Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Hep C Treatment - Four Weeks and So Far, So Good

Last week I marked four weeks of pegylated Interferon and Ribavirin treatment, and visited my treatment coordinator to touch base about how it's going so far. Fortunately, the new is good.

I'm tolerating the meds well. I'm tired, but generally speaking I'm handling the fatigue and other minor side effects pretty successfully. Biggest challenges - nagging headache (off and on), yeast infection, the inside of my mouth feels unusual (as though a sore could pop up anytime) and fatigue. When I need a nap, I need one NOW.

Considering the spectrum of possible side effects, I'm doing great. It's early in treatment and something else may occur, but I'm taking it a day at a time and my transplant team and I are pleased - and I'm very grateful. For now, I only need labs drawn every other week and won't have to visit my transplant center again until mid-April.

Sometime over the next few days I should get feedback about the viral load. After four weeks, a big drop should occur - say prayers, cross fingers. I'll be antsy and curious until that info arrives.

A huge thanks to the people who shared their stories. Hep C is tough and the treatment can be brutal. Docs at my transplant center SWEAR that new meds will be available next year. We can't wait!

Photo by Thiago Felipe Festa

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Deja Vu: I'm Back on Pegylated Interferon and Ribavirin

Hepatitis C is like your shadow - this wicked, stubborn virus is always present, liver transplant or not, dogging at your heals, never really letting up. When docs determined in Nov. 2009 that Hep C was causing my elevated liver enzymes, we all decided that trying treatment again was my best option (my choices were to either try treatment or wait, and I'm not one to wait around). I started Jan. 19 and thus began the journey to discover a new phase of "normal."

When I was treated in 2007 I was still recovering from my transplant and post-transplant complications, so it was tough to tell how the meds affected me. This time, in a more controlled environment (so to speak), it's easier to distinguish the side effects. I'm pretty lucky, in that I haven't experienced anything extreme. My side effects have included chills (no fever, but it feels like my body temperature is awry - my forehead is cool but cheeks and neck are really hot), intermittent headaches, yeast infection and most of all, fatigue. So far, not too bad. I start feeling the impact about 12 hours after my shot.

I've never spoken with anyone in my shoes, who is undergoing treatment post-transplant. If you've been in these shoes, please comment and tell me about your experiences. Or even if you've been treated and haven't had a transplant, I'm interested in what you went through. Do the side effects become worse over time, as the meds build up in your body? Did you lose hair (this is a concern for me). Do you have planning strategies you can share - I have a husband and two teenagers and just keeping us fed is a challenge sometimes.

Photo by Vangelis Thomaidis