Personal Stories: Ed’s Story
A New Outlook on Nutrition
I am a 37-year-old, single, gay, white male living in Washington, DC. In November of 2005 I woke one morning to discover a hint of yellow in my eyes. I went to my doctor a couple of days later, by which time my skin had started turning yellow. My doctor took blood samples for testing and they came back positive for Hepatitis B. Over the next few weeks I got sicker and sicker...and turned a horrible shade of yellow. I have never felt so sick in my life. The rest of 2005 was spent at home, sleeping much of the day.
In addition to rest, I made some radical changes to my diet to help with digestion and ease the strain on my liver. Of course the first thing to go was the alcohol. In consultation with a nutritionist friend of mine, and my doctor of course, I gave up eating all meats and eventually gave up dairy. I ate a lot of vegetables, soups, whole grains/pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, tofu, soy, etc. I stopped drinking anything with caffeine and limited my sugar intake, including not overdoing it on too much fruit initially. Even though I gave up a lot, I was eating more frequently and was careful to make sure I was eating a balanced diet. I had never eaten so healthy in my life. Eventually I ended up losing 60 pounds just from changing my diet. But I never felt like I was starving or that I had deprived myself...it was just a new outlook on nutrition. For years I have tried many different diets, but none was nearly effective as this. In addition to the dietary changes, I also started taking acidophilus, plant enzymes, milk thistle, and vitamin C with each meal.
When I was first diagnosed on November 21, 2005, my bilirubin (total) was 12.0, my AST was 768, and my ALT was 1756. My bilirubin level eventually hit 19.2 and then all my levels started going down by the end of December. In February my bilirubin dropped to .8 and my AST was 101 and ALT 231. By the time June 2006 came around, my AST was 152, my ALT was 311...and my viral load was a staggering 830,000,000...yes, 830 million! Well, I was considered to be chronic and my doctor started me on a combination of Epivir HBV and Hepsera. By the time of my next tests in August 2006, my AST had dropped to 29, ALT dropped to 70, and my viral load went way down to 6,800.
All this time, I continued my diligence with nutrition and my diet. By this time I was eating vegan a majority of the time, but not exclusively. I was maintaining my weight loss...and started introducing seafood in my diet. The Epivir HBV and Hepsera were still part of my daily routine. My next tests were in November 2006, when my AST was 18, ALT 16 and viral load had dropped below 100. Also at this time, the tests came back negative for the E-antigen, but I was still also negative for any antibodies.
Then came something nothing short of miraculous. Just recently, in February 2007, my test results came back positive for the antibodies...the virus had been eradicated...I was cured! My doctor went on to explain that they look for the antibody level to be above 10...and mine was 884! My AST and ALT levels were normal. As you can imagine, I was thrilled, my doctor was thrilled. Everything I have read confirmed what my doctor told me...this does not happen very often! One-and-a-half years after being diagnosed, and 7 months after starting the Epivir HBV and Hepsera, I was cured. I had been prepared for a lifetime of taking these drugs and closely monitoring the hepatitis to try and prevent any liver damage. But now those two pill bottles just sit in my cupboard as a reminder to me.
I am convinced that my diligence with nutrition and diet went a long way to give my liver and my body as much help as possible in fighting this. That, combined with the drugs, and some help from God, have provided me with a miracle. I have maintained the weight loss the entire time (and am trying to lose just a few more pounds to reach a personal goal). As my doctor said, I have eliminated a number of risk factors from my life, such as heart disease, diabetes, etc. I am healthier now than before I was diagnosed with hepatitis B. I have had some alcohol to toast this momentous occasion...and I have a very low tolerance for it now, having abstained for so long!
Throughout the last year-and-a-half, I have read many different stories from others dealing with hepatitis B. I wanted to share my story...in hopes that others might find it as helpful and inspiring as I have found those that I have read.