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.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hungry

At the end of Hepatitis C treatment on June 30, 2011 I weighed 166 lbs. (75 kilos), a loss of 35 lbs. (15.5 kilos) from my weight before the trial started. Granted, my lovely wife had been assiduously packing the weight on to me before the drug trial began so it wasn’t as if I lost only muscle, but still 15% of your body weight is nothing to sneeze at. The great majority of the weight loss, 25 lbs. (11 kilos) came in the first 5 months of the drug trial. It held steady for the first 6 months of standard treatment, then there was another quick 5 lb. drop. It plateaued again for another 4 ½ months and then there was another steady 1lb. per week drop till the end of treatment. It was as if the body dropped weight until the metabolism adjusted to the drugs, then held steady until the drugs broke through the plateau then dropped more weight until another adjustment was made and balance was achieved again.

The first week after I finished treatment was the same as being in treatment. My weight was steady, my appetite was suppressed, my energy very low. After about 10 days, it was as if a switch was thrown in my metabolism. I was hungry constantly. Breakfast in the late morning (I was trying to bring my sleep cycle into line with the rest of the world and not having a great deal of success), then a sandwich an hour later. Some sort of lunch at around 2 p.m. and again something to eat ever hour or so until supper; after supper, more grazing until bedtime. I even woke up hungry in the middle of the night and had to eat an apple or banana so I could get back to sleep. This continued day after day for about 2 weeks. I was astonished at how much I was eating after 18 months of trying to convince myself to eat anything. The only problem was that my diet hadn’t made a change from the on treatment period. My doctor had encouraged me to eat whatever seemed appealing in order to keep my weight up. This meant ice cream, baked goods, cheese etc. The problem now was that these foods were being consumed in large quantities. Two weeks after the eating began, I had gained 7 lbs. (3 kilos). That’s a lot of weight, especially when you look in the mirror and realize it went straight to your abdomen.

Some changes were made to the diet after that realization, cutting down on the ice cream especially and trying to manage the urge to eat. I am down to 3 meals a day without much between meal eating, but am still eating a great deal more at each sitting than during treatment. One month after my metabolism decided it wanted food again, I am 10 lbs. (4.5 kilos) heavier than at the end of treatment. My head likes to believe that the weight gain has begun to change to muscle instead of fat, but convincing my waist of that is a bit harder to do. Still, it is a wonderful thing to enjoy food again. There is nothing like enjoying fresh tomatoes on lettuce and toasted bread, grilled ribs, asparagus and a wonderful ripe peach. This sort of talk is making me hungry again and luckily it is just about time for dinner. So on that note, I will sign off and fulfill my task of gaining more weight. It is a difficult job, but someone has to sit down and do it.

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