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Insight 2: Preparing for treatment

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Support and Resources 

Start by gathering resources. Trusted resources such as your Healthcare team, support groups, and a reliable internet site are safe places to start. An important issue for people thinking about treatment is to learn as much as possible about treatment. Talk to others who have been on treatment—they are some of the best experts. I feel peer to peer support is vital in preparing and successfully going through treatment. Facebook is another resource where you can learn about treatment and receive support.

 

Sometimes the more challenging patients may use these sites more than those who feel well, and may have more side effects and complaints. The pharmaceutical companies also have many resources that can be useful for investigating treatment issues and receiving support.

 

The Workplace

In the past, some patients were unable to work while on interferon-based therapies. Now that we have interferon-free therapies with fewer side effects, this is mostly an issue for people. In fact for most people, the workplace issue will mainly involve planning medical appointments and be able to support you through your treatment. I have decided over the next three months to reduce my workload and focus on my therapy, which I feel will give me the best possible outcome of treatment.

 

Remember you do not have to tell your employer you have hepatitis C or that you are taking hepatitis C medications. Everyone has the right to time off for medical reasons. However, it is not always that easy, so you should check in with your employer about your rights and responsibilities. It is also important to think through the worst-case scenario. Some people are worried that they may feel sick especially at the beginning of therapy. This is normal. It might help to plan a couple of days off at the beginning of treatment. Talk with your employer about your sick leave policy, how much you have available and what your employer’s policies are. You may also be able to use your holiday. I think it is also a good idea to plan a holiday or time off for after your treatment and this will give you a focus and sometime to look forward in the future.

 

Anxiety

Current therapy can cause anxiety and though uncommon, depression. Talk with your healthcare team if you are concerned about this. Medication can provides relief relatively quickly.

 

Medications

HCV treatment consists of taking pills. Talk to healthcare team about how and when to take them. Be prepared—ask your healthcare team ahead of time if you miss a dose, when you should take the next dose. If you plan on traveling, make a copy of your prescriptions to take with you. Also if you are taking supplements it may be worth speaking with a healthcare professional to prevent any complications when starting or during your treatment duration.

 

Preparing your body

HCV treatment is a process that requires getting the mind and body ready and in shape. Alcohol, especially in large quantities, can accelerate HCV disease progression. I have decided that 2 weeks before starting treatment to stop drinking alcohol. I have also stopped smoking and now vapouring. I feel this will give me the best chance of cure and know that I will only need to do this for three months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it the wright time for me to access hepatitis C treatment?

After many considerations I feel it is the correct time to start treatment. I am able to access a treatment through the NHS, with good cure rates, with fewer side effects. I have also to consider my work, family, friends and partner and understand how my health impacts on these areas of my life. I am ready to commit to treatment and focus on my health and well-being.

 

I listed the reasons why I wanted to get treated (pros) and the reasons why I was  uncertain (cons). Then I looked at how important each of these were. Comparing the pros and cons helped me to decide on my next steps.

 

Motivations for treatment:

•I maybe cured after completing treatment

•It is a chance of feeling better for the long term

•I might stop feeling so exhausted and irritable

•I can get rid of this brain fog

•I can improve my liver health

•I can drink alcohol again

•I won’t need to worry about passing on hep C to someone else

•I won’t have to worry about whether to tell people I have hep C any more

•I can live free from fear of serious liver disease or liver cancer

 

Tests before and during treatment

Before starting treatment, you will usually need more tests to help you and your doctor decide the best treatment option for you. As well as discussions about your lifestyle, other medical conditions and medicines you might be taking, your assessment can include tests for liver damage. Knowing how much scarring or cirrhosis you have can determine the type and length of your treatment.

 

Tests include:

•Blood tests such as liver function tests (LFT)

•A genotype and viral load test

•Ultrasound scan, or fibro scan

•Liver biopsy is no longer necessary for everyone. It is often reserved for cases where the results from the ultrasound or fibro scan are not clear.

 

Finally

With one week before starting treatment I feel it is important to set goals before treatment. I would advise to write them down and refer to them while on treatment. It is an excellent way to stay motivated and I will be sharing these through my blog over my treatment.  Just remember that, even though, the cure rates are very high not everyone can be cured at this time. Planning ahead and staying the course will give you the best opportunity to be cured, and that is really all you can do.

 

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