Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Results - Chapter 6

Our appointment was the next Tuesday - exactly 7 days past the biopsy date. We sat in the waiting room for our name to be called for what seemed to be an eternity. Don could not sit still.

When our name was called, we were escorted into the exam room. The nurse came in after us and asked Don how he had been feeling.

"Good, good." he said anxiously.

She put the cuff around his arm and took his blood pressure.

"Humm, it's high." she said with a bit of a frown.

Don and I just locked eyes and smiled. We were thinking the same thing - white coat syndrome!

I like the fact that we never have to wait too long before the doctor comes in to the exam room once they get us in. He walked in with a smile on his face and extended his hand first to me and then to Don. He made some small talk about the economy and then asked how it was affecting Don's work. I started to squirm around in my seat. I had pen and paper ready to take notes and was growing ever impatient. At the second that I thought I might scream - the doctor finally got down to business and opened up Don's chart.

He asked Don how the biopsy went and if he endured any further pain. Don gave the quick one word answer "No."

He turned to me and asked, "He is not drinking any alcohol, is he?"

"Not a drop!" I replied.

"Good! I am not going to try and save your liver if you are going to do anything that will damage it." he responded and dropped his head back down into the paperwork.
"Well, I do see from the test that you are in the early stages of cirrhosis." Don's eyes were locked onto the doctor and mine were on Don. He shuddered a bit and his mouth opened slightly in the silence that followed. The doctor continued to thumb though the paperwork and started to speak again.

"I want you to try the drug treatment though. You are not so far along that it might not work for you. The presence of cirrhosis makes it harder to cure the Hepatitis C, but not impossible. There is about a 50-50 chance. Are you familiar with the treatment?"

Don told him of a friend he works with who had genotype 2 Hep.C and had just completed the 24 week treatment with complete success. The doctor nodded.
"You will need to be on the 48 week therapy of drugs which will consist of..." he looked again down at the paperwork, "how much do you weigh?"
Don responded "215?"
"Okay." Doctor continued, "You will get 6 Ribovirin pills per day, 3 taken in the morning and 3 at night and 1 injection of Interferon in the abdomen per week. I usually recommend that you take the shot before your days off until you see how your body responds to it. It makes most of my patients feel like they have the flu. Some patients carry on much the same as they always have and I have others who have had to go on disability." He paused. "I know we are close to the holidays. Do you want to start now, or wait until January?"

"Wait until January. I will take the injection the first Saturday night in January." Don responded.

"I will need to see you for an office visit and blood work after you have been on the medication for 2 weeks. We will be monitoring your white blood cell count and your platelet count. If your white blood cell count goes down, we can give you an injection to get it back up. If however, your platelet count goes down too low, we may have to stop the treatment. There is no shot that will increase the platelets. Many of my patients need to go on antidepressants when they start these meds. If you feel like you need this, just call and I will prescribe them for you."

He then turned to me smiling and said, "Sometimes the men will not be honest with me, so I will also ask you if you think he needs the antidepressants too!"

I frantically scribbled notes to myself with numbers and names of things long lost in my memory from back in college. Not normally a fan of antidepressants either, I set my mind to be totally open to this idea for him. Anything that could make the journey easier on us was a positive!

The minute the doctor left the room, both Don and I stood up and just hugged each other. We reassured each other that although this was not the best news that we were hoping for, it was certainly not the worst either!


Garden Antqs Vintage said...

I have become addicted to following your updates. Have you thought about writing a book, seriously, to help others that may be going through a situation such as this or maybe even similar. Your honey's so blessed to have you to lean on, I'm sure it's been a scary situation for him. May God continue to watch over you both and heal Don.

Ginger said...

Hi Julie:
So glad to read that Don's biopsy showed that he could receive treatment. I hope he is doing okay with the drugs he is having to take.

bj said...

Well, praise the Lord! Just the blessing of being able to treat this is indeed HUGH.
And, besides, YOUR HUNK is way to cute to have to be sick for very long. Oh....and did you ask him if it was ok to show him off as my PINK SATURDAY HUNK ?? ;O)
I am truly so thankful for the news from the doctor...as you said...it could have been so much worse...
xo bj

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

I'm keeping up with you Julie. You and Don remain in my thoughts and prayers!

Cote de Texas said...

NONONON- this is GREAT NEWS! you can take the medicine - bad news would be if Don couldn't!!!!! No- look at this like the glass is half fill. I'm happy for you. But he is right - the chemo is hard he will feel bad. but that's ok - he'll be getting better while he is feeling bad. you know? I'm happy for you! I know its not the news you wanted. so - I forget this was months ago! is he feeling bad or good?

Susan said...

I hope everything has been going well. You could do a book about it to help other people with this problem.
Hugs, Susan

Robyn said...

I have finally got up with what is going on with Don! Know that I am sending my prayers to your both! I think he is well into the treatment now...hoping all is well!