Life with Liver Failure
Last updated: February 2022
When your liver begins to fail, it feels like a slow motion fall. You’re diving downward while bouncing off of boulders. Pebbles and rocks fall around, pelting you, which ads insult to injury. Symptoms like jaundice and ascites become a way of life. I found that life after liver transplant is like a parachute opening just before you hit the ground. I’ve never jumped out of an airplane or dove off of a cliff, but I’ve had a slow dive toward death with the hepatitis C virus.
You get a good view.
Because most of the time, symptoms of liver disease from hepatitis C come on slow, it’s kind of a good thing. Like a slow descent with a parachute, you get a big view of the world. By viewing things from a distance, there is a different slant to your thinking. You can see the big picture of life once you have faced death.
You learn to love.
There’s not a lot of tolerance in the world these days. People fight and judge each other and then broadcast it all in the media. After a liver transplant, you have truly seen the best in people and the worst. The best part is that you can forgive. Then you can open your arms wide and leap into love.
You learn to tell time.
It seems like every day drags on and on while you’re waiting on the list. Minutes tick by and turn into hours. Then all of a sudden you look up and it’s tomorrow and you’re still dying from liver disease. Each moment becomes a miracle.
You don’t close your eyes.
When life is rushing at you as fast as a parachute fall, it can make you dizzy. The tendency is to squeeze your eyes shut and tune everything out. Not when you are living with varices bleeding out or anemia that requires frequent transfusions. You’re kind of afraid to close your eyes because you don’t want to miss anything.
You learn how to prepare.
They say that packing the parachute is one of the most important things to do before you jump. When you have end stage cirrhosis, you tend to over prepare. That is actually a good thing. One way of being prepared is to stay in touch with your doctor. Another is to take all the medications that they prescribe for you.
You pay attention.
While it is cool to see the big view while you’re floating down, it’s also good to watch for the details. Making sure that have everything necessary before the jump can mean many things. Maybe it’s that you have your finances prepared for treatment. It could be that you have scoped out the area where you will land, like making sure your home is ready before you get your package from the pharmacy.
You have your team ready for support.
Your family, friends, and medical team are all ready to be your back up. That means someone is there to direct your treatment. Other’s will be there to take turns if you get really sick. If you have hepatic encephalopathy, you may need to have someone close by to help you 24-7.
When your liver fails, if you are prepared, you can sit back and enjoy the view knowing that you have done everything you can. It’s important to land on your feet no matter how bad you feel with end stage cirrhosis. I hit the ground a few times, but ending up with a good landing. I hope you all have a good quality of life with liver disease.