Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Florida State linebacker Geno Hayes, 33, has been moved to hospice care at his parents' home in Georgia two years after being diagnosed with liver disease.
Hayes told ESPN before going into the hospital last month that he had been placed on a waiting list for a transplant at the Mayo Clinic and Northwestern Medicine at December after being hospitalized over 20 days in the last year.
"The very first diagnosis they gave me was alcoholic cirrhosis," Hayes said. "But when we dug in deeper, it became just chronic liver disease, since I really don't drink like that. When I did drink, it was just like wine or something like this. However, my body is made distinct. And that's what [my doctor] said --'Everybody's left different.'"
"That was when I was diagnosed."
While alcoholic liver cirrhosis is on the upswing in people ages 25-34, based on a 2018 University of Michigan research, Hayes said he suspects the use of nonprescription pain drugs is exactly what caused his illness, combined with a family history of liver disease. Hayes stated he'd over-the-counter pain drugs during his acting career but not more than the total directed on the bottle.
"I didn't do like regular men do with all the Toradol shots... I just took [NSAIDs]," Hayes explained. "I believed it was safer. But once I got out and started doing research, I was like,'Oh... my body is not setup for this'"
The FDA advises that taking too much Tylenol (acetaminophen) can lead to liver damage, and those with liver disease or that have three alcoholic drinks daily should consult with their doctor before taking the medication. As far as Aleve (naproxen), it's been associated with cases of drug-induced liver harm -- 1-3 per 100,000 users, as stated by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
"At first, I did not let my kids come about when I was at the hospital," said Hayes, who has kids ages 13 and 8 together with wife, Shevelle. "Over the years we slid into them knowing about me, and they know how to handle things..."
"I moved into a depression for literally three months... ultimate melancholy," said Hayes, who originally kept his diagnosis private before opening up, thinking it could help others. "I needed more to understand but didn't want to be a burden.
"Being in my position, I had been always so personal that I shut myself off to people."
He said he expected that his story will help individuals learn how to appreciate all of the good that they have -- life's simple pleasures -- like being amazed in bed with his kid or hearing her bliss, along with his son's if they would snatch his phone and take pictures of him sleeping, posting them on his own Twitter account.
"I'm enjoying life, I'm spending more time with my children and I really want to help people," Hayes explained. "My primary aim is to just inspire, to inspire the next individual, no matter what they're going through, regardless of who speaks bad about them -- family, friends, social media, all of that crap -- it do not matter. You treat you. Make sure that you're straight. That's all I want to do."