Ordeal & Continuing Medical Mysteries Odyssey
UPDATED: November 16, 2008 05:20 PM
Today 4 million people in the United
was infected with both the Hepatitis-C and B virus back in 1970. Three
decades ago. That's my best guess anyhow, and it's a pretty good one. I
was only 15 years old then, and all your decisions aren't always the
wisest ones at that age.
Mine especially so. I had some pretty wild times back then, and had a lot
of fun. But as usual, you have to pay for all goofing off. I paid quite a
lot back then, a short stint with the Ohio Youth Commission, and not
having the usual teenage events like proms and graduation, etc. And now,
28 years later, it seems that fate has decided that it wasn't done making
me pay for my wild times. Now it was really going to kick me in the ass for those decisions. Oh well..
I had always thought that hepatitis was
a bug that you'd get from a cook who hadn't washed his hands
after......well...you know....a yucky hygiene thing.
So what in the heck
_did_ I have??
Once a doctor told me that my liver was "damaged and inflamed like a skinned knee." Funny he should say that, because that's exactly how my liver feels. I was really lucky not to have more damage or scarring. Most people who have had the virus for 30 years are not so fortunate.
The doctors shocked me further by telling me that I had also had Hepatitis-B at some time in the past. My teenaged immune system was able to wipe that out alone and was pretty successful over the years at keeping the HCV at bay. I've never been tested or told what subtype of virus I have, but a lifelong friend who caught it the same time that I did said our doctor thought it to be a weaker variant that was circulating back then.
Luckily, at the time I had a very good personal physician and she sent me to a gastroenterology specialist (guts doctor). Before I knew what had hit me the specialist, Dr. Sundarum sent me to be greased up and have my liver pinged with sonar, twice jammed a garden hose down my mouth to look in my stomach and things, had me stabbed in the liver with a whaling harpoon, along with a few other tests.
This was just a little
more serious than I had first realized. I thought that I'd be told no
alcohol and that my eyes would turn yellow. The last thing I expected to
hear was..."you will probably die
miserably in a hospital bed waiting on a
liver that will never come."
Then the doctor told me that I had to give myself shots 3 times a week for 6 months. And maybe, just maybe, I could hold off the progression of the disease a little while. This virus is very slow acting. The thinking is to hold it off and you'll die from something else first. But no one had bothered to tell me about the side effects of Alpha-Interferon injections.
All this time I wasn't really sure what the hell was going on inside me. I went to the public library. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I found a little on "non-a/non-b hepatitis", the name they gave HCV before it was "officially" discovered in 1989, and tests for it developed in 1990.
I'd heard about the Internet having good
medical info, but a computer was a little out of my reach money wise. So I
picked up a new WebTV terminal that had just come out and here I am. With
it I was able to find all of the info I needed. And I found that a whole
bunch of people are going through the same misery that I am and looking
for support on-line.
count when I started the treatment was 51,000x1000.
Well, 6 months of interferon turned into 9, which turned into 12. I am now on month 12. My PCR at 6 months was non-detectable. Same at 9. I'm one of the lucky few from what I understand. My enzyme levels never quite came all the way down to where they are supposed to be, but damn close.
There are many out there who found out too late, or have much more liver damage and scarring than I do. Unfortunately for them, and people with other diseases there is a severe shortage of organs for transplants.
PLEASE consider becoming an organ
My real odyssey had just begun...
Thanks for reading...Tom.
Last Updated: November 16, 2008 05:20 PM
©1997-2009 Tom Chatterton