Sunday, April 15, 2012

5- Eye See You

First things first.  I still can't move around very well, and there's something on my face.  I go for it, and everyone starts to freak.  That's a breathing tube in my nose, there is no one lying on me, and I'm strapped to the bed.  There are lots of (un)familiar faces, and rapid-fire questions.  Donnie, do you know where you are?  Do know why you're here?  What day, date, month, year is it?  (snap)HEY! (snap)  Do you know where you are?  I feel like I'm tangled in a ball of wires.

Its Saturday, October 22, 2011.  I'm in the Intensive Care Unit at MUSC.  I can't even lift my head.  This is the day I was worried about, but I'm alive.  I projectile puked blood on my wall, and went to call 911.  It must have been last week that my family was here, but that doesn't seem right.  I never made it to the phone, but why was I home?  That's very curious because my family wouldn't have left me. 

I am mad bonkers because I have alcoholic hepatitis.  I've never even heard of alcoholic hepatitis.  I've been vaccinated for A and B, but this is something different.  Its the 3rd highest preventable killer in the US, and in cases like mine, the symptoms can hit suddenly.  Jaundice has settled into my skin and eyes, and my muscles are pretty useless.  Loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, fever, fatigue, and mental confusion are also symptoms.  I have all of that.

All the malfunctions of my body and mind can be traced back to my liver.
 My liver is scarred, inflamed, and its not breaking down toxins like its supposed to. I'm in worse shape than I can even wrap my head around.  Forty percent of people with this diagnosis die within six months, so they need to get on top of this quickly. They start pumping me full of anti-inflammatory and diuretic drugs to relieve some of the pressure.

Just like the backed up drainage ditch, my liver is backed up and nothing is getting filtered through, causing extra strain on my kidneys.  Blood can't push its way through and my heart is steadily pumping more in.  This leads to portal hypertension, and my body tries to relieve the pressure by letting fluid (ascites) leach out of my veins into the interstitial spaces of my abdomen.  In order for that fluid to fit, my bowels begin to shift into unnatural positions and cause veritable pain.  My abdomen has a wonderful amount of fluid in it, and I can't breath.  I say 'wonderful' amount because at this point my skinny ass looks preggers.

That's where the delirious and deranged fruitcake is coming from.  The ammonia levels in my blood are considerably elevated and poisoning my body.  Hepatic encephalopathy is the medical term for being a little unhinged.  Extreme anxiety, severe confusion, and poor judgment are some of the symptoms.  However, that is putting it mildly in my experience and besides, I don't know many people who need encephalopathy to have poor judgment.  Its pretty well known that 8 shots of Grand Marinier  might cause a lapse in judgement here and there.

As the days and weeks go by brain damage is a hindrance on so many levels, especially when your doctors are treating you like an ass-hole.  I'm just another drunk who will be dead in 6 months.  My mother asked one of the doctors to pull her aside when he's talking about how long I may or may not live.  The doc's response is that he needs to say it all to me.

He knew that I wanted my mom to take care of everything while I was in the twilight zone, but he was adamant.  'He's a big boy.  He did this to himself ', he said.  I'm not going to fare well with all of this negativity.  I know I fucked up, but stop chastising me doc. Its his job to get my liver biopsy.

On top of it all, my alcohol withdrawal symptoms are going to get worse before they get better. I don't feel good.

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