There has been a huge delay in updating this blog. I’m sorry it has taken me so long to get back here. But the fact is my life has been completely transformed, once again, by the interferon and a new job and direction for my life which I will never cease praising God for.
In January of 2012 I took medical leave from Barnes & Noble to undergo interferon therapy for the eradication of Hep C in my blood. I had had Hep C up until this point approaching 20 years and felt that it was now or never to deal with it. I knew the treatment would be awful hard to endure and I was prepared for it. I had purchased long term disability through the Barnes & Noble Health insurance they provided, or I never could have afforded to undertake this process. Also, my husband had been assigned a commission to do a documentary so we had a stable consistent living for the year, another miracle from God!
Anyway, the interferon was no problem for the first month or so. And then it knocked me down hard. I was in a lot of pain most of the time from it. Our bodies make natural interferon when we have the flu or a bug. It’s what gets your immune system going to fight infections and such. That’s why you have muscle aches and pains when you have the flu. It tells you that your own body is working properly fighting to kill the virus. When I’d give myself the interferon shot for the week, the after effects was 50-100 times the simple flu-like pain. And then the headaches began. I had never had migraines before and couldn’t understand how some people who had them are completely debilitated. I understand NOW. The headaches were so bad that I couldn’t lift my head, hear noise, endure light, nor could I even bear to hear the echo of my own voice when I’d speak. This would last for hours into days in a row. I was prescribed some serious meds for the headaches and various things to help me endure the other bodily pain. I had only to endure this trial for 6 months and then it would be over. Around the 3 or 4 month my hair fell out and the psoriasis I had formerly dealt with came back with a vengeance. I had to stop taking the Humira because it lowers your immune system and so does the interferon. The psoriasis spread all over my head once again, and then down the side of my face. It was on other parts of my body that reinforced my misery and that of my poor husband. His wife at this time resembled one with Leprosy. I was ugly and sick and embarrassed. I couldn’t leave the house except once a week to go do blood work. Now I wore scarves to cover my head. There was nothing I could do to cover the psoriasis lesions on my face. I apologized to my husband on numerous occasions saying “I’m soooo sorry, I know you didn’t sign up for this”. He always said, “you’re always beautiful to me”. Seriously, I hit the jack pot when I married him! Towards the 5 month of the interferon my white blood count became almost completely non existent and I began getting all kinds of infections; respiratory, stomach, etc. I then had to have a shot of medicine called Neupogen. That medicine wasn’t approved by the insurance company and without it, I’d have to quit the therapy or the therapy would kill me. It wasn’t approved because the insurance company said I wasn’t taking Chemo for Cancer treatment. Neupogen is thousands per shot so there was no way we could pay for it on our own. My doctor was and is amazing and a blessing. He provided me with the shot for free so I wouldn’t have to quit what was looking to be successful eradication of the Hep C virus. The neupogen improved my white blood count but caused even worse pain than the interferon. So after a shot of that in the stomach or leg I was unable to do anything for 3 days except wallow in a drug induced stupor, living in a big blurry cocoon on the sofa. My husband was wonderful through out this whole ordeal. He took such good care of me. I never wanted for anything. He was always ahead of my desires or needs. Finally, it was over. It was sometime around August 2012. Then began the testing and more testing every 3-4-6 months. All tests showed the Hep C was gone! My hair started to grow back and I began the Humira again and that got rid of the psoriasis. I started to see an improvement after another month and my skin was clear and I was not embarrassed anymore, but I knew I looked older. The interferon had aged me, I could see it and I’m sure others have too but would never say so. I made the choice to go through it or risk an even worse outcome. I’m glad I did it. After a whole year and another test, the Hep C is still gone and it’s unlikely it will ever return unless I chose to participate in behaviors where I could get it again. That I can say with assurance, will NOT happen. The interferon has also caused some residual difficulties for me. For example; I can no longer work in a retail position because I now have some arthritis in my feet and other parts of my body. And I get migraine headaches now and then. But for the most part I have come through unscathed. The hard thing afterward was that I couldn’t find another job. I had applied to well over 200 positions online and because (I’m sure) of my prison history, no one would consider me. I felt that I’d have to go and apply in person everywhere so I could then explain in person and maybe they’d like me enough to give me a chance like Barnes & Noble did. Nothing was available to me. I started going to church more and more and finally joined. Being a member of the church really has perks. One it has a medical clinic where they helped provide me and my husband with medicine that we could no longer afford because when I was separated from Barnes & Noble I lost all coverage and couldn’t afford the COBRA coverage. They provided counseling services for me because I was struggling with depression and a loss of direction. The church then invited new members to a luncheon where the pastors would all tell what exactly their positions are with the church and area in which a new member might get involved. I felt a leading by the Holy Spirit to tell the Missions Pastor about my history in prison. From there a whole new door opened that I have since walked through. A new life has begun once again. And it’s better than ever!
I’ll talk about that in my next post that will be entitled My Dream Job
God bless you all. And remember this from Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart: Wait, I say, on the Lord…
What a strong woman you are my friend and such a good writer! Thank you for sharing your intimate life experiences, it makes us all wiser and more compassionate. Love you, joanie