I've enhanced the original article with links to the products I used duing Hep C treatment which go to Amazon.com. You can just as easily find most of these products at your local pharmacy or Drugstore.com too.
By the way, many of the patients mentioned in this article are members of the private Facebook group Hepatitis C Family and Friends. I too am a member of this group. I have found the members to be extremely warm and inviting, willing to share suggestions and advice and always there to lend an ear or offer support. The group is comprised of people thinking about, currently undergoing or finished with Hepatitis C treatment.
I encourage you to join the group to get the peer support you'll need to make your journey through Hep C treatment a better one.
I hope you find this article and its resources helpful.
In May 2011, two protease inhibitors bolstered the fight against chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The FDA approved boceprevir (Victrelis) and telaprevir (Incivek) for treatment of patients with genotype 1. Either drug (but not both) is used, along with peginterferon and ribavirin. With response rates hovering around 80%, these are weapons of mass destruction.
- Order the patient starter kits from the drug companies before you begin your treatment. Read all the materials before your education session and bring a written list of questions with you.
- Don’t try to do too much.
- Accept help and food when offered.
- Ask for help.
- Rest more, pace yourself and conserve your energy.
- Let go of as much as possible.
- Remember that “No” is a complete sentence and don’t be afraid to use it.
- If you and your medical provider think that you should go on disability, then by all means, do it.
“Start pounding down water two weeks before therapy,” says John Adamski. “The goal is one-half your body weight in ounces/day.” In other words, if you weigh 150 lbs, then aim for 75 ounces of water daily.
Find a way to track your water intake. Selena bought a container that held eight glasses of water from Bluewave. She added flavors such as lemon, lime, mint, cucumbers, a splash of fruit juice, and MiO mix (sucralose-based drink mix).
John mentioned that numerous studies showed that people with high vitamin D levels achieved a higher cure rate. Caffeine also seems to give people an edge. This month’s HCV Snapshots includes information about vitamin B12 and zinc supplementation. If you are interested in supplements, talk to your medical provider about these prior to using them.
Managing the emotional highs and lows of HCV treatment can be summarized in two words: antidepressants and support. Pretty much everyone I talked to used antidepressants during treatment.
“The first thing I learned was to STAY CALM,” wrote Mary Northrup. She did whatever she could to achieve that goal, including turning off the news. “Go easy on yourself. This therapy can be harsh on one mentally...give yourself permission to be a goof ball.”
Attend an HCV group. Education, information and identification of resources are a valuable focus of HCV groups. Mary received information and found groups acted as a sanity check. Humor is another benefit often gained by being with those who know what you are going through. Where else can you find a group of people who laughingly refer to themselves as the Friday Night Dart Club?
Keep friends and family informed. Mary did this via an online journal (or blog). Selena started blogging and then found that Facebook and Twitter were better ways to communicate.
As for support, Selena says, “Recruit a cheering squad. I used Sign Up Genius to engage my social network.” On difficult days, use your support network to vent. Remember to practice restraint of pen and tongue. If you feel angry or defensive, talk to a friend and don’t post anything hostile for at least 24 hours after running it by a trusted confidant.
Surround yourself with things you enjoy. During difficult times, distract yourself with anything that holds your attention: audio books, movies, TV, scenery, etc. Every day do something that makes you happy and treat yourself to whatever you need to get through this time. One man praised the power of a relaxing bath using herbal bath salts (legal ones) while listening to calm music.
Celebrate treatment milestones as you go along—there will be many (first shot, first week, first day that you forgot you were on treatment). “Invite your friends to party with you, even if it is virtually on Facebook or Twitter,” advises Selena.
“Patients contemplating this therapy need to be determined and accept the fact that they will be fairly miserable for at least a few months of this therapy,” said John. “But look at the CURE RATES !!!”
Yes, the cure rates make it all worth it.