Last updated: November 2020
Hi, I'm Randy and I was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1999. I was always known as the "energizer bunny", healthy and tireless, teaching brain-injured children and adults, constantly advocating on their behalf. I was able to take on one or two extra jobs on any given day. This was my life until I was no longer tireless in 1990. In fact, by 1993, I no longer had the stamina to work two days a week. I had to leave a 'dream' research position to go home. I went to sleep for six months. I knew something was very awry in my body. My family doctor said it was nothing to worry about. The overwhelming fatigue, muscle aches, chills, digestive problems, palpitations, headaches and incredible inability to be cohesive-(brain fog) screamed to me this was definitely not nothing to worry about. My friendships were diminishing, I couldn't keep commitments.
In 1994, for 3 years, I did nothing but read medical books & journal articles on 'rare birds'... ad nauseam. I did attain a wealth of knowledge, but no answers. During that time, dragging files of medical research & my questions, I saw every specialist including a top infectious disease doc. I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction (CFIDS), Fibromyalgia, Thyrotoxicosis, Supraventricular tachycardia, Lyme disease (false), Rheumatoid Arthritis and of course anxiety (roger that!) I succumbed to the diagnosed of CFIDS, but with a mission to find it's etiology. I began seeing a wholistic PCP in 1997, who did help a bit, but not enough.
One day in January 1999, I walked in my doctor's office and asked her to run a hepatitis panel. To this day, I don't know why, nor did she (having seen an ID doctor & having normal Liver Function Tests.) The blood test was hep c antibody positive and off I went to a hepatologist to find I had an RNA PCR (viral load) in the millions. In reviewing my history he asked if I ever had a transfusion... Bingo, 1976, after childbirth. The next 14 years I had the gamut of liver Biopsy, endoscopy's & four MRI's to monitor a possible liver cancer, very thankfully it was not.
I share this long journey with you because it is no longer a grueling process to get diagnosed, nor should it be. I do, however, know there are far too many baby boomers, feeling the same as I did and sadly, just accepting it!!
I treated with Harvoni in December of 2014, have been NOT DETECTED. I am optimistically awaiting results of PCR 8 week post End of Treatment. I'm looking to the future with the great hope of Sustained Viral Response ~ CURED. I've gratefully been given the opportunity to give back on Help4Hep's national helpline and join this caring community at hepatitisC.net. My fervent hope is to help guide 'helpers' to test, treat & cure!
Everyone deserves excellent healthcare and a second chance to live a healthy life! I believe this can and will happen!