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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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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