Yes, I have just shown you the three stages that a damaged liver goes through. I owe this post to a beloved friend of mine from the States, who was already dying when I e-met her, but who urged me to fight and live. She died last November, just before my birthday. So I’m writing this post for Bonnie Faulkner; I promised her I would do this, and I have just now summoned up the gumption to tell you all how she died, and how I am dying.
So I just went ahead and said it. I’m dying. I could have five years left, or twenty. I have no idea. If my liver doesn’t kill me first, my family history says that cancer, cholesterol, alzheimers, stroke, asthma, epilepsy or heart attack will. Lucky me, eh? I actually get a selection of ways to snuff it, unless my body thinks of something new (and it probably will).
Yes, I’m being lighthearted about it. I’m not scared of death because it’s a part of life, so being scared is ridiculous – and those of us who know we’re going to get a shorter life than most kind of get used to making light of crossing the Black Sands with our boney friend.
Bonnie was a beautiful lady. She was a wild, red-headed tour de force who everybody loved. She had fought cirrhosis for years, and she was always there for me, when I was recovering. She didn’t tell me about her own cirrhosis until she found out that I’d landed in intensive care because I have it too (although, she and I both suspected it due to my symptoms – and puking up blood is definitely not healthy, but a fairly good indicator that your liver is trying not to die).
Bonnie had her 34th birthday in hospital, and died just over a week later. She had tried so hard whilst rallying me to survive (“You don’t want to die before watching the whole new Doctor Who series!”) but the cirrhosis finally finished her. I actually believe that she welcomed it in the end; it’s a painful disease which is full of complications – believe me, I am in pain every day – and, while she was terrified to begin with, she knew when it was time to quit. I think, from my experience of people who are dying (including my beloved Nan), that the dying always know.
Now is not my time. However, my liver had already been sick for a long time before the issue was discovered – and it was already cirrhotic. I almost – and should have – died four years ago, in hospital, but somehow I continue to live – even though my liver is actually in total ruin. It works, but it’s sluggish, and it will never be healthy again. It’s scarred beyond redemption, and it’s what killed Bonnie. I genuinely don’t know how or why I’m still alive. I just am.
This is my way of reminding people that the liver is not infallible, or indestructable. Cirrhosis can even strike a teetotalar. Half of the reason I have it is because I’ve been on strong meds for years. The irony that those meds are destroying my internal organs but stopping me from dying is truly not lost on me. I get a shorter lifespan, but at the same time I get to live a little longer than I would if I wasn’t taking them.
But my liver was also destroyed by alcohol. I’m trying to get off that stuff again right now, because stress made me grab the one familiar crutch I have when politics struck. A fact, not an excuse. I’m not proud of falling off the wagon, and I’m trying to get help. My life will be short (I always knew it would be) but, from here on, I would like it to be healthy.
RIP and GNU, Bonnie Faulkner. You shall always be remembered and loved, dear lady.