Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mr. Clean's Dark Side

Hi All!

Ammonia is a useful thing, for example, it is a great household cleaner.

Ammonia is a dangerous thing when your body produces but doesn't clear out.

Such is one insidious symptom of end-stage liver disease.

If I were not swigging a syrup called lactulose I would probably had at least one encephalitic coma by now.

The liver, among its many under-appreciated functions, purges the ammonia that naturally occurs in digestion. If the liver goes on strike, the ammonia heads for the brain rather than the poop chute.

Lactulose gives you, um, frequent watery stools but with each discharge comes the relief of knowing that you won't get too messed up in your head.

The doctor told me that if I forget to swig the syrup regularly, by the time I realize I am losing it it may be to late to avoid the coma deal.

So I thank God for this magic mead.

Even under control, there is no way to avoid the forgetfulness, light-headed dizziness, very emotional mood swings.

There was a time when my less coherent posts were alcohol related brain farts. I still write that way sometimes but the reason now is the encephalopathy. Or the occasional bowl of pipe weed.

I am on a liver transplant discussion group where it is comforting to find out that you are not alone, let alone insane.

A sampling of today's posts, although of a common type, compelled me to post this.

"I sometimes have a change in my ammonia levels. To be sure I stay
ok, I stay at home and DON'T drive. Plus,keep a calender with your meds and
mark when you take them so you don't repeat a dosage or miss one.
If you pay attention to forgetting,you will notice when you get
stumped as to what you were going to say,or forget the subject.
Good Luck & be aware....Shelby"

"Most likely others will notice a change in you due to high ammonia levels before you do. Jon would get vicious when he went high, and he would go high because he would give into his cravings for protein, not easy to keep a teen away from certain foods. But the TX team would always be available to help us when we called."

"You know you need to call the doctor about the ammonia problems. Sometimes they can creep up on you and you don't notice. Didn't they give you some pills to take back in November around the time I came to Florida that also helped when you had problems with ammonia buildup? Has Bill noticed anything different? Are you slurring your words again? I lost all the email addresses in my computer so I haven't been able to email you and you haven't written much to the group lately. Usually when you email me I can tell a big difference in your writing. Let me hear from you and make sure you get in touch with someone on your tx team."

This is another "Me Me ME" post. Sorry for the self-indulgence.



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