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Liver Failure

Warning: The majority of those with hepatitis C will not die from this disease, especially if we act to avoid the worst consequences. Today’s post is graphic and disturbing, but not an inevitability.

It was a January day when the doctors told her that her liver was failing. They advised her to “put her affairs in order” because at best, she had about 24 hours to live.

Liver failure felt like swimming in the ocean’s depth. It was a dark, unfathomable place with no anchor or lifeline. Dying was not the hard part; nor was saying goodbye to her family. The challenge was to stay awake, alive, and coherent; to navigate in a sea of ammonia-saturated thoughts.

She searched for bearings between each burning bile-filled heave. Slipping past reality, she fought unconsciousness. Her eyes and skin glowed iridescent yellow, belly bulging bigger than any pregnancy she had endured. Kidneys shut down next, unable to function without their hepatic companion. The brain would follow.

She held on for as long as she could.

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