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T-minus 15

Posted Aug 26 2008 12:34pm
Very little to report on the HepC front, except that I did shot 33 on Friday and have 15 left. What is that... like 3 1/2 months? Piece of cake.

Some fellow hep bloggers and I have been talking about our gear and the variations in packaging and whatnot. I guess it was sort of instigated by my posting on the HepC Forum about bevel up vs. bevel down, and the fact that I posted a picture of my syringe and needle combo. (See previous post in this blog)

This prompted my buddy JPT in the UK to post images of his hemophilia shooting gear and HIV cocktail, so I figured I'd follow suit, just to help elucidate some more of the variances in medications and packaging. Besides, very few people have any idea what hemophilia treatment entails (in wealthy industrialized nations, anyway). I cringe whenever I think about the state of care for people with hemophilia elsewhere in the world.

HepC Treatment

I've already shown what the syringe/needle and pills look like in my previous post. Here's the box inside of the box that I get whenever I pick up my 4-pack of shots:

In addition to this package, I get 4 needles with shield guards and 4 alcohol swabs (one fellow blogger gets 5 for some reason). I find some of the labelling on this package terribly amusing... with Halloween just recently passed, I'm surprised it doesn't say "fun size" anywhere!

Hemophilia Gear

This is my hemophilia gear, right out of the package. The "Factor VIII Hobby Kit" I get also contains a butterfly needle (which I toss, because it's like trying to hit a vein with a rusty nail!) two alcohol swabs and a little instruction booklet. Again, terribly amusing: I don't think I've ever read the instructions, and after 20+ years of doing my own shots, I'm willing to bet I have a pretty good handle on the procedure. Either that, or I've been doing it completely wrong this whole time!

I use one vial twice a week for prophylaxis, two vials for a typical bleed. That nasty elbow bleed I had several weeks back burned through a total of eleven vials! Now that I think of it, I was transitioning between 1000 IU vials and 2000 IU vials (as shown), so it was actually more like seven. It was still a boatload of factor!

The vial (upper left) contains the freeze-dried factor concentrate. The little doo-dad on the upper right is the transfer kit, which is removed from the packaging and attached to the top of the vial. The parts of the syringe are screwed together, then the syringe hooks to the transfer kid... the water from the syringe is injected into the vial to reconstitute the factor, then drawn back down into the syringe. Very spiffy system, actually... beats the hell out of the old days when we had two vials, with double-ended needles, then another needle to draw the reconstituted factor into the syringe... believe me, it was a drag (especially during a particularly bad bleed).

Here's the "after" photo with some other goodies. This is an empty vial with the transfer kit still attached. The blue thing is my handy-dandy quick release tourniquet, which makes one-handed tightening and removal a snap (literally!). I included the two types of butterfly needles I prefer... the one on the left (orange wings) is a Terumo 25 gague... laser cut needle, goes in like a hot knife through butter. Most of the time I don't even feel it. The butterfly on the right is also really cool in that it has this lever on top which, when flipped, blunts the needle (while still in the vein) so there's no chance of anybody getting stuck after it's been contaminated with all the little nasties running wild through my system.

HIV Cocktail

Prepare to be underwhelmed... this has got to be the smallest, easiest HIV cocktail available today. Yeah, it's just three pills before bed, daily. Clockwise from the top, they are Efavirenz (a/k/a Sustiva), which gives me really loopy vivid dreams and is singly responsible for at least two screenplay ideas, Tenofovir, and Lamivudine (a/k/a Epivir or 3TC). Really, three pills a day... that's it! (Not everybody responds as well to this combo as I do, which is kind of a bummer)

That about covers what my treatment gear looks like. I know in my last post, I promised to post some charts on how my labs are doing... I'll get around to it, I'm sure. For now, I'm bailing to go get lunch with a friend, get a haircut and maybe do a titch of holiday shopping.

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