Living the New-Liver Life
In mid-September of 2013, I entered the hospital with flu-like symptoms and an extremely bloated belly. After days of tests, procedures, and interventions, it was determined that I was suffering from acute liver failure due to Budd Chiari Syndrome (blood clots blocking the flow of blood from my liver).
My situation became dire, and my now-husband had to arrange for lawyers to come to my bedside to draw up a will, personal directive, and power of attorney. At just 38 years of age, I was facing my mortality without warning. Just 10 days earlier, I had played the best golf game of my life, and I was generally enjoying an active life having taken a year-long sabbatical from work. The change of the trajectory of my life made my head spin.
On the heels of my liver failure, the rest of my organs began shutting down, too. I was on dialysis and in and out of consciousness in the ICU. I was listed as “Status 3F”—at the top of the list for transplant in Canada. The following day, a liver became available, and I received it the day after that. I had been given 24-48 hours left to live. Only 13 after being admitted to the hospital, I got my transplant.
I will forever be grateful to my donor and donor family for giving me the gift of life. I think of him all the time. I also think about how fortunate I am to have received a transplant at all, as many others in my situation do not receive one in time.
Although my recovery was tough, I try not to dwell on it. Instead, I focus on living my best life. I gained weight during my recovery, but I knew I had to address that and live a healthy lifestyle if I was going to get back to living the kind of life I wanted. I sought out a personal trainer and began to work out with her 3-4 times a week, with a mix of both cardio and weight training.
Now, at 45 years old, I am healthier and stronger than I have ever been—deadlifting more than 200 pounds! I’ve started downhill skiing again after a 25-year hiatus, and I’m even learning to ride a motorcycle!
In September 2019, I walked the Camino Trail in Spain with a group of amazing women. Raising funds for the Canadian Liver Foundation with every step, we did approximately 180 kms in 9 days, and we ended our journey on the day of my 6th transplant anniversary.
I have been given a second chance at life, and I don’t take that lightly. I am doing my best to be as healthy as possible, honouring my donor’s great gift. I’m not sure I will ever be able to top the feeling of walking into the Cathedral at Santiago de Compestela for my 6th liver-versary, but I am going to keep having amazing adventures.