Living with a killer disease called autoimmune hepatitis. I had no idea it could kill me. About four and a half years ago at 61, I found myself extremely fatigued all the time. Not that this was anything new. I mean, this was a complaint of mine brought up over the past fifteen years. On and off I’d feel okay one day and the next few days like my energy took a vacation. Something I accepted as a result of my life-style. I thought it was only the consequence of drinking too much alcohol.
For many years I enjoyed eating barbecued, fast food, drinking hard liquor, beer and a lot of it! The problem was I did it to excess. That was my thing to do. My happiness. So I thought! Even though I quit drinking about thirteen years ago, (except a few times a year a glass of wine during a holiday or vacation dinner) by the time I reached my sixty first birthday the fatigue got to the point whatever I was doing, walking, sitting, using the computer, etc… I couldn’t function. This tiredness was so very odd and unusual. Not the normal kind of tired as doing physical labor in a routine work week. This was flat out continual exhaustion.
One thing I noticed through those years was my weight fluctuating between 150 lbs and 165 lbs. Sometimes I could gain 10 pounds and no sooner lose it. It became this weird yo yo factor. I really had no idea up to the time I was diagnosed, that living with this progression of damage could have actually killed me. Before finally realizing I needed to see a doctor my weight had plummeted to what it was in high school, 140 lbs. That was really perplexing because, in my opinion, I ate a lot of food. Well, that brought out the white flag. Gotta get it checked out.
Hospital Visit And Verdict
After blood tests and liver biopsy the diagnosis came back and the doctor told me it was some weird disease called Autoimmune Hepatitis. What the frigg is that? For some crazy reason, according to the physicians, my immune system was way out of whack. My liver was perceived as this big invader and the antibodies went on the defensive attacking and destroying the tissue. Hence- the reason for my fatigue. I couldn’t understand why they called it Autoimmune Hepatitis because I never had any hepatitis. I never even heard of an autoimmune disease for that matter. Through much research it seems that in the last 10 years or so, there is an epidemic of autoimmune diseases going on. Strange!
What causes this to happen? There are many different explanations. In my case, I think it was triggered with a flu shot. The media pushes so hard every flu season to get one, but who really questions what is in the serum! I was about to go on a short vacation and made a quick stop at the Hospital to get some blood taken for an upcoming physical. After finishing the blood work, I saw that flu shots were being offered, so what the heck! I got one. That night my arm swelled up and was real sore, a bit reddish, too. Didn’t think much of it, just par for the course. Eventually, it subsided in the next few days.
Over many years of letting negative emotions rule in stressful situations, alcohol abuse (possibly left scars on my liver), bad diet, plus the fact my body was constantly fighting off the invasion of certain viruses and infection, after the flu shot; I believe the combination of all those components completely taxed my immune system. The antibodies being so overwhelmed with many invaders, not able to distinguish good tissue from bad, finally just went berserk and assaulted my liver. My assumption is, at that point, it lead up to my disease.
The Doctors Venomous Treatment
The first drug I had to take was a corticosteroid called prednisone an immunosuppressant medication used to treat Autoimmune Hepatitis and other disorders. That wasn’t real fun. I had to deal with to many side effects. There were many sleepless nights due to the racing of my heart. Then my appetite shot way out of control and I gaining about 25 pounds, which was a good thing for me. But, food became like an addiction and expensive! Couldn’t get enough. Weird…huh! After about three or four months of that my liver tests improved, probably from eating healthier, so I weened off that irritating stuff. I thought I was done with the drugs, but hold on, the gastroenterologist introduced another drug called azathioprine. He said it was to keep my immune system in check. Really? Ok! you’re the doc… I did some research on that one finding out this junk had some real annoying side effects, too, of which I really didn’t appreciate and had to deal with over 2 1/2 years.
Helping Myself Get Healed
I finally told the doctor I wasn’t going to take the drug anymore. I was really getting tired of all the f—‘n side effects. It was against his better judgement, as he called me greedy. What! that’s a nice thing to say to your patient. I guess he wanted me to keep paying those 50.00 dollar visits for those long 3 minutes of his time, plus the 15.00 to the pharmacy every month for their cut. Well, that instilled an instant bit of resentment. With a lot of prayer and trust in my Lord, I weened myself off that garb and now I’ve been drug free well over a year and a half.
I really believe with all my heart now by changing your diet, eating organic foods and vitamins certainly will help to fight off these kinds of autoimmune problems. I also know that’s the key to what’s helping keep my immune system working correctly again.
As of now, pushing 66 (at the time of this writting) in a few months, the recent blood tests show my liver enzymes are perfect and all other tests are back to normal. A shock to the doctor! He even said I look 10 years younger. Phmmm! But, still… I struggle with a lack of energy. Hard to understand why. I do have days that are quit good then others that I wonder what is going on. Could it be due to the fact my body has been battling the elements for so long and of course, age? Nah! My appetite is great. I’ve been eating mostly organic foods while exercising as much as possible. Though, at times, I do indulge in things that probably aren’t helping. Must be something else making me fell sluggish or maybe I’m just stuck with this miserable condition. I sure did think once all the tests were good my energy levels would be back… go figure! Oh! well… Ahhh! what the f— heck!
What’s Next On The Battle Plan?
Onward to the next step. Sleep!