Thursday, November 25, 2010

A synopsis of my Hepatitis C treatment

Currently, unlike HIV, Hepatitis C can be cured.  However it is important to note that not everyone learning of a Hep C diagnosis will be cured. If caught early (within the first 6 months) enough and depending on your Hep C genotype; cure rates will vary.

Ok, so I learned of my co infection in March 2010 and was devastated. However, I began ART (Anti Retroviral Therapy) right away for my HIV and went from a VL of 1,000,000 to undetectable within 5 weeks.  Once my HIV was under control I began on Pegasus Interferon, and Ribavirn for the Hepatitis C.  My Hep C VL load began at 7,000,000 and went to undetectable at week 6.

The Pegasus is a shot I was giving myself weekly for the past 6 months, along with taking 1200 mg (6 pills) of Ribavirin. I remember the doctor doing the first shot, and after that I was on my own.

The shots of Pegasus are easy to do and do not hurt a bit - you learn the trick of where in the stomach and how to stick yourself.  The pills are the worse.  In the beggining I was taking them as prescribed by the manufacture. 3 pills in the morning and 3 pills at night.

However, I was having a hard time sleeping. I noticed after taking my night pills and then lying down my heart would race. I consulted my doctor and he advised to take all pills at once in the morning.  That helped with my racing heart, but I still had trouble sleeping.

For the first 3 months - these were my only symptoms, along with anxiety. Once I began approaching the 3 month mark I was having more sleeplessness, a surpressed appetite, and INCREASED anxiety.  So much so where I had to be on up to 3 mg of klonipan a day to control the Anxiety.

The clonipen helped tremendously and there would be no way I could have finished treatment without it.  In the beginning my doctor wrote me a script for 500 mg of naproxen (aleve) to take as needed. I NEVER took a pill. If anything, I took one aleve, sometimes two - on the rare occasion I would get a headache, but was it related to the HEP C treatment? Hard to say.

The one thing I did experience in the last couple months of treatment was an overall since of achenes, and at times when this was bad; I would take the aleve, to alleviate the symptom.

In the end I lost about 25 (needed) pounds. I didn't lose any hair, well no more than I had already lost and no scarring from the shots in my stomach. I also could have never completed my treatment if it was not for the CONSTANT e mail communication between my doctor and I. Anytime I had a question, a symptom, a prescription problem - I would e mail him and he would reply back right away. He stayed on top of my health as did I.

If you live in the NYC area and have been recently diagnosed with Hepatitis C then I would recommend Dr Daniel S Fierer with Mount Sinai Hospital. Should you have further questions, regarding Hepatitis C, feel free to e mail me or post a comment.

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