It is never a good sign when you wake up from your endoscopy and the doctor greets you with: "You're starting to worry me."
After Lois mumbled something like, "That doesn't sound good," The doctor went on to say that he didn't like what he was seeing and followed that with, "We need to get you transplanted."
The doctor told us that I had a tiny leak in my esophagus and that he wasn't worried about it, what worried him was the varices in my stomach that looked like they were swelled up and and ready to burst. He explained that he wanted a CT scan and that I probably needed to get a Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) procedure done as soon as we can do it.
The procedure is done by connecting two blood vessels in the liver. A radiologist will insert a catheter into a vein in my neck that has a balloon and metal mesh stent attached to it. Using X-ray equipment, the catheter is guided to a vein in the liver to where the balloon is blown up to place the stent and then they connect the portal vein to one of the hepatic veins. Once this is done the blood should flow better and take pressure off the stomach, esophagus, liver and intestines. In the meanwhile he told me to watch for any bleeding and to get to the hospital immediately if I had any problems. "If you start throwing up blood, have black stools, you call 911," he said. "Don't screw around."
I'm not very worried about the varices bleeding, but I am more concerned about the procedure itself. There are a number of risks such as bleeding, infections, damaging blood vessels and soreness in the neck. All of that sounds awful to me. Plus, we were told, that even though this procedure was something I needed it could also increase my encephalopathy. This is a whole new monster of its own.
I guess they feel it is serious, though, because by the time we got home the clinic called to schedule my CT scan for this Friday. I imagine they'll want to set up the TIPS soon after that.
I am somewhat spooked. I'd be lying if I said any different. So much is happening all at once and we have still not heard anything on Lois' biopsy. That just makes me mad. Big breaths ... big, big breaths.
Maybe we can set it up for my 50th birthday, which is Monday.