Thursday, August 7, 2008

Living with Hep C

Since I've been dealing with this for some time now, I thought I would bring it to the forefront of my blog site. It's more than just dealing with the Hep C that bothers me. As a matter of fact, if it were only dealing with Hep C that I had to do, it might just be easy as pie, but it's not. Let me explain.

I have been dealing with Hep C for about 30 years or so. Unbeknownst to me, all the quirky little problems I've had over the last 40 years can be directly attributed to the Hep C virus. Take for instance the time I had just gotten out of basic training back in 73. I was waiting for tech school to begin over at the West Coast Language Institute in Monterrey, California, and I had to wait on base (Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas). About a month into my 'wait' I went home on leave just to visit, and while there seemed to come down with some mysterious 'illness'. I quickly went over to Luke AFB where the medical staff pronounced the results of their examination as "German Measles". For some reason that just didn't hold water as far as I was concerned. I hadn't been exposed to German Measles that I knew of, and no one on base had been reported as having them. A few days later, things cleared up and I was on my way to California.

In 1980, about 6 weeks after my daughter was born, up pops this 'mysterious' illness again, and the doctor in Montgomery, AL diagnoses me with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Gold shots and anti-inflamatory were the standard procedure of the day. A month later this strange illness just 'disappears' as fast as it came.

1989 brought on a whole new set of problems which neither the doctors or I could understand where they were coming from. One day I was healthy as a horse (I know, I had them at the time), and the next day I was down and out. Depression was the primary diagnosis and Xanax was the 'cure'. Xanax just didn't help out much. I didn't want to get addicted either, so down the toilet they went.

2000 - I'm feeling lumps up under my ribcage, psoriasis on the elbows, bouts of depresson, muscle stiffness, and the works on and off. Oh, did I mention cold sores the size of quarters?

2002 - I go to the VA hospital in Miami (I was living in N Miami Beach at the time), and I'm just not feeling well. 'Take aspirin'.

2005 - Still visiting the VA hospital on a routine basis and the PA (Physician Assistant) I'm assigned to knows I don't have RA so she gets this idea and tests me for Hep C. She is then shuffled off to the terminal heart patient unit and my test results are left in the VA's computer system. No one followed up.

2007 - Another new PA comes on the scene in my VA experience and asks: "Have you ever been tested for Hep C?" Now she has the computer with all my labs, all my exams, all my tests, visits, etc in front of her and she's asking me. I keep going back for this lab and that clinic (dermatology, women's clinic, lab work again, RA clinic, radiology, general surgeon)and it was when I got to the general surgeon's office that I found out about the Hep C. Viral load of 5 Million. What??? Why hasn't anyone told me?? What do I do???

Okay, it's now 2008, late 2008 I might add. I find out that the Interferon Coctail that the VA serves up is not in my best interest, yet they have no alternatives. Did I mention I also was told I had Osteopenia a year and a half ago (now advanced Osteoporosis within a year and a half's time) and that the Fosamax they gave me didn't get along with my stomach or intestines at all, yet the VA doesn't have any alternative treatments.

I'm hanging in there with TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). I have to keep a close watch on the balance of things. Sometimes I go too far to the left or right and I have to struggle to regain balance. Body chemistry is a funny thing. Everything you eat affects it. Exercise affects it. Sleep or lack thereof affects it. But inspite of all this, I'm just hanging in there, hoping for a better option to come along.

Did I mention I'm just a bit peeved at the US Government through all of this? Seems like those Jet Guns they used to vaccinate us could have been contaminated, but it's not sure. As long as they are not sure, there's no responsibility to accept, and therefore 11% of all US Military Vets don't have to be compensated. As long as there are no alternative methods of treatment available it's just....... too bad!

I have to wonder if any treatment options will be available in the next several years. I'm missing out on an average of 3 days of work a month, because I'm just too tired to get up and go to work because my liver is not doing what a normal liver is supposed to do. Bile salts are really important when it comes to digesting food and getting available energy out of it. I'm also wondering all of those 'what if's' that come along when you are not sure if you can make it to retirement. Wondering who will take care of me when I can't take care of myself. It's not a pleasant thing to thing about but someone has to take resposibility for thinking about it. I'm sure my boss won't, or my coworkers, or the doctors at the VA hospital wont.

Just something to think about.

1 comment:

JW said...

Hey . . . I wrote a comment, but it didn't come trough. Wonder where it went?

Ol' Unca' Jim