Thursday, August 16, 2007

More On Darcy

Darcy is home again. She has no major heart problems so they still don't know what's wrong with her liver. She was so weak last night I had to lift her off the couch, they are talking about her being anemic and needing a transfusion.

They know she has portal hypertension (high blood pressure in the portal vein, the main one pumping blood into the liver from underneath) and ascites, but her heart checked out OK. Not perfect, it is showing signs of wear and tear with all she's been through but nothing serious enough to worry about and certainly not serious enough to cause the liver problems or the ascites. They also know she doesn't have cirrhosis and the portal hypertension isn't high enough to cause the degree of ascites she has. So they don't know what is causing the hypertension (can be caused by cirrhosis, heart problems or blood clots, all have been ruled out) or what is causing the ascites.

I think it's simple, all the meds she's had to take since her lung transplant have taken a serious toll. They are really quite lethal even though they have kept her alive. And as problems have developed from those meds they have had to add additional meds to combat those. She got extremely high blood pressure and they had to give her very high doses of anti-BP meds to bring it down to normal. Then she got serious blood clots in her legs so they had to put in a stent in the inferior vena cava and give her very high doses of blood thinners, she has to inject those. Then she has to be on prophylactic antibacterial and anti-viral meds because she almost died from pneumonia, both bacterial and viral at the same time, a few years ago.

Ascites is very interesting, never heard of it before this. Apparently our intestines are wrapped in a little bag, ascites is fluid seeping out into the space between the bag and the abdominal wall. They have to stick a needle in to drain it out.

It doesn't take a whole lot of knowledge of how the human body operates to see that it's the kind of mess that could only have grown on it's own, guided by cause and effect. If there was a designer he would make it much simpler and easy to figure out, like a car engine. The IDers have it all wrong, the level of complexity does not add up to a creator but to the lack of one. My usual metaphor for this is to compare a Zen garden to a wild forest. It's completely obvious which is tended to and which is growing wild, and we aren't in any Zen garden!

Darcy has been beating the odds for years, the other 5 patients who got lung transplants at USC at around the same time as hers were dead at 5 years out. Darcy had her 9 year anniversary in April. The
pneumonia mentioned above almost killed her, her doc said an 80% chance of dying, they were all surprised she recovered. Then they discovered a fungal infection in the air passages leading to her lungs, which had a 90% chance of killing her but 6 months of aggressive anti fungal treatments and it was gone. She is still on anti-fungal meds prophylactically, another med with very serious side effects.

We knew our luck would run out someday and this is looking like it. She is just so weak and thin I don't see her having the resources for miraculous recoveries any more.

Despite having 14 years to prepare for her death the idea feels like a crushing weight on me, something so unbearable it's hard to even think about it.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Dear Kevin

I found very nice and interesting your description of ascites. I work every day to understand how it works and it appears quite easy. The point is how to revert the mechanisms which generate it.

All the best for your wife