HOW DID WE GET HERE / by Nora Logan

I RECEIVED A liver transplant on the 6th of August 2015. I am not your typical organ transplant story. At least not as far as I am aware. It was a pretty wild and crazy situation, and not one that I can say I've heard happen to many other people. The doctors had no idea what was wrong with me, and they tested me for every single illness under the sun. Every test they had available to them, they did. It was a bloodbath up in my room everyday, everytime I would see the phlebotomist heading to my bedside, I'd know it was time for the vampires to come out. The first night in the ER, they took 15 vials of blood from me. THAT'S A LOT OF BLOOD. I would have blood drawn at least 5 to 6 times a day as they tried to figure out what was wrong. But it does happen, more than you would think, the mystery liver failure.

The day before I went into hospital. Gallivanting around the East VIllage as if I wasn't in Acute Liver Failure. I  truly had no idea what was about to hit me, despite those yellow eyes. 

I went into the hospital on the 28th of July, 2015 and was told by a very stern, no bullshit Russian doctor, let's call him Boris, that I was in Acute Liver Failure and that I was very, very sick. He chastised me for not coming in earlier because the numbers were extremely concerning. The day I went into hospital I also went into work in the morning for 3 hours (BECAUSE I'M CRAZY -- don't try this at home) and by the afternoon I was admitted to the ER and high on morphine by nightfall. It was only the very beginning of an extremely long and fraught journey.

My first night in the ER. Not looking too hot.

I want to tell my story here and offer some help and perhaps guidance for those in their darkest hours, as I have often been over the past 6 months. It's also, selfishly, a way for me to get my story down on proverbial paper, before I forget everything. 

I'm finally getting back to my life, after a long recovery with a lot of bumps, but I don't want to forget. It's important to remember and honour the experience. It won't define me, but it will inform the way I live going forward. When I was still in the thick of it with my illness, transplant and subsequent recovery, I was then faced with this new reality and I kept searching for answers and help online. I couldn't find what I was looking for. There are some wonderful sites out there, but not really any that spoke to me. I decided to start this blog as a way to communicate with others and hopefully help anyone in need. 

It's hard to navigate your new normal at first, I know I had SO many questions at first, and I still do everyday. But sometimes you don't remember to ask your doctor everything because you're focussing on not vomiting that day, or you don't have the energy to meet with the nutritionist to find out whether you're allowed to eat a certain type of cheese (you're probably not) or there is just so much other stuff going on that you actually completely forget. I'll offer my own tips about my diet and how I figure out what works for me. About self care routines that have really helped me. I'll talk about physical therapy and occupational therapy and therapy therapy (they're all important--and necessary). I'm basically going to lay it all out, scars and all (and there are a lot of them).

Exactly 12 days after my liver transplant. Photo by Alex Budman.

I also want to tell the truth about what I went through. If organ transplantation is something you or a loved one is going through, I'll tell you: it's not easy, and it's not fun. But a lot of times it will be funny -- and you'll look back and laugh. I promise. You'll even laugh when things are at their worst. I'm telling you my story, and the way I experienced it. No one story is exactly the same, so that's all any of us can do, really.