My two year surgery anniversary just passed and that means I got to go the hospital for what is called a TIPS ultrasound. This is just like the ultrasounds they do for pregnant women, except in my case they’re looking at a super expensive shunt attached to veins bypassing my liver and not a blossoming baby girl or boy.

This appointment has been set for quite awhile yet I was still nervous the night before. I wasn’t able to have anything to eat or drink past midnight so of course I was already starting to worry about this around 9pm.  Yes, this is what my brain does to me.  “What if I wake up at 3am and I’m CHOKING and need some water just so I can breathe!? I better have an extra scoop of ice cream so that I don’t get peckish later tonight. OMG DOES THIS MEAN COFFEE TOO?  I can’t have coffee in the morning?” Let me just mention here that I am NOT one of those have-to-have-coffee-in-the-morning people but if you tell me I CANNOT have it, well then I immediately become caffeine dependent and my life depends on it.

Funny thing though, when I sprang out of bed at 5:43am coffee was the last thing on my mind. I was a little pace-y. My sweet husband gave me a comforting hug and assured me that everything would be just fine. After all, I really don’t have any legitimate concerns. I have not had a drop of alcohol in 828 days, not that I’m counting. I continue to practice a low-sodium diet. I poop like a ROCK STAR, yo.  All of these things get a big thumbs up in the liver support management department.

I arrived at the hospital and a deluge of memories hit me as soon as I hit the automatic doors. That hospital smell. Oddly enough though, it was somewhat comforting. For all that I went through in that exact same hospital, I was surprised to discover that I harbor no scarring post traumatic feelings or thoughts about the place itself.  Quite the opposite, really, I felt safe.

Part of the process entails meeting with your patient representative first to go over your paperwork and medical insurance, etc. They basically just verify all your information and get you to sign some waiver thingies and whatnot.  As Nicole greeted me and shook my hand I liked her immediately.  She had a warm smile and a cheerful scarf tied in a jaunty bow around her neck. As we went through the protocol, she could tell I was nervous.  And in typical Jen fashion, when I’m nervous, I overshare.

“Yep, just here for a standard check up on my liver. Nothing’s wrong of course. Just here to make sure everything is tip top, you know?  Run o’ the mill appointment.  I mean, not that it wouldn’t be okay. . . I’m doing everything the Doctor’s told me. I’m not drinking or anything. Does it say “alcoholic cirrhosis” right there in my file? Geez, that’s embarrassing.  Is there any other kind? Well, I guess there probably is. Now THAT would suck. At least I did something to deserve this, right? Anyway, that’s all in the past now, I’m good. I mean, in today’s world it’s really a miracle we’re not ALL alcoholics, isn’t it? Have you seen the news lately? OMG, do you watch The Handmaid’s Tale?! Do you think that’s really where we’re heading? Now that I don’t drink I just eat a lot of chocolate and go to meetings. You should put that in my file. If my liver is failing will someone call me directly because that’s not really something I want to recieve via text message.”  And on and on it went. . .

Poor Nicole. Perhaps she should’ve had an extra cup of coffee.

And the end of my diatribe she gently smiled and put me at ease the best she could. Her job is really just administrative and I’m not sure she was even privy to any procedural information related to my appointment.

Upon finishing we stood and she shook my hand. She wished me luck and told me to have a good rest of my day. As I stepped into the doorway our eyes locked for a second and I could tell she had something else to say.  I looked at her inquisitively, eyebrows raised.

“Jen, on the 15th of this month I will be sober for a year and a half.”

I couldn’t control my big cheesy grin because at that moment, I knew everything was going to be alright.

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