Now I’m going totally off of my usual topics today to share a story on the internet that I wished I could have read myself months ago.
I’m going to share the symptoms and cycle of the hepatitis E virus from my own experience to hopefully give someone a beacon of light if they’ve been as unfortunate to have contracted this virus.
This post has been drafted for months and I’m so glad I’m finally able to share the entire story with you all!
I’m obviously no doctor and this can only be diagnosed by a blood test confirming the virus is present in your system – how it affected me may not necessarily how it affects/affected somebody else – however this is what I went through and the cycle it had to run through to recovery.
If contracted in the UK, the virus can be come from infected meat (pork or some seafoods) which hasn’t been properly cooked. I’ve found a couple of articles online which have been calling it the ‘Brexit Virus’ as it tends to come from European pork – not to say it isn’t present in British pork, but some studies show its presence in British pork isn’t significant enough to be passed on to humans.
If you want to read more on how it’s contracted and the more sciencey stuff – check out this link here to the British Liver Trust’s website.
Okay, back onto the cycle I went through.
- 29th May 2017 I had a seizure whilst out and about shooting photos for my blog – the reason this date is significant as it helped me pinpoint when my symptoms started
- 30th May 2017 I was signed off work for a week, but didn’t recover the way my body would have done normally (I can’t say if this was connected or not, the neurologist didn’t think so, but it’s when I started to feel shit)
- 6th June 2017 the following Tuesday I went back to the doctors to get signed off for another week as I still didn’t feel like I was ready to go back. I felt completely exhausted and getting out of bed was an effort to say the least
- 8th June 2017 The Thursday after I started to get really itchy – I’d been told to come off of the anti-depressants the doctors had stupidly prescribed me for panic attacks after my first suspected seizure (which shouldn’t be prescribed to people with a history of seizures/epilepsy – but that’s a whole other matter) so I put it down to withdrawal symptoms
- 10th June 2017 The Saturday I started to throw up and feel generally unwell
- 12th June 2017 I went to my cousin Tammy’s for dinner and she mentioned my eyes looked slightly yellow – I thought she was being dramatic but looked in the mirror after and saw she was right. I didn’t know at the time it would get much much worse, but they were definitely not right. I went home earlier than usual and ended up throwing up the delicious dinner I’d not long eaten
- 13th June 2017 I was chatting to my dad and step mum when they said I should call the pharmacist to check whether this was all connected to coming off of Sertraline – they weren’t convinced that’s what it was and wanted me to check it out. So I call the pharmacist who recommended I get a telephone appointment with my GP – next thing I know, my step mum is carting me over to A&E with my Dad in tow to get me checked over. Aaron was fishing for the night as he’d not long been home from hospital himself after having keyhole surgery on his lung for a pneumothorax and we didn’t think much would come of it- that was until they said they’d need to keep me in and plunged a cannula in my hand
- 15th June 2017 Fast forward a couple of days, many many blood tests later and we have an answer – I’d somehow contracted the HEV virus and that’s what was causing my jaundice, sickness, lethargy and temperature!
- 17th June 2017 They kept me in a couple of more days to rule out anything else and I was sent home with some Piriton, Questran satchets and some advice to eat bland foods, lots of leafy greens and drink plenty of fluids – along with a sick note for the week I’d been in there and the week following
Now I’ll come away from the bullet points for a while and talk you through some photos which show the cycle my eyes went through during this time. They say the eyes are the window to the soul – but they’re also pretty informative if something’s up with your liver too!
As you can see, as the weeks went on, my symptoms lessened and my eyes were still slightly yellow (especially if I pulled my lids away) but massively improved.
- 24th June 2017 I went back to the GP to get something to help with the sickness which was out of control. I asked to go back to work, she laughed and handed me yet another sick note for 2 weeks. It took another 2 weeks for the sickness to subside and until I was ready to get back to work
It’s been a long road to recovery, a phased return to work from the 10th July and more bouts of itchiness.
Just when I started to feel better in terms of the itching, it started to get bad again. I called the hospital to find out what was happening with my follow up appointment at the liver clinic to find out the referral hadn’t been sent through – typical.
So an appointment was made for 2 weeks time, but my symptoms started to come back again – nausea (not full on sickness like before), itching, my eyes started to yellow more, my wee had gotten darker again and (sorry if TMI, but it’s got to be said!) my poo started to go a chalky colour with bouts of random out of the blue diarrohea a week before the appointment.
The itchiness was unbreable especially when I started to get hot flushes throughout the day and my clothes were sticking to me. I’m covered in scars from scratches where I’ve been hacking away at my skin to get the itch to go away
My feet were by far the worst of all. I went at them with a pumice stone which relieved the itching but also led to blisters and scratches all over my feet – not pretty.
- 10th August 2017 back to the doctors after I’d spent the morning sweating all over, itching like mad and feeling like my belly was going to fall out of my arse, my doctor advised me to get an earlier blood test in readiness for my appointment at the liver clinic the following Tuesday in the morning
- 11th August 2017 over 2 hours of waiting for a blood test, I had around 7/8 tubes of blood drawn and was sent on my way
- 13th August 2017 I turned up for my appointment to find out it hadn’t been made (bloody NHS) luckily a Hepatitis C nurse heard my moaning to the receptionist and managed to get me squeezed in to see the specialist. I described my symptoms and he ordered more bloods to be done, pre-approved me for a liver biopsy and prescribed me with some different tablets for the itching
- 24th August 2017 after a long week at work, I went home early feeling dizzy and exhausted from the continuous broken sleep due to itching (I’m also hella paranoid about another seizure as it’s around the timescale between previous blackouts) I type this as I’m laying on the sofa in the early hours wondering what the fuck happened. My liver should be back to normal and the specialist ordered more bloods for 2 weeks time but didn’t offer anything else to help. My hands are swollen from constantly scratching my skin and more blisters have appeared on my feet. I’ve had e-fucking-nough of this shit – it’s been 75 days (or almost 11 weeks) now, yet this is showing no signs of stopping
- 19th September 2017 I got a call from the specialist saying my bilibrium levels had gone down but my liver function wasn’t really improving so he’d like me to go for weekly blood tests. The itching has subsided and my eyes are almost back to normal 🤞🏻
- 26th October 2017 a letter came in the post from my specialist at the hospital who confirmed my blood results finally came back at almost normal and he’d like me to go back for another blood test in 4-6 weeks
It’s been a very long road to recovery but besides feeling pretty tired in the afternoons, I’m feeling a hell of a lot better!
Hopefully this post will be helpful to someone who might be going through the same thing – it’s an awful virus, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel!