St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Sunday, November 08, 2015

An Autumn Tale: Battling Back from Inflammatory Disease (part 1)

I have been AWOL on my blog for a while now.  The truth is I just haven't felt well for quite sometime. I was diagnosed in late October this year with Chronic Inflammatory Liver Disorder - autoimmune.  This is my short story of my illness and diagnosis and hopeful remission.  

It began back in September.  I wasn't feeling very well for a while; very fatigued, overly so with terribly itchy eyes all the time..  allergy??  ...I went to my regularly scheduled Endocrinology appointment thinking that maybe it had something to do with my thyroid. Surely my endocrinologist would be able to say, yes, your levels are off, let's fix that.   Not so.  She took one look at me that day, and I'm not sure what she saw but she called for more blood work before I left the building.  My thyroid levels were fine, perfect, that was not the problem.  There was just something else....

Later that day, close to dinner time, the phone rang.  It was my endocrinologist:  "how do you feel?  are you nauseated? ....vomiting? does your abdomen hurt? your ribs?  ...if you start to feel very bad please go to emergency room,"  she pronounced in her broken Russian accent.   What?  "Your liver enzyme levels are ....very high, very high; I'm sending you report through patient portal.  You will need to follow up with specialist; my nurse will be contacting you, soon."

Huh?  Liver enzymes, what's that?   So began my google exploration.  And then my impending doom.  

Wow, I really am sick.   How did this happen?  No wonder I haven't felt good.

That was around the second week in September.  By the next week, the real symptoms began to emerge full force.  Every joint in my body hurt, big time.  My ribs ached, my back ached, I was looking a tinge of yellow; my urine and bowels were dark.   I felt nauseated.  I was sleeping every chance I had.  It was overwhelming.  I couldn't wait to see the specialist.  They had called and scheduled me, but more runs for more blood work first.  The levels were rising higher.  They called for an abdominal ultra-sound.  More blood work.  Then again, a doppler ultra sound with more detail, more blood work.  I saw the gastroenterologist.  "We are going to need to do a liver biopsy.  We are scheduling it as soon as possible."   "Am I going into liver failure? What's going on?"  "No, but something is clearly wrong, impacting your liver function,  because all your blood work comes back negative against any hepatitises or tumors, even celiac and viruses, all clear....So we need to see first hand what your liver tissue is doing."    

Discovering how a liver biopsy was performed brought on more anxiety.  Sure, I had my thyroid biopsied 15 years prior....a needle aspiration, yes.  They deaden it will a local anesthetic and it feels like a bee string temporarily, then it's okay -- just pressure.  My thyroid tissue came back as autoimmune; it was attacking itself, perforating, causing a nodule.  Easily enough taken care of; the thyroid could be removed if troublesome and thyroid replacement given.  It took another 12 years for the condition to have any impact on my thyroid serum, and then, my endocrinologist began to give me thyroid replacement to override the thyroid.  

But the liver, hmmm, a little more difficult to take care of's not like it can just be removed, or a replacement given (other than a liver transplant).

The more I thought about it, the more I dreaded what was happening, but the more I knew in my heart I had to do the liver biopsy.  I prayed and prepared myself mentally.  I reached out to others to pray for me as I knew many prayer warriors that would uplift me.  

When it came time for the biopsy one bright Friday morning, my husband took me to the hospital and got me settled in.  He remained with me throughout the entire procedure.   He stayed in the surgery room with me.  The team that did the procedure were wonderful.  The surgeon that actually did the physical biopsy was amazing and quick.  The only discomfort was the "bee string" into my ribs and then quickly it was numbed. Within minutes it was over.   And the waiting for 5-7 days for the pathology results began. 

(watch for part 2 soon) 

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