I am a registered nurse with 24 years in intensive care experience who unfortunately contracted HEP-C sometime during my career which involved the care of many Hep-c positive patients. Although my employer immediately refused to grant me workers comp (they said I could not prove which patient I actually got it from as I had several exposures over the years) I chose to receive interfuron /riboviran treatment as I was not aware of the known adverse side effects which my hepatologist at the large teaching hospital I worked at must have assumed I did.
Although my viral count was the lowest my hepatologist had seen(<3,000.) it was confirmed on repeat lab draw. I was told the liver bx showed only a “dimple” on my liver therefore would be graded stage 1 fibrosis. I decided at the time to “roll the dice” and monitor my LFTs which were mildly elevated as I was still working full time and not symptomatic other than fatigue which I attributed to my age (46). That was in 3/04 when initially diagnosed during “routine” check-up.
In September of that year a dental hygienist who was 7 months pregnant stuck herself with a needle used during a root canal I had which convinced me that I never wanted to feel responsible for infecting someone (luckily she did not contract hep-c) so I would attempt to eradicate the virus using the suggested treatment interferon / copegus. Although my doctor warned me that the regimen could cause depression if I had a predisposition, I was not informed of other psychiatric adverse reactions and the literature accompanying the medicine did not convey the fact that indeed it was not uncommon for patients to be mentally altered during and after treatment.
I worked for the first 5 months of treatment but went on disability due to massive weight loss and fatigue. I had been awarded the NURSING EXCELLENCE award for the large teaching hospital I worked at the first week in May,05 while on disability and my picture was hung in the lobby. One week later I walked into my work area and proceeded to divert dilaudid from the narcotic bin (I had NEVER taken this drug before in my life nor had I injected a drug!) at which time I was questioned regarding the incident with a tox screen to follow and eventually lost my job where over a 20 year period I was nominated and received NURSE EXCELLENCE award 4 times. My husband had noticed odd behavior but was floored when this happened as after 17 years of marriage he knew that I was scared to death of needles to the point of lying in regards to last tetanus shot and had never taken narcotics in the past. My life has continued in a downward spiral ever since resulting in loss of 60,000.$/year income as well as nursing license in limbo. Although the physician and therapist who evaluated me agreed I clearly was not an addict and felt my actions were more a result of “interferon psychosis” I was forced to complete intensive outpatient drug rehab as well as random urine test as well as attend NA meetings.
I have lost the trust and respect of many family members as well as friends due to their “ignorance” in regards to this drug. Thankfully my husband has endured the past year of hell and is still supportive and thanks to your web site now understands why I am not “normal” now that I am off drugs (I was found to be virus free at 2 month mark but per M.D. insistence stayed on meds for 48 weeks). I now know the drug that cured my HEP-C robbed my brain and literally ruined my life! I wish I could prevent anyone else from taking this as death by liver failure is a pleasant thought compared to what my life is like now. My boss and coworkers know the nurse who went on disability 4/05 is not the person who waltzed in and took dilaudid a month later, they all are sick knowing the way it affected me and the consequences I now face .
I hope you share my story as I want to prevent others from following in my footsteps.
Hi D. Erb:
I understand your story. I have heard similar ones on a non stop basis for the last 10 years.
I am very frustrated with my progress at getting across to people that this is a bad drug. People want to believe their doctors and believe that side effects are for others.
Unfortunanatly, doctors do not feel it is important to deal with the damaged ones. So many people are damaged from interferon. No one in the US believes that this could happen in the US.
I do lots of radio shows and it is amazing how people react when I tell them about the nature of interferon. Many feel that I am nuts. This could not happen here.
Nearly 90% of my clients have used interferon and had it fail. My program works much better if people never touched interferon, the therapy that is worse than the disease.
In your case, your numbers, you would have lived out your life just fine and died from something else. I see this every day, someone like you has their life altered by some greedy or unenlightened doctor.
The side effects of interferon are well published. It is well shown that the drug causes permanent brain damage, bazaar behavior etc.
I have a client who is in prison who robbed a bank on interferon, a person who was never aggressive, another, a contractor who burnt down his house and 4 that he was building while on interferon. Speaking with these people, they have no idea why they would do such things.
I am very sorry you had to go thru this, if there is anything I can do to help, please let me know.
Thank you for sharing your story, hopefully it will help others make their decision.