So how did I get to the point where I needed a liver ???

Things always happen for a reason, and this was no different.  I found out about my liver because of an unrelated issue — and ulcer.  In 2001 I was on a commercial airline flight.  I wasn’t feeling good that day and actually thought I had the flu.  The issue was actually and ulcer and I passed out cold on the way to Chicago.  We landed in Chicago and a few minutes later I was at Resurrection Hospital.  Dr. Arun Ohri just happened to be on call that night.  I remember the ER staff saying – “oh, you are very lucky because Dr. Ohri is on call tonight”.  I didn’t know it at the time, but Dr. Ohri’s words and advice alone probably saved my life years later.

My wife and daughter met me there and the tests started. They checked everything, and they determined it was an ulcer.

So what caused the Ulcer?

The most common reason for ulcers is Aspirin.  And that was my problem exactly.  Being over 50, I took an aspirin every night like a good boy.  We are all supposed to do that, you know, for the heart.  Well, since I’m a big guy I took a big aspirin.  And after 3 years I had a few holes in my tummy.  I never knew it and never had any symptoms until I passed out.  And since I was in the hospital they checked everything out. I stopped taking the aspirin so problem solved. BUT —  I had elevated liver profiles.  The doc said to stop drinking.  He scared the hell out of me and I have not touched it since. The liver profiles over the next couple of years went down.  Down to the point where they eventually were only slightly elevated   (where they are now) but the protocol when there is any cirrhosis at all, it calls for a MRI or CT scan twice a year.

The Cirrhosis was caused by alcohol. I never drank a lot, but I did drink like most folks. (OK, maybe a little more than that) Everyone has a different tolerance for alcohol.  Some can drink a high volume and never have an issue.  Others can drink next to nothing and have a problem with cirrhosis.  Cirrhosis can be caused by lots of things.  Hep A and B as an example. There is a small chance — less than 2% or so — of developing cancer from cirrhosis.  But a large percentage of liver cancer is caused by cirrhosis. My style is to “go with the best”.  We could be talking doctors, lawyers, or plumbers.  But if you stick with the best, it is hard to go wrong.  This has served me well and this situation was no different.  One of the world class facilities was right here in Chicago at Northwestern.  So, for the past 8 years I have been getting my CT scan twice yearly.  And it is a good thing I did.

A couple of years ago, they found a very small lesion on the CT.  They said to watch it and a year later it became slightly larger.  When it got to 2.2 cm in December of 2008, they decided to biopsy the lesion.  It came up as dysplasia, which is changing cells.  Not cancer, but not clean either. By now I was on a 3 month scan schedule and in July of 2009 they decided to biopsy it again.  This time is came up consistent with HCC  — The Big C of the liver.

1 Response to “So how did I get to the point where I needed a liver ???”

  1. 1 Nancy Hershfield
    October 10, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Well, all I can say is that I need to talk to you. If and when you’re up for it, you can reach me at 830-305-0432. How’s Nancy holding up in all this, my dear friend? Gosh, I miss you!

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