For Patients Caregiver Tips and Advice For Medical Professionals

Andrew J.

Andrew J.

Alcohol Related Liver Disease

On January 5, 2015, I retired after 25 years with the Covington Board of Education, and little did I know that retirement was going to be a slippery slope. The morning of the fifth, I slid down an icy driveway and fractured my shoulder in six places. The recovery was slow, but by April, I was able to take my dream retirement job of working on a beautiful golf course. I began to cut the grass on the greens, and enjoyed this greatly, but I just didn’t feel right. I felt very weak, slow and forgetful, certainly not normal. I was diagnosed with liver disease.

My liver disease was caused by several factors, but the largest impact to my liver was my consumption of alcohol. I took my last drink of alcohol on June 16, 2015, and with strength from a higher power and the support of my family and friends, I have never looked back.

Last year on June 23rd, I was sick and I thought that I was dying. I made a doctor appointment, and I remember leaving the house for the appointment. The next thing I remember was that I was lost, about three miles from my home, in a place that I had been thousands of times. Thankfully, a Boone County Sheriff pulled me over. He pulled me over for going too slowly, at ten miles per hour in a fifty-five MPH zone.  Within minutes, I was in a life -quad being rushed to the hospital, where I would remain in and out of critical care. At times I could not even tell you my wife’s name; the woman I love and have been married to for twenty-one years. I was sick, scared, and dying. I actually turned fifty on July 4th during this hospital stay.  For the first time in my life, there were no fireworks, no celebrating, and only IV tubes, monitors, wires, nurses, doctors and no optimism about my future.

In August, I was fortunately moved to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where after a week, Dr. Goodman and his team removed eighteen inches of my perforated, abscessed bowel.

I recovered from this part of my journey weak, but hopeful, and ready to fight to get better. I realized that I might need a new liver somewhere way down the road. I thought my new-found sobriety and good fortune would stave off the inevitable. Little did I know, the road was going to be short, and at times look to be impassible. It seemed like I would never make it around all the twists or turns. I caught a serious infection, and was physically beat, emotionally drained, and spiritually spent. I thought that I was out of tears, but they kept coming. My tears were only equaled by my prayers, and those of my family and friends.

During this period of time, I traveled around the country saying my goodbyes to family and friends. I cleared my heart of any ill feelings and made amends. Even in dying, I tried to direct the show. Telling everyone to move on— live, love, laugh and play, and remember my corny jokes. Especially my favorite ones, which I repeated frequently. I told them to move on without me, to just keep moving.

I was a good patient, and followed all of the advice. I completed all my tests as they worked me up for transplant. On February 19th of this year, I was listed. I was sick, and getting sicker. I was scared that I would not make it long enough to receive a liver.

My new birthday is April 3rd, and that is the day that I received the gift of a new liver, the gift of life. My life has been forever changed, renewed and restored by this precious gift so carefully and artfully transplanted by Dr. Shah and his incredible team. Though still bumpy at times, my life is forever changed. I am humbled and alive today because of this gift and God’s Grace in my life. I feel as if I am fully alive, most blessed, and absolutely grateful.

This is my story. I can’t say that I know what you have been through, or what lies ahead in your journey, but I can only say that you will stumble, you may even fall, but GET UP, you can do this, don’t ever give in, and just get up.

I wish all of you three things:

  1. Keep your loved ones close
  2. Keep God closer
  3. Wake up every day grateful

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