May 10, 2008
The day I started my 48 week odyssey. I remember thinking as I was driving to the clinic for my first shot that it wasn't to late to turn back. But, I made a commitment to myself and I was going to see it through, come hell or high water.
If I had known then what I know now...
I'm a 54 year old male, diagnosed in 2003 with Hepatitis C. Couple reasons why I waited. I didn't want to give up my beer for one thing. The other reason was that my doctor really wasn't pushing for me to start. He was relatively new to the Hep C thing anyway. I think during the course of my treatment most of my answers that he didn't know were found on this forum. I had a biopsy done that year which showed me being a Genotype 1A with a VL of 470,000. Grade 1, Stage 0. So, over the course of three years, whenever I would see him, he'd always asked if I was considering the treatment. Finally during the later part of 2005, I started thinking about it. The beer thing was getting out of hand for one thing. I would even think that since the Hep C is going to kill me anyway I'd might as well speed it along.
I was completely and utterly stupid about the disease. I thought it was a death sentence. It took another 7 months to find out otherwise.
My life changed forever on July 14, 2006. For one thing, as soon as that needle went into my side, I knew without a doubt that my drinking was over. The other thing was the optimistic attitude my doctor had about clearing the disease, taking into consideration the low VL and the minimal damage to the liver.
Those 48 weeks of Peginterferon and daily doses of 1200 mg Ribivirin were rough. I won't lie to you. A continuous rollercoaster ride of emotions. The only thing that kept me going was reaching SVR. Week 14 PCR showed less than 50, week 33 showed undetected. But something was bothering me. Reading the post on the forum, it was always week 12 and week 24 were the determining factor. My doctor assured me I was doing fine but something told me otherwise. Week 48 finally came on June 6th, 2007. Still undetected, I restarted my life a different person. A different perspective on life for sure and a whole lot smarter about Hepatitus C.
Almost three months to the day in September I found out I relapsed. You cannot imagine how I felt or what was running through my mind. How could that have happened? I was the perfect candidate, I took my meds on time, every time. It just wasn't fair. My doctor let me down.
February of 2008 my doctor refered me to Duke University Medical Center in Durham NC. There I met Dr. John George Mchutchison. You need to Google his name. He is renouned around the world for his knowledge on Hepatitis C and is involved in numerous clinical studies. How fortunate I was to be refered to him. I walked away that day feeling like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. He wanted me to have another biopsy and see him again on May 7, 2008. I had another biopsy done in March and on May 7th I was sitting across from him with my biopsy report. Now, for those of you thinking about treatment I want you to pay close attention. He said my biopsy still showed minimal scarring, I am Grade 0-1, Stage 0. My blood work was normal. In fact, he said he would have never thought I had Hep C looking at my bloodwork. He said those 48 weeks of treatment probably didn't do anything for me. He said do not, I repeat, DO NOT consider retreatment. He said I will probably die of old age. He also said some of his studies show very promising results and expects to have something out in 3-5 years that will effectively combat the virus. He even alluded to a cure.
So, with all that said, for those of you that are Geno 1A with a low VL and minimal scarring who are considering going through treatment, think long and hard. Was it worth it for me? I didn't kill the virus but I killed the alcohol beast inside me, and for me that was worth it. My life has changed and I feel good about myself now. Would I do it again? Not if I don't have to and one of the top doctor's on the subject of Hepatitus C said I don't have to.