Once upon a time long ago in a mountainous Kingdom north of Thailand, nestled in a small valley was a funny airpatch but that is another story. I was the “chieu hoi boy” on Tuesdays and Thursdays unless I had another assignment. We’d fly a Porter PC-6 up Route 7 all the way to Khang Khay telling Pathet Lao or Neutralist troops to surrender to VP (General Vang Pao’s troops). I broadcast in French and occasionally in pidgin Hmong to small bands if they were wearing black PJs. Thursday, September 17th, 1970 dawned with a little overcast and occasional rain squalls. Visibility was five miles. Somewhere near Muong Soui L-108 just a bit southeast of the Plain des Jarres, we started picking up groundfire.
Porters are mega-loud but the little green footballs of 7.62 tracer coming up at us were a dead giveaway. Somewhere along there a 7.62 bit my leg and I somehow missed it until I reached down to my cargo pocket for my Marlboros 10 minutes later. The Marlboros were all sticky and wet. I honestly thought it was hydraulic fluid from an engine strike. About an hour later we landed at the Air America Hospital in Ban Sam Thong (LS-20). They had a 12-bed “hospital”/chalet for flight crews and ailing airmen. I remember the autoclave was the same sauce pan they boiled afternoon tea in on the propane stove. Glass syringes were de rigueur and if the needles got dull, they sharpened them up with the flint strikers on match packs. Brand new sterile match packs, mind you.
Several Hmong Tahann (soldiers) with O Positive were rounded up and I got a quick transfusion of two pints. Sunrise. 1745 HRS Bangkok Time. Eighty nine days later I came down with ‘hepatitis NOS’ (Jan. 11th, 1971) and was hospitalized for six weeks.
In 1992, I finally got a diagnosis of Porphyrea Cutanea Tarda after suffering it since June of 1971 when I began coughing up blood. Our Flight Surgeon back then had suggested I switch to the new Marlboro Lights. I did. It didn’t help my skin but the blood expectoration abated.
In 1995, they discovered the C and said I was very, very unique and might hold the key to the cure since I had the rare antibodies for it.
In 1998, the same doctors were begging me to go on the Interferon because I had too many of those rare antibodies. I smelled more money thinking I had lots of antibodies to sell. It didn’t pan out and I passed on the Interferon.
In 2006, my old buddy Doc Kevin allowed it was time to bite the bullet and do the dirty deed. I did. One blast almost killed me. Funny how all them doctors and nurses look at you and say “you’ll be, ahhh, feeling some flu-like symptoms from this medication so you may want to ahhh, do it Thursday about noon. That way, you’ll be chipper by ahhh Monday morning for work.” They’ve never taken it or I assure you they would never ahhh, say any such thing.
I finally got my bite of the Sovaldi apple last June. Six months-168 days- ending Pearl Harbor Day 2014. It appeared I had won. I still had the three and six month tests to pass.
Thursday marked the six month anniversary ( or close to it in ACA time) which Minder Tobi said would be the acid test. I came up zero so I’m officially cured and it will never come back. Of course, I called Cupcake to tell her the bad news in case she was out husband shopping. Sunset. June 25th, 2015. RIP HCV
To say that I am overwhelmed is hard to vocalize. So I did what every man does when he finds out he’s once again bulletproof -buy another horse. You can never be too rich, too thin or have enough horses. Shoot, maybe I’ll go transgender, too.
The next hurtle appears to be the Hepatocellular Carcinoma or HCC. Liver Cancer in Vetspeak. HCV tends to do that to you. Of course, so does Agent Orange, Blue or White. Porphyria increases the odds to 67% more likely. Some of you may not realize I am incredibly lucky and worry about me. Hey, I’m sure I’m in that rarefied 33% who get a bye so relax. I’ve got this.