Diagnosed with Hep C in 1990
In 1990, I was diagnosed with hepatitis C. I likely contracted it in 1978. I was in the Army in Germany in the late ’70s and I have multiple risk factors. Between receiving Army-required immunizations from air guns, a tattoo, and other blood exposure, it’s anyone’s guess how I got it.
I had genotype 1a, and have been through five hepatitis C treatments. I didn’t even respond the first three times. The first treatment was interferon monotherapy in 1995. The second treatment was in 2001 with interferon plus ribavirin. In 2003, I participated in a clinical trial, and was retreated with interferon plus ribavirin.
In 2008, a liver biopsy revealed that I had cirrhosis. I take spironolactone for edema and a small amount of ascites. I also have varices, which were banded in 2012. In 2014, I underwent my fourth treatment, this time with 12 weeks of Sovaldi and Olysio. Although I responded, I relapsed after stopping the medications.Late 2015, I went through my fifth treatment, this time with Harvoni for 24 weeks plus 15 weeks of ribavirin. In July, I got the news—I am cured.
What three adjectives best describe you?
Tenacious, rebellious, determined
What is your greatest achievement?
There are a couple I can think of:
- After working for several years I recently received a flight instructor certificate.
- A couple of years ago, I flew an Angel flight of about 440 miles transporting a pancreatic cancer patient home after chemotherapy. I currently have flown 24 missions of various types.
What is your greatest regret?
I don’t know that I have any; maybe being a better listener to those close to me.
What keeps you up at night?
Everything and nothing; just thinking too much
If you could change one thing about living with viral hepatitis, what would it be?
The stigma we all feel as patients. I am fairly open but still people look at you differently.
What is the best advice you ever received?
My basic training drill sergeant said, “Don’t worry about what the other guy is doing, just worry about what you are doing.”
What person in the viral hepatitis community do you most admire?
HectorSF on MedHelp; he is the giant upon whose wise shoulders I stand. Most of what I know I learned from him.
What drives you to do what you do?
I just think we should all pay it forward and all pay it back.
What is your motto?
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.
If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?
My better half
If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?
An eagle, because I love to fly.