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I am close to finishing treatment and I felt that this would be a good time to write an insight which is focusing on my health and well-being tracker, which I have been keeping through my treatment journey. This has been recorded in a simple and clear format, but I feel it is a true reflection of what side-effects I have been experiencing and the impact which this had upon my life.
Why keep a tracker?
•I feel early identification of side-effects may reduce developing further problems.
•Tracking over time allows me a greater understanding, which will enable me to achieve a greater treatment outcome.
•It may help support my family, friends and work colleagues to better understand my experience and how this may affect my performance.
•To share my experiences with other patients who are treatment experienced, on treatment or who maybe accessing treatment in the future.
•Finally I believe it will encourage me to reflect of my treatment care journey.
I believe with any treatment you experience some side-effects. In compassion form hepatitis C treatment previously, I have experienced fewer side-effects, which have been more manageable and had minimal impact upon my life.
I did experience brain fog, this is very common. I have found this to come and go through treatment. In a way this has motivated me, sometimes we forget what impact living with hepatitis C has on people. Through treatment I have been able to feel a clearer direction and focus better, tasks do not seem to be so challenging.
Beginning of treatment
I felt nauseas and at times have had headaches, insomnia and some skin irritation/rashes. Again all manageable and have gone over time, but it is important to be aware of these. I have not experienced chills, fever, muscle pains, and dry/sensitive eyes. For me this is important as these flu-like symptoms sometimes can wear you down, be frustrating at add unnecessary challenging through treatment.
These have included fatigue, at times I have felt I have had low energy and felt weak or tired. I found that when I have energy it is important to maximise this. Through treatment I feel it is important to get as much rest as possible and not to commit to many tasks outside of your normal life.
At times I have experienced a loss of appetite. While I haven’t lost any weight through my treatment, I have found snacking through the day has helped me. I have tried to stay off rich foods and not to eat after 20.00. Making sure I am eating when I am taking medication has helped to settle my stomach and reduced feeling bloated.
I believe it is natural to feel anxious before, during and after treatment. After all this is huge step forward in my life. After waiting for treatment, I am now taking control of my health and well-being. It is important to make the correct life style choices through treatment, which for me includes, vaporing not smoking, excellent adherence and three months off alcohol will enable me to achieve the best possible physical and mental outcomes.
I have noticed that I have been having some mood changes, often unable to deal with stress, this maybe down to being tired, but let’s not forget I am putting strong and powerful medication through my system. When you’re feeling like this sometimes it does have an impact on your confidence or you may feel depressed or down.
Being in busy environments for me has been more challenging, which is unlike me. It is important to remember that treatment for me is only for three months. In time my confidence will return and I will be able to rebuild this. What is important to me is that I stay motivated and focused on completing treatment and communicate with family, friends, work colleagues and my healthcare team about how I am feeling.
Impact upon life
While being on treated I have slowed my work load down. I am aware this is not the case for everyone, but I would suggest taking time off when you can and not over loading yourself.
I have changed my lifestyle, I have tried to do new things which has included running and walking more. It’s important not to be come to isolated and have the correct support networks in place to give you emotional support. Speak with people who you are able to trust and you are able be honest with each other.
My sex life
This has been pretty low to be honest, having lower energy and sometimes unable to focus has had an impact on this side of my life. There is no reason why my sex life can’t go on hold at the moment and I can re-engage with this once my treatment has finished.
Family and friends
They have been a great emotional support to me while on treatment. They have helped to keep me motivated and on track. I would advise people who are starting or going through treatment to consider what benefits having the correct support networks in place may mean to you.
Reporting of side-effects
It is important to talk to your healthcare team about what side-effects you may be experiencing. You are able to learn more about side effects from the patient information leaflet which comes with your mediation. You are also able to report side effects via the Yellow Card Scheme at www.yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk