Week 24 HCV Treatment update

A couple weeks ago I crossed a milestone in this dreaded treatment – I reached the half way point. The countdown now begins YES. I waited a couple weeks to post this update so I have all the information for it. I had five tubes of blood drawn at the end of  week 24. They tested everything again that has been tested to date. My blood cells, blood chemicals, liver panel, thyroid, and once again the Heptimax test which checks for the viral load.

Good news is that the viral load is still undetectable! In other words – I am viral free. If I am like this six months after the last shot I am considered cured. The technical phrase is SVR or sustained viral response. I am doing great in this aspect but we have not reached that point yet. Having cleared the virus at week four and keeping it cleared at week 24 gives me a ninety percent chance of reaching SVR.

As I spoke about on my June 2oth update I had one of the meds cut back (Ribaviron) to see if my hemoglobin count would go up. It did go up, which is good, but not nearly enough. It went from 10.4 to 11.1, it should be around 12.5 while on the treatment (it was 16.8 when I began the treatment). So, once again my doctor cut back my dose. I started at 1400 mg a day and I am now at 800 mg. He thinks it is still enough to keep the virus on the run. All the other numbers are looking good, some very good. My ALT is 30 (this is important as mine has always been elevated and it is normal now – was 240). ALT is a liver enzyme and an elevated count indicates a liver being damaged.

Please pray my hemoglobin count goes up to the required count or higher. Because of it being so low I am very fatigued all the time and also short of breath.

Now the question, how am I feeling? I can only say it changes quickly. I may wake up and feel fine and one hour later very bad. The side effects of this medicine are brutal for sure. It makes my skin very dry and itchy, kind of feels like bugs are crawling on me. The areas where I get the chemo injection are very red, and dry. I constantly have “stomach issues” and it feels like a pill is stuck in my upper throat all the time. The dreaded cough I had for a few month has resided ninety percent. I am very happy about that. The cough drove me nuts. Mentally I am doing okay, about a third of the way into the treatment I was ready to throw in the towel. It was a battle to get to the point I am at right now.

I miss being able to do what I do at summer camp. This week was the Junior week our church went to. I cried when Carol pulled out of the yard with Lisa and Frankie as she took them to church for the bus ride to camp.

I want to start getting back to posting some of my digital photography and others items on my blog here. Those that are subscribed to receive updates via e-mail on my condition I hope you do not mind seeing some of my other types of posts. My doctor wants me doing some exercising so I will have to force myself to get out and do some hiking. Of course I will have my camera with me. Recently the EPA e-mailed me and asked permission to use one of my pictures in one of their upcoming reports, I gladly gave them permission.

Phew…..   I only have 21 weeks to go after tonight’s shot. I end the treatment and two weeks later will celebrate my 50th birthday – Lord willing of course!

Thanks for your prayers my dear friends, without them I could have NO WAY made it this far.

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