I’m sitting in Room 1124 at the Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre in London, Ontario.
How did I get here? By car (Ba-da-BUM!). It’s an interesting place. More of a conference centre. Many nice staff. Restaurant is good (although all closes early).
We picked it because it was a decent price and it’s close to the University Hospital at Western.
Marc needs a new liver.
So, again…. how DID WE get here….
About 4 years ago Marc and I went to Vegas for his birthday, then California for the week… then Vegas the next weekend for my birthday. It was a super fun trip. Until Marc had a gall bladder attack and was bedridden and in pain in our hotel in Vegas.
I made the best of it on my birthday. The chicken purse and I wandered through the casino gambling and photo bombing people (the purse)… the next day I tried to change our flights and we would have had to go “stand by” which made no sense at all. Long story short, we stayed until our flight left and then came home. Once home, made a doctor’s appointment.The gall bladder must go!
So went to the family GP and got a referral to a gastroenterologist (Dr. Harry Wu. You’d like him. He’s nice.) Ultra sounds, scans etc. and they showed that not only did Marc have gall bladder issues, but liver issues.
Insert terrified. Lots and lots of terrified.
When we finally went back for test results, it revealed that Marc had liver disease, but not sure exactly what yet. Marc was actually relieved as he expected a cancer diagnosis so he was OK with it. More tests revealed cirrhosis of the liver (is there another kind of cirrhosis I don’t know about? Just asking.)
This all happened over quite a bit of time but I’m just giving you the highlights (long story short… my famous last words. haha)
So Marc had cirrhosis. Immediately: quit drinking. Marc did, immediately. He had spent a long time as an adult enjoying adult beverages, but when faced with drinking and dying or living liquor free… he picked life. He actually didn’t find it too hard. I quit for some time too until he said “why would you quit? You have a built in DD!”. He didn’t seem to mind, so I took him up on the offer.
ANYWAY… Marc’s cirrhosis has mostly seemed pretty manageable. We didn’t tell a ton of people… including his mom … he doesn’t like to worry her. And he’s a guy. You know how they are. Everything went about normally. He changed jobs and started working at the University of Waterloo last March 28th.. on his birthday. Everything was good.
Liver function wasn’t great, but it was still working. Until the fall.
We are all getting older and more arthritic… Marc included. One day he found a muscle relaxant painkiller thing at the store and thought he’d try it. He thought it was great! Loosened him up.. helped with his golf game.. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it. He’d picked up something with Ibuprofen and Naproxen sodium in it (non steroidal anti inflammatories or NSAIDS) both which I’m allergic to so I didn’t look. Until I did look and saw the warning.
It basically said that anyone with diabetes (check), kidney stones (check), gall bladder issues (check) or liver disease (big ass check) should NOT BE TAKING THIS MEDICATION. The only thing he WASN’T was pregnant.
I told him and he immediately stopped taking it. He felt sore but … gotta do what’s best.
We spent Thanksgiving with my family. All good. Then November came around and my dad suddenly took a turn and then died November 27, 2016. (Miss you daddy.)
When we had the funeral, some of my relatives came from Pembroke. They didn’t recognize Marc. Afterward both of my sisters messaged asking what had happened to him… that he didn’t look good (they are SO critical about fashion….)
I first met Marc in 2010 and we started seeing each other in February 2011. He was about 240 then… he had been 260 shortly before that when he moved back to Canada from England. Last time he was weighed at the doctor he was 157. He’s over 6 feet. That’s not good.
Marc’s liver had basically given up or was very close. He developed ascites (retaining fluid in the belly) and therefore had to have paracentesis (draining) every once in a while to relieve the pressure and pain. Once he has a huge belly it affects his stomach (nausea and vomiting) and his breathing.
So over the last several months he’s been deteriorating. He’s lost a ton of weight and muscle mass. He’s tired all the time. He has to go in for various procedures to help keep him going.
And now. Now we are at the Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre which is actually a hotel.. It’s a good price and it’s quite lovely and is 5 minutes from the hospital at Western University. Because tomorrow at 7:15 AM he gets his first test (an ultrasound) and then spends all day being poked and prodded and psychologically assessed to find out if he can physically and emotionally stand a liver transplant.
We’ve had to deal with multiple paracenteses and the aftermath. Then there’s some confusion (hepatic encephalopathy). He has been hospitalized for renal failure (over Christmas no less!) and just over a week ago I woke up to find him on the floor in a coma. It’s pretty scary shit, I have to tell you.
We’ve had a few people volunteer to be tested to be a living donor. I’m not suitable due to my years of prescription medication (and I’m too short). But thankfully we have a few who’ve said they’d be willing … including the healthiest person I know.. my beautiful sister Lara. (I will no longer require her to give me gifts for any occasion but she gets double gifts for ALL occasions. Seems fair.)
So this is just another step on a long, long road. If a living donor is a match, then the road becomes shorter, but it’s a hard thing to ask of someone.
So, check your status to make sure you’re an organ donor. You could help save lives and you won’t feel a thing (if you’re a non living donor.) But the loved ones of those you’ve saved certainly will.