Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Where Should I Begin?
The first blog must be the hardest! I have struggled with where in my life should I start telling you my story. I look back and I realize how truly blessed I have been my entire life. So, I will start seven years ago when I got "the call." I was a teacher in the fabulous Deer Park Independent School District. I absolutely loved teaching in Deer Park. In March of 2004, my sister noticed that my neck was dark and she knew that this could be a precursor to diabetes. Since my dad is diabetic, I thought maybe I should have it checked out. Not to mention, the darkness on my neck and under my arms had always really bothered me, but both are easy to cover-up. So, I go to my PCP and she agrees that I probably am diabetic, so she orders a fasting blood sugar and a glucose tolerance test. She also noticed that I had a "suspicious mole" on my arm and she referred me to a dermatologist. To all of our surprise, the results came back great and I was not a diabetic. I thought I was cleared and I would just have to deal with this ugly neck. At the dermatologist's office, my mole was successfully removed, but the doctor said, almost in passing, "it looks like you have a liver problem with all those red spots on your arms, you should probably have that checked out." This information was passed on to my PCP and more labs were ordered. My liver enzymes came back elevated. My PCP immediately thought it was probably just a "fatty liver" and I would need to change my diet (that would be good for me anyways!). She referred me to a Gastroenterologist that ordered a CT scan. It was found that I did not have a fatty liver, but I had cirrhosis. WHAT??? I can still to this day count on one hand the number of times I ever drank alcohol, I had not participated in any "risky" behavior. How could this be? Well, that just shows you how little I knew at the time. The next step was a liver biopsy and a TON of bloodwork. They took 17 vials of blood, some went on ice, some had to be shaken right away, it took 3 people to handle my blood draw. In May of 2004, on a Thursday, my phone rang in my classroom, and it changed my life. In my peppy little high-pitched voice, I said hello and my doctor, not a nurse was on the phone. She asked me if I was sitting down and I knew it was bad. She informed me that I had an autoimmune illness called Autoimmune Hepatitis and unfortunately, we caught it really late and you are already in Stage 4 Cirrhosis. I held back tears and told her she was wrong. I felt great, I was the busiest person I knew, I wasn't tired or fatigued like she said I should be! She told me to come in the following week, which gave me lots of time to research this diagnosis. BIG MISTAKE! I never advise people to search the internet anymore, talk to your doctor first. Next post.......THE APPT.