Guest blog post from Laurie Willis-Rhodes
Adrian here. I asked Laurie to write a guest post for today, given that yesterday was our fourth-year wedding anniversary.
I also want to point out that I saw the CBC news and their pieces about the Rassouli case decision from the Supreme Court. I will comment on that in another post next week. What Laurie has written here are her own words; I edited for clarity only. She approved my edits and allowed me to post this...
So how do you change the way you look at a bad anniversary? You get married on that date!
In 2004, I became ill with 50-60% liver failure. The simplest way to explain it is to say that it was caused by a drug interaction but that's not the whole story.
I went to a dentist and said I needed to be put to sleep for the procedure. He gave me some forms to fill out for his anesthesiologist, who wanted to give me a full work-up before the procedure. My family doctor did a full physical and all sorts of blood testing. The testing indicated that I had high cholesterol levels and I should watch what I ate for a while.
What I didn't know, wasn't told and didn't realize until later was that was something I should have been told that the dentist or anesthesiologist needed to know. It's likely the combination of the anesthetic, the three different antibiotics and Tylenol caused the failure; they can't be any more specific than that because any one of the medications could have done it.
I was nauseated, very weak and eventually physically ill. In one hospital, the doctor pressed down below my ribs and I just about screamed. He said that was my liver. The doctors couldn't be sure what it was so I was referred to Toronto General Hospital. I was examined and he didn't know for sure what it might be, but he admitted me and said he'd have a biopsy done the next day. The ER got me started on MucoMyst, an IV introduced drug to stabilize my liver, which probably saved my life. By the time the biopsy was done, it was diagnosed as 50-60% failure. If the MucoMyst didn't work by the Monday (this was Saturday night), I would be on the transplant list. Well, it did! On the Monday I was cleared and on Friday I was discharged!
The doctor who saw me on the Sunday morning was Dr. Gary Levy. He's been in the news a lot for transplants he's done; he's also known for doing the one for Helene Campbell who was promoted by Justin Bieber and Ellen DeGeneres. When he went over my story, he kept repeating "And your doctor didn't tell you not to go ahead with the procedure?" That's how I got the sense that my GP made a mistake, although it was never confirmed.
So I'm angry about that, but things happen and what can you do? I don't blame the anesthesiologist because he did his due diligence. I actually blamed myself somewhat because every medication I took said not to take it if you have a liver condition. But I wasn't told I had a liver condition until the damage was done so I took what I was prescribed. There are apparently lots of cases of people developing liver failure through overuse or abuse of Tylenol. My drug cocktail, I think, seemed to be a sure-fire way to get sick.
While I was in the hospital, the Boston Red Sox went down 3-0 to the New York Yankees. No team had ever come back to win four straight. Well, they did! I watched it from my hospital room. As the Red Sox came back, so did my health. I'm a Toronto Blue Jays fan, but if the Jays had never existed, that would have been my team in the American League. Besides, the first thing my Dad ever taught me about baseball is we hate the Yankees!
So what's this bad anniversary I mentioned at the start? Well, October 17 was the Saturday when I was told I was in serious trouble. Every year around that time of year, I was depressed and inconsolable because this changed my life and caused me to need medication to stabilize my condition for the rest of my life. Five years later, I got married on that day. There hasn't been a bad October 17 since! I love you honey!
A Commentary by Adrian
Except for a couple of changes in terminology, the writing above is all Laurie’s writing. I know that she was very sick and there was a question that she would need a transplant. I am blessed with Laurie in my life, and I am very protective of her. I never realized that Tylenol caused liver failure, but I understand now that there are plans to make Tylenol labeling more explicit to help others avoid the same problems Laurie experienced.
Consider the following article:
“Bottles of Tylenol sold in the US will soon bear red warnings alerting users to the risks of taking too much of the popular pain reliever.” [SOURCE: Metro Toronto Free Paper, August 30-Sept 2, 2013 no page number through CP] I did have an article a few years ago which told me that there were about 600 or so deaths due to Tylenol overdose and that was around 2004/5. So this is not a new situation, but hopefully now it will be a more rare situation.