I am a 57-year-old white American male infected with Hepatitis C. I am involved in a controlled medical research study by Roche Pharmaceuticals of an experimental Polymerase Inhibitor (RO5024048 also known as RG7128) drug therapy for the virus. This document is the story of my illness and the experience of treatment. My lovely and pretty damn wonderful wife will be contributing her take on the experience as well.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Feeling Better On Standard Of Care

Being treated on Standard of Care as opposed to in a drug research trial can make a big difference in your general feeling of health. It allows you to use drugs that directly counteract the characteristics of interferon and Ribavirin that depress your red and white blood cells. The use of Procrit to keep the hemoglobin level up and Neupogen to boost the white blood cell counts can have effects that go beyond the specifics of maintaining minimum levels of blood components.

Having more hemoglobin to carry oxygen around your body can mean a lot less shortness of breath after exertion. It can help your muscles recover faster and mean you can do more before you get that tired, wobbly-legged feeling. It also means that you feel a bit less fatigued overall and perhaps means that you don’t need quite as much nap time during the day to keep you functioning.

With higher white blood cell counts, you are less likely to suffer from minor infections and more able to fight off any illnesses, like cold and flu, that might be going around.

My own experience has been an example. Since beginning to administer Procrit my hemoglobin level is up to 11.4. This is higher than at any time since I began the drug study 33 weeks ago. I have definitely noticed that I am not as fatigued at the end of the day and that I can do more physical work without gasping and breathlessness. The down side is that I am not as exhausted a night which means falling asleep is even harder than normal leading to a bit more insomnia. No good result goes unpunished, I guess.

My neutrophil counts are consistently holding at around 800 since I started on the Neupogen. While I haven’t noticed a direct effect on my energy or mental state, I haven’t gotten sick since then either and I’ll take that result any time.

I am not noticing that either better hemoglobin or white cell counts have increased my ability to concentrate or improved my memory however. You might imagine that a bit more oxygen to the brain would be helping those sorts of things, but in my case you would apparently be wrong.

The other area the extra hemoglobin does help though is in the late-night laps around the house. I can walk a half-mile back and forth easily now before going back to bed and finally falling asleep…

2 comments:

  1. Has anyone mentioned sub-lingual Vitamin B (I think it's mainly folic acid) to help with brain oxygen? My pharmacist friend says that's what all of us whose memories seem to have developed holes should be taking. Far as I can tell, it's harmless.

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  2. I have been on Folic Acid for the past 7 weeks or so. It helped nudge my hemoglobin higher, but it wasn't till I started on the Procrit that I got out of anemic range. I will continue the Folic Acid though as anything nontoxic that helps the oxygen level in the blood stream can't be bad.

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