John Brink | CaringBridge

John Brink

First post: May 17, 2018 Latest post: May 30, 2018
Thanks for visiting my CB site. I'm using it to keep family and friends updated about my condition. I've been at the Ames (Iowa) Family Hospice House since May 3, 2018. I am dying from  cirrhosis of the liver and complications due to alcoholism. Here's some background:

In February 2017 I was hospitalized and almost died from liver failure. For more than 30 years, I had kept my drinking problem a secret. Not even my family knew about it. I was what they call a high functioning alcoholic. But this hospitalization changed everything. Suddenly I had to tell my family. It was a huge relief to get it out in the open. When I recovered enough to return home and eventually to work, I decided to "come out" about my drinking problem. This CB page is part of that process.

Since that crisis, my health has been very shaky, with ups and downs and additional hospital stays. From the beginning my internist, Dr. Jason Kruse at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines, was clear that without a new liver I would, in his words, "tank," and probably sooner rather than later. Thanks to his fabulous care, I've  been able to  continue working and mostly to manage my symptoms while applying to be placed on a liver transplant waiting list through the University of Iowa Hospitals. And I've discovered that life can be pretty darn good even without drinking and on a low-sodium diet.

But then a blow: Last month, after weeks of tests and evaluations, I learned that I do not qualify for a liver transplant through the Iowa City transplant program. I have a serious heart condition that makes the surgery too risky. 

I've found some peace with my situation through the words of my favorite atheist, Richard Dawkins (see https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/83303-we-are-going-to-die-and-that-makes-us-the), and through Carl Sagan's philosophy about human existence (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RESsY2y8G2s ). I'm also inspired by my dad's courageous and grateful approach to his own death in December 2014.

In late April I was hospitalized again because of kidney problems directly related to the liver disease. My condition deteriorated quickly. The only thing that could save me was an immediate liver transplant, which my heart couldn't handle and I was too sick to survive. 

So, here I am in hospice. 

When I arrived here I had been "out of it" for about 36 hours, and my family was told I might live only a few days. But my condition has actually improved a little. I'm mostly awake and alert and am able to get back on the computer for short periods of time. I really enjoy visitors and hearing from friends and family. 

Thank you to everyone who's helping me on my final journey.
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