For those of you who have followed this blog for longer than the previous year (namely since before March 2013), you may have noticed that I started writing a whole lot more seriously in the previous 16+ months. I’ve always enjoyed writing and whatnot, but I’ve really ramped up the quantity and quality over the last while, mostly because I’ve been off work since June of 2013. I’ve alluded to my illness from time to time but I haven’t given a whole lot of details because, well, my readers have more than enough things on their own plates.
Many of my readers aren’t from Canada, aren’t really in my social circle, or aren’t people that I personally know, hence I’ve kept my cards close to the chest. The people in my church and those in my local circle of friends are “in the know,” but they’ve been keeping things on the DL at my request. But now things have changed, and it’s time to rally everyone who has taken a liking to my writing or work (both here and on the Cripplegate). So buckle yourselves in, because I am in dire need right now of every prayer warrior I can muster:
– In 1982, I was 5 years old and I had open heart surgery to correct a ventricular septal defect (three holes in my left ventricle). The surgery was successful and everything was hunky dory, or so I thought. What I didn’t know at the time was that, back in that era, blood wasn’t filtered or screened for various viral agents (i.e. HIV). In British Columbia, things like HIV and other pathogens weren’t on the radar that much; blood only started being screened in 1986. So, as a result of that whole scenario, I had a transfusion of blood tainted with Hepatitis C. For more info, feel free to do a little reading at the Canadian Liver Foundation.
– In a nutshell, there are 3 types of Hepatitis: A, B, and C. You get Hep. A from dirty water but you recover from it without medical intervention. You get Hep. B from unprotected sex (and I’m not sure if it’s treatable) and you get Hep. C from getting tainted blood into your blood (i.e. dirty needles or, in my case, transfusions of tainted blood). Hep. C is a degenerative infection of the liver that causes cirrhosis (when the liver fibrous tissue becomes scarred) and that means that the liver cannot function as well. That means that blood doesn’t get in and bile/bilirubin doesn’t get out (which is bad). Hepatitis C wrecks the liver to the point that it shuts down entirely, meaning that it is ultimately fatal unless otherwise treated. It’s a very serious disease that kills tens of thousands of people a year in North America…
– …But I’m not dead yet. I’m currently in the acute stages of manifest Hepatitis, meaning that my liver is not doing well (on a scale of 1 to 6 where 6 is “failing”, I’m at a 5). I’m really jaundiced (yellow in skin color), absolutely wiped out and have been struggling with severe nausea (i.e. I was throwing up everything I ate, and even randomly dry heaving several times a day). That’s why I was in hospital this past Monday (I hadn’t stomached any food in 2 days), and I’m now on a powerful anti-nausea drug that has been an absolute gift from the Lord.
– Now this all first surfaced in October of 2012. In the same week that I discovered that my wife was pregnant with our second (little 13-month old Kajsa, who has just started eating adult food by herself last week…), I was lying in a hospital bed in a hallway for a week and wondering if I’d ever actually see my daughter. That was a rather difficult period, but it turned out that my Hepatitis wasn’t what was making me jaundiced and ill. It turned out that, although I had Hep. C for 30 years, I had (by the grace of God) contracted another gastrointestinal infection that kicked my liver pretty hard and resulted in my hepatitis being found; regular gastrointestinal infections hit me exponentially harder than healthy people (i.e. what would be “rumbly tummy” to you with a day of uncomfortably sitting on the pot ends up hospitalizing me). I ended up getting better around the end of February 2013 (lost my jaundice, was eating fine, had enough energy to go up a flight of stairs without needing to sit down at the top, etc.) and returned to work until June 2013, when I got cleared to begin my first round of treatment. I was on that regime for several months but it was ineffective. I was pulled off the drugs to let them cycle out of my system and was gearing up for a different treatment regime that involved a far newer and more powerful drug. Sofosbuvir is really new (i.e. it got Health Canada approval this year) and its success rates have been really encouraging.
– I was all set to get started on the new treatment regime, and then two weeks ago everything went haywire. I got jaundiced again, started vomiting, and lost all energy. This is bad because I don’t know two things:
a. If my liver is finally failing (that’s not good at all).
b. If I can go on Sofosbuvir when I’m acute (jaundiced, etc.).
– So I don’t know if I have a secondary infection that’s aggravating my liver a second time (it somewhat looks like it, but I need far more testing for any certainty), and even if I do, I likely need to clear up my symptoms in order to commence treatment (though I’m not 100% certain about that).
– What’s more, is that since I’m getting extended health insurance coverage from my employer’s extended benefits provider, I’ve had to get a special dispensation from my health insurance provider to cover my new treatment regime since it’s absurdly expensive. I’m looking at either 12 or 24 weeks of treatment at $7,000 per week (so either $84,000 or $168,000, depending on how long my regime ends up being), and on Monday my health insurance provider sent me a letter saying that I was denied coverage for the treatment. Not exactly good news.
So what do I need? Four things:
a. Prayer for quick and accurate diagnosis & ultimately healing. The Lord could instantaneously heal me, but so far he hasn’t done so (and I understand such things are highly uncommon, regardless of what some people claim). I need my medical overseers to figure out what is happening to me right now (infection or liver failure) and formulate a strategy. My next appointment with my liver specialist is Friday, June 20th. I may be admitted to a hospital at that time, so updates might be slow in coming.
b. Prayer that my liver is not failing but rather that I have an infection again. Liver failure means that I need a transplant and my chances of survival are far lower if that’s the case.
c. Prayer for a successful appeal with my health insurance provider to cover my medication. The drug company and my liver specialist are all working with me on this. It’s likely going to be a bit of a drawn-out fight, but I’m not going to let them tell me my life isn’t worth $84,000.
d. Prayer for my wife (Jennifer) and my kids. This has been a really hard time for them as I’ve been home for a year and a half and running on around 25% battery…which has now dropped to 4%. I’m constantly wiped and more of a burden than I often realize…not to mention that the interferon regime I was on did some serious jangling of my brain and apparently made me lose my memory as well as become a rather obnoxiously crabby bible-college security guard for around a year (and in other news, if I’ve been somewhat uncharacteristically rude to you in the previous year or so, I’d like to apologize. I was literally under the influence of mind-altering drugs).
So now you pretty much know everything.
I’m not going to give regular updates on the blog since there aren’t many. Information comes really slowly and takes a lot of time; most of the last 20 months have been a waiting game with a whole lot of limbo. I’ll update with any big changes though, and I will covet your prayers…all of them.
People who are praying and don’t hear any news wonder if they should still be praying, or wonder if there’s something new that they need to be praying for, etc. I’ll do my best to keep you all as up to date as we are, but please understand that often months go by before we have anything to report.
If I take a turn for the better, I’ll make that known.
If I take a turn for the worst, I’ll make that known.
Also, if you don’t already know, my wife has a “secret picture blog for “Nana and Grandma” that’s here. Feel free to watch for pictures on there of my two little ones doing cute things and remember to pray for them and their mom as Dad has got an ouchie in his tummy (which Tobias kisses better every day now).
Longing for the day,
Lyndon “Mennoknight” Unger
One last thing: I’ll still publish the occasional blog post as I have time to finish them. I’m focusing what little energy I have left at my church now, but I’ll double dip from my work with the C&C study that I lead and the men’s leadership group that I occasionally lead.
May the Lord lavishly pour his mercy and grace upon you all.
“So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12