This is a very differerent article to what I usually write about namely sports and moreso motorsport. No, this is an article about myself and my struggles since 2008. In it my aim is to give people hope, confidence and the will to never give up the fight against liver disease.
My story starts in March 2008 on a Tuesday night sat on the floor at home watching tv and sorting out paperwork. Suddenly without any prior warning I was hit by an indescribable pain in my stomach which I can only imagine felt like somebody putting a knife in me and twisting it. My shouts of pain were heard by my then lodger who dashed in to see what was wrong. I was paralysed for 5 minutes on the floor then finally the pain subsided to my relief.
Needless to say next day I was straight to the doctor who after examining me gave me a blood test. To cut a long story short numerous blood tests showed up as abnormal and I was referred to a consultant at Worcester Royal Hospital. After again many blood tests and examinations I was sent for a CAT scan and I awaited the results.
I didn't have to wait for long.....9am next morning I got called straight to hospital as a major blood clot had been discovered in my liver so in to hospital I went for treatment and tests. After one night I was home a bit bewildered to be honest.
Fast forward and over the next few months it became apparent my liver had been damaged and my spleen was twice the size it should be. What still isn't known is why everything happened and I don't suppose I will ever know. So for 3 years I lived a perfectly normal life whilst taking warfarin and even had hernia surgery without any problem at all. However in November 2011 it became apparent something was seriously wrong.
I had been attempting to lose weight for 2 years and had lost a lot then gradually my stomach got bigger and bigger so much that I looked pregnant. By now I knew I had chronic liver cirrohsis and been a non drinker and non smoker heaven knows how. I had no strength and couldn't breathe well so 8 days before Christmas I saw my doctor as I did 4 days later when I now had fluid actually leaking from my ankles. Enough was enough and I was sent straight to hospital...the date was now December 20th 2011. I had actually worked in the morning and even finished work before going to hospital which in hindsight was a stupid thing to do.
Again to cut the story short it took 3 days for my blood to be at a safe level for treatment and just 2 days before Christmas I was ready and in 8 hours I drained 45 pints of fluid out of my body. I dropped nearly 4 stone in 8 hours and I can tell you it felt just incredible to see my feet again!! I was told that after breakfast on Christmas Eve I could go home.
So it was that I soon found out that my clothes no longer fitted me as I walked round the supermarket holding my jeans up. I wanted to and should have rested but been Christmas Eve I couldn't and by 9pm I was spark out asleep in bed. I would be lying if I didn't say it felt fantastic to be slim....even if I did cheat...sort of.
Christmas came and went and within 5 days I was back at work and life just carried on with a new wardrobe full of clothes. Over the next 2 years I had regular treatment and suddenly I looked old, skinny and if I'm honest I felt sorry for myself. I decided to try and get fit again which was working until one dreadful day in August 2013.
I will never forget the date of Sunday August 4th 2013.....I was tired from work the day before and was asleep by 8pm. Next thing I knew it was 11am the next day....except that I didn't know that. To explain I did not know where I was, what day it was and even my name. I went onto facebook ( yes, I knew that) and just typed "help"to a close friend time and time again. It was a group chat and all day all I could say was "help". I spent the day trying to charge my phone......except it was the tv remote. I really did not not know what I was doing. I do remember after again sleeping most of the day then watching the end of a NASCAR race but no details of it.
Finally next morning my son heard the news and rushed over to take me to the doctor. The verdict???? Exhaustion!! Well, as it transpired they were badly wrong as I had 2 further of episodes of which I now know was hepatic encephalopathy...in real terms the ammonia in my blood was too high and starved my brain of oxygen. I am very very lucky it wasn't fatal as it can be deadly. October 1st after been struck by it whilst driving enough was enough and a friend took me to hospital where it was diagnosed. One year on the medication has kept it away from me bar a couple of small incidents which were my own fault.
So where am I now? Well, I am no longer classed as fit to work full time but I have heeded the lessons and now live relatively healthily. I will never again be able to do the things I used to but I'm still here and that's all that matters. My condition is stable and anaemia apart I'm fairly healthy all considering. I live life one day at a time and focus on the things that really matter.
So why write this article? I just wanted to share my experiences in the hope it gives others hope and belief with liver disease. It really isn't the end of the world if you heed the warnings and follow the advice you are given. I realise I'm lucky and I'm thankful for that but most of all my motto for life is "Never ever give up!"