I was 22, and
decided to go back to school after a four year wait. I moved
up to pennsylvania and enrolled. During the first month or
so of being back in school, i started to feel a pain in my
side that felt like a pulled muscle or something. i had been
having diarrhea off and on too, which was unusual. so I went
up to the health center and the doctor asked me a few questions.
she wanted to check me for gall stones and , among other things,
waiting for the results was a nerve racking time for me, because
i began to think about my past and risk factors. I have had
several tatoos and piercings, and had on a few occasions used
IV drugs. I remember one time in particular when i did not
actually see the needle taken out of a packet and fixed up,
so I can't be sure if it was clean.
When the doctor told me I had hepatitis c, i guess i wasn't
surprised. I asked about treatment, and she told me to go
see a liver specialist , but urged me not to go on any experimental
drug regimens. So I went to my gastroenterologist, and he
reccomended I get on peg-intron. for my weight, he prescribed
1200 mg of ribavirin and weekly peg-interferon shots. So i
checked up on my student insurance, and lo and behold, they
would not cover injectable drugs. There was a limit of 200
dollars for prescription drugs per semester. So I thought,
well, it couldn't cost that much. So i went to my pharmacist
and asked him how much it would be. He told me it would be
in the thousands of dollars to treat.
I was devastated. I didn;t know what to do. I went back to
my doc, and the nurse told me about a program Schering had
for people who qualify. Thankfully, I did, so a month or so
later I began treatment. The nurse told me to take the shot
before I go to bed. well, the first shot I took at 6 pm, and
went over to a friends house. About an hour later, I got dizzy
and started to shiver. I didn;t tell him what was going on,
I just left. That night it felt like a train had hit me. I
couldn't stop moving my legs around ( i don't know why, but
if i did it felt like they wouldn't ache as much) i got really
scared. All my experience with medicine prior was in taking
tylenol for a fever, penicillin if I had an infection. i had
never taken a medication that actually made me feel sick.
That first month I lost about twenty pounds. I was still in
school and working. Later I stopped working, and had to withdraw
from school until treatment was over. Lab work was promising.
I was a wreck, though. Irritable, depressed, isolated, and
felt very much alone. Although I had some people supporting
me, they had no idea what I was going through. But I refused
to believe that I needed antidepressants. only after about
36 weeks did i finally admit that i needed to get something
to help me through what was the most difficult and frustrating
parts of my life.
Before going to
see my doctor for viral load results, i would be so full of
anxiety and fear that it had come back, I was convinced that
despite my best efforts, it would return. But i was proven
wrong. February rolled around, and I finally finished my 48
weeks. I began to notice after about a week that i was starting
to feel better. the first saturday morning of no shot was
a strange one though. i think my body was conditioned to feel
bad after all those shots that i actually felt pretty bad
. But the next saturday I really began to appreciate being
off the meds. I re-enrolled and started going to classes again.
Started working again too. Three months after treatment, my
liver enzymes were still normal, in fact lower than they had
ever been- in the teens.
In two weeks i
get my six month lab work. I'm beginning to get a little anxious
about them. After all, often times this virus shows no symptoms,
so until I get the results back I can't be sure if it worked.
If things don't work out the way I have been praying for,
i won;t regret giving treatment a try. As bad as it was, I
would do it again. I'm just happy that i found out about it
at a young age, so that i could treat it. if it worked, great;
if not, i have a lot of time to take care of myself and perhaps
retreat when something better comes around.
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