Life after a Successful Treatment

In the euphoria we feel at ending treatment, and finally hearing that we are cured, it is not surprising that the last thing we want to think about is more medical stuff.

If you have lived with chronic infection like hep c for years like many of us baby boomers, there is likely to be some damage caused that needs attention. This can look like different things to each of us, and hopefully your doctor has spelled them out clearly for you.

Your doctor may have talked about follow up appointments to monitor your ongoing liver health, and in some it may include other conditions either caused by or made worse by hep c. I am hearing from some people that there is no plan to follow up beyond blood tests to determine if they are virus free. This may be because there is nothing to monitor, and you may well be one of those people that really don’t need ongoing care. But there are those who will need regular care and monitoring. I would suggest having an open and frank discussion with your treating physician about this subject.

If you have been told as part of your care that you have cirrhosis it is unquestionable that you should have regular scheduled blood tests and periodic scans to look at changes in your liver that can occur even with cure. I am not trying to frighten anyone by bringing this up. It is not something we should be alarmed about, but that does not mean it should be ignored either.

There are issues unrelated to the liver (extra-hepatic manifestations), which will need ongoing attention in some cases. If you developed any issues connected with other organs or systems to include mental health issues like anxiety and depression, they may need monitoring. Taking a pro-active part in the care you may require after treatment is just as important as was required before and during treatment.

I have some of my own issues from years of living with chronic hep c, and although they are mostly well managed they do require some monitoring, which is mostly by myself. My primary care doctor is very good but he is no mind reader and depends on feedback from me on how I am managing with the chronic conditions I live with daily.

Self-monitoring will not work if the severity of illness is more advanced, and you should consult with your physician regularly. I suggest that you keep notes if you have any ongoing issues. I simply forget things and rely on notes to remember time frames and other issues, which may help with providing an overview by my doctor.

You may be one of the many who do not need any follow-up care at all, and wow that is the best of outcomes! But for those of us who do, let’s make sure our doctor is informed, and as always I think informing ourselves is a key part for us to play because after all it is about us, and those who care about us. A reasonable understanding of our condition empowers us to make informed choices in our care, in all the steps in this hep c journey.

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