Well, I've reached week #40 on Pegasys and ribavirin. Weeks 1-12 were double-dosed Pegasys, and regular doses afterwards.
While I've managed to work straight through, it is getting harder to maintain mental focus and to follow through on projects. The days that I feel pretty good are now fewer than the days that I feel pretty bad.
THe good news is that I've been undetectable since week 3-6 somewhere in there (one early blip up to 57). I've been able to deal with the various sides: ongoing skin rashes and severe itching, 10% weight loss, anemia treated with Procrit, insomnia.
My doctor believes that as a relapser (2x) on Pegasys treatement, and an early failure on regular interferon, plus male gender, older age, geno 1, high viral load, I should continue at least through week 60 and probably through 72. He says that I certainly don't want THIS one to fail!!
Maybe you could clarify your "blip" between weeks 3-6. I also had a "blip" between weeks 3-6, meaning my week 3 test was around 20 IU/ml, then up to 57 at week 4, 110 I believe at week 5 and then "<5" (non detectible) at week 6.
Point is I think these 'blips' may be part of the normal process of how the virus is finally put down, just that most folks don't test viral load weekly and therefore would not notice the blips.
So like what I think you're saying, I also became non-detectible at week 6 which in the context of the other results makes me a RVR (rapid viral responder). 60 and 72 weeks were discussed, but the consensus among the doctors consulted was 48 weeks total, given that I didn't have cirrhosis. I ended up with a compromise of 54 weeks which was 48 weeks beyond non-detecitible (48 plus 6). Your case is a little different in that this is your second go. Still, you have one of the more agressive treaters in the country and that may to some extent account for how hard and long he wants to hit this thing. Can't say I agree or disagree with him in your case :) You could always get a second opnion regarding tx length from someone like Dr. J in NYC or Dr A in Boston, but in the end you'll have to follow your gut.
From where I sit, given your RVR, I think you got it licked this time.
I couldn't convince my doctor or Dr. Jacobson (who was my second opinion and worth every single penny I paid him) to do 60. They both said that was a meaningless number because it had NO data to support that it would in fact help but...72 weeks certainly DID and it changed the odds a lot in my favor of NOT relapsing.
So needless to say - I did the 72. After a while I finally felt pretty good because I was just so used to taking the meds.
I don't want to have to ever do this treatment again but if I do relapse even after doing 72, I will. I have two geno's so I'm sort of an odd duck out and might have to do more but I figure it's worth it.
I hope you consider the 72. Seriously - I felt like I wanted to do all that I could possibly do to eradicate this virus and that was the advice I received from the doctors. At least, at night, I can go to sleep and say 'oh I should have done the 72 and not the 60 I'm so stupid!!!!' if I do relapse. I have pure peace of mind about it.
Dr. D. would say to me, explaining his doubledosing regimen, Hit 'em early and hit 'em hard. Which I did and its's working so far. Now he says to extend treatment as long as reasonable, and I agree with him. As Debbie says, I would kick myself if I knew I hadn't done all that I could. What's another few months after all this travail! But it does get harder for me to concentrate and follow through on anything as the treatment progresses -- that old brain fog! .
Well, it sounds like you're settled in and doing fairly ok, except for the brain fog/concentration issue. You must be so encouraged by the fact you cleared so early this time!!!
Hang in there, and beat this dragon!!
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