We can all use a team of people when we are facing an obstacle as daunting as hep C. Not everyone needs an army or even a platoon of people to help us out, but it is apparent to me that having a group of people who have knowledge, empathy, and compassion in the clinical/medical field is important. Equally important is to have the support from family and friends, when possible. But, not all of us need or desire to connect with others outside of what we see as the basic team of healthcare providers, having no interest in being part of something more. We are the ones in control of how much support we need, but generally in what I have seen, people do better when they have a solid group or team behind them from both.
Which of these doctors have you seen for hepatitis C? Check all that apply
Support from your medical team
At the minimum, we need a physician or nurse practitioner with experience in hep C care. This is typically a GI doctor, but there are infectious disease doctors and hepatologists who do treatment too. There are fewer primary care doctors who are experts in hep C, but this group is growing because most people do not need specialized care thanks to new, DAA treatments. In some jurisdictions, we see nurse practitioners treating people with hep C. It really comes down to what is available where you live, and what level of care you need to assure the best outcome.
A pharmacist you can trust is always a good part of any team. In the past, few pharmacists were well-versed in hep C care and the drugs used, but we have seen improvement in their understanding. You may have other medications that are unrelated to treatment, and consulting with your local pharmacist can be a good way to manage issues that may arise from drug interactions. I have certainly turned to my pharmacist more than once for their advice and understanding. There may be other specialties you will need care with, and your primary care doctor should be able to refer, as needed.
Support from your community
Depending on your own situation with friends, family or other supports in place, you may want to seek out community support. This can take many forms and how much or little you lean on these supports is up to you. Groups online like here and elsewhere can provide support at a distance, and many do prefer the convenience of accessing on their own terms and when they want. There are local, in-person groups here and there and some prefer that kind of contact more. Searching online is the often best way to find these.
Not so many years ago, there were only a few online groups/communities, but it has grown immensely in recent years. Many folks will find community in these places, as well as learn more about hep C and how others have dealt with issues as part of their journey. This can be helpful, and I support any effort to at least take a look. How large or small you make your team is entirely your choice, and there is no right or wrong number or way. You will find your way, and it may be made easier if you have a team.
Do you experience long-term side effects from hep C treatment?