HepatitisWA recently had the pleasure of interviewing Eileen about her personal journey with hepatitis C.
The one thing that I did consistently, pretty much from around 1990 when I had that confirmed diagnosis, was that I went to the doctor for regular blood checks. I tried to make it every 6 to 12 months but sometimes it was every 12 months to 2 years, but I’d go in and have a regular blood check, and I would monitor the health of my liver. I was a person who the doctor would shake their head and say, “Your ALTs, your liver function – I don’t know why, but it’s still in the healthy range…” so that just added to my own sense that I’m bulletproof. It wasn’t until I got older that I started to think about it more seriously – about how bulletproof I actually was.
I successfully completed treatment for hepatitis C two and a half years ago. I had a terrible time while I was on the treatment, but it was all worth it. I am now extremely well both physically and mentally and I’ve done and am doing lots of great things. However, I know two people who are not so lucky, and of course, there are many others.
My treatment was with Interferon, Riboviron and Boseprevir. It lasted 7 months and during that time I had to have blood transfusions, and I was so weak and ill that I couldn’t work or do any of my usual activities. I also had depression, a maddening rash and two-thirds of my hair fell out.
Now I am extremely fit and healthy. My hair has grown back and my liver is clear. I work, walk my dog, ride horses and bicycles and have a very active social life. I’ve also been overseas a couple of times since completing my treatment including on a horse riding safari in Botswana. That was a special trip because I planned it while I was on treatment to get me through the dark days.
When I felt really bad I would think about how I was going to see wild elephants when I was better and I did… from the back of a horse!
At regular intervals, during my treatment, I had to go to see my specialist or a nurse at the clinic. There is a short corridor that you have to walk down and there were times when I needed a person on either side of me to support me. Now I go for a six monthly check up and I stride down that corridor like superman.
Because I have been so lucky, I now volunteer at HepatitisWA. I wanted to contribute to others because so many people helped me and I don’t know what I would have done otherwise. I’ve actually met some great people through doing that.
Two of my old friends were not as lucky as I was. They didn’t have the treatment and one of them died of liver cancer eighteen months ago leaving behind a wife and daughter. My other dear friend has been given six to nine months to live.
Some people don’t have awful side effects like I did, but even if you do, treatment is definitely worth it.