For Women's Month we sat down with Hope Carter a Houstonian, LSU graduate, to talk about how her life has changed after getting a liver transplant.
Hope Carter is 29, and is from Houston,TX (third ward area)
SR:Tell us a bit about yourself.
When I was little I had IBS, which scarred my bile ducts. Nothing happened except that my eyes started to turn yellow. When I went to the doctor for a check up and asked why it was so hard to lose weight on the top part of my stomach she told me it was my liver. Bile had backed up in my liver. She told me I needed a liver transplant although I don’t recall the exact moment I was told because it was so traumatic. I waited seven years to get a liver transplant. I was finishing my masters at LSU. March 8th 2013 when I woke up I was freezing. I was supposed to have lunch with a friend and when she heard my voice over the phone she said “You need to go to the hospital, you sound terrible.” My dad made key copies to my apartment, so I called my mom who worked around the corner. I spent that whole week in the ICU, everyone died, but me. All of the doctors that had ever worked with me were there.
“On March 14th, the first doctor I ever went to and said we have a liver it’s yours if you wanted.
5am on March 15th I went into surgery for my liver transplant. “ I was in recovery for 5 days and in the hospital for 2 weeks.
SR: After being in recovery for so long, how did you feel?
Hope: I felt heavy, I spent some time at my parents house. I was in and out of sleep a lot. And the first time I saw myself after the surgery I passed out.
SR: How did having a normal functioning liver again affect you?
Hope: It was terrible because I was used to eating whatever I wanted to. Because you have to watch your fat intake. I was suffering from low blood sugar while in recovery, I had a picc line in my arm for six weeks, which was uncomfortable. But anything can be done for a little while.Of course I’ll be on medication for the rest of my life, and they want to hospitalize me for every cold. But now I get to do cool stuff all the time,I’ve been to like 5 different countries. I’ve also started my organization Big Livers. My favorite thing I did was I had things not to say to a person with a chronic illness like “Drink water” It’s focused on people like me.
“But now I get to do cool stuff all the time,I’ve been to like 5 different countries. I’ve also started my organization Big Livers.”
SR: Do you feel like going through this process changed you for the better?
Hope: It made me more and less compassionate. More compassionate because now I know everyone has something they’re going through. And less for people who complain unnecessarily for things that are minor inconveniences. Saying that life is so hard, because there are just so many trivial things to complain about.
SR: What would you say to someone who is going through the same thing you went through or is in the process of recovering?
Hope: I’d acknowledge that it sucks, it’s the worst. Don't let anybody take that away, feel what you need to feel completely so it doesn’t affect you in the future. You’re allowed to have bad days. Live as big as you can with what you’ve got.
SR: It’s National Women's Month pick five women who inspire you, and pick a favorite and elaborate on why she inspires you.
Hope: *Laughs* That’s hard. I would say my mother, my sister, my mentor De’dra. The 105 year old lady who lives down the street from my mom, and my pastors mom. My mom would be the person who inspires me, because she had a hard time raising her first kids and two kids with chronic illnesses. She could have gone crazy several times and she says it. She’s dealt with so much and considers it cowardly to try and commit suicide and things like that. I feel like I’ve seen how strong she is with what she’s let me know and what I’ve seen her go through. So she’s definitely an inspiration.
SR: Do you belive it takes hardship to make a strong woman, or do you think our strength is there we just have to harness it?
Hope: I think that it’s there. I’m a total believer in first world problems, if you can't get the new Mercedes Benz because all you can get is the range rover that’s your problem. Hardship is relative, I think as women we are so compassionate we take everything harder. One image can impact you and you'll remember it so much that it makes you stronger. It’s in you but it will always be your choice, do you want to be strong or give up. That’s all up to you.