Isn’t That Liver-ly

October 28, 2006 at 10:38 am (Uncategorized)

I feel silly reporting on the slab of flesh residing in the upper right quadrant of my abdomen. But spending a few months in chronic town does strange things to a gal’s brain. I used to actually devote mental energy to the fact that my eyelashes – though quite long– didn’t curl naturally. Seriously. Then I had a kid and got a chronic disease and my eyelashes resumed their rightful lowly place in the pantheon of concerns. Now I have my lungs and heart to worry about. But luckily, not my liver.

Last week I underwent a battery of imaging tests because routine blood work revealed abnormalities in the way my liver was functioning. Ever since I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, my liver tests have been a little off. Because sarcoidosis frequently affects the liver – but very rarely does any type of significant damage to that organ – my doctors were usually nonchalant about mildly abnormal blood work. But over the past six months, the tests had gotten more abnormal, even though the sarcoidosis in my heart and lungs is improving.

Rather than just run the tests and then report on the results when they actually had data, though, my doctors did what doctors do best – spread doom and gloom. “Well, we just need to check for things like malignancies, biliary cirrhosis [another auto-immune disease], and hepatitis,” my primary care doctor told me. There’s nothing like that trinity of cheeriness to help me sleep at night. “Malignancies, biliary cirrhosis, and hepatitis, oh my!” went my busy brain in the wee hours of the night. “Malignancies, biliary cirrhosis, and hepatitis, oh my!”

Fortunately, I finally got the results from the tests, and they were all normal. Hooray! I won’t die a quick and painful death from liver cancer. Or a slow and painful death from cirrhosis. My liver is lovely.

Of course, all those shockingly normal results raise the question of why my liver function markers are getting weirder. “It must be the sarcoidosis,” said my primary care doctor here in Helena. “It must be the sarcoidosis,” said the sarcoidosis specialist in Philadelphia. This raises the question of why the sarcoidosis would be more active in my liver if the prednisone is beating it into submission in my heart and lungs. “Good question,” the doctors said, and left it at that. Does this mean the disease is now launching a new offensive on the incrementally lower dose of prednisone I’ve been taking for the past month? “Good question.” But they were both adamant that I do not need to take more prednisone. I got their blessing to continue with the taper and then get reassessed in March. If the sarcoidosis is staging a resurgence, we’ll find out then.

Now that I know my liver isn’t riddled with malignant tumors, I am doing my best to once more forget its existence. Let it manufacture its bile in peace. I have more important things to think about. Though I’ve gotten over my eyelash fixation, I have noticed that my left eyebrow is ever so slightly higher than its counterpart.

You do know I’m kidding, right?

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