"There's a myth that anyone who has a liver problem has brought it on themselves" This quote is from a Crohn's disease patient living with a blocked portal vein hoping for a liver transplant (Independent 31st Oct 2010)

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Hepatology clinic

Had my 3-monthly check with Dr Al on Monday 16th. He's the doctor checking on the state of my liver. We looked at last September's test results, and he's happy they all look stable. Then I have 5 new vials of blood taken to test them all again. Logic tells me it would be more sensible to have bloods done a short time before clinic so that we are not reviewing out-of-date results, but who am I to advise on running NHS clinics!

Important results such as the tumour marker and the liver function results will be sent to my GP next week in a letter (copy to me). But the full set won't be sent out as standard. If I want those I will have to wheedle them out of his secretary.

He gave me the results of my Hep B viral load which was taken last September. The viral load measures the number of copies of the virus floating around in your blood stream. Patients with an active virus typically have 1,000's or even millions of copies. I have exactly 177 apparently! In the 30+ years of having the virus nobody has ever tested my viral load. I wonder why not. Dr S at Macclesfield once told me it was 'undetectable' but all that means is the testing equipment is only sophisticated enough to get down to a certain level. I will always have some virus in my system but it's only possible to measure smaller quantities as the measuring equipment becomes more delicate.

I told Dr Al about my symptoms of aches and pains which have come back after an absence of about a year. He said it sounds like the polymyalgia has flared again, and took an ESR test which measures inflammation in tissue. I'll get the result of that next week and if its not normal then I get the green light to take some low dose steroids again.

Apart from the fact that a 20 minute appointment in Salford takes nearly 5 hours out of my day, it went ok. It was nice to be seen by Dr Al again, as last time it was his registrar Dr B. Dr B is writing up the research article on my case, for publication by the British Medical Journal. But apparently his first draft didnt get an A* in Dr Al's view so he has to do his homework again.

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