Originally born in Georgia, my family moved to
a small town in Virginia when I was four. I spent most of my life in
Pulaski with my mom, dad and older brother.
I graduated high school in 2005, spent a few years in Simpsonville, SC
with my mom, but ended up back in Pulaski in 2008. I was living with my
dad when I started having issues with my stomach. Since my dad had
recently been through treatment for Colon Cancer, my gastroenterologist
did a colonoscopy and endoscopy. I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in
August of 2008.
Treatment kept symptoms and flare-ups under control, but I started
having intermittent sharp pain in my upper right quadrant. My
doctor ordered numerous tests, none of which provided any answers. He
referred me to the University of Virginia Medical Center to be evaluated
Doctors at UVA ran more tests, did more scopes, and performed a liver
biopsy. The diagnosis of Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) was made
and medications were prescribed. I was at a complete loss; no one in my
family ever had any issues with their liver, and being the daughter of a
police officer, I wasn't much of a drinker. I guess I just drew the
With daily medication and regular exams, the disease was kept under
control. Finally feeling well, I decided to give South Carolina another shot. I moved to Greenville in the summer of 2010 and
found the love of my life - Duane. He was very understanding about my illnesses, never giving them much thought.
Things were finally looking up. I was pretty healthy, had the love and
support of a wonderful man, and I had landed the perfect job working in the front office of a pediatrics office. Pretty
soon after we celebrated our one year anniversary, I began having the sharp, stabbing pains associated with PSC. I got
established with a gastroenterologist and learned that the disease had been progressing. He added some medications, but I still had
pain and felt awful.
December of 2011 was the worst. My legs were swollen, I was extremely
tired and quite pale. December 15, 2011, I woke up having trouble
breathing. My mom rushed over, called an ambulance, and we went to the
ER. By the time I got to see a doctor, I had a fever of 102 and a hemoglobin of 6. (The average
person's normal hgb is 15.) The doctor admitted me and I got four units of blood and an endoscopy that showed esophageal varicies
that had been slowly bleeding. I also received countless bags of fluids, aka saline. Since my liver couldn't process
the salt, my stomach became very distended and I gained 20lbs in about two days. Lasix helped me shed the water weight, and
after a week in the hospital, I was released.
My doctor ordered me to light duty and only 4 hours of work per day, as
well as weekly hgb checks. After a few short weeks of my light schedule,
I was ordered to stop working all together, and referred to the Medical
University of South Carolina to be evaluated for a possible transplant.
I've been to Charleston several times, and the conclusion is yes, I do
in fact need a liver transplant. Placement on the waiting list is
based on the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD), a numerical scale
ranging from 6 (less ill) to 40 (gravely ill), used for liver transplant
candidates age 12 and older. It gives each person a "score" (number)
based on how urgently he or she needs a liver transplant within the next
three months. My most recent MELD was 13, and you are officially placed
on the list once you reach 15. For now, we wait.