Monday, May 3, 2010

ZOË ZOË: Right as Rain (3 months after HCV treatment)



Right as Rain

What a difference a day makes – what a difference every day makes after treatment stops.
Three months ten days post treatment and feeling so much better. Gone are the bouts of fatigue and lowness replaced with energy and zest for life.
It didn’t happen overnight but as each day passed the veils of foreboding and drug induced confusion gradually shed. Admittedly the feelings of elation on the day of the last injection subsided pretty quickly as I realised I couldn’t yet bound up the stairs or concentrate for long periods though the itchiness and sickness disappeared almost instantly. Transition back to normal life – away from the fatigue, aches and pains and depression was more of a gradual progression, albeit in the right direction, but a struggle all the same. 
As the months passed the hope and fear of the dreaded Hep C returning lessened as I regained my strength and mind. I feel better than ever before – does that mean I’m cured? Am I healthy for the first time in 28 years? What a thought! Brings a smile to my face - and that’s progress.

I need now to address the subject of depression as this was a major factor for me. Treatment can aggravate underlying symptoms that are already there. I had no history of depression but the diagnosis hit me very hard as I’m sure it does for most. I was prescribed antidepressants one month prior to treatment and my major concern for others about to embark on treatment is that I didn’t receive the professional psychological help that I so desperately needed. My GP, who is very sympathetic, referred me to a psychologist but the appointment dropped through the letter box six months later – after treatment was over! The appointment was cancelled and the next cancelled again. Putting it politely I told them to stuff it, threw the antidepressants away (not recommended) and decided to sort myself out. After two weeks I felt the real me pushing through the fog and gradually rational thinking returned. I should leave it to the experts but I feel it would have made more sense to be prescribed Citalopram earlier in order to adjust before the treatment drugs were introduced. By the time I was well into treatment I didn’t know what was causing the confusion and obsessions and I wasn’t in any state to sort it out myself. Now off all medication positive thinking rules and I can honestly say I’m not depressed, not even anxious about the final result in October. I hit rock bottom and one thing is for sure I’m never going down there again.

I gauged the recovery from fatigue on how quickly I could climb the stairs to my fourth floor flat. A couple of weeks post treatment the ascent was still slow but no longer having to rest on each landing. Even laden with Tescos bags a couple of weeks later I wasn’t out of breath when finally arriving at my front door. Over a month post treatment walking briskly up, then one day about two months post treatment my energy levels must have returned because I bounded up the stairs without any conscious effort. No more excuses – must get back to the gym.

Now to important matters – hair and nails. The rate at which my hair was leaving my head reached alarming levels towards the end of treatment. Having always cursed my thick hair I am now very glad to have it back. A couple of months post treatment it stopped shedding and is now almost back to the thatch it was. Must make a hair appointment…..
My nails are growing long and no longer a danger as all itchiness, and therefore scratching while asleep, gone. 

Right as rain then? I suspect I am. Diagnosis is devastating, treatment a dilemma but after making the decision to go for treatment and enduring everything it throws at you, there is a sense of relief and in an odd sense achievement. In Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, the protagonist Renton questions why he would want to do a thing like choose life. Perhaps many Hep C sufferers have felt like that at one time, but one thing that seems evident to me on speaking with others who have been through treatment is a desire to embrace life and fulfil some ambition they never thought possible (whether the virus got beat or not). Climb that mountain, run that marathon or simply be happy - choose life.

Posted via web from ttexed's posterous

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