Kevin’s illnessPosted on January 1, 2012
From Team Grinde’s “Liver & Onions” blog | Alexis Grinde
The summer of 2010, KG went through a long arduous diagnostic process which included many tests at Altru and an eventual referral to the Mayo in August 2010. It was at the Mayo they diagnosed KG with autoimmune hepatitis. What? Yep. Autoimmune hepatitis. It is inflammation of the liver that occurs when the immune system cells mistake the liver’s normal cells for invaders and attack them. For many people autoimmune hepatitis can be treated with medication; however, in the case of KG his diagnosis of autoimmune hepatitis came with the secondary diagnosis of end stage cirrhosis. This means the inflammation of the liver had been going on so long the liver was no longer able to renew itself- this results in irreversible scarring of the liver aka cirrhosis. The end stage part is just what it sounds like- it couldn’t get any worse. For visualization purposes: a healthy liver = raw juicy steak; KG’s liver = scorched, overcooked, charred (you get the idea) steak.
The incredible part of the story that speaks to the importance of health and well-being is that KG’s immune system has been attacking his liver for years, possibly even decades. But, other than the whole rotting liver thing, KG was in perfect health; so his body was able to compensate for his declining liver all that time. Pretty amazing, right? What is even more amazing is this: The day of the transplant, KG’s MELD (Measure of End-stage Liver Disease) score was 43 (you can google it- it is not good), 2 weeks ago it was 22, 6 months ago it was 14. The rapid decline in his liver function was accompanied by an exponential increase in faith, strength, determination and humor. That is Amazing. Super-Hero Amazing.