My mother, who will be 51 next month was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver / end stage liver failure. She has been a heavy drinker as long as I can remember. My dad, my brother and I have tried to get her to quit over the years on countless occasions, but she was always in denial or said that drinking made her happy and she wasn't going to stop. I always prayed that one day she would have a wake up call and quit … and that day finally came, except it is probably too late.
She went to the ER on July 4th with a swollen stomach and legs and was told that she was in the final stages of liver failure. She never had symptoms (that I am aware of) before that. It has only been a little over a month since her onset of symptoms and now she can't walk without falling, she sleeps almost all day and has trouble staying awake. Her muscles spasm and her back and neck are constantly in pain. She has lost a lot of weight and aged significantly. She looks like she might be 90 pounds, and although she has always been a tiny skinny woman, she looks emaciated, pale, and just plain awful. She needs to go to the hospital to have fluid drained from her stomach and legs. Her voice is hoarse and my dad said she had a bout of coughing for about 4-5 days, which stopped but the voice is still hoarse. When I saw her on Saturday she was pale white and didn't move from the couch. She could barely open her eyes, but she did speak (more like mumble) to me. She was coherent but it was almost like she couldn't muster up the energy to speak loudly and I had to ask her to repeat herself several times. Sometimes she complied, other times it was like she was just drifting back to sleep.
The doctor told her she needs to be sober for 6 months to get on the waiting list for a liver transplant. At this point she is too ill to drink so there is no chance she is going to relapse. There isn't a drop of alcohol in the house and my dad and brother say she has been 100% sober since June. I'm not sure why she stopped drinking about a month before her trip to the ER, but I suspect maybe she did know that something was not right. I am trying to stay positive, but I'm afraid she won't even make it 6 months to get on the list, and even if she could become a candidate, who knows how long it will be before a liver is available. I am also afraid that, if by some miracle, if a liver would become available, she would be too ill to get the transplant.
My younger brother is 23 and his wife just gave birth to her first grandchild on Saturday, August 14. I can't even begin to tell you how excited my mom has been about this baby. It is heartbreaking that she is too weak and disoriented to get out of bed or hold her new grandchild. It breaks my heart to think that she will never hold my child if I have one. It saddens me that my dad refused to leave my mother at home to go to the hospital and visit his grandson. I offered to stay and watch my mom so he could leave the house, but he refused. And it is unfair to my brother that the birth of his child, one of the most joyous occasions in his life, was clouded over by this. My mom and dad should have been there at the hospital … laughing and crying, and holding that adorable baby. My husband and I were there, but I know it wasn't the same.
I know, I know … life isn't fair, right?
I just hate what is happening and my emotions are everywhere. My dad won't tell anyone else in the family what is going on because my mom doesn't want anyone to know. So family members have started to call me for information … am I supposed to lie too? Obviously everyone knows something is wrong. I had to finally break it to my grandma (her mother) and I felt awful about it but she has the right to know. My grandma has known something is terribly wrong but all she gets out of my dad is that "she is sick with an ulcer".
My emotions are everywhere right now. Yesterday I researched about giving part of my own liver to her … I just ordered a blood test kit online to find out if I'm a match. I'm 29, healthy as far as I know, and don't smoke or drink at all. I know my mom did this to herself, but people do other things to themselves all the time … smoking, drugs, obesity related diseases, etc. I guess I just feel this way … she is my mother, I don't want her to die, if there is anything to save her I will do it. I love her.
Of course the living donor thing is a far stretch, and I know it. Another part of me (and I feel bad) prays that if there is no hope for her, that she will go quickly. My dad is only 52 and still has to work, and I don't want him to be burdened as her full time caretaker and helplessly watch as she continues to suffer. My dad works full time, I work full time and live far away, and my brother just had a baby. Can she go to a nursing home? I have no idea. I feel like there is nobody to take care of her and my dad has to make a living. He has been taking vacation days lately to stay home with her.
My mental state goes from hoping she goes peacefully, to praying for a miracle that she recovers somehow, to contemplating donating my liver to her. I cry several times a day. I feel hopeless.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope that if you, or someone close to you has a drinking problem, that help is sought before it is too late. Less than two months ago my mom was fine, making plans for a vacation and the arrival of her new grandchild and today she looks like she is weeks, if not days away from death. It is the saddest thing ever.
I also appreciate everyone who posts on these forums. I know that I have some friends and family I can talk to, but I still feel so alone. After reading these forums, I don't feel so alone anymore. Thanks again.