Friday, December 3, 2010
Good is Good Enough for Me
So, I have obviously taken a break from writing in this thing until I figured I have something new to post. The last thing I wanted to do here was begin to preach or pontificate to people, and I feel that I may have been doing that for awhile here. I still write the spiritual stuff, but I've been doing it in a monthly column for a local health mag.
I do have some updates for you all, however. I went for my checkup to the Baylor Medical Liver Transplant department yesterday and I did receive a some interesting news. My MELD score, which last year was at a 22, has now gone done to 17. This means, for all practical purposes, I am stabilizing for awhile. A transplant is still an inevitability, but it may take awhile longer.
This is most likely due to a few things: The stint that was put into my Bile Ducts when I got sick last year has alleviated much of the pressure and my body is able to get rid of toxins a bit more efficiently. I am told this is a temporary fix at best, but one that I can at least enjoy for awhile.
Healthy lifestyle and diet have certainly played a large role in the process as well. I have tried to cut back on sodium and fatty foods and focus on the intake of a lot of water, veggies, and such. The doc yesterday said I do need to try harder at increasing protein intake, which directly affects Albumin, one of the three components of a MELD score. I'm told that Albumin strengthens the walls around one's cells, allowing them to retain and distribute fluid throughout the body properly. When Albumin is low, it results in fluid leakage out into the body, which causes Ascites... dangerous swelling of the abdomen, legs, and feet.
This symptom was noticeably worse for me throughout the past year... some days, I could barely get shoes on, much less walk very far, due to this painful and unsightly problem. It affected everything... anything that required me to be active was just not a possibility. Amanda was getting frustrated, as was I, as we both figured most days would have to be spent immobile, with no real hope for a nice weekend getaway or even a productive trip to the grocery store.
Lo and behold, a good friend one day recommended an alternative. But, I said, I could never afford acupuncture! Isn't it really expensive? I was way wrong.
Over there in China, the Chinese go on a very regular basis... some every day. Acupuncture does not just work after one visit, packaged in with a day at the spa. It's a lifestyle. Acupuncture Together of Austin is committed to the old way of doing things: making it affordable and accessible for everyone. On a sliding scale of whatever you can afford, I pay $20 a week to go sit for an hour and have needles put in spots on my arms, legs, and directly applied to my liver area. Owner Ashley O'Brian, who has quite possibly the most soothing demeanor you'll ever come across, works you into a group setting of about six people in one room at 15 minute intervals. This way, she can administer more treatments at one time and lower the cost for everyone. Ashley remarked to me that she originally worked in a spa setting when she realized that she herself could not afford the treatments she was offering. She realized something had to change and started the business in a small office on Burnet Rd.
How has it worked, you may be wondering? From the moment I walked out on day one, I have not had one more instance of massive swelling in my feet. NOT ONE. Also worth noting is the blissful high you retain all day after receiving a needle directly to your pleasure center above your left brow. It's a calm, focused, but wonderfully buzzy way to spend a day.
Tomorrow will mark my seventh weekly treatment. I've also noticed more energy and vitality since going. People have remarked that I look and act like a different person altogether; that magic spark is back in my eyes! Most noticeably, I've gotten back the ability to walk. At 6'4", I've always prided myself on the fact that I could cover a lot of ground with these long legs. I always enjoyed walking for miles upon end, seeing new things and places, and having the stride to carry me there. Taking my legs away was akin to the story of cutting off Samson's hair. My legs were my most powerful physical asset, and I used them. Without them I felt emasculated and powerless.
Now, it's not painful to walk any longer. And I have the energy to do it! I can enjoy more time with Amanda doing the things we love to do without worrying if I'll have to turn around and go home for a nap.
In addition, Ashley has me on Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar and some unpronounceable Chinese herbs that are cleaning out my liver much more effectively.
Will it last long? How soon can I enjoy this, and how soon will I need that transplant? Ashley summed it up for me beautifully: "Let's not worry about what may happen tomorrow. Let's just say that for today, you feel good."