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Hepschlep's Story


September 04, 1998

RE: James B. Osher, Special Agent Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance 312 Walnut Street, Suite 2200 Cincinnati OH 45202

Dear Claims Specialist,

I would like to give a history of my illness, Hepatitis C chronic active, and the onset of its symptoms. First a little background. I was contracted as an NML agent in February of 1986. I've had a personally successful career up to now. I have a wonderful assistant and a stable practice.

In December of 1995, I applied for a term upgrade on myself with the intention of increasing my personal life insurance. K. Lattech was my underwriter. She called after seeing my bloodwork to inform me of elevated liver functions and that I would be an NML decline. Being concerned, I informed my personal physician Dr.K. He asked me if I took Tylenol. I said "yes on occasion" He told me not to worry it was probably due to the Tylenol and to cease taking it for a month and then get retested. I had shown elevated liver functions in, I believe 1993 from a routine-pre op bloodwork prior to shoulder surgery. I blew that off as caused by the pain medication I had been taking at the time. There may be more evidence of this if you check my medical records.

After a month or so, I believe in March, 1996 I went to a Dr. J G. for another bloodtest. He had suspected from his experience that I might have Hepatitis C. Dr. J.G. tested for it and I was positive. I was surprised for I had no symptoms that I was aware of. Looking back though, I did get ill quite often with flu-like symptoms, fatigue and headaches and diarrhea. Dr. K., when I had mentioned my maladies generally attributed them to low grade viruses or irritable bowel syndrome. I recall Dr. K. doing an epstein-bar test which came up negative. I thought I was becoming a hypochondriac.

A friend referred me to Dr T., a gastroenterologist who has some expertise with HVC. He retested me in April or May of 1996. He ultimately ordered a biopsy due to my PCR quantitative numbers. He then recommended I be treated with Alpha Interferon injections 3x/week. The side effects I suffered were hardly bearable. This was August I think. I missed a lot of work due to these incapacitating side effects, which I will describe. Major fatigue, constant headaches, very achy bones, nausea, dizziness, and diarrhea. I could not focus on my work; I just wanted to sleep. He said that these might ease up over a month or so. They did not. In fact they got worse until the Doctor and I both agreed to cease treatment. I went as far as requesting a Disability Claim Kit at the time, if I were to continue the Interferon.

The Doctor and I agreed to not treat my ailment for the time being and await new developments in future treatments. I then treated myself with herbs and botanicals noted to be healing to the liver with no results for the next year. I did have my blood tested a couple times in the interim and continued to see Dr. T.

In spring of 1998 I felt I was experiencing some symptoms. The usual fatigue, headaches, hot flashes etc. The Doctor said they might or may not be due to HVC. I tended to miss at least 1 day a week at work. But did not pay too much notice until July, when I started to consistently wear out not long after lunch. My focus was poor and I generally felt lousy nearly everyday. I tried to schedule my appointments in the morning for I usually felt pretty good at that time of day. I was progressively getting more fatigued and achy and headachy earlier and earlier in the day. My work was by then affected. I could not work a full day. I was certainly concerned. I then did my own research and found that all that I was feeling were very common symptoms of my disease. In fact my history was typical. Being that this virus was discovered not that long ago, it was commonly misdiagnosed and the symptoms misunderstood. The symptoms I have been experiencing this past month resemble the side effects of my past Interferon treatment. I was missing perhaps 3 days per week by mid August and the 2 days worked ended usually by noon or shortly after. I had to go home and sleep. I also was experiencing chronic diarrhea, dizziness, as well as the bodyaches and headaches. I also seem to be getting forgetful.

I saw Dr. T. in late August and told him of my symptoms and that I was willing to try one of the new treatments, which I had turned down in the spring. He had me do a liver/spleen scan and new blood work and prescribed Infergen 9mcg.s 3x/week. The side effects of the Infergen are felt within several hours and have been intense. My body aches deeply, I get intense chills, teeth chattering along with the now familiar fatigue.

This past summer I realized how much energy it takes to run an insurance practice. A fact which I, of course took for granted my entire career. Writing this history has in itself been a monumental task. My ability to focus on the many tasks that encompass this business has been severely curtailed. The energy needed to call, visit, and influence people to help themselves is seldom available now. This is obviously disconcerting and emotionally distressing if not disastrous. I have a wife, child, and an assistant to support and I do not know how I can do it in my current physical condition. Believe me, I never thought this would happen to me.

There are several occurrences in my past, which may have exposed me to HCV. In 1971, while in college I experimented with IV drug use. In 1974, I was doing foreign study in Colombia South America. where I was infected with a severe case of amebic dysentery, which hospitalized me in Bogota, where sanitary conditions may be in question. In 1975 I was traveling with friends when several of them with the exception of me and one other fellow came down with Hepatitis B. I spent a month in Cuenca, Ecuador taking care of my jaundiced buddies. I was tested in a clinic in Cuenca, where again sanitary conditions were not up to United States standards. There is no way of accounting for certain how I got infected. You may draw your own conclusions, though at this point I fail to see the relevance.

Whether the side effects of Infergen recede or not, I cannot say at this time. Whether the symptoms of HVC continue or not, I cannot tell you. Presently my ability to actively participate in my insurance practice is not possible.

If there is any other information I can provide for you please call me at (xxx) xxx-xxxx.

Thank you.


James B. Osher
Special Agent

Note from Lyric: This was written some time ago to establish a claim. It chronicles the history well. More has transpired since then and an update should be forthcoming.


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