I was referred to the GI (Gastro Intestinal) clinic at the local Army hospital to find out more about HCV.
I was interviewed by a Gastroenterologist at the hospital for about 2 hours of questions about my military and health background. "No drugs, safe sex, typical drinking but nothing serious", and just lots of other medical questions, like any operations and etc." After all this was done, I was informed that there was nothing to worry about and to just check in once every 6 months to do my blood work. My daughter was born and no HCV, my wife was checked and no HCV.
I PCS (permanent change of station) and checked in with my TMC. I informed the Doc that I had tested positive for HCV and it needs to be rechecked. They ran all the blood work and again it came back positive. I was referred to Infectious Diseases Department at the main hospital. And again they redid the surveys. But I was able to find out a little more about HCV.
I was not referred to the Gastro clinic because my blood count was not that high. And again, I was informed to recheck my blood work every 6 months to a year. My son was born and no HCV, and my wife also, no HCV. Thank God. After my blood work was done I was referred to the Gastro clinic. My ALT had gone up pretty high. They wanted to do a biopsy, but then I was deployed for 4 months. I came back and finally did my biopsy. The results were normal. I was told that I could not qualify for treatment because I was only at Stage 1 of HCV out of 3 stages.
I played the game, every 6 months, the blood work, and my visit to the GI clinic. Meanwhile, I started having a hard time doing PT (Physical Training). Nothing serious at first, but something was going on. But as always, I reported to the local TMC here and was just going to notify the Commander that he had a soldier with HCV in his unit.
The first thing again was the blood work, my ALT was up. The Doc referred me to a civilian Liver Specialist. In turn he did some more blood work. I was asked if I would be willing to start a new study treatment? At that time, they started patients off with Interferon first for 12 months or more. But the study treatment he was talking about was going straight into Interferon and Ribavirin combo treatment. I said Yes. I have been on this since 4/98.
After 2 weeks on treatment all my blood work was normal. I'm due for my HCV-RNA test in next week. The cost of the Interferon was covered by the Army after it was sent up for approval.
The Ribavirin was free because this was a case study and was not yet approved by the FDA. I have been going through the normal side affects, both physical and mental. I was prepared for the physical but not the mental. It took some time for that.
All the paperwork between my TMC and my civilian doctor was taken care of by my TMC. The bottom line is to communicate!
Go in for the blood work, wait those 6 to 8 hours on sick call, drill the GI clinic, and just let the right people know you have this and how you think you got this?
Be firm when you have to, and use your common sense! I'm still going through the head games at work. But I have my faith, my children, and a POSITIVE ATTITUDE! But as always, I still have questions, and I'm still looking for the answers.
The bottom line:
1. Sick calls
2. Blood work
3. GI clinic
5. Communication, Positive Attitude, Common Sense, and Watch Your Back!!!
It's not much and it may seem simple, but these are the facts. I know my condition is not that bad compare to other's. And I am very grateful to be on treatment. And if there is someone out there that can benefit from this, well I hope that I can help."
SFC Paul I. Batchelor
US Army - Ft. Carson, CO