The Layperson’s Guide to Hepatic Encephalopathy

One of the conditions that occurs with advanced liver disease caused by chronic alcohol abuse is hepatic encephalopathy. Hepatic encephalopathy is different from Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, another condition associated with long-term alcohol abuse that is caused by a severe thiamine (B1) deficiency. However, the two conditions may coexist and lead to alcohol-related dementia. Continue reading

Seven Years Gone: Remembering Mama – August 14, 2019

The two most traumatic events I’ve experienced in a life that has seen its fair share of traumatic events are the deaths of my parents. When Daddy died on October 15, 1998, I went into protection and taking-care-of mode for Mama, suppressing the real nuts and bolts of my own grieving process over Daddy’s death so that I could give Mama my full support, help, comfort, and care.

I didn’t realize, at the time, that’s what I had done, because it seemed natural to me and I didn’t know how to do things any differently. Continue reading

Mother’s Day 2019

My dearest Mama,

It’s hard to believe you’ve been gone almost seven years. At once, it feels like yesterday and forever. I miss you as much now as I missed you the second God took your breath away as you hit the number of days He had written for you in His book before you were ever born.

The world was crazy and falling apart when you left. If you can imagine, it’s crazier and crumbling apart even more now.

We’re all worse for the wear, but that’s to be expected, and people you loved and cherished have, like you, gone to sleep to await the resurrection in the years since you’ve been gone.
Continue reading

Limbic-Predominant Age-Related TDP-43 Encelopathy (LATE) Dementia Identified

LATE Dementia IdentifiedA new type of dementia has been identified. While it may look like Alzheimer’s disease, it differs in significant ways. Researchers suspect it’s even more prevalent than Alzheimer’s disease – and may be part of a mixed-dementia diagnosis – but that remains to be seen.

The new type of dementia is called limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encelopathy or LATE dementia. The symptoms of LATE dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can appear to be similar, but while Alzheimer’s disease is the accumulation of plaques (beta-amyloid proteins) and tangles (tau proteins) in the brain, LATE dementia occurs because of the misfolding of accumulated TDP-43 proteins in the brain.  Continue reading

Remembering Mama

Mama 5 or 6 years oldToday – or yesterday – since the dates on each of your birth certificates (the handwritten one and the official one) are different, you would be 90 years old. That’s hard for me to even fathom, almost as hard as it is for me to fathom that in August you’ll be gone seven years. 

Thinking of you being 90 reminds me of how you and Daddy used to joke about life and death. Daddy’d always say that he wanted to live to be 100, and you always told him that he’d see that birthday without you because you didn’t want to live that long. Continue reading

All We Are Is Dust In The Wind: Helen “Chrissy” Riddle (1957 – 2019)

On Thursday, January 10, 2019, my sister (in my maternal biological family), Chris Riddle, was driving to work around 10 a.m. in Olathe, KS. Chris suffered a medical emergency that left her unconscious, and her SUV hit a car, then traveled forward through a fence into an icy cold pond.

By the time first responders got to the accident, the SUV was fully submerged. They pulled the SUV out, got Chris out, and, after a lengthy amount of time, were able to resuscitate her. She was taken to the hospital and put on life support. 

On Friday morning, January 11, 2019, a neurological examination showed Chris had no brain activity. The family huddled for several hours to decide what step to take next.

At 4:52 p.m. CST, Chris was pronounced dead. However, Chris was an organ donor, so the hospital kept her on life support until organ transplants could be arranged.

By Sunday, January 13, 2019, the hospital had found a liver recipient in New York and two lung recipients in the Midwest. At 7 p.m. CST, a “Walk of Honor” line, composed of family members, friends, and hospital staff, formed all both sides of the hallway from where Chris was to the operating room, where her liver and lungs would be harvested to extend life to three people Chris never knew.

That’s the Chris I know. Her life was not easy, and her journey had more than its share of ups and downs. Many people, given the same circumstances, would have become bitter, hard, and resentful.

But Chris did not. Filled with not just strength, but character that included grace, compassion, gentleness, kindness, and generosity, Chris took the hits, got up and dusted herself off, and kept living life to the fullest.

Chris was a fun person to be around. She smiled and laughed a lot and she truly enjoyed her life. She loved her mom, all of us siblings (there were six of us), her four beautiful children, her grandchildren, and all of our very large extended family with a heart that was big, open, and unconditional.

Her children – Michael, Mark, Jared, and Kaela – are now left to carry on Chris’s legacy. They will not be alone. Even though we will never be able to fill the void in their lives that Chris’s absence has created, we all – Chris’s siblings and extended family – will fill in the gaps and always be there to help them, to hold them, to love them. We may even dance at Kaela’s wedding. 🙂

Today is Chris’s memorial service. There will be tears, for sure. But there will also be smiles and laughter, because that was such of part of who Chris was and what her life was about. As we say goodbye to our sister, our momma, our niece, we know that it’s a temporary goodbye.

Our hope and the joy that is set before us is that we will see Chris again. We’ll see the twinkle in her eyes, the smile on her face, and we’ll hear her laughter as it warms our hearts. The only question left is who will be fast enough to run to hug her first.

So until then, dear Chris, rest well. We love you and we miss you, but we’ll see you soon. That’s a promise.