Another Milestone along the winding road. A rest stop we make now and again, once our treatment has been completed. Pull over on the left, look both ways, pull into the scenic overlook of Dr C.s office. You must pay toll fees in the amount of 8 or 9 vials of blood before entering. Sign some papers and wait for the next road trip to the office. In between paying the toll you are not certain how to proceed. Stuck on the slow lane, reviewing in your mind the many possible paths that lie ahead, but without a road map or GPS, and even if you had these tools you don't know which one's you'll be able to use until you know what's in that blood.
Finally after a week of bumping around in the disabled lane, you get the call, start your engines, and off the the Doc's office you go.
Or, it happens like this; The phone rings and thanks to cel phone technology you know it the Doc calling. You take a deep breath before answering..."Hello?"
"Hello Jenny, how are you feeling?" something in her voice leads me to believe I should say "bad". I don't feel bad, however, I feel great and I tell her so.
"Well then we need to recheck your blood work"
"okaaay, later this wee..."
"Um is everything okay? Is the virus back?"
"We haven't even gotten the results of the viral count yet but .....blah blah blah" she goes on to essentially tell me that according to my bloodwork I should be hastily jotting my final wishes on a notebook while on my way to the hospital.
By now I'm pretty sure the color is drained from my face, my voice is a mere whisper and I am beginning to feel like I probably am critically ill. The Usual Suspects of lethal symptoms begin to appear. You know the ones that can be caused by anything from a high fat lunch to Dengue fever.
Zoom back to the hospital, fast lane this time, pay the toll, 8 more vials and because these things only happen on Fridays, return home to spend the weekend wondering if I'm dying.
Monday finally decides to roll it's casual self around and I'm dialing the phone at 8:01 am. About three hours and 5 phone calls later I finally get the report that there must have been some mistake because just about everything is perfectly normal and, wait for it.....the virus is still undetectable!
I felt pretty confident at the 6 month point that I was going to remain undetectable, but I'm the kind of person who wants just that extra bit of reassurance.
Funny thing is, until more is known about this disease, I will most likely be paying toll once a year to maintain that bit of reassurance. When my non-hep friends ask me if this means I'm clear forever, I'm still not sure what to tell them, except "probably". I've not heard of people relapsing after a year, but I've never been told that it's impossible either.
My one year post treatment pit stop was about two months ago now, and I am feeling good. I mean I am feeling healthy. Looking back over the past year I can say in retrospect it has taken the better part of the past year to gradually restore myself, my complete self. I can look back and see how every aspect of my life was affected by treatment. Some parts heal more slowly than others. Some parts rely on other parts to get stronger before they can even begin to heal. The physical body, much as it represents us to the rest of the world and carries us around as our container, is the hardest hit and the first to need repair. But the body heals in increments, once it reaches a point where it can sustain some energy and movement, we begin to reintegrate into some of our daily activities, and that's when we realize that the old brain hasn't quite caught up yet. We go out for a social event and can't remember half the names of people we encounter. This gets the emotions a little distressed, and then we can't quite decide what we want to do, early show or late show? Comedy or drama? It feels impossible to think what we want, to decide based on what we feel isn't helping either because our emotions are subject to change at any given moment. Socially, whatever company we are in, no matter how patient and loving is probably just a little bit frustrated with the impossible task of trying to give this woman a good time out on the town. By now we are so exhausted, we don't even want a time out on the town, good or otherwise and retreat home to our now familiar bed.
Gradually our stamina increases and along with it our problem solving and decision making capacities re emerge, and because of this we feel better about ourselves emotionally which prompts us to care for our physical self more tenderly and lovingly and the cycle goes on. It's an interpretive dance of sorts between all the parts of our selves as we repair and restore. Like most dances, it moves slowly at times, flowing in order to find some sort of groove and then faster and more agile, until the body needs rest. We continue our dance which was at first awkward and uncertain until finally at some point along we are in the groove. Does it mean we are out of the woods? Who knows? Someday that little bit of liver damage could throw us off step. Or we could be one of those one in whatever million people who mysteriously relapses. I don't have those answers, but I do know that we all have been given a great gift in this life on Earth and however it is that we move through life I hope we can all listen to the music and dance our dance the best we can.
© 2010-2012Jennifer Hazard