Let me see a little background I was born
In Canada with U.S. parents thus giving me dual
In 1970 I joined the army and was sent to Vietnam now that was a lot of fun.I Got out of the army in 1973 and married my wife In 1974 and my daughter was born In 1976.
Well my 1983 I was driving trucks for a living and doing very well when I started having some bad nose bleeds they would just start for no reason.So I went to the doctor's and they found nothing wrong with me well surprise, surprise, hep-c had not been invented yet they called It non-A non-B and knew nothing about it or that I even had it.
Well let's jump ahead A few years lets say 1991 by then I'm having massive nose bleeds all to often but no other side affects at least none I recognize I was tired a lot but thought it was over work or a little age.So I went for a check up they did the blood work and all the usual stuff.The next day I got a call from the hospital saying they needed more blood,they gave me some lame excuse about my earlier blood work being miss handled.I have to say I really didn't belive them it just didn't feel right.After the next test I was told something was wrong with my blood my white count was very low but they didn't know why.So I was sent by my Doctor to a blood specialist who decided to check my bone marrow suspecting lukemia,well In this test they put A needle In your hip joint to draw out the marrow not a very comfortable experience.But I got lucky and dodged that bullet no cancer but also know answers.
So I thought now what?Well they do some more blood work and find out my liver functions are way off,they should be reading 40 to 70 but are 140 to 165 the doctor then asked if I drank which I did.So she says stop drinking and then come back that may be the problem or so she thought.
Well now we're into 1993 I had quit drinking but no improvement,So the Doctors do more tests and we find the real problem hepatitis-c,not good news but at least I had something to work with now.
So In late 1993 they send me to A gastroenterologist he did some x-rays and see's me A few times but nothing gets done, He doesn't even talk about the disease so I'm thinking I have a real jerk on my hands so my wife and I talk and she pushes a lot good thing!We decide to find a knew doctor.
After asking some freinds who happen to be nurses I see my new doctor in mid 1994 my wife and I go in to see him together,The first thing he says is the mass in my liver had not gotten any bigger. My wife and I look at each other and then at him and go what mass?It seems the other doctor the ignorant S.O.B.was just going to let me die.(Rule #1 make sure you find a good doctor)
Well the new doctor started me on Interferon for 6 months It's like having the flu all the time,everyone reacts differently though after the treatment things had not improved that much and also I had countless tests,So It was decided that I would have surgery to get a look at my liver.The idea was to do a needle biopsy,But they couldn't get what they needed that way,So they did a wedge excision instead to get a better look inside.Well the surgeon said It was the worst liver he had ever seen,Not A good thing so after 10 days In the hospital I go back to see my regular doctor,I asked him what our plan was going to be? He said my only option was A transplant,I have to say it was like A kick right In the face.
I was put on the transplant list In may of 1995 at New England Medical Center In Boston.There were a lot of trips down there,by the way I live In Westbrook Maine about 110 miles away.
Now I know a lot of people think you're just put on a list with everyone else but this is not the case.
First you are checked to make sure you don't have cancer.Then you are checked to see if you can survive the surgery.Most people don't realize what a hit all the organs of the body take during major surgery.The kidneys get hit very hard at this time and usually shut down for a while I got lucky,Mine came close to shutting down but did not.I know a lot of people who had a very hard time of it.
I was told to stop working in April of 1995 because of the type of work and the pressure building up in my body as the liver does less work the back pressure enlarges your spleen and a lot of heavy lifting could cause you to rupture an artery and I would have just dropped dead.
The next thing is you're put in a group by blood type and then you wait the only way to get up the list faster is if your liver is failing.I got lucky my blood type is B positive not rare but not common so the list was shorter but so are the number of donors.
This is when your nerves get on edge and the worry in the back of your mind starts.You realize you could very well die.Well they give you a pager to carry and you know it can happen anytime, also if you're human you start thinking a lot about it.I had bad dreams some really odd stuff.
I got my call FEB 7TH 1996 at 7:20 p.m. on a week night I was watching Tool Time how could I forget that,So I called Jeannie who was at work and off to Boston we went and I think we made the trip in record time,Jeannie was driving by the way.Well we got there and the surgery was set for 6:30 A.M. so we spent the night in a hospital room I didn't know it at the time but I was about to spend the next 42 days in there.I went In for surgery on time It was supposed to take 7 to 8 hours I was in for 14 hours things went bad right from the get go,When they were cutting the small arteries to the liver the hepatic artery blew apart from the back pressure and I pumped out 77 pints of blood that night,I went through all the blood the hospital had plus the city blood bank supply of my type,So they had to change my blood type to universal donor.Hell I didn't even know they could do that.It was so bad that at one time they sent a Doctor out to talk to my wife and family to tell them I was probably going to die.Well I had some great doctors who wouldn't give up and neither would I after all that I was not expected to live through the night or the next day or the day after that.Finally after 3 days they decided that maybe I would live so they started to treat me more aggressively again, But It had taken too long to get the new liver in me so it was failing and only working at 10% of capacity. I now needed a new liver and quick. For the next 14 days I was in a drug induced coma,They finally let me start to wake up around the 22nd of Feb.Man was I one sick pup.
The liver was just working enough to keep me alive and no more I remembered my family being there and shaking so hard that I couldn't stop.Jeannie said I was as yellow as the sun.
I had three more surgeries during this time,One to clean me out,One to remove my gal bladder and one to try to rebuild the artery that had blown apart.On the 28th of Feb.they had found me a new liver some poor person in N.H. had died and had donated the organ for which I will be forever grateful.
The next surgery went perfect it was over In 7 hrs and the new liver worked great, I awoke as soon as they put me back in my room,I felt good and my skin was back to a normal color.
Now the therapy had to start I had not sat up in bed in 23 days well I soon found out I couldn't roll over by myself or even kick a heavy blanket off my feet,So It took all of 20 days just to get well enough to go home where I had more therapy and nurses coming in every day to tend a very large open wound in my chest.
It's now Dec.1998 I'm doing better I take about 23 pills a day but you get use to that lol,It's something you can get use to and learn to live with.
I can now get out and play 9 holes of golf, walking it tires me but It feels good.My daughter Is 22 now and married so in April I will have a new grandson to help and watch grow up.
I don't know if this is the end of my story or not. if there Is more to write, I will,I hope this did not scare anyone mine was a worst case I'm still on film down at the medical center for new doctors to watch,I guess It shows them what people can survive.
P.S.Special thanks to all the organ donors out there, your
gift is life itself and very special.
This is a picture of Dr.Ralph Fairchild. He's the doctor who saved my life, he's a great guy and the type of person who cares and never gives up. click on the link to meet the team and read about the Transplant Program at NEMC
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