Saturday, February 28, 2009

Starting the Tests - Chapter 3

This picture was taken of us several weeks prior to the events described.
While all this was going on, I also had to be tested. I am negative for Hepatitis C. Even though we have been married and ignorant of this disease for 18 years, I never contracted it. We decided to make slight modifications though. We never share a razor anymore and we have separate containers for our toothbrushes.

One of Don's first tests was a simple sonogram. This was done to get accurate measurements of his liver and spleen and to check for kidney stones. Don's liver was measuring normal sized, but his spleen was enlarged and he clearly had stones in his gallbladder.

He also had a test for something called Viral Load. Viral Load (VL) shows the amount of active Hep.C cells in his blood. This count is vitally important to monitoring how well the medicine is working. It is not indicative of how long he has been infected, what condition or how much damage has been done to his liver. Don's VL was 400,000. Some patients have VL counts into the millions!

Over the past 10 years or so, many new discoveries have been made concerning Hepatitis, but the treatment drugs are essentially the same. It is a once a week injection of Interferon into the subcutaneous tissue of the abdomen and Ribavirin pills prescribed in amounts according to the patients weight. One of the new discoveries is that if a patients VL has not dropped by 90% after 12 weeks of treatment, it is not working. To put this into perspective, Don's VL needs to go from 400,000 down to 4,000 after 12 weeks of treatment. If not he would be considered a Non-responder and taken off the drug treatment.

When we consulted with the doctor, he advised us of the sonogram results and said that as long as the stones were not causing Don any trouble, we would ignore them for now. Although his liver was normal sized, he was concerned about his enlarged spleen, which indicates blood backing up from his liver. This is the first time we heard the word cirrhosis. The upcoming biopsy was a test done specifically for this. Patients with cirrhosis have a lower chance of being cured of Hepatitis C...down to 50%. If the cirrhosis was advanced enough, drug treatment for the Hep. would not be an option.

Don's liver biopsy was scheduled for the next week.

10 comments:

vivian said...

eiy yie yie! what a roller coaster ride youre on. good news.. not so good news.. waiting for test results.. having everything just sort of hanging over your heads! (((HUGS)))
and prayers!
love the picture of you both. You make a lovely couple!
try to enjoy your weekend!!

Ginger said...

Hi Julie:
This had to be so stressful for both of you, but especially Don, since he hates going to the doctor.
It is good news that you tested negative after all the years of being together.
Will be anxious to read how the biospy turned out, and how Don is feeling now.
Ginger

Garden Antqs Vintage said...

This can't be easy for you and Don. I have said a prayer for you both today. Thanks for keeping us informed and for sharing information. We will continue to stand with you in prayer as long as you need us too!!

Amy at Bunny Rose Cottage said...

Julie, I wish there was something i could say to help you but I know you must be so terrified no matter what I could say. I have been thinking of you a lot and you are in my prayers!! (((HUGS)))

That is a wonderful picture of you and Don! Please continue to keep us posted.

Love,
Amy

justabeachkat said...

Julie

As you know, my step brother has this too. After reading all about it through your informative posts, I feel terrible that I didn't know more as he was going through it.

I'm keeping you both in my prayers.

Hugs!
Kat

Lynne Laura said...

I am so sorry Julie for all that is happening with your husband. How scary for you and him. You make a lovely pair. Sending hugs and prayers your way. Keep us posted.

Kindredly, Lynne Laura

Vintage Linen Treasures said...

Came by to see how you're doing.
You're in my thoughts and prayers. And all I want to do is give you a big (((HUG))).
Patricia

bj said...

Oh dear Julie...I know this is so hard for all of you. So glad that you are negative...and think you are wise to start taking precautions since you know what you are dealing with.
I am following you so that when you post, I will see it.
Gosh O'Mighty...that Don is such a handsome dude...I may have to use HIM as one of my PINK SATURDAY HUNKS !! tee hee...
Prayers!

bj said...

oops, can't find where to follow you ??

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