I was asked about why HCV is such a difficult bug to kill by my 8 year old grandson. His answer to bugs is a large rock. I tried explaining it several different ways but none resonate with children. Explaining immune systems falls on deaf ears. He showed me his caterpillar named Cat who has woven himself a new winter home. Metamorphosis will bring out a wondrous new animal come spring.
While studying the pupa, it finally came to me how to explain the mystery of HCV. Doctors should write a pamphlet for their patients on this. HCV is a cunning little virus that is like a caterpillar. It invades your body and surreptitiously makes itself a home. Soon, your body recognizes it has a new inhabitant and mobilizes the immune system to rid itself of the beast. The HCV is very clever. Once identified, it metamorphoses like the larval-stage caterpillar into a new version. Your body doesn’t immediately recognize this new pupa so there is a delay between identification and the body’s gearing up to do battle with the newer version. This process repeats itself over and over for decades with the gradual destruction of the liver.
Because the body is on high alert and doing battle with this beast day in and day out, your immune system occasionally goes NASDAQ and chooses to attack anything it perceives as an invader. This is known as an auto- immune disorder. It explains why HCV sufferers have so many of these ailments. Auto immune Hepatitis (AIH) is a classic example of this. The largest concentration of these bugs is in the liver so it is the logical choice to attack from the body’s viewpoint.
Interferon has been described as an immune enhancer. That’s like calling Napalm a cigarette lighter. IFN Therapy is like a Hyperdrive Motivator on an X-wing fighter. It takes a normal process and supercharges it. It’s far more intense than a normal course of chemotherapy because it takes every iota of energy from the body to assault the virus. This leaves little in reserve for the normal, regular pursuits of life. Some of our members have described this as akin to “being drug through a knothole backwards”. From my one and only experience, I can only agree. It’s also like having a industrial strength vacuum cleaner suck all your energy out, too.
It should come as no great surprise that IFN therapy has some interesting and serious side effects that one would not expect. Loss or deterioration of vision is one frequently mentioned. Others complain of “Brain fog” or the feeling of cobwebs in the noggin. A better description would be knowing your birthdate, but having a hard time remembering what part of your brain you filed it in. It always comes to you eventually which proves it isn’t Alzheimer’s. That’s small consolation to many of us.
While there is no direct correlation between IFN therapy and the inception of autoimmune disorders, I find it incongruous that I had no overt symptoms of Cryoglobulinemia or AIH before my one dose of bug juice. Of course it can be said that while there is no correlation between jetguns and HCV, it’s entirely plausible.
In 1994, the VAMC in Portland, in conjunction with the University of Oregon, instituted a research protocol to observe if there was any link between HCV and Porphyria Cutanea Tarda. Within two years they had enough to extrapolate that 32% of infected individuals were also PCT-afflicted. Most would publish their results proudly and ask for more government funds to beat this to death. Not the VA. They quietly put this to bed and moved on. One would think VA examiners would point to this and use it for rating purposes. Not. You will never get a nexus from them on this. Oddly, there is much evidence in private circles documenting the link between Cryoglobulinemia and HCV as well. Even citing to this literature when filing for Cryo won’t get you SC. You’ll still need the magic letter.
In light of the above, you can understand VA’s recalcitrance to do any long term studies of population cohorts to look for any conceivable linkage between HCV and the use of jetguns. Absent the knowledge of a round earth, it remains comfortably flat in their estimation. It’s rumored that studies are proposed for this in 2076, which coincides with about when the last of the jetgun-innoculated Veterans will pass from “natural” causes. At that point, VA will don sack cloth, rub ashes on their forehead and wail that “if only they’d known this, Veterans could have been remunerated appropriately”. Hindsight is always 20-20. Contrived hindsight is 20-15.
P.S. I received this from WGM on the subject of brain fog. The man is a powerhouse of information on this disease and it’s etiology: