For those of you that haven't been following my blog, this is my six-month post-treatment followup test... so the viral load coming back negative is a pretty big deal. Actually, it's a WAAAAAYYYYYYYY big deal! :-)
My other lab results also look really good. Rather than throw a lot of numbers around, here are charts of my labs for the last year or so. They paint a pretty obvious picture of the state of my liver. The red line represents the high level of the "normal" reference range. Explanatory text is from the Healthwise Knowledgebase .
AST - Low levels of AST are normally found in the blood. When body tissue or an organ such as the heart or liver is diseased or damaged, additional AST is released into the bloodstream. The amount of AST in the blood is directly related to the extent of the tissue damage. After severe damage, AST levels rise in 6 to 10 hours and remain high for about 4 days.
ALT - ALT is measured to see if the liver is damaged or diseased. Low levels of ALT are normally found in the blood. However, when the liver is damaged or diseased, it releases ALT into the bloodstream, which makes ALT levels go up. Most increases in ALT levels are caused by liver damage.
Total Bilirubin - A bilirubin test measures the amount of bilirubin in a blood sample. Bilirubin is a brownish yellow substance found in bile. It is produced when the liver breaks down old red blood cells. Bilirubin is then removed from the body through the stool (feces) and gives stool its normal brown color.
Bilirubin circulates in the bloodstream in two forms:
* Indirect (or unconjugated) bilirubin. This form of bilirubin does not dissolve in water (it is insoluble). Indirect bilirubin travels through the bloodstream to the liver, where it is changed into a soluble form (direct or conjugated).
* Direct (or conjugated) bilirubin. Direct bilirubin dissolves in water (it is soluble) and is made by the liver from indirect bilirubin.
Total bilirubin and direct bilirubin levels are measured directly in the blood, whereas indirect bilirubin levels are derived from the total and direct bilirubin measurements.
AFP (alpha-fetoprotein) - In men, nonpregnant women, and children, alpha-fetoprotein in the blood can mean certain types of cancer, especially cancer of the testicles, ovaries, stomach, pancreas, or liver are present. High levels of AFP may also be found in Hodgkin's disease, lymphoma, brain tumors, and renal cell cancer.
More important than charts and graphs and labs and tests and blah blah blah... I simply FEEL better. Now I have the peace of mind that goes with knowing that my liver is not under constant attack by those nasty little freeloaders (HepC virii), and I may have bought myself some longevity. Admittedly, I have one last hurdle to clear (the 18-month follow up, a year from now), but in my mind, this was always the big milestone. Not completing treatment... not clearing the virus... coming back clean at 6 months post treatment .
After all this lengthy medical blather, and charts and whatnot, I aim to keep my promise to post some pix from Montana in my next post. I've just been busy holding my breath for the last week. :-)