Hepatic encephalopathy is a syndrome observed in patients with liver failure. It is a loss of brain function when a damaged liver doesn’t remove toxins from the blood. Hepatic encephalopathy is characterized by personality changes, intellectual impairment, and a depressed level of consciousness.
Approximately 30% of patients in end-stage liver disease experience significant encephalopathy, approaching coma. After having the ventilator removed, hepatic encephalopathy seems to have affected my dad’s current mental status, hopefully he does not go into hepatic coma as he did in 2008.
Mom stayed with dad throughout the night, as she has almost every night; after having the ventilator removed yesterday, last night dad couldn’t stop talking, mumbling words, some that made sense, some jibberish, some religious and some phrases on repeat. It reminds me of homeless people that talk to themselves on the sidewalk; perhaps that’s what’s going on with them. The nurse last night said he didn’t have it as bad as some people. I thought to myself, well at least he’s still talking to God.
Mom and I have had some crazy experiences with my dad’s encephalopathy; a month ago we had to restrain him while having to drive him an hour away to the ER; it can be very alarming at times, sometimes funny and totally odd, but he doesn’t have a clue of what is going on nor does he have any recollection when he is back to normal. I have to say it is a huge breath of fresh air and a relief having my dad back after a crazy bout of this stuff. I won’t go much more into detail here, but you can ask me directly if you like.
After being removed from the ventilator yesterday, dad was encouraged to cough and was often suctioned as phlegm and old blood still remained in his lungs.
Sitting after 1 week
Today, dad was brought to sit on the “cardiac chair”, a type of medical device that is designed to help people recover more quickly from heart surgery and respiratory illnesses. It’s been about a week since he sat down. He looks good, despite continuous mumbling and weakness.
In preparation for being put on the transplant list, he’s been given a CT scan of his abdomen, chest, heart angiogram, and renal utrasound. One more procedure (colonoscopy) and he should be able to get on the list. Still waiting for dad to be cleared for that last procedure, then the waiting game for the right liver.