Belief of Second Chances

Rachelle - Steuben, Maine
Entered on October 20, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, illness

Belief of Second Chances

As a nurse, I believe in second chances. Five years ago, my father starting taking Raptiva for severe plaque psoriasis. This was a weekly subcutaneous injection. Although the side effects were minimal, a low grade fever was common. With acetaminophen, the low grade would go away. In twelve weeks, my father’s psoriasis was gone. It was a miracle. His morale was up and he stopped wearing only long sleeved shirts and pants. Then something happened over the next few weeks. My father started sleeping late and taking frequent naps. Then low grade fevers popped up, and his skin started to have a faint yellowish tint. He made a doctor’s appointment to get checked out, but unfortunately there is a long wait to get an appointment with the dermatologist. Two days before his doctor’s appointment, he awoke with terrible stomach pains and a high fever. My mother and I drove him to hospital, while hearing him scream like a little child. At that moment, I honestly thought that he was going to die.

At the hospital, the diagnoses were not good. The terrible stomach pains were due to peritonitis, and the faint yellowish skin was due to End Stage Liver Disease. Only 10% of his liver was functioning and there was only one option: after the peritonitis was treated, a liver transplant. He had to go to Massachusetts General Hospital to have all the tests done to make sure that he qualified to be a transplant patient. Three weeks later he was listed, and even though he was critically ill he was not high on the list. We waited a year and he just kept getting worse. Each time he got sicker, he would get bumped up one or two on the list; but that was still not good enough. Finally, my father and his local liver specialist decided that he would die before he could get a transplant at Mass General Hospital. He needed to seek other options.

The other option was Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Once again, my mother and father went to Jacksonville to have the complete work up done. He was listed, but because the wait time was six months or less, they needed to relocate. With no other options, my parents packed up and took off for Jacksonville. Luckily, my mother’s job transferred her to a bank down there, and the insurance company gave a stipend for temporary relocation. On August 7th, at 3:30AM, the call came. The outcome was a successful transplant.

As a nurse, I believe in second chances. My father’s life was stripped away from him by a medicine that helped his psoriasis but killed his liver at the same time. Fortunately, a liver transplant saved him. The ultimate second chance in life is life, and if that can be achieved anything can be achieved.