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Hi Val--

Boy, I wish I had had the good sense to ask so many good questions right at first. I spent months getting the barest info. Too nervous to ask everything at once.

A couple of things: I apparently had the virus for 30 plus years before diagnosis, smoked most of that time, and drank occassionally (but to excess, I'm sure, too often to brag about), and still only am at stage 1 of fibrosis. Stage one is not as good as zero, but it isn't much, either.
On the other hand, yes, having it a long time can mean EITHER that it must move very slowly in your case (the great majority of us), OR that you are one of the unlucky ones in whom the liver damage is silent until very serous, and over the years bad things have been progressing inside. ONLY a biopsy will tell you this.
Assuming you get past the issue of whether your result is false or not, you will simply not know much about your individual case until you have the biopsy. It is not a big deal, although no medical procedure is a treat, and it may--it will probably--give reassuring results.

As to weight, I am always sorry to report this, cause I know people struggle with weight more than almost anything, but the research does indeed seem to show that being overweight increases the likelihood of liver damage in hep c (or any other liver condition from what I've read), and losing weight can have a direct, healthful effect on the liver's condition even if the person does not treat the underlying virus.
Further, if you DO have hcv, and DO choose treatment, the reserach also seems consistent that losing weight increases the odds of successful outcome of treatment.

Fat is stored in the liver, more or less in direct proportion to the amount of fat (especially abdominal fat) in the person's body, and the liver is stressed by, even eventually damaged by this fatty tissue load.

I have noticed that the steps we take for heart health--slimming down, eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies, exercising, and so on, all also seem linked to liver health as well. Again this is my conclusion from the reading i've done, and this may be incomplete, or i may be over-interpreting. It seems like these steps would surely improve general health for most of us, so it can't hurt to begin with these while learning more about what does or doesn't hurt your liver.

I don't mean to ignore Shyan's suggestions--I follow a few alternative thingies myself--but I believe in studying things VERY carefully before diving in, and would start with steps we are pretty darn sure cannot hurt us any. The overall fitness recomendations fit that description, and the weight piece especially seems to have a lot of research backing up its importance for hep c and other liver conditions.

The HCOP site has a good intro to nutritional issues and hep c. After that, things get pretty technical, but I am confident what I've said here is safe and correct.

Hope this helps.

sean
Hello again Val,

I think you're getting the picture. Thanbey's info is the best of anyone's in the field i've found. [no, i'm not part of her hcop organization, although I've sent 'em a contribution; and no, i've never met her, she lives on the west coast, i on the (much preferred) east coast.]

To answer the questions you addressed to me: I haven't treated BECAUSE I DON'T NEED TREATMENT. I'm betting you won't, either.
so, it's optional, in other words. if i decided to treat, and IF it turned out to be successful, i would maybe reduce my future worries, maybe not have to worry about transmission to loved ones, maybe get to knock off a whole bottle of delicious red wine with dinner if i feel like it (sigh....), but these are OPTIONAL considerations.

and, I'm still weighing my options. I might just do it when Roche's Pegasys comes on the market. If it ever comes on the market.

if a second biopsy for me shows more rapid fibrosis progression--more on this, below--or if my liver enzyme numbers suddenly shoot through the roof, or if any symptoms really start to show up, that would maybe change the balance of the decision for me, too. don't know--don't have any of these problems at the moment.

ookay, as to fibrosis/ cirrhosis/ etc. There are generally accepted to be four stages of fibrosis (not counting zero--normal) I am at stage 1, for example--after my decades of infection. MOST HEP C'ers DO NOT PROGRESS PAST STAGE ONE. (sometimes called "mild" fibrosis).

somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of us go on to stage two within 20 years.( sometimes called "moderate" fibrosis--these are obviously not exact terms). for these individuals, the indications seem to be that fibrosis will continue to advance--slow, fast, with drink, without, faster after age 50....who knows, so many variables???
Definitely seems like we can slow it down a lot by avoiding booze and taking other sensible steps.

stage three is no longer moderate, and stage FOUR is cirrhosis. It is a long way off for the huge majority of us. In fact, please remember that the numbers show that the majority of us do NOT progress past mild or moderate AT ALL. nevermind get all the way to cirrhosis.

then once at cirrhosis, thanbey's info is so valuable--even cirrhosis is not a death sentence, not by a long shot.

Again, Val, hep C is treated as a serious disease because UNdetected, UNtaken care of with life-style changes and so on, it is then quite serious for SOME--a minority--of those who get it. if at that point it is also UNtreated, then some of this minority may get very sick indeed. Even if its a minority, it is a large enough group to mean you can't just shrug it off. but that does not change the fact that for most of us, we just will not probably ever be hurt by it.

It is NOT a serious disease because it is fatal or nearly so for a huge portion of us--say like HIV was before the recent treatment advances. These are both viral, both blood-borne diseases, but they don't really have much else in common. please remember that. jeez, influenza is an incurable virus, too, and occassionally fatal. so? big deal.

Please remember, when you go on tuesday, to take a pad and pencil with you--a tape or disc recorder would be fine if the doc won't mind. line up all your questions in advance, and warn the doc that you're really gonna need some quality time with him or her.

Keep the faith, Val. You are gonna be allright. remember t's mantra: I am not dead, I am alive.....actually, from your writing you seem very alive. good for ya.

sean

if i'm right, how am i gonna collect on my bet? this internet thing still has a long way to go......





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