Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Best Bad News I Ever Received

What a relief!

My recent liver biopsy revealed a bit more fibrosis and more inflamation, due to the Hepatitis C. But that was all. I was expecting FAR worse results... and as it turns out, so was my transplant coordinator. We exhaled audibly and collectively, and had many things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.

For me and my doc, the objective continues to be to keep this liver as healthy as possible while we await a cure. So two days ago my husband and I returned to the transplant center and met with the woman who oversees liver treatment for Hep C, and after thoughtful discussion, we agreed that I will try Interferon/Ribavirin treatment again. When I took the meds two years ago, starting just eight months after my transplant, it didn't "clear the virus" (I continued to have a measurable Hep C viral load). While the chance of success this time is low, it's the only alternative available to me.

I'll be on treatment for 12 weeks, the length of time during which my viral load should either drop SIGNIFICANTLY or, essentially, be undetectable. If the pegulated Interferon treatment doesn't work, I can try a more aggressive treatment that requires Interferon injections daily (instead of weekly, as in the pegulated protocol). I'm going to do some homework on these options and I'll post what I learn, so watch for more information.

Next year could be fairly rough, because the pegulated Interferon has many side effects (flu-like symptoms): the more aggressive treatment stands to be pretty miserable. But I'm ready to fight the good fight. (Please remind me of this when I moan and wail five months from now.)

January 19 is the target date, when I take my first injection. Fingers crossed, knees bent in prayer. Please, God, let this medicine protect my liver.

The miracle of modern medicine is just one of the many blessings I'm counting this Thanksgiving. May you and yours also enjoy blessings and abundance.

Photo by Sanja Gjenero

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Curiouser and Curiouser

Much like Alice, I find myself puzzled these days. Alice's strange experience was her travel through Wonderland. For me, it's the liver transplant journey. It's been confusing for both of us.

A quick recap - Two months ago, my labs showed very elevated liver enzymes. Last month they dropped a bit, but were still in the 400s and 500s - far over the high end of the normal range, which is 40. Then a couple of weeks ago I noticed a symptom that I hadn't had before, even prior to my transplant - the color of my stool was light yellowish-gray, an indication that there are bile problems. I had labs repeated and the results continued to be abnormal, so yesterday I had a liver biopsy.

In the past, I would have asked my doctor and liver coordinator a series of contingency questions: "What if the fibrosis is worse? Would you want to A, B or C?" or "If the fibrosis stage hasn't changed, would you need to run more tests to determine why things are out of range?" Finally, almost three years after my transplant, I realize that it's useless to try to predict what's going to happen until the results have been reviewed by my doctor and her colleagues. Too many variables are at play and we could spend hours trying to anticipate what will happen.

So once again we wait and by the end of next week, we should have news and a gameplan. In the meantime, I'll be spending a little time online searching for information about what these symptoms might mean. It's going to be an interesting week, to be certain.