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.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The latest Viral Load Results – Sort of

When I checked the mailbox Saturday, I saw the envelope with my latest test results. Two weeks ago when my last test numbers came in the mail, I did some serious magical thinking. I implored nature to be on my side, I beseeched luck and karma and I chanted to myself all the way into the house. This time, the site of the envelope made me queasy. I was so close to undetectable last time and want so much to finally be undetectable with this test, that fear was the main emotion I felt. I want good news. I want the prize and I don’t know how I will react if the numbers don’t back up what I want to happen.

I take the envelope into the house, tear it open and scan down the page past the white and red blood cell results to the RNA quantitative numbers. There I see this statement: “test cancelled, coding error, resubmitted to LIS.” I have been either in the RO5024048 study or in Standard of Care chemotherapy for 10 months. During that time I have had over 40 separate blood draws with hundreds of tests done on the blood. Never during all that has a test failed, been cancelled or had faulty results. But this week, when I may see the result I have been waiting for since I got bounced out of the study by the viral breakthrough, something was wrong with either the blood or the test. To say it is torture would be an insult to those who have actually undergone torture, but mental agony, yes indeed.

I will call my nurse on Monday to check if the test was redone and there are any updated results, but I have the sickening feeling that I won’t see any updated viral load numbers until the results of the test scheduled for this coming Wednesday come back in a couple of weeks.

When you are in chemotherapy your focus tends to narrow. Test results become the mileposts by which you judge your progress. They are regular points of data that you use to chart the fight against your disease. You have cycles of drug taking, cycles of side effects and cycles of results that mark your life. Missing test results have a serious psychological effect on your treatment in the same way that missing drug doses have a serious physical effect. This was the week I was going to celebrate (or weep with fear that the chemotherapy wasn’t going to be effective). Instead I am left hanging for another two weeks until I find out whether it’s hope or fear.

On the bright side, the Giants won the Western Division today and are going to the post-season. So life really is good after all…

1 comment:

  1. SUCKS! Thank every little star for the Giants. I hope to be reborn as Tim Lincecum.