After a week, I was released from hospital on Friday. I was not expecting to be admitted. I had gone to St George Hospital to get a second opinion, after I had been categorically diagnosed as having cirrhosis (hardening of the liver)by doctors at Wollongong Hospital.
The presenting symptom was a phenomena called ascites, in which “fuids build up in the abdominal (peritoneal) cavity”. On taking fuid tablets, I had swelling in my legs. I declined eating, had trouble taking drugs – one of which with recommended dosages led to high potassium – and, in retrospect, I couls not taste anything. My response was to try to overcome the problem and push through – probably not recommended as the best course.
I would not have sought a second opinion, had members of my family insisted on it. I accepted the diagnosis, without question. It turns out that I was very wrong and they were very right. Furthermore, I was told that there was nothing that could be done.
I was fortunate that the physician I went to see was an excellent doctor. She actually had me lie down and exam me. She noted the variale pulse im my neck and among other things examined the palams of my hands. The result of the exaination was admission to St George Public Hospital.
Almost immediately, the next day, a tube was placed inside my abdomin, and I had a green albumin drip, while the ascites fluid was drained. I had to sign consent forms for this procedure. After about two hours or more, I had lost 7.7 litres of fluid and lost 6 kilograms in weight. Since then I have recovered two kilos. The consequence of losing that fluid was that I could eat freely again.
Other medical procedures are pretty amazaing. In particular, the liver biopsy in which samples are extracted by means of a wire passing through the veins in the neck, as occurred in my case. For this procedure, I was on the operating table with anaesthics, and was aware of everything that was said. In terms of pain it was bearable. I later told the other patients in my ward it was a near death experience. I may be wrong about this, but it may be necessary to go to a major metropolitian hospital to have this procedure. I was totally in the hands of the surgeon and the medical team.
The other biopsy, for which the results are not known to me, required drawing clear fluid (I was surprised by this)from my bone marrow. This procedure was carried out in the ward, by a doctor under the supervision her professor who was assessing her. There was a bit of pain, but like what I had imagined.
I had other procedures, including a Trump cognitive test. It turns out I am not a stable genius. I have to keep away from the horses. I had a brain scan. It turns there is nothing there carrying with explanatory power. I also had a full skeletal survey.
At this point the diagnosis is incomplete.
Given my “near death experience”, the underestimated song written by Rodney Crowell and sung by Emmylou Harris, Higher Mountains, might be appropriate:
I was speaking to a nurse, at the renal specialist, who said in her experience people with liver cirrhosis were given up on. I have been extremely fortunate, espcially although it was most likely given the symptoms, I do not have cirrhosis. Of course, the something else could be worse.