The cause, more often then not, is the result of chronic infection of the liver. Most people don't know they have a problem until liver damage shows up decades later, during routine medical tests. In 1990 doctors at Kaiser were reviewing a sonogram of my right kidney and noticed shadows on my liver that didn't look normal. They kept digging and discovered I had two chronic conditions, a dastardly duo I've dubbed Bevis and Butthead.
First: a not so rare hereditary disorder called Hemochromastosis that causes your body to absorb too much iron from the food you eat. The excess iron is stored in organs, especially the liver and heart and can lead to health problems. It's treated by removing blood (phlebotomy) which signals your body create new blood and thus pull iron stores from organs. I've always had a fascination with all things rusty, just never knew it was in my genes!
Second: Hepatitis C (HCV) which is a viral infection that attacks the liver and leads to inflammation. I am not in any of the usual risk groups so I have no idea how this bad boy hitched a ride on my cosmic wagon, but it is what it is. As with Hemochromatosis, most people infected with HCV have no symptoms.Due to the location of the tumor, near the hepatic vein and artery, surgery to remove it and part of the upper right lobe of my liver may not be an option. The surgical team I met with at Kaiser in SF felt my best option was a liver transplant. Say What? Who wrote this script anyway?
What came next? Got to make sure the patient is a good risk so I just finished the most thorough battery of tests known to mankind (I'm ready for my close ups Mr. Demille). There isn't a part of my body that hasn't seen light of day, so to speak. Bone, chest, liver, and heart scans, a myriad of blood tests, an endoscopy and a colonoscopy. These last few weeks have been a pain in the butt, but it's great to have an inventory of all the body parts that are healthy and working at my age.
Jump for Joy
The Journey Begins: My case was submitted to the local Kaiser Transplant Committee and was approved on February 26th. All of my tests were forwarded to the UCSF Transplant Center. On April 8th we'll spend all day at UCSF for an in depth evaluation and meetings with a number of specialists. Sometime during the two weeks following we'll be contacted with their decision. If I do get listed, there is a 1.5 to 2 year waiting list. There are, however, options available to keep the tumor in check during that time. If I don't qualify for a transplant, we'll start researching Plan B.
I'm feeling fine and my take is, in the words of Ford Prefect from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "DON'T PANIC!" This a nine inning game and we just started spring training.
Dharma Light Bomb ~ Water Lily
Needless to say, I'm once again calling all my spirit guides back from their reveries, retirement and galactic road trips to join me on this adventure. My darling husband has been my knight and my rock since we found out. Our friends and neighbors have stepped up to let us know they're ready to help with whatever we need. I'm one lucky cookie.
Once we find out my options and how short a leash I might be on, we hope to set off on a number of adventures over the next 15 months, take some time outs from all the homework that goes with this assignment. No sense in sitting around waiting, it's time to start working on the bucket list and the possibilities are endless.