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Another Newbie
Sep 3, 2002
Hello all,

First I want to thank all of you for sharing your experiences, information, concerns, opinions, questions, fears, and your emotional ups and downs on this board. I can't begin tell you how invaluable
and comforting it is for someone like me, who has recently tested positive for Hepatitis C. I know I'm not alone in this battle, and now I realize that I can live with this, with treatment or without it.

I also want to emphasize to other new people how important it is for us to educate ourselves. I know your first reaction may be shock and panic, as was mine, but you'll realize that this is not a death sentence. As I've seen said on this board, you're more likely to die with it than from it. There's a lot to learn and there's a lot of information, which can be a bit overwhelming at first. Right now I'm just letting my brain absorb what it can and then I go back and read some more. Don't rely on one source, either.

How or why did my doctor even test me for hepatitis when I have no symptoms? One thing just led to another. If I had not gone for my annual check-ups and routine blood tests, I would never had known. My doctor has been monitoring my thyroid and glucose levels since 1999, when slightly elevated glucose levels raised a red flag. Upon further testing we discovered hypothyroid disorder, which apparently is very common in middle-agers and can be a contributing factor in elevated glucose. Once we established a proper dose of Levothroid, the glucose levels went back to normal.

In February of this year, I went for my annual exam and labs. Everything was perfect except that my glucose was elevated again. We re-tested 30 days later after "watching the sweets" and sure enough, it was elevated to the point of me being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. He has not put me on insulin or any diabetes meds. I'm controlling it strictly through diet, exercise and frequent self-testing. Since April I have been busy with eye exams, dental exams, diabetes/nutrition/exercise classes and more blood and urine tests to determine if the Diabetes so far, has done any damage.

On July 26, all my labs looked great, even my glucose, except for my liver function tests were mildly elevated, Alt=83 Ast=81. He suspected fatty liver, which he explained can occur in people who are overweight. He said I'm doing a great job controlling my blood sugar, and I've lost 30 lbs since April, but it takes longer to lose organ fat versus body fat. If I stick with it, there's no cause for alarm. However, just to rule out anything else, he wanted to do more tests, including hepatitis.

He called me last Tuesday to inform me that my Hep C antibody test came back positive 3 out of 5 times, which is enough for him to say it's positive. He said that I probably have had the virus for at least 10
years, possibly longer and not to be overly concerned to the point of driving myself crazy wondering about the who, what, when, and where I got it from because more than likely, I will probably never know for
sure. He referred me to his favorite website for more information and told me I cannot drink ANY alcohol period, including over-the-counter meds. I cannot donate blood or organs, I need to cover open wounds,
don't share personal items like razors, toothbrushes, etc., practice safe sex and I need to be vaccinated for Hep A & B. He said further testing would be necessary to determine if there is any liver damage and was going to refer me to a GI/Hepatology specialist to work out a plan.

I was quite surprised that the specialist called me back within 30 minutes. He said they have no open appointments until November. They are experiencing a high volume of Hep C patients, especially among Vietnam Vets, and there is a shortage of doctors. But, in the mean time my clinic can vaccinate me, find out my genotype and PCR quantitative level, and perform a liver ultrasound. In November we would discuss a biopsy and possible treatment. He warned me that not everyone responds to treatment and the side effects from it could be extreme.

Other labs from 8/6/02 came back:

Thyroid THS = 5.55 - May have to raise the Levothroid dose.
(Normal is .2-4.7)

Total Bilirubin = 1.3 - Within range
(Normal is .3-1.9)

Alt=112 Ast=103 - Elevated since 7/26/02 Alt=83 Ast=81

Alk phos = 189 - Elevated
(Normal is 44 - 147)
This I have to research. I don't know what this means.

B12, folate normal
Hep C Antibody = Positive
Hep B Core Antibody = Negative
Hep B Surface Antigen = Negative
Hep B Surface Antibody = Negative

Now I feel like I'm rambling, so I'll sign off for now. I wish you all well and hope to share more with you along this journey.

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