Hi, I'm Martin Bolton. At the time of writing (April 2007) I'm 54 years old, married (28 years) with a son of 19 and a daughter of 25 and two granddaughters. I live in a market town in the middle of Suffolk, Great Britain. I'm an electronic design engineer and computer programmer.
I 'acquired' hepatitis C, as they delightfully put it, in my twenties, fooling about with injectable drugs, mostly amphetamine sulphate. In those days virgin needles and syringes were, thanks to a totally misguided government policy, about as common as rocking horse droppings! Sure enough, totally unknown to me I picked up the virus.
Around 1993 the Blood Donor Service called me in for 'consultation', and explained that they had introduced a new test for hepatitis C and I had just failed it! I was referred to Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, for treatment. They were conducting a trial of a new sort of Interferon, and I got onto it. Pegylated Interferon is only one injection per week, no big deal. When I discovered the side effects I wasn't so sure. Half way through the trial they switched me to the old version, and I returned from the visit with about 30 needles and syringes, very jarred off. Even more so when I finished the course with no result!
Some time later, I had another course of treatment, this time with Pegylated Interferon and Ribavirin (twice daily tablets). The syringes and phials had been replaced with a fancy 'pen' device with incredibly fine needles, and to be fair, worked well. The results, however, were the same - no fix. I have genotype 1, the most difficult to cure.
I have now completed my third course of treatment. This was 48 weeks of Pegasys Pegylated Interferon and Ribavirin, and looked very much like getting a result, as the virus was undetectable from week 20 onwards. Unfortunately it returned 6 weeks after treatment finished. Thatís life! I'm looking for another chance to beat the virus. It hasn't won yet!
My experiences to date have taught me that very little information is given voluntarily to patients unless they specifically ask, and contact with other patients or use of the Internet is not encouraged. I only discovered my own genotype and its significance after a struggle. This is not a reflection on the quality of treatment or those providing it. It is just that their time is better spent treating Hepatitis rather than lecturing patients, and hence patient education comes a very poor second!
I have compiled what I hope to be reliable and informative information. Hopefully, this site will enable some of you to be better informed!
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