Antiviral treatments for hepatitis C can help clear the virus from your body and potentially cure the infection. But the road to a cure isn’t always easy.
As a former hepatitis C patient, I remember what it was like to go through the treatment process.
Here are 12 tips that might help make your daily life during treatment a little easier.
Hepatitis C treatment can be physically and emotionally challenging — but trusting your ability to get through it may help.
During my treatment process, I discovered how strong I am. Although it was difficult at times, I learned that I had what it takes to get through.
I also found that most of the things I worried would happen during treatment never came to pass.
Friends and family members can offer emotional support and help you cope with the challenges of daily life during treatment.
Consider letting the people closest to you know when your treatment is scheduled to start. Ask if they’re available to help when you need it.
I found that most people were glad to lend a hand.
You can make it easy for friends and family members to help during your treatment by keeping a list of tasks for which you’d welcome assistance.
For example, your loved ones might be able to pick up groceries or medications for you. They might be able to give you a lift to your next doctor’s appointment. Or maybe they could help with chores around your home.
I remember when one friend stopped by to visit me, they were nice enough to launder my bed sheets.
You might not feel up to cooking or shopping when you’re going through the treatment process. To prepare, it’s helpful to stock your kitchen ahead of time with nutritious, convenient, and comforting foods.
Maybe you have some favorite snacks or meals that you can tuck into your pantry and freezer. You might also find it helpful to have bottled meal replacement shakes, energy bars, or other nutrient-dense convenience foods on hand.
Hydrating beverages are important to have available, too.
In addition to the antiviral medication they prescribe, your doctor might encourage you to take antacids, pain relievers, or other over-the-counter medications to help manage potential side effects of treatment.
Consider organizing your medications by putting them in a pill box, basket, or other storage container. Feel free to stow some tissue, lip balm, and skin lotion in there, too.
Is there a spot in your home where you like to relax? It might be a favorite chair, your bedroom, or a place by a window with a view.
If you don’t already have a nice place to rest, consider setting one up before your treatment starts. Retreating to this quiet space might help you feel calmer and more settled when you’re worn out or stressed.
I had a cozy spot on the couch that was my comfort zone.
Near your quiet spot, consider filling a basket or bag with soft blankets, magazines, puzzles, or other sources of comfort and entertainment that you can reach for when you’re recuperating.
Let your family members or roommates know that these items are just for you — and politely ask them to keep their hands off.
I personally think this is the best place to hide a favorite snack.
On days when you’re feeling too tired or antsy from treatment to follow your normal routine, indulging in a special treat might take the edge off.
For example, order pizza or enjoy a bowl of soup at your favorite restaurant. I used my stash of cash to get a pedicure, go shopping, and take part in some of my favorite hobbies.
To help you and others track your progress, you can mark your treatment end date on a calendar.
You might prefer to use a wall calendar, an agenda, or a smartphone app. Many free apps have countdown features that you can use to help motivate yourself while you tick off the days to your last dose of medication.
I used an app and a calendar both, calling them my “countdown to the cure.”
When you’re not feeling up to leaving your home, online services may help you get the supplies or support that you need.
For example, online pharmacies allow people to order medications to their front door with the click of a button. You might find it convenient to order food from an online grocery store or delivery service, too.
It’s also important to have your doctor and support team on speed dial, so you can call them with any questions or concerns that might come up.
Connecting with other people who have hepatitis C may help you feel like part of a community when you’re going through treatment.
Consider joining an online support group or visiting an online patient forum, where you can read about other people’s experiences, post a question, or take part in active discussions.
Some patient organizations also operate toll-free helplines that you can call to speak to a trained counselor or patient advocate at any time of day.
Your treatment plan may help you become free of hepatitis C.
To increase your chances of good treatment outcomes, it’s important to take your prescribed medications according to your doctor’s instructions. If you find it hard to remember to take your medications, consider setting a reminder on your phone, watch, or alarm clock.
If you miss a dose of antiviral medication, let to your doctor know. They can help you get back on track.
Thanks to the development of antiviral treatments for hepatitis C, thousands of people are now considered cured from the infection.
I’m one of those people — and you could be too.
Taking a few simple steps to get ready for the treatment process may help it go more smoothly.
Karen Hoyt is a fast-walking, shake-making, liver disease patient advocate. She lives on the Arkansas River in Oklahoma and shares encouragement on her blog.