Michelle Voelker | CaringBridge
My first haircut and color in a looooong time!

Michelle Voelker

First post: 12/28/2013 Latest post: 11/20/2016
My Story???
Where do I start???
Do I start from the day I got sick?
That was July 31, 2012. I woke up sick, Jim and I knew the night before I was not well.
We went to the ER in Green Bay.. I ended up staying for 4 days. They did not give me much hope.
Then I found Froedtert! I found the awesome team of Doctors starting with Dr. Gawrieh.
He gave me hope and took me under his wing-I put all my trust and faith into him that day in August. He was so sincere and gave me the answers I was searching for varices, ascites and a TIPS surgery

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transjugular_intrahepatic_portosystemic_shunt

 Dr. G called me at home in March on a Sunday night. He informed me my Liver was failing at such a rate I would need to go on to the Transplant Waiting List. We crushed.
I was sure I was doing good, I felt good although not great. I was still working full time with sometimes 60 hours in a week and living a somewhat normal life.
I was tired but didn't feel sick enough to need a new Liver.
So I went through much testing and eventually found myself getting indeed sicker. Although I was trying to minimalize it. Who wants to face mortality? I was too young for that! I have kids and granddaughters I need to live for. I don't have time to be sick.
Eventually I had to face it and give in to the process-however difficult that may be...I had to do it and trust in my Doctors.
As the months went on...things got worse.
By July 2013 I noticed things were getting serious.
Then by early fall, I couldn't work any longer and I was very fatigued.

Then Dr. G left Froedtert and I was devastated but, he assured me things would not change and the team still had my back. They would not and did not let me down.

As the weeks and months went on, I knew I was heading for trouble. I didn't want to notify my family that I was feeling like this, I was sure I could spare everyone the details and get through this without interrupting their lives. Well, that was just silly!!!

Early December, everything went to hell.
I was very sick and toxins had invaded my brain.
In to the hospital I went, I remember very little but I now know most of what happened.
After the toxins took over, I ended up in ICU and that's were I stayed until a liver became available-there was no hope of going home unless or until I received a liver. Things were bleak.
After 4 false alarms in December through January, a 5th liver was available and a match on January 9th 2014!
I was wheeled in to surgery so quick I missed many details. I remember the urgency.
I was on Dialysis, out of my mind with illness. SO many wires and tubes everywhere.
When I got in to OR they already had my personal collection of CD,s and the last thing I remember was listening to Cheeseburger In Paradise followed by Margaritaville. I was afraid because I was still awake-I didn't want to be awake during surgery for goodness sake. The nurses just told me to keep breathing deep breaths. Boom I was out!
At that time I wasn't coherent enough to realize the gravity of the situation. I know understand how dreadful things were getting.
My entire team worked so hard to save me. From the Awesome Surgeons and Nurses, they are something out of the norm. This team really live for the patients. This entire team is the reason I kept fighting. They never lost hope and they instilled hope to me and Jim that we never gave up either.

I will always have a special place in my heart for every Doctor and Nurse that gave me hope and encouraged me. They all mean so much to me, words simply cannot convey what is in my heart.
I am able to live my life and love my family as if nothing happened. Although we all know what happened, it is a blur. It all happened so quick I sometimes feel like nothing happened. At the time the process was slow but in retrospect it all happened in less than 1 1/2 years. Wow!

What A Story! All Non-Fiction!

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