Written by Brenda May, Judi's youngest daughter -- On July 26, 2017, Mom called me to say that she had vomited blood. I picked her up from her apartment and took her to the ER at Waukesha Memorial Hospital. They did some initial testing including an EGD (camera down the throat) and said that they'd found an ulcer. That sounded very manageable. I made sure she was in good hands and I left the hospital to tend to my kids. Several hours later Mom called and said that they were moving her to the ICU. What?? Why the ICU for an ulcer? She didn't know why. Then about an hour after that call she called again and said they were going to transfer her to Froedtert by ambulance. I dropped everything and went to the hospital. When I arrived there were 4 ambulance workers there waiting for the completed paperwork and preparing to transfer her. I was told that there was a procedure that might be needed and that they don't perform it at Waukesha, therefore they were going to transfer her to Froedtert where the procedure could be performed if needed. Mom was confused and uncertain, but still in good spirits. I asked why there were so many there for the transport and they said they needed 2 paramedics to ride in the back with her because she was on a medication called Protonix and it was considered life sustaining. Alright -- what the heck is going on here?? All this for an ulcer. It was then that the first person mentioned that we were dealing with more than an ulcer but rather she was having a problem with her liver. I had no idea what that was going to mean.
She spent several days in the Transplant ICU at Frodert where they were monitoring and completing test after test after test. It was determined that Mom has Non-Alcoholic Cirrhosis of the Liver. I knew the liver was an important organ, but I guess I never really understood how important. One of the doctors explained that when it comes to a kidney failing, people are blessed with 2 and can have dialysis if needed. Lungs, 2 of those and machines can do a lot of a person's breathing. Heart, surgeries can help and pacemakers can be installed. But, when it comes to a liver, there's only one and when it fails, there aren't a lot of good options. So here's where my crash course in learning about the liver began. I researched and gathered all the information I possibly could so that I could ask intelligent questions as each update was given.