There are moments in life that are seared into memory, which you can relive bidden or unbidden. A moment like that for me was the late morning of December 23, 2010.
After having my gall bladder removed, I was told I had Stage 4 liver cirrhosis. The doctors showed me a picture of my liver taken by the surgeon and it was clearly in trouble. I was astonished to learn my case was pretty typical.
Cirrhosis, the final stage of liver disease leading to end-stage liver failure, commonly doesn’t have any warning symptoms. I’d believed I was in pretty good health. I’d never had any abnormal liver enzymes in my blood work or other symptoms, but because of that picture I arranged for treatment with a gastroenterologist.
I remember very clearly my doctor’s words: “I’m sorry, but we have nothing to offer. There is no treatment.”Read more
Wayne Eskridge knew he was carrying a few extra pounds, but he still considered himself a pretty healthy guy. When the then-68-year-old electrical engineer underwent gallbladder surgery in 2010, though, his surgeon noticed that Eskridge’s liver didn’t look quite right.
That spurred blood tests — it turned out his liver numbers were a little high — and then a referral to a liver specialist and two biopsies. The diagnosis felt like a death sentence: He had cirrhosis. His liver had become shrunken, knobby, and scarred, and would never heal; ultimately, the only treatment would be a liver transplant.
“It was a shock,” said Eskridge, who lives in Boise, Idaho. “I was dumbfounded. I’d had no clue.”
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Eskridge felt fine, and he didn’t drink alcohol or have hepatitis C1 like many people with liver disease. Instead, the cause was non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, which is what leads to cirrhosis in one-quarter of people with the condition. It is increasingly common, for reasons that are unclear, and there is no known cure.
Nobody wants to be told they are going to die. Yet that’s the prognosis Wayne Eskridge received from his doctors in 2010. The diagnosis was a stage-four case of cirrhosis of the liver. As he and his family despaired over the future, he received another medical opinion, saying this time that he was fine with no liver disease. He was counting his blessings, but later the emotional rollercoaster took another dive when the diagnosis reversed once more. “Over a period of four years I was told I was seriously ill and then told I was not and later I was told that I had a progressive liver disease caused by iron,” Eskridge said from his home in Boise, Idaho. “I did not know where I stood, but I gave seven liters of blood to treat the iron problem. Later that diagnosis was judged to also be wrong. I felt the information I was getting was insufficient but didn’t know where to turn. It’s a journey that drove my wife and me crazy.”
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On the morning of December 23, 2010, after having my gall bladder removed, I was shown a picture of my liver and told I had a stage 4 liver cirrhosis. It was a powerful and frightening moment – one that is seared into my memory. And one that began more than a half-decade of tests, misdiagnoses, and, eventually, lifestyle changes.
I was astonished that morning to learn that my case was pretty typical. Cirrhosis, the final stage of liver disease leading to liver failure, is commonly reached without any warning symptoms. I remember very clearly my doctor’s words: “I’m sorry, but we have nothing to offer. There is no treatment.” My vision of my liver was that of a deadly beast that would kill me. Being told that losing weight and exercising could help didn’t inspire.Read more
MURRAY — For five years, Wayne Eskridge carried the same photo.
It wasn't a picture of a loved one. It was a picture of his liver.
Back in 2010, a surgeon went in to remove Eskridge's gallbladder and came out with bad news: He was sure Eskridge had stage 4 liver disease.
This came as a shock. Eskridge, 73, didn't drink. He had no symptoms of liver disease. In fact, the semiretired Boise engineer had hardly ever been sick.
In the weeks and months to pass, doctors performed blood tests, genetic tests and two liver biopsies, which provided conflicting information. One suggested his liver was healthy. Another said his liver was severely scarred. The bloodwork indicated that nothing was wrong, but then a hematologist diagnosed him hemochromatosis — too much iron in his blood.Read more
In 2014 I was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cirrhosis. I had no symptoms, felt pretty good for a 71 year old guy and I was optimistic about the future. I didn't drink, I'd never had hepatitis C. I was one of the growing number of Americans with NASH, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. The reasons for it are not fully understood, but there is no cure, short of a liver transplant.
My dad, who died a decade ago, had liver disease, so I knew that this is one nasty way to go. For the first time in my life, I fell into the ugly beast of depression.
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A few months after my diagnosis, when my spirits had reached rock bottom, my 91-year-old mother asked me and my sister to go with her to see an oncologist. She had been coughing a little and a scan showed a suspicious mass in her lung which had been biopsied.
The doctor was calm and supportive as he explained stage 4 non-small cell carcinoma. Sadly no, not operable. How long would she have? Hard to say. Probably not too long. Chemo is really hard on older people, he told us. Think about the quality of life.Read more