero. We feel betrayed or abandoned. Not only are there outside forces working against you, internal conflict is tearing you apart mentally. The plot line is true to its’ course. Even as we fight our outside circumstances, a battle is also raging within us.
Cue in “Reflection” by Mulan or “Baby Mine” from Dumbo –
Now it is time for you to stop and softly sing a sad song with birds or flowers, This is usually done alone in the forest or a dark room. Lots of wind blowing and terrifying shadows. Self pity abounds, but hang tight. A hero is getting ready to come in.
As your story reaches its’ climax, you are diagnosed. Your health has deteriorated. You are so very tired of fighting symptoms. You just want to crawl into bed with a sleeping potion. But do not give up yet. Just when the sleeping dragon is breathing fire into every corner of your life, an antidote arrives. Your hero and their side kick offer you treatment in the form of Hepatitis C treatment, medications such as Nadolol, Lactulose, Ribavrin, Sobusprevir, Interferon, or Sovaldi. Like a good hero or heroine, you know it is a risk you must take.
Cue in Circle of Life” from the Lion King. Climax – is the turning point in every struggle. This is where those 2 opposing forces collide. Both internal conflict with yourself and external conflict against your arch enemies are rising to a fever pitch. Now your song is one of anguish and joy combined. You know who your enemy is and with the help of your heroes, you are ready to slay the dragon. Standing on the tower of despair, facing down your fears, the flames are blazing toward you. Just in time, you are handed the potion. Your friends and support groups see you from afar. They are cheering and joining in their own song of triumph which reaches a crescendo that can be heard far and wide.
Cue in “A Whole New World” from Aladdin and grab your magic carpet. Hepatitis C has often been referred to as a sleeping dragon. Once it is awakened, many times the damage to your liver has been done. But with hope on the horizon, it can be slain.
After such a huge climax with diagnosis, treatment options, tests, and medications, the falling action takes on a peaceful lull. This is the section where the plot begins to fall into place. The conflict is out in the open. Man vs himself, man vs nature, man vs society. The enemy is exposed and dealt with. It is time to put together all of the pieces.
Cue “Go the Distance” from Hercules – The falling action in the plotline sometimes reveals that all is in order. The characters all find resolution in a peaceful manner. But occasionally this part of the story may deliver more bad news. The saga will continue. The dragon is not dead, but still sleeping. This is also when you find out who the real hero is.
You are the hero or heroine of your story. You are still writing the conclusion. I don’t know what my future holds. My doctor assures me that a transplant is possible if or when it is needed. I have liver loving foods yet to discover, races to run, grandchildren to hold, a daughter to love, and a husband who is a prince of a fellow. Yes, I still believe in Happily Ever After. As for the dungeons and demons in my future? My sword is still sharp.
Cue “Zippity Doo Dah” from Song of the South.
There is still plenty of sunshine heading our way Best Friends. You and me and the bluebirds on our shoulder. We can face anything together. Cirrhosis is Not The End. All it takes is faith and trust. And some pixie dust. Happily Ever After, Karen:) xoxo
Check out my youtube channel for all the songs. Hit playlists and liked videos from the drop down. 🙂