While distractions might have gotten me through 2013, they also pleasantly postponed me from diving into the new personal health management work I need to tackle.
You see, I reached a new low point with my health last year. Hepatitis C treatment in 2012 really took a toll, in expected and unexpected ways. It's been over 16 months since it ended and I finally feel like I have a handle all the challenges treatment presented.
The anemia-induced exacerbation of my dysautonomia symptoms resolved and my extreme sensitivity to the sun disappeared in about 3 months. The extreme fatigue and overall weakness got gradually better with each month that passed too. Within a year's time, I was pretty much back to my "usual" level of chronic illness related fatigue. Oh, and a sore that developed during treatment finally fully healed at the 15 month post-treatment mark.
Now I just need to conquer the small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) in my gut to get back to my pre-treatment self. Oh, and get a handle on new problem: high cholesterol. That was a surprise. Seems the only good thing about having chronic Hep C infection is that the virus keeps your cholesterol low because it uses the fats in your body during its viral replication process.
As for my diabetes, there's been no dramatic improvement in my insulin resistance or glucose control since beating the virus. And in regards to my fibromyalgia and chronic pain, there's been no improvement there either. I am disappointed on both accounts. However, I did some more research when I didn't get the outcomes I wanted and I remain convinced that my 24 year long chronic Hep C infection played a role in the appearance of these two conditions.
I read an article by Dr. Mark Borigini, a rheumatologist at the National Institutes of Health, and learned that Hep C can flip a (metaphorical) switch and trigger fibromyalgia symptoms. However, it appears that when the virus leaves, it doesn't turn the switch off on its way out the door.
The same is true for type 2 diabetes. Science Daily reported back in 2010 that Hep C flips yet another (metaphorical) switch and causes people with a genetic predisposition for type 2 diabetes to develop this condition decades before their family members do. My paternal grandfather developed type 2 diabetes is his 70's; I developed it at age 33.
Darn inconsiderate Hep C virus, causing damage and not cleaning up after itself on its way out of my body!
Want some good news? A repeat viral load test in October 2013 showed I was still undetectable, which IS good for me in the long run. According to a new study from Taiwan, having Hep C increases the changes of complications from type 2 diabetes. Successful treatment of Hep C infection in persons with type 2 diabetes reduced the risk of kidney disease, stroke and cardiovascular disease by roughly 50%.
So successful treatment helped me dodge some potential future health problems. I am grateful for that. And I am sure as time progresses, science will catch up and learn more about what Hep C really does to a person's body, and I will be grateful for avoiding those long-term consequences too.
In the meantime, I need to get focused on the present and finish my recovery -- from both treatment and 24 years of having my body hijacked and turned into a viral replication factory. It's been 16 months since treatment ended and the truth is this recovery process isn't over for me yet. Much like when I completed my cancer treatment 25 years ago, I now need to learn to live in a body that isn't quite the same as it was 22 months...and that is going to take some time.
2014 is the year I will really start getting to know what my body is like without Hepatitis C.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Getting to Know Me, All Over Again, After Hepatitis C Treatment
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