Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chronic Illness

     Chronic illnesses abound these days. Some people get them when they're very young, even born with them. Some people acquire them over time. And by the time we've passed middle-age and are headed toward "older," more and more human beings have a chronic illness or two or three. I acquired one at age 24 – seizures, which fortunately are controlled almost completely by medication and lifestyle changes. Asthma arrived at around age 40, and I eventually went to a homeopath in Denver who helped clear it up with some major diet changes, and I don't have to take daily medication. But 6 years ago, at age 58, when my life was really starting to shape up and make complete sense to me – with satisfying work, challenges to my intellect and creativity, and all those rewards, I acquired an autoimmune disorder of my bile ducts (they carry the toxic waste that the liver creates from filtering bad things out of your body). It's called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis or PSC. The bile ducts get hardened on the outside and inflamed on the inside and basically start shutting down. Now the toxic waste gets trapped in your liver and starts scarring the liver tissue first and then destroying it, also known as cirrhosis. I have cirrhosis now and I've been on the liver transplant list for 3 years now.
     PSC is rare. It took 8 months from the first onset of symptoms to diagnose. When I tell someone I have liver disease, the first thing I clear up, whether they bring it up or not, is that the cause was not excessive drinking of alcohol. That's the knee-jerk reaction when someone hears "liver disease." As the disease has progressed, I've had many hospitalizations from infections of the bile ducts (cholangitis) and also one from internal bleeding. That was when I got listed. On a daily basis, I experience a lot of fatigue and cannot work regularly. That sucks. There is a national scoring system based on 3 blood tests that determines when you are eligible for a transplant. But there aren't enough livers to go around, so you have to be pretty sick before you are considered for surgery.
     There are a lot of blogs out there about chronic illness and I can recommend some of them to you. One that comes to mind first is called Chronic Babe. Type it into Google and you'll find it. It doesn't matter what severity your chronic illness is – the dailiness of it can be very draining on your body, your mental health, your spirit. I do a lot everyday to deal with that, and I'll be sharing more about that as I continue to post.
     And I won't forget to write about Florida and its politics! As for Florida weather, there's a hurricane forming in the Gulf now that the meteorologists are predicting will head for Texas. Ha! Floridians know hurricanes do what they damn well please.

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