OTTAWA – Healthbeat – Devon Nicholson is a fighter. He has been in a hard core match over the past thirty weeks. NetNewsLedger has been covering Devon’s journey against Hepatitis C. The battle is being fought with experimental drugs that have challenged Nicholson.
Devon’s journey has been documented and the wrestler has shared that journey with NetNewsLedger readers, and the world through the Internet.
Devon Nicholson Interview
How does it feel to hit week 30?
It’s surreal to think that I’ve been going through this treatment this long. Some days are far worse than others and some weeks have been torturous beyond my imagination. The “bug under the skin” type itching that became progressively worse during my first 12 weeks of treatment was by far the worst feeling I ever had in my life. Getting through that period was one of my greatest achievements.
Has the itching improved since stopping the Incivek medication?
I’m still always itching however the feeling is more of a “tingling” type itch then a “deep need to scratch” type sensation. The itch still wakes me up at night from time to time however I am on a prescription allergy medication that is helping. I also put oatmeal lotion on myself 3 times a day.
Has the weight loss side effect slowed down at all?
I started treatment weighing around 280 pounds and I am now in the 230’s. The majority of that is muscle loss which is directly caused by the treatment. I’ve been a weight lifter since I was 13 and it is one of my passions. I am told this muscle loss will be reversed once my treatment stops but it is very hard for me to deal with.
Has the insomnia side effect improved?
The medication I am currently on for sleep is working much better than the other medications my doctors have tried with me during this treatment however there are still nights where I can’t fall asleep. I find these nights are usually in the days just after my weekly interferon shot. There are other nights where I fall asleep normally and wake up wired at 4 am unable to fall back to sleep.
I have learnt the best thing to do when this happens is just accept it and find things to do. Thinking about it or getting angry about it just leads to more negative thinking about treatment and makes you want to stop.
How are you feeling physically?
My physical treatment symptoms range from day to day. Some of the physical side effects I experience every week but not necessarily every day are dizziness and periods light headedness, stomach problems including diarrhea and nausea, coughing, rashes, terrible headaches and extreme tiredness.
I trained for treatment like I was training for a fight and went into it at as close to my 100% physical ability as I could get. My theory was it is better to go down physically from 100% than 60%. I truly believe that’s one of the things that have helped with the side effects.
When I had my benefits (I still have not received confirmation if I’ve been approved for my full treatment or not) I was regularly seeing a chiropractor, masseuse and getting acupuncture with registered therapists. All of these helped my body greatly. This treatment is not easy.
What is your best advice for a patient who is considering taking the treatment?
My best advice is the exact same thing that Billy Graham told me when I asked him that question in my week 22 update video. If you care at all about living take the treatment because Hepatitis C will kill you.
I will also mention that don’t go into the treatment thinking you’re superman like I did during my first treatment. The medications affect everyone different but there is no doubt it is physically, emotionally and financially draining for everyone. You have to be prepared for that and have good support systems in place otherwise you won’t make it through.
If it wasn’t for my family, girlfriend, friends and great medical staff taking care of me there is no way I would have made it this far and I can’t thank them enough for everything they are doing to help me through this potentially life-saving experimental treatment regime.
You mentioned your friend fellow Hepatitis C patient Billy Graham (Wayne Coleman,) we are aware he was recently released from a 2 week hospital stay. How is his health these days?
Billy is a survivor. It’s been really hard for me to see him suffer so much but the man will not give up. His most recent hospital stay was pretty tough. His wife told me for a while doctors were taking it minute by minute and Mr. Graham was not able to eat solid food for most of his stay. He is home now and his wife is taking care of him. I’m really worried about him.
Thank you for speaking to us.
Thank you very much for covering my treatment and thanks you to the viewers of my Hepatitis C treatment update videos who continue to send me positive and supportive feedback. I really appreciate everything.