In the beginning of August 2013, I noticed various symptoms such as yellowing of the eyes, itchy skin, and a swollen lymph node. On Saturday, August 10, I went to Urgent Care to report my symptoms. They drew blood, ran labs, and performed x-rays. They reported that I was jaundiced and needed to follow up with my primary care doctor the following Monday. When I got home from Urgent Care, my mother was there and my neighbor had made a beautiful cake for my youngest son's first birthday. We ate birthday cake and I rested. Monday morning, my mom and I ate breakfast and we headed to my primary care doctor. There, the doctor ordered additional labs to be drawn as well and reported that my bilirubin level was 9. The normal levels of bilirubin are between 0.3 to 1.9mg/dL. My bilirubin level caused me to be jaundiced. With these results, the doctor referred me to a liver specialist and sent me for an ultrasound.
On Tuesday, August 13, I went to the liver specialist and he reported that my bilirubin level was at 16. He told me it was probably a virus that had peaked and it would go down. He wanted me to follow up in two weeks. He sent me home with no medication. I knelled down, prayed, and had a conversation with God. I wanted answers and I needed them sooner than the two weeks the previous liver specialist had recommended.
The following day, I went to a local hospital to get a diagnosis. At this hospital, I was admitted upon which more labs were drawn in addition to undergoing a CT scan, mammogram, and a liver biopsy. I was then assigned to another liver specialist who gave the diagnosis of Autoimmune Hepatitis. Steroids were used to treat my condition and my levels started to decline. A week later, I was released from the hospital but sent home without medication. The liver specialist from this hospital called the next evening and ordered some steroids, saying that I should not have been sent home without them.
I returned to my schedule of working but I felt that my health wasn't improving. I talked with my family about what hospital I should go to next. We prayed, researched, and chose Duke University Medical Center. At Duke, I met a wonderful team of liver specialists including surgeons, doctors, and nurses. I went to the Duke emergency room and the liver team immediately began to prepare me for a liver transplant after evaluating my current situation. God had everything in place and after about two days of being put on the transplant waiting list, I received a liver.
I was introduced to several medical teams that monitor me closely. Daily labs are drawn and thoroughly reviewed to ensure my medications and overall health plan is tailored just for me. What sets this hospital apart from the others is their intimate attention to every single detail of your physical, mental, and spiritual health. They have counselors that teach you how to manage after a transplant and a Chaplin that prays with you. Life after a transplant has enabled me to be stronger in my faith.
Throughout this entire ordeal, I continued to remain positive and faithful that God would give me the strength to endure. And He did. Now, I will be an even better wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and above all, child of God.
I thank each of you for all of your love and support for me and my family during this time.
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