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Facing Liver Problems

By Tim Hinkhouse

May 6, 2017

I believe that I have mentioned that, back in February, I had an ultrasound to find out whether I had gallstones? Turns out they are living inside me. It was also discovered that I have an enlarged and sometimes painful liver. According to the report by the ultrasound tech, I have the symptoms of someone with cirrhosis of the liver. How can this be? I haven't drunk alcohol in over twenty years, and I don't have hepatitis C.

On April 24, I had a doctor's appointment with the HIV specialist, who gave me the bad news. Then he ordered another ultrasound, which happened the next day to confirm his diagnosis. I have to wait a week or two for the results, which is really messing with my head right now. So, this is how it'll end for me, huh?

Well, on the bright side of all this, my viral load is still undetectable and my CD4 count has reached 745 now. At least my HIV is still under control after all these years. I can manage the side effects of the new meds. The psychological effects of HIV are manageable because of my support network of friends in prison and friends outside of prison, as well.

A few weeks ago, I was having chest pains, and I thought I was having a heart attack. Right after I had an EKG only to find out that my heart is beating strong with normal rhythm. It seems as if I am now being more aware of things going wrong and having issues addressed so I can rule out each symptom.

The HIV specialist tells me that I have fatty deposits on my liver that could be a result of my being overweight. So, he tells me that I need to lose weight. I am 6'3" and 275 lbs., and I carry all my weight in my torso. I have been told that I am barrel chested, but that is because I used to be a weight lifter, and I am a big man. The doctor says I should get down to 235lbs. If being that thin is going to extend my life by a few years, then I'll do what I got to do. Besides, I don't want my mom to have to bury her son because that would absolutely destroy her. We are very close now that I am older.

The possibility of getting out of prison one day if the Oregon governor grants my clemency petition is another reason for wanting to be as healthy as possible. She has had my petition for over 18 months now, and this waiting is stressing me out. I'll be better off after she makes her decision no matter which way it goes. At least then I won't be in a holding pattern, and I will move forward.

When I get the definitive diagnosis that I have cirrhosis of my liver, I'll deal with that then. In the meantime, I need to focus on taking better care of myself and trying to live as long as I can -- at least to out live my mom. Then I'll find another reason to go on.

Has anyone reading this gone through a similar experience? How did you deal with that? Can you share your words to help me through this time of my life, which seems as if it'll be coming to a close sooner than I'd like it to?

Related Stories

Making Progress in Losing Weight, Knowing the Reward Will Be Feeling Better Overall
Med Side Effects: Thinking About How HIV Affects Us Physically
More Personal Accounts and Profiles of Prisoners With HIV/AIDS

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HIV on the Inside

Tim Hinkhouse

Tim Hinkhouse

I have been HIV-positive for over 25 years and have been in prison in Oregon for almost as long because of my health status and non-disclosure. I'll talk to you about the issues faced by a person in my position along with the discrimination and stigmas attached to it behind these prison walls. I'll tell you about the strength and courage I found inside myself to NOT hang up and let this illness or my circumstances finish me off.

Tim Hinkhouse #7632447
Two Rivers Correctional Inst.
82911 Beach Access Rd.
Umatilla, OR 97882

You can also email me at hi.timothy7019

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