“So, most of the people you work with have, or have had, a failing liver?”
“So, mostly drunks then? Lots of Cirrhosis and whatnot? Folks like me?”
“About half. The other half are Hep C patients.”
“Oh. So, clearly we are a very glamorous lot.”
And so it went yesterday at my yearly liver ultrasound. As some of you know, I had a shunt implanted into my liver in the fall of 2015 to help with portal hypertension in my liver due to
three plus decades of alcohol abuse Cirrhosis. Brittni was my tech and although I truly felt that she and I were at opposite ends of the spectrum in our lives, we united as a sisterhood over my now slim (but incredibly jiggly) torso as she ran her warm gelled wand over my abdomen, listening for the churn-churn-churning sound of blood shooting through my shunt. Brittni was rather serious and really, why shouldn’t she be? Her day had barely started and she’s got my loud and chipper ass on her examining table thinking it’s a night at the Improv. It’s 7:30 am and I’d already made a crack about why there wasn’t a cocktail lounge in the waiting room.
But here’s what Brittni didn’t know. Brittni didn’t absorb just how gloriously grateful I was to be sitting on that examining table cracking booze jokes. My last few memories at that hospital weren’t exactly heart warming. I remember wondering if I would leave at all, after my third stint being readmitted that summer. From draining my belly seven (!) separate times to my terrifying MELD* score to a possible transplant discussion, my time there was far from fun or funny, but yet, there I was, laying tits up in a softly lit room sporting a big cheesy grin while Brittni did her thing. Truth be told, I was so damn happy that I wanted to hug Brittni like a game show contestant that just won because that is exactly what I felt like.
I often compare myself to a rescue dog, especially at work. I liken myself to one because I want to imply how grateful I am to be there, and that I will be loyal and faithful forever because I know only too well what its like “out there”. I’ve been around the proverbial block, you see. Of course, they haven’t a clue as to what I’ve seen, or really, what the hell I’m talking about, and everyone always laughs when I make the comparison.
They don’t know about the blackness and despair. They don’t know about the abyss. I used to think that it would be enough just to live, you know? Enough to barely limp away from the wreckage I created and live humbly in my regret. But that’s not enough, is it? No. I have to give back. I have to help others. I have to show them there’s hope and help and a way out. The only way I can keep this thing is to give it away.
A few weeks ago I used my rescue dog comparison line on a friend** of mine via text message. She responded quickly with “notsomuch a rescue dog, more like a phoenix from the ashes”. Tears suddenly filled my eyes as I read, and re-read that response.
So, you see, I have work to do. So glad you’re part of my journey.
*MELD score is a number that ranges from 6 to 40, based on lab tests. It ranks your degree of sickness, which shows how much you need a liver transplant, in layman’s terms.
** This is Julia, the same friend from one of my initial posts, the judgement of julia – that gal can DROP THE MIC.