Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday May 25th, 2011 - Stage four cirrhosis of the liver

I have mentioned many times that I have been told that I have nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), but the only way to tell if it has progressed to a critical stage is to do a liver biopsy. They have biopsied every organ and bone in my body hunting for cancer. My leukemic symptoms include chronically low platelets, swelling, and an enlarged spleen. Coincidentally those are the same symptoms for advanced liver disease. Now I don't know whether I have leukemia or not, but I do know for sure that I have stage 4 grade one cirrhosis of the liver. There is no stage 5. This is it. Ironically my late father was an alcoholic and he died at 50 with a healthy liver.

While there is no cure for stage four and it is not repairable except by transplant, I am going to continue my trek towards the gastric realize band procedure. If I am to extend my life, then I must lose all of my excess body fat immediately. At the very least it will make me healthier for a transplant. I received the bad news on Monday evening. I tried to schedule a follow up and I don't think the scheduler understood the critical nature of the follow up so she made an appointment without talking to me for June 21. Like I'm going to wait that long. Hellz no!

The dietary changes dictated by the bariatric surgery include many of the same elements as a liver friendly diet. But, I will still have to add more to that. For one thing, I have to call all of my providers to double check the safety of my current meds and I can never ever take Tylenol or even sip a drink of wine, beer, or any alcoholic beverage. I can never take Vicodin. I'm supposed to lay off red meat, processed foods, and other stuff I have yet to learn about. I am going to go to a new nutritionist as soon as possible. 

The following is the technical definition of NASH and cirrhosis: 

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH is a common, often “silent” liver disease. It resembles alcoholic liver disease, but occurs in people who drink little or no alcohol. The major feature in NASH is fat in the liver, along with inflammation and damage. Most people with NASH feel well and are not aware that they have a liver problem. Nevertheless, NASH can be severe and can lead to cirrhosis, in which the liver is permanently damaged and scarred and no longer able to work properly.

Cirrhosis is a slowly progressing disease in which healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue, eventually preventing the liver from functioning properly. The scar tissue blocks the flow of blood through the liver and slows the processing of nutrients, hormones, drugs, and naturally produced toxins. It also slows the production of proteins and other substances made by the liver.

According to the National Institutes of Health, cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death by disease.

Other than fatigue and pain in my spleen, I don't have any of the severe visible symptoms, but I will eventually. I hope that I can get on a transplant list now before I reach critical. Obviously, my family is upset, but I don't think they understand the seriousness of the situation. For now, it's life as usual. 

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