I guess it’s time that I share this information.
Back in January/February my dad was diagnosed with NASH, Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis. In short, that is fatty liver disease. Dad’s has progressed to cirrhosis.
It isn’t caused by alcohol or hepatitis C or anything other than being overweight and having too much fatty tissue in the liver.
I haven’t shared this here because I didn’t feel like it was mine to share. It’s not a secret, but it also isn’t something that Dad is advertising.
I have been to many doctor appointments with him over the last few months, including appointments with the liver doctor, scans and biopsies. A MELD score is often used to gauge the stage of liver disease. A normal healthy person has a MELD score of 6 or less. Dad’s is 16.9. When the score gets to 20 then they introduce the patient to the transplant team to be followed/monitored and by mid 20’s they start considering transplant. I’m not even sure if Dad would be a candidate for a transplant or if he would choose to do it should it get to that point. That’s a huge decision.
Dad’s doctors recommended weight loss surgery. You see, once a liver is diseased there is no going back. The hope is only to improve health conditions so that the liver doesn’t get worse. Dad and I attended a seminar and then an appointment with the gastric bypass surgeon and were hopeful that such a procedure would allow for significant weight loss and therefore stall the progression of his liver disease. Two weeks ago they sent him to have a upper scope to check for other damage caused by the cirrhosis and the news wasn’t good. He has portal hypertension, meaning that the liver is so scarred and inflamed that blood can’t pass through it as it needs to. The result is too much pressure built up in the veins of the abdomen. That means that he is not a candidate for surgery because of the high risk of bleeding out. That was a huge let down.
This weekend Dad started feeling very weak and dizzy. This has happened on and off for months, but this time is wasn’t getting better. He was sick to his stomach, off balance and then, when I talked to him yesterday morning, he wasn’t making total sense. He was having trouble finding the right words. The liver doc had told us that that can happen at a certain point, so I was alarmed. I called the liver doc, spoke with his nurse and explained what was happening. She said that it could be his ammonia levels and that I should take him to the ER. So, I dropped everything, picked him up and took him to the ER. Six hours later he was discharged with a prescription to, hopefully, rid his body of the large excess of ammonia that his blood work showed. It’s not a pretty process and it isn’t something that he has to do once and then be better. Now that the liver isn’t filtering toxins from his blood, he will have to continue this regimen indefinitely to continually rid his body of the ammonia.
The boys (Kyle & Casey) were there with us last night. I haven’t talked to Dad yet today, so I’m guessing he’s sleeping. Hoping, anyway.
I’m sharing an awful lot of information here that most of you are hearing for the first time. Please be cool about it. By that I mean please don’t blow up Dad’s phone with messages and calls. We are doing all that can be done and I’m the bossy eldest child who is taking charge. (Surprise, surprise) He’s tired and he doesn’t feel well. With your prayers and the help of his doctors, hopefully he will be feeling better very soon and then we can figure out what to do from here.