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Ever wonder what Kessie does in her spare time??

 

Kessie O'Hula

Ms. Kessie O'Hula

Miss Kessie has been kind enough to write her story for this page, taking precious time out from her hula lessons!

Kessie's Story

I was diagnosed in September l997 with HepC. It was a shocker, and certainly pushed me back a few steps. How in the heck did I get this? I had been donating blood for several years and everything was fine. I found out thru a Blood Donation in March l997 that my ALT was 999! Zowie! After several liver panels and a trip to the Infectious Disease Doctor I was referred to a Gastro Enterologist. I couldn't even pronounce that! How had I contracted this disease, was it from a trip to the Dentist, manicurist, or that IV antibiotic treatment I'd had the previous January from a hefty case of cellulites? Who knows, and it didn't really matter anymore. I just needed to learn how to get rid of it!


After scouring the Internet for answers, I learned it was life threatening, and the medications being used for treatment were not so great, and that there was no known cure for HepC. The more I searched, the scarier things got. I learned that I wasn't handed a death sentence, so I pulled myself together and started learning all I could about this "dragon" I found. I went to WebMD, and got involved in a chat room there and met other folks from all over the country who felt just like me. Together we learned we were not going to die from having HepC, and we learned how to deal with the feelings we had. It was a great experience for me and I felt not so all alone. I made some wonderful friends, "Imaginary Friends" my husband called them.

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In January l999 after waiting a year to see if I developed antibodies for HepC, and hoping that my liver enzymes went down, my doctor advised me to try the Rebetron, also known as "Combo". It worked for about l0% of the patients. I prayed I would be in that category. I bit the bullet and injected the poison into my body. My family was very supportive, and that was a BIG help, I could not have done it alone. I suffered all of the typical side effects of treatment, but continued to work. I did cut my workweek back to 4 days, which was a blessing; that probably saved my life. I still work just 4 days a week.
After 3 months on Combo, my first PCR came back negative!! I was pumped. I kept at the shots for another 6 months until September, when I became very anemic. I felt terrible and was exhausted all the time. "But you look good" "Have you turned yellow yet" one of the hardest things about dealing with this disease is that you don't generally look nearly as sick as you are and most people expect you to act normally. It just doesn't happen. Seeing the world thru the eyes of treatment is a distorted and dark place. It's very hard to deal with day-to-day living. Depression sets in and warps your mind. I was taken off the treatment after 39 weeks. After 3 years, I am still negative, it appears the Rebetron worked for me, I'm not quite ready to use the "cured" word yet, but I feel terrific. My energy has returned with a vengeance. I still try to avoid stress, which I know is bad for my liver, and try to maintain a healthy diet.


I've learned to question my Doctors; I've learned to do a lot of research on the Internet. My advice to you would be to learn everything you can about Hepatitis C, ask for copies of your lab results and keep good records. Get a Liver Biopsy and learn what Genotype you are and give treatment a lot of consideration before you go blindly for it. New medications are on the horizon, and help is on the way.

Support is a MAJOR part of this experience, you gotta have it. If you don't find it at home, get yourself into a good support group with others who are willing to share their experiences with you. Find yourself some "Imaginary Friends" as I did. I found WebMD and then aBIG Sam and Lyrics HepC Support Group on the internet now known as Hepcnet. http://hepcnet.net


I met some wonderful and caring people who will remain with me for the rest of my life. We get together several times a year in various parts of the country; we call our parties, Heppofests. If you ever have the opportunity to attend one, don't hesitate, it's a wonderful experience.


You MUST keep a positive attitude and retain your sense of humor, and "BELIEVE" that you WILL fight this Dragon called Hepatitis C and WIN!

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| My Story | Kessie O'Hula
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