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Dennis aka Bogie's Story

Dennis at Wolf Creek

First I want to say that the reason I have not posted my story is because I was very much the exception to the rule and don't want to scare anyone out of a transplant. Remember that what happened to me only happens to a small % of transplants.

I found out I had Hep-c by accident around 1995 or 1996. I had to switch Drs due to some legal problems my previous dr had. I just picked one from the insurance co. list and went to see him. I have known since 1979 or 1980 that my liver enzymes run high and have told that to every dr I have seen since. But the new dr just did not say, "Hum" He immediately had me tested for Hep-c and the test came back positive. My wife was tested and came back neg., thank God. I did not know what Hep-c was but I soon found out!

I had experienced one specific incidence of extreme fatigue prior to that but just thought it was from getting older. That dr referred me to a gastroenterologist. It turns out he is one of the best drs I have ever had and my opinion of drs in general is pretty poor.

I was a medic during the Vietnam War and have worked in hospitals for about 12 years of my life. Drs don't intimidate me at all and I will let a dumb one know just what I think of him.

Anyway, we tried Interferon from Shering and it did not work (3mu) three times a week. Then we tried 5mu three times per week and that did not work. Next the combo with Ribivirin came out and that seemed to work for a short time then failed. At this time I had cirrhosis of the liver but really no big symptoms except for some fatigue, which was getting worse.

My Dr, Dr Hixson, is part of Mountain West Gastroenterology. He has a branch office where I live and referred me to the transplant part of Mountain West in Salt Lake City. In SLC they have about seven or so Drs in the group and I think there requirements to get into the group are VERY high. Anyway, I interviewed with the transplant team and was accepted into the program. Since then, all decisions about my TX have been done in a team fashion with transplant drs, surgeons, social workers, pharmacists, and transplant nurses.

I was monitored with blood tests and went to the LDS Hospital about every three months where they have a liver clinic every Thursday. (I live 320 miles from SLC) After about 1 and a half years I was placed on the list and moved to #1.

I waited for seven months and got THE call. By this time the only symptoms were fatigue and I was loosing weight no matter what I did. I knew things were getting bad. I was having more pain in my right side. I read about wheat grass juice as a 'miracle cure' for many things and tried it. It was like taking Jolt or whatever but I could feel the energy go back into my body. I am not recommending this remedy but it sure did something to me!

I did not suffer ascides prior to the transplant. I was at a golf course waiting to play 9 holes of golf when I go called. I walk and carry my clubs at reg. mountain courses. This kept me in good physical condition, which I later found out, may have helped save my life.

Well, we went zipping up to SLC, the operation could not have gone smoother (done in 6 hours) and I was doing so well I skipped one post operation ICU. For about three days or so I was like a poster child for liver transplants, planning to go home in a week!

Then whammmmmm, major rejection kicked in and they could not get me stabilized on anti-rejection drugs. Then I got pneumonia from CMV and one lung collapsed. Things just went down hill from that point. I was admitted on Oct.22nd, 1999. By Christmas I was in and out of conscientiousness, the Drs were telling my wife to start thinking about making arrangements for me and gave me very low odds on living. I had ascides so bad I looked like a balloon and had about 100+ lbs of excess fluid. My hair was falling out in chunks and I was very yellow. I had six IV's running at once with two drain tubes, one for each lung because I had pneumonia again, a catheter, oxygen, and I was incubated because I could not breath on my own. I looked like a science-fiction character.

Well, then I started getting better. At this time I was seeing only critical care drs. Their job is just to keep you alive. Things seemed to snowball and I continued to defy logic and kept getting better. I was discharged in March of 2000, five months after entering the hospital. I still had a feeding tube and was on oxygen. Less than two weeks of being home I was off the oxygen and the feeding tube was gone. I have done nothing but get better ever since. My blood tests are stable at this time and I am down to 5 prescription drugs from 12 and most dosages are lower. By the way, the surgeons that operated on me said with the state of my liver I would have lived for about three more weeks and if my physical condition had not been so good I would have not survived the operation.

Right now all I take is vit.E and Silymarin or Maximum Milk Thistle. I DID have a near death experience when my heart stopped in the hospital and I believe God spared me to help others. That is why I even go to the message boards.

By the way, the last time I was up to SLC they told me they did a liver transplant, got the patient stabilized on meds., and sent him home in five DAYS.

I see the transplant drs every four months now and hope to go to twice a year. I now get monthly blood tests, down from weekly and my arms are very grateful for that. I now see people who ask; I thought you were going to have an operation? I just laugh and tell them I already had it. The nurses at the LDS Hospital do not recognize me because I look so different now. Several who thought I would die have told me I am a walking miracle. There is a volunteer who was one of there first liver transplants and he is at every liver clinic every Tuesday and has done so for over 15 years. He told me he has never seen anyone get a bad as me and live.

I feel every day is a gift to me from God and I try not to waste any. I hope my story helps others and has not scared you too much. Needless to say a lot happened that I did not write in those five months but you got the highlights. If you have any specific questions feel free to ask. As you can see you can beat the odds and statistics, just NEVER give up.

God bless and good luck, Dennis aka Bogie

P.S. No, even though I live in Utah I am NOT LDS.


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