Stage 1: Declining Health
The onset of liver disease may be acute or insidious. That is, it may come on quickly, or gradually. The person may or may not have a diagnosis, much less know what will happen, therefore; the idea of a liver transplant in their immediate or longer term future is likely unknown. When the onset is acute, very little or no time may be spent in this stage with movement rapidly into organ failure. For the typical person entering this stage, performance problems are not usually seen unless individuals have a pre-existing, debilitating condition, independent of liver disease. However, with the experience of “illness,” individuals search for a reason for their symptoms and may become frustrated because they are unable to perform at prior level of competence. Because the symptoms of liver disease are not visible, others, including significant others, family members, friends, and co-workers, may perceive them as complainers or hypochondriacs.