Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Diagnosed with Hep C in 1990
I acquired the hepatitis C virus in 1988 from a blood transfusion needed after a C-section. In 1995, I did the interferon treatment with negative results. In the late 1990s, I tried treatment again. I was treated with interferon and ribavirin, but was unable to complete therapy due to a drastic drop in white blood cells. For quite some time, I received Neupogen injections to stimulate white cell production. Eventually I was listed for a liver transplant at the University of Miami.
After years of living with hep C, fatigue, anemia and cirrhosis, I started treatment with Harvoni in January 2015. After one month, my lab tests showed an undetectable viral load! Treatment was prescribed for six months. Other than a couple of weeks of headaches on one side of my head, my first three months of treatment were uneventful.
In March, I developed foot pain and was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. Within a week of that diagnosis, my other foot developed a very painful red lesion. It soon moved to the left foot as well. Shortly thereafter, both of my feet were engulfed in an excruciatingly painful red rash. I consulted a dermatologist, three podiatrists, an infectious disease specialist, two rheumatologists and two emergency room physicians. All of them said the same thing: They had never seen anything like it.
I completed Harvoni in July and I’m so thankful that I no longer have this awful virus!
I wish that was the end of my story, but as of January 2016, I am still dealing with excruciating pain in my feet. The redness occurs in different places, but the pain makes it almost impossible to walk. My hepatologist says it has nothing to do with the drug because it has never been reported. During treatment, I had five cortisone shots in my feet to reduce the inflammation, which only lasted a week. When I was on prednisone therapy, the redness went away; as soon as prednisone was discontinued, the inflammation, redness, and excruciating pain returned. Basically, I spend my day lying on the couch because walking is just too painful and I can’t wear shoes.
My rheumatologist ruled out vasculitis, arthritis, plantar fasciitis, and basically everything that could affect the foot. None of the doctors have ever seen anything like what is affecting me. I wondered if the cortisone injections I received while on the treatment might have contributed to the problem. In the meantime, I will continue to find a cause and relief for my current condition.
What three adjectives best describe you?
Adventurous, positive, caring
What is your greatest achievement?
What is your greatest regret?
I have no regrets.
What keeps you up at night?
If you could change one thing about living with viral hepatitis, what would it be?
What is the best advice you ever received?
What person in the viral hepatitis community do you most admire?
The scientists who worked diligently to find a cure for hep C
What drives you to do what you do?
What is your motto?
Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?
If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?
A chimp; I don’t know for sure why, but they seen to have a fun life.