Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Face of Liver Disease ~ My Bare Truth

I created this segment over a month ago, but I haven't been brave enough to start. My idea for this post day was to share information, experiences and valuable research for conditions that affect the liver. However, it is very personal for me.

I've kept my own condition very private, only entrusting a very small circle of people who I knew wouldn't broadcast it to the world. It's much easier to hide behind my computer screen through articles and blog posts than it is to be right out there front and center. It isn't that I am ashamed. It's more that I needed to truly understand and accept everything I face on a daily basis before I could openly talk about it.

I'm not like others who go on Facebook or other forms of social media to ask for prayers or sympathy. That's not my style. And, really, let's be honest. Most times it's to get attention, which I don't want or need. It makes me more uncomfortable than I can express to be in the spotlight (ask anyone who really knows me). I am much happier speaking out for others than I am about myself.

But...it's time. And I'm ready.

The reality is...my reality is...I honestly have no idea how much time I'll be blessed with. A person with advanced liver disease has about 5 years doing everything right. I've lived with it for 3, 1 doing everything right and specialists still aren't sure exactly how long my liver had been deteriorating before I finally got the right treatment. Even when a transplant is decided upon, the overall damage to the rest of my body after living with a liver it couldn't rely on can't be repaired. And who knows if a new liver would be able to function in the toxic environment left behind from the old liver.

I guess my goal for this segment day is to add my face to the others who live with variations of this disease. There are a lot of stigmas attached to this diagnosis and I've had them fired at me personally. Risky lifestyle habits (eg: unprotected sex and multiple partners, sharing infected needles, unclean piercing or tattooing, alcohol abuse, eating fast food, etc.) are the first things that pop into people's minds and I'm here to say, that is not always the case. That's what prompted me to begin this segment day.

Did I always take care of myself 100%? No.
Did I always choose the healthiest options for coping with stress or terrible things I was going through? No.
But...did I cause my disease? No.

I absolutely contributed to it progressing more quickly than it would have if I'd practiced healthier living options and paid closer attention to my symptoms. My not understanding the seriousness of my condition, coupled with being misdiagnosed for so long, resulted in me not taking the necessary precautions I needed to slow down the progression years ago. And I almost lost my life.

There's nothing I can do about all of that now. I can't hit a 'rewind' button and restart. All I can do is appreciate that I can still be here...for however much longer...and fight. I think I'm pretty good at that.

So, that's what this segment will be all about. My journey, yes. But it's more to share information, interviews, research and anything else I have the power to do so that no one else has to feel they are facing this alone. And it's also to help break down those stigmas, just like I do for those living with mental health struggles or for the many families in my SPD community.

Only this time, it's me.

My bare truth.

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