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Laura Zoulek's story, a long journey

I have been Type II Diabetic for about 20 years.  I am 55 years old now.  I have had terrible struggles with keeping it under control as I have always had a food addiction.

Also, at age 42, I had triple bypass heart surgery.  I blame that on hereditary and on uncontrolled diabetes. My other health issues include thyroid disease, celiac disease, and now cirrhosis of the liver.  Mom had cirrhosis and was not a drinker.  She did not take care of herself and passed from it at age 79.  I believe she wanted to die.

Many, many years ago, my doctor informed me that I had a fatty liver.  He did not seem concerned at all so I wasn't either.

Time moved on to the present.  In February of 2017, I started feeling tired all of the time.  All I wanted to do was sleep.  I thought it was because we were moving into a brand new home and it was so much work.  Then, out of nowhere, my ankles swelled up terribly with edema.  I went to my regular PCP, and she told me it was because my blood sugar was high.  She said when I got my blood sugar down, it would go away.  The next day, it was worse.  At that point, I could barely walk.  I knew something was wrong.  I decided to call my cardiologist.  His nurse called me back immediately and told me to go to the emergency.


They assumed it was my heart and immediately started running tests.  My heart was fine, but they discovered that my hemoglobin was at a 6, when it should be 12+.  I was admitted and given blood infusions that night. They still wondered why I was losing so much blood and needed to find the source.  I spent four days in the hospital having every test done known to man and they weren't finding anything.

I begged my doctor to let me out on a Friday, because we were moving the next day.  He said I would have to get a colonoscopy and upper GI as outpatient ASAP. So, I went to gastro/hepa Dr for results and he informed me I was at level four liver disease, cirrhosis.  He said I was still compensated, but didn't know my future.  He said the best I could do to help myself was to lose the rest of my weight.  I had already lost quite a bit after being diagnosed with celiac.

Since then, life has been hard.  I suffer from mild HE and have been put on lactulose.  Two months ago, I had ascites and had to be drained of four liters of fluid.  I have bad days and good days.  I try to eat very healthy, but have slip ups a lot.  I am struggling terribly with giving up salt.  I was just told recently that my albumin is low and to eat more protein.  I eat a lot of protein, but I don't absorb it.  I don't want to go back to meat, but I am thinking about fish.  

My husband of 33 years, Tom, is my caregiver.  He has issues of his own, so it should hard on him.  We have a great relationship and a great marriage.  We never had kids but always had cats.  Tom is a BMW Technician and does physical work with bad knees.  He works long hours, but always puts me first.  I feel so guilty sometimes.

So, between my liver disease and my anemia, I am always going to doctors.  I don't drive anymore, so he takes me.  He either leaves work early or goes in late.  Money has been a huge issue for us since I am unable to work.  We are drowning in hospital bills.  We stress over that all of the time.

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