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Mesarat's Story

Mesarat

In 1966 I joined the US Army. During the first week I, along with a couple hundred others, got mass inoculations. The medics used a pneumatic gun type injector giving 2 shots in each arm. It was a rather bloody affair, but we all had other problems at the time.

During 1967 I fell in with a group of soldiers who were injecting speed. The first time I ever did an illegal drug I shot myself up with speed. It was the beginning of a life of drug abuse. I eventually took other drugs too, but my whole reason for being revolved around injecting amphetamines. The Army and I parted company in late 1968 and I went home to California.

It didn't take me long to wind up in the Haight Ashbury section of San Francisco, I thought I was in heaven. As it turned, heaven was not the place I really was. As part of that culture I did everything that is associated with it. Speed, of course, played a large role. The San Francisco police and I had a mis-understanding and I moved south. I spent several years in Venice, CA in the early 70s, just doing my thing. It wasn't pretty, the life of a hard-core needle freak rarely is. After spending some time in prison it seemed the only thing to do was to start shooting up heroin. Life went downhill even faster.

Eventually I left all that behind and became a hard worker and a harder drinker. I felt great, seemed healthy too. I went through a series of jobs and eventually became fairly successful, at least financially. But my drinking and use of other drugs like cocaine and various pills wound up sending me into a rehabilitation center. I was given a physical at the rehab on the first day. On the second day a doctor came to me and asked, "Have you ever heard of Hepatitis C?" I started to learn something that day.

I went home after my stint in the rehab and sought out my family doctor. The doctor confirmed the previous diagnosis and sent me to a gastroenterologist. The specialist re-confirmed the diagnosis. After 6 months of monitoring my liver enzymes the doctor did a biopsy on my liver. It wasn't good news. Things like bridging fibrosis, necrosis, and cirrhosis we're discussed. Then the doctor dropped the bomb, "You will need a liver transplant within 5 years or you will die." He said it was an incurable liver disease called hepatitis C. However, there was one ray of hope.

"Interferon", the doctor said, "can help, but it is rarely successful." So in October of 1994 I began a six-month course of the drug. It was horrible. I thought I was dying. Three months into treatment the doctor said it isn't working. I insisted on my whole six months of treatment. The doctor was right. It did not work.

A few months later the doctor suggested that I undergo a series of phlebotomies, I agreed. This was done to check for an iron overload condition known as hemochromatosis. After 13 Fridays of having a pint of blood removed it was determined that I didn't have iron overload and I was now quite anemic. The doctor asked me if I wanted to try interferon again. I didn't hesitate and started back on interferon in October of 1995.

After a month my liver enzymes normalized. After another month a PCR was done and came back negative. I continued on with interferon. Every time I thought it was over, the doctor would add 3 months to the treatment. In the end I wound up doing it for 20 months that second time. I did my last shot on July 31, 1997. 6 months after stopping all was still normal. In fact to this day all my liver tests have been normal. I have beat the doctor's prediction, in September of 2001 it will have been six years since I was told that I only had five. I remain in full remission and have declared myself cured as of July 31, 2000. What that means remains to be seen.

 

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    Page last updated: March 7, 2003


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