Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Medical update ...

I might have to be on this treatment for 72 weeks ... a year and a half.

I didn't know this.

Right now I'm only scheduled to be on treatement for 24 weeks.

I'm almost at the two month marker since I started this treatment.  Mostly, I'm handling it pretty well.  There was a concern about my red and white blood cell counts, but they're just a little bit low, not a whole bunch.  One doctor had prescribed Procrit for me (which is expensive and would require me to self-inject another time once a week ... I'm getting a tad bit tired of needles ... my left thigh looks like a junkie's nightmare).  But both doctors ultimately decided that I didn't need it.  Thank goodness.  I don't quite now how to go about getting all that pre-authorization for medication done.  It's easier when the doctor's office spearheads it.

Next month, the results of the blood tests will decide whether I go for just 6 months.  The key test is the Hep C viral load.  According to blood test paperwork, in February it was 1.3 million.  Then it went down to 74,000 a month ago then down again to 34,000 a week ago, then back up to 61,000 this week.  If you can remember back to high school math, you'll know what logs are.  They measure progress by the reduction of logs.  So, there is a difference between 64,000 and 640,000 and 6,400,000, but very little difference between 64,000 and 31,000, if that makes any sense.

The goal is for the viral load to be undetectable by the next time my blood is drawn in 4 weeks.  If it is undetectable, I have a really, really good chance of being "cured."  If it is not, my chances are much less.  However, the doctor said that there are a couple of papers out that indicate that slow responders sometimes do manage to be "cured" if they go for 72 weeks.  He basically said that we'll see what happens next month, and make a decision.  Apparently, some people give up if they're not at undetectable in three months.  Knowing me, I'll probably sign up for the 72 weeks.  Because I'm stubborn.

Having said that, damn, that's a long time to feel like you have the flu, not to mention many of the other side effects.  One of these days I'm going to upload my notes on the 45 minutes of conversation that I had with the teaching nurse about possible side effects.  Some of them are not attractive, to say the least.

However, despite being a little bit scared and a little somber today, I'm keeping my chin up, my hopes high, and putting one foot in front of the other, and doing my damndest to take life one day at a time, and of course, being sure to take the occasional swim in my pool and time to cuddle with my cats.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Good news!

The treatment is working!  Woohoo!

I went to see my liver doctor yesterday, and he told me the results of my last round of blood tests, taken a week ago.

The most exciting news is that the viral load of the Hep C virus was at 2.5 million, and it is now 75,000.  They hope that within the first four weeks the viral load comes down two logs.  In other words from 2,500,000 to 25,000.  Mathematically, there is not much difference from 75,000 and 25,000.  What this means is that I am indeed responding to treatment.


From looking at my test results, my white and red blood cell counts are a little low, but not more than they were before treatment started, so I guess he's not worried about it.  :)

Now, onward and upward!