I have always lived a fairly healthy life, with minimal problems. If I had a checkup or a doctors visit, it was due to the fact that I felt a symptom that was unusual and bothersome.
In 2008, my family and I moved to Thailand. The intense heat used to knock my energy level down to next to nothing. I would often feel tired and thought it was just the heat. One day, I decided to go to the hospital and check my blood to make sure there was nothing else going on in my body. The blood results come back within an hour in Thailand, so I decided to wait at the hospital and follow up with a doctor after the checkup.
When the hour had passed, I met with the doctor and he said everything was fine except for two readings: my cholesterol was a little high and my “ALT,” which is alanine transaminase , was also a little high. The doctor told me to cut back on greasy foods and come back in six months to check my ALT score. I didn’t think any more about it, but I did mark my calendar to return in six months to re-check my scores.
When the time came to return for a re-check of my ALT, I was not nervous in the least. I went in to the lab, had them draw blood, and wait for the results. The doctor and I met an hour later, and he told me that my ALT score was 64. The normal range is 0-40, according to the complete blood count chart. He was a little nervous about how high the score was and he ordered a test for Hepatitis. I was in awe that he would think I had Hepatitis.
The lab drew blood and asked me to return to the doctor in an hour to check my results. The hospital had an Internet cafe and I decided to spend the hour researching Hepatitis online. I remember thinking after I was done researching that if I had Hepatitis A or Hepatitis B, I would be able to be cured. If I had Hepatitis C, I was in trouble.
The time finally came to see the doctor. He asked me to sit down and told me without emotion that I had Hepatitis C. I was in shock to say the least. The doctor wanted to do an ultrasound to see if I had Fibrosis or even Cirrhosis. He was pleased to find that there was not either of these two problems present. He told me that I had Genotype 2b, which had a great chance of sustaining SVR, which means sustained virologic response. SVR means that Hepatitis C is not detected in the blood, which is the goal of the treatment. He told me that, obviously, there was no guarantee. Furthermore, the doctor was nervous that my RNA, which is the amount of virus in the blood, was 6,000,000. The range that a virus is detected is between 43-69,000,000. There was a long road of ahead to see if this virus could obtain SVR.
Over the course of the next six months, I had weekly shots of Interferon and daily doses of Ribavarin. After several months, the RNA count of the virus in my body decreased. When six months was completed, the Hepatitis C virus was not detected in my body. The experience of having Hepatitis C was not a delightful one, but it was a learning experience to always be aware of my health. Checking the blood yearly and being aware of any unusual symptoms are key factors to taking action on viruses and diseases that can sometimes invade our bodies.