In July of 2007, I was diagnosed. A letter from the blood bank told me I needed to see my doctor right away. Panicked and scared, I did what I was told.
Tommy Kuo had been my primary care doctor for at least a decade. I saw him infrequently, as I had always been fairly healthy, other than the occasional sinus infection. I had always known Kuo to be chatty and personable, at times telling me about other patients, sometimes he seemed to relish telling the stories of extreme outcomes.
My husband was also a patient of his, as well as my children when they became adults.
I trusted him.
Kuo referred me to a gastroenterologist, and said I needed to get vaccinated for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. “If you get either of these when you have Hep C, you’re toast,” he told me.
And so I did.
To me, vaccines were something that always worked and would keep me from getting sick.
How very wrong I was.
In August 2007, I had my first dose of Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccines.
Since my health insurance plan was an HMO plan, Kuo was the gatekeeper of my health. He dictated which doctors I could see and when. The GI that he referred me to took weeks to get an appointment. I suspected that HMO patients had the lowest priority when it came to appointments.
I finally saw the GI, and had liver tests done and started on a treatment for Hep C.
In September 2007, I had my second dose of Hepatitis B Vaccine.
The treatment for Hep C wasn’t easy, and ultimately failed. Towards the end of the treatment (week 12), I went to see Kuo. I was in pain, numb and tingly and cold. He ordered a battery of tests, all of which were negative.
The pain continued.
In February 2008, I returned to Kuo’s office for my third dose of Hepatitis B vaccine and second dose of Hepatitis A vaccine.
I was supposed to start feeling better at this point, since I had stopped interferon treatments six weeks earlier. Instead, I was feeling worse.