Friday, June 09, 2006

Pessimistically Optimistic

Yup. That's fairly accurate to what I'm feeling now.
D-day. Er, DR day. I love his Dr. Not just because he's the bearer of, I don't really want to say good, but maybe understandable?, news. Hmm.


Mr X has Hepatitis B. Something very common in Vietnam, where he was born. Vaccines we take for granted here, not readily available there. Hepatitis is rampant. It's possibly why I cringe when I hear a parent proclaim themselves against vaccines. This smug part of me thinks moron because they don't realize how easy it would be for it to all go wrong. But that's a whole 'nother topic and not why I'm blogging on a weekend. Something I rarely do.

He got it as a child in Vietnam. We don't really know how as no one in his family has it. His Dr, a gastroenterologist, is a specialist in Hepatitis and believes that in some cases, it can be transmitted through saliva, not just blood. A common game in the orphanages then (can't say about now) was a spitting game. Gross, but not the point. Before his family moved here, they stayed in an orphanage for awhile.

When you get Hepatitis as an adult it's different. You either beat it, as I did it, or you die. No symptoms. No clue what's lurking there.

When you get it as a child, it's with you for life. However long that may be.
Then, you have two types. ENG positive or ENG negative (and forgive me if it's just a bit off, I'm still learning myself). A lot of what they know about Hepatitis B is theory. It's a theory that those who are ENG positive are worse off.
Mr X was ENG positive. His liver biopsy would have been acceptable for someone who was 75, but he is 36. So, not good.

But in the 9 weeks that we had to wait, the medicine, Hepsera, began to work.
He converted to ENG negative. A test of his blood showed that he went from a high viral load of Hepatitis DNA to no detectable trace. It's as close to a remission as possible with this disease. Except that he's always going to have it.
He has to stay on the medicine for at least a few years or it will just come back. His liver is scarred but without a detectable trace of the virus, it will begin to heal itself. How cool is that? An organ that can fix itself. Sort of.
No special diet. Also? No alcohol. He can't risk even the slightest bit of damage to his liver, but we already knew that. It's strange but, it's life as always for us.
It is still there, but it's not this dark cloud waiting to strike us down.