Non-A Non-B and Me
March 21, 1987: I stopped doing drugs and have been clean ever since. Somewhere in my using days I contracted the Hepatitis C virus. This is my story:
April 28, 1988: Called the doctor about my blood test. He said everything looked good except my liver. It looked a little messed up?
Two years later, more stuff was about to happen concerning my liver. It will continue for the next 30 years.
August 1, 1990: The Red Cross sent me a letter today telling me that they can no longer accept my blood donations. That the reason being is… At this point I dropped the letter on the floor. It would take me a couple hours to pick it back up. In my mind I was thinking it was going to tell me I have AIDS. At this time, there was a lot of that in NA, and the world. Instead it said I came up positive for Non A – Non B hepatitis? What the heck is that and where did that come from? Need to go see my doctor.
August 2, 1990: Talked to my sponsor about the Red Cross letter and he says he has it too. That it’s no big deal. I will feel more assured after I see my doctor.
August 7, 1990: I called in sick today. Went to the doctors. That was a waste. He has no info on Hep C. He read my letter from the Red Cross and repeated what it said. He did explain about antigens and antibodies. I came up positive for both B and C antibodies which means at some time or another I had/have B&C. He said the B I can’t pass on but he’s not sure about the C. When I arrived home, I called the National Institute for Health, who told me to call Johns Hopkins. The doctor I talked to asked me how I was feeling and when I told him ok, he said I should make an appointment to see him, but it would probably take a couple weeks. I will call for an appointment tomorrow.
August 9, 1990: Called out sick again. Called Hopkins and they said I could not use their library. I called the University of Md. and they said I could. Upon arriving, the guard would not let me in. Then the guy at the reference desk said I really shouldn’t be in there. That only doctors and med students are allowed; that I wouldn’t be able to understand what I was looking at. I explained what’s going on with me. The ref desk guy took me over to a computer and showed me how to use it. I found some journals on Hep C and made copies. I gave the computer a bad command and it froze on me, so I left.
August 31, 1990: Went to Johns Hopkins and talked to Dr. M. He wants me to get three different blood tests done. He said depending on what they find from these test, will determine what he will do next. Possibly a liver biopsy.
September 13, 1990: Dr. M called and said that I have the Hep. C antibodies, which means I have had it. The only thing is, they don’t know if I still have it or not. Or if I’m a carrier or what. My liver enzymes are normal, and I should come back in a year for some more tests.
January 22, 1992: Went to the Dr. for a follow up. My liver enzymes are normal.
After getting married in May of 1992, and then my daughter being born in 1993, someone told me that I needed to get life insurance, to help them financially if something should happen to me. Well, being in recovery and supposedly having to work an honest program, I told the different insurance companies about my liver disease. Of course, they all turned me down. The one company representative told me, “This disease may kill you in forty years. We don’t want to risk insuring you, knowing that.” What the hell!! I told the guy, “I’m surprised I stayed alive this long. I’m almost 40 years old. I’m pretty sure I’ll be dead by 80.”
Over the years I continued to have blood work done and my liver checked. My liver enzymes were mostly always elevated. Every time I saw a new doctor, he wanted to have a whole bunch of tests done. It started to feel like a bunch of bullshit. When I started attending a lot of NA meetings up in Harford County, I heard a lot of people share about Hep C. Most of them were on Interferon and most of them became depressed. They had to take anti-depressants. I didn’t want that happening to me. My body/addiction doesn’t know the difference between a prescribed medicine and street drugs – if one makes me feel good, 1,000 will make me feel even better!
October 27, 2008: Went to get a sonogram of my liver done. The technician who did it was very informative as to what she was doing. She explained everything to me. My liver and spleen are both normal, healthy sizes (She explained the function of the spleen and what happens to it when the liver stops doing its job). My gall bladder, kidneys and aorta all look good she said. My gall bladder has a tiny polyp in it, but she said I shouldn’t be worried about it. All these years worrying about my liver and having hepatitis and what not, and my liver and insides are all fine. Now to see what the blood test results are. Same as usual – elevated enzymes.
March 26, 2009: Off work today. Had a doctor’s appointment with a specialist for my liver, Dr. H. He was finally going to go over my results from all the test that I had done back in September/October. When I first went in, I felt pretty good about everything. Especially after I talked to the lady who did my liver sonogram. By the time I left his office, I was feeling pretty shitty. This doctor swears that I need this Interferon treatment for my Hep C. Truthfully, I think he’s wrong. How can I go from having elevated liver enzymes in 1988 to normal in 1992 to needing treatment in 2009? It doesn’t make sense. When I asked him that, he said the new type of test that they do these days show that my liver is inflamed. So, it makes you wonder about testing. I told him that I didn’t want the treatment. That everyone I know in NA who was on it, gets really depressed and ends up on medication. I told him if that happened to me, I’d be afraid I’d start using (drugs) again. I will end up dying quicker from relapsing on drugs than I would from my liver killing me. He gave me this weird look and said, “Yea, I guess so.” He told me that I have until May, to make my mind up about treatment.
I eventually made the decision not to do anything about my Hep C, other than to monitor it. Nineteen years later and it hasn’t killed me yet.
June 23, 2010: I ran into Dr. M, my doctor from when I first got Hep C back in 1989 and he said there is a new cure coming out next year that isn’t interferon, that it’s 3 pills for 6 months with a 75% cure rate. I told him I will come talk to him in a year from now.
2010: LK died on Christmas. His body rejected the liver he received a couple months ago. He was one of the people I knew that was on the Interferon and who got really depressed. Apparently, the meds didn’t work and he went to Greece to get a new liver.
February 3, 2016: Doctor’s appointment with my primary care physician for a yearly physical. He set me up for blood work and referrals for a colonoscopy and a new Hep C doctor. I really don’t like how doctors now just go thru motions during a visit. Hardly any eye contact while they are busy typing into a computer. I do like the website called MyChart, where I can see everything and stay in touch with my care team. It all just seems so impersonal though.
March 22, 2016: Work and then to a new Hep C doctor. Young woman whose name I forget. Trying very hard to push a new Hep C drug on me. Harvoni. It has a 94-98% success rate. It also costs $94,000.00 for 12 weeks’ worth! Left her office and went to get blood samples drawn – lots of blood. I need to get an ultra-sound next. Tried to get it done while there but they would not take a walk-in.
April 1, 2016: After work I went for my ultrasound. Girl said everything looked normal. I think my doctor is disappointed, but she said she is still going to try and get the meds for me?? It made me wonder if she gets some kind of kick-back from the pharmaceutical company? My Rx insurance, through my job, said they would not cover the cost of the Harvoni.
November 16, 2017: Doctor’s appointment at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Another new Hep C doctor. She doesn’t understand why my insurance wouldn’t cover the Harvoni for my Hep C. She is going to re-submit and make sure I get it. She also told me there are other treatments these days for Hep C. I will be cured before I retire she said. More blood work done – HIV Screening (came back negative) and a comprehensive Hep C test (elevated).
December 14, 2017: Went to Hopkins to see my Hep C doctor. She was all flustered about this, that and the other. She mentioned that I needed another sonogram because of my cirrhosis? What cirrhosis I asked? First time since 1989 that someone said I had that! She looked at me all crazy and said, “oh, well we need to do a fiber scan and we can do that now”. So, I went into another room and another doctor did this thing with some sort of pulse on my liver, handed me the printout and sent me back to my doctor. No cirrhosis detected – none, nada, zilch. She says, “well good, we still have you approved for the Harvoni”. I’m thinking someone fudged some numbers or a report just to get the insurance company to pay for the meds. My levels from my blood test did increase by one million points since 2016. So, I went with a nurse to the pharmacy and was given a bottle of Harvoni. Instead of paying a $30 copay, it was only $5.
December 15, 2017: Started my meds this morning. One pill a day for 12 weeks. They only give out 28 pills at a time. $30,000/28 pills = $1,071/pill.
January 5, 2018: JHH Pharmacy called me about my refill. Lots of bullshit going on with this. All because my insurance changed on January 1st. I told the doctor and pharmacy and nurse about my concerns of starting the meds for a month and then my insurance changing. They all said not to worry!
January 9, 2018: Was supposed to get my next batch of 28 pills but the insurance stuff was all messed up. I did get my bloodwork done though. I only have a few pills left. Here is my bloodwork to date:
……………………………….. 3/22/16 11/16/17 1/9/18 Standard
HCV RNA By Rt-PCR: 4,800,000 5,660,000 21 <15 [IU]/mL
HCV RNA Log Value: 6.68 6.75 1.32 <1.18
That is one helluva drop in numbers! (Although I’m not sure what these numbers and abbreviations mean!)
January 11, 2018: I picked up my meds today at CVS Pharmacy in Parkville. $31,185/28 pills = $1,113/pill
February 5, 2018: Picked up final 28 pills at CVS. Same price as above. They gave me a $30 discount, so my co-pay was only $5.
Grand total for insurance companies was $92,370 or $1,099.64/pill. Unbelievable!
March 8, 2018: Last pill.
March 14, 2018: Dr. visit and bloodwork. Visit went well, and we discussed a lot of the numbers and what they mean. Most are just markers, like the ones above. These numbers are checked to see if the patient is still taking the Harvoni (or any other med) continuously. Which I have. Never missed a dose. There are a lot of factors that the doctors look at, to determine whether I am clear and cured of Hep C. I go back April 12th for a follow up and then June 1st for another blood test, followed by my last visit to see my doctor on June 13.
March 21, 2018: Clean 31 years and my final blood test results are listed. As I stated earlier, I am not sure what all the numbers mean, I just know that they all fall in the standard range. Cured of Hep C? Most likely (Next blood test should tell). Cured of addiction? Never will be.
And with that, I leave you with this:
And may I not with great propriety ask myself From whence have these daily and long continued mercies been received? By whom? And by what source have they been administered unto me, And thereby enabled me to take my pen, and answer these solemn, and important questions? Let me truly, and faithfully Answer, From my Savior and my God. And most grate fully do I acknowledge his goodness for every Blessing granted unto me; humbly praying, that every error, that I may have committed or incurred, in my passed life may be blotted out and forgiven and that the few remaining days that may yet be allotted unto me, may be passed in preparing to appear in the presence of my Savior and my God.
John Davis, Water Engineer. Hagerstown, Md. January 1851.
I was recently called over to the contractor’s worksite because they hit another pipe underground. Another one not on their drawings but included in other drawings (Why the engineers don’t look at other record drawings is beyond me). This is a special pipe that I was looking forward to them hitting. I knew it was just a matter of time.
Here it is – a 4″ lead pipe inside an 8″ Terra Cotta pipe. Why is it special? Because I always wanted to see how the alum, manufactured at Plant II was piped across the street to Plant I.
The water engineers boiled up their own alum in lead lined vats and it was then pumped across the street through the lead pipes. Below is one of the vats right after the lead was replaced. Over the years there were many contracts to recoat the insides of the vats. When the vats were no longer used, city workers climbed down into them to remove the lead sheeting.
Lead pipes have been in use since the early Roman days. It was also used as a seal on pipes as shown below. In 1974 a lot of the old gate valves were replaced with butterfly valves. They did not replace the pipe. You can see where brackets hold the pipe together where lead is in the joints. These joints being made 1912-1915.
You have to feel kind of sorry for the contractors (and the city) for all the antiquated piping underground. Here is a site on Montebello property showing the obstacles of past contractors. Unfortunately, these abandoned lines were and are never removed. This photo shows a 5” conduit, 8” raw water, 10” water supply, 4” alum, 4” lead alum and 6” sanitary all in one pit. Under the very top conduit is the 13,000 volt, cement encased, electrical duct bank.
For your further historical pleasures – here is a history of lead in Baltimore:
1923 – Leadite Use: Bureau adopts leadite as a jointing compound and as a substitute for lead on water main installations. Leadite eliminates the use of caulking and can withstand the enormous pressure that the water mains are subjected.
Contract No. 84: Lead Lining Tanks: The Specification was dated July 21, 1926. Contract was awarded to the Joseph G. Graydon & Sons of Baltimore on July 21, 1926.
1930 – The Hampden Reservoir was drained. The outlet gates were closed permanently where possible by welding and then sealed with lead.
1931 – The liquid alum being made at Montebello is more acidic and corrosive than the lump alum. The cast iron pipes and valves can not stand up to this type of corrosion. They were replaced by pure chemical lead for the pipes and hard lead for the valves. Maintenance also had problems with the lead lining in the alum boiling tanks cracking.
A 1934 article appeared in several technical journals, which had given a general survey of the mineral contents, as determined by means of a spectrograph of the water used by 50 cities throughout the country. Baltimore was 1 of the 50 cities used in the survey, and the article indicated that the drinking water as delivered to its citizens contained lead as high as 0.3 parts per million, which was an amount generally accepted as detrimental to the health of people continuously drinking such water. The Water Department being stunned by this article, since this value was higher than any that had ever been noted, decided to ascertain the exact truth of the matter. The Montebello laboratory carried on a series of careful determinations extending through the year 1935. The City Health Department laboratory, not knowing the tests being conducted by the Montebello laboratory, conducted their own investigation for the lead count in the water. The City Health Department tests confirmed the test values conducted at Montebello. The results indicated that the lead content in the raw water never exceeded 0.2 parts per million and after treatment and filtration at Montebello, the content of lead did not exceed 0.02 parts per million. The normal lead count of the water was 0.01 parts per million. The tests proved conclusively that there was no danger whatsoever from lead poisoning due to the drinking of filtered Gunpowder River water.
1936 – December 7, 1936 letter from Engineer Small to the Chief of Police concerning the theft of pig lead.
1939 – Minute cracks started to appear in the lead lining of the tanks used in the manufacturing of alum. Tanks lasted ten years and produced 20,000 tons of alum.
1941 – The alum steel tanks were relined with lead. Tank #9 was relined with 20# tellurium lead and placed back into service on June 16. Tanks #5 and #7 are planned to be relined using St. Joe lead. Tank #7 is expected to be placed back into service by January 30, 1942; and Tank #5 is expected in service by March 15, 1942.
1942 – Because of the decision by the War Production Board regarding critical materials, the use of copper tubing for new installations was prohibited starting in August. Copper tubing installation was replaced by Type K lead alloy tubing. The replacement of the lead lining of the alum steel tanks was completed on February 7, 1942.
1949 – Pig lead test (checking for radioactivity). Leadite joints on water pipes are failing due to a high content of Sulphur and carbon in the surrounding soil.
1951 – A contract was awarded on December 26 to lead line the three steel alum storage tanks at Montebello Plant No. 2.
1952 – The lead pipe alum line between Montebello Plant No. 1 and Plant No. 2 had several leaks and was replaced.
1953 – Replaced Sulphuric acid pumps for Alum manufacturing. Also renewed was the lead line transporting the acid from the basement storage tanks to the manufacturing room.
1957 – 4 page Sunday Sun article on Weights and Measures. George Leithauser. Mentions chicken sellers using lead weights in birds.
In the late 1920’s a plasticized sulfur cement compound was developed as an alternate to lead for sealing the pipe joints in the field. This compound is referred to as “leadite”. Leadite was commercially produced up until the early 1970’s, and was used extensively from 1941 to 1945 when lead was scarce as a result of raw material needs associated with World War II. Ultimately, leadite was found to be an inferior product to lead for two reasons. First, leadite has a different coefficient of thermal expansion than cast iron and results in additional internal stresses that can ultimately lead to longitudinal splits in the pipe bell. Secondly, the sulfur in the leadite can facilitate pitting corrosion resulting in circumferential breaks on the spigot end of the pipe near the leadite joint. The failure rate in the industry for leadite joint pipe is significantly higher than for lead joint pipe even though the pipe may not be as old.
For your summer reading pleasure:
1916: A 16,000 gallon swimming pool was being built next to Lake Roland. July 19, 1917 letter from Water Engineer Walter Lee to the Baltimore County Commissioners asking that they police the area around Lake Roland as it has been reported that 10-15 persons bathe there every day. They reply that the city should get their own men to do it. June 9, 1923 letter requesting permission for the L’Hirondelle Club to be allowed to swim in Lake Roland. March 1924 newspaper clipping on drowning of boy, thirteen, in Lake Roland. The city investigation tried to place blame on the Pennsylvania Rail Road, who they say had some timbers floating about, which the boy fell off of as he used them as a raft. The PRR said it was a contractors fault, who used the timbers for some work they were doing. They also note that the boys were trespassing at the time of the incident. October 10, 1917 letter from Walter Lee to Mayor Preston notifying him of the intent of two ladies from Hampden, asking that a swimming pool be constructed on the property of the Hampden reservoir. They were also soliciting for his honor to pass a city ordinance in which they were to propose. Lee asks that if this happens, would the mayor turn the property over to Park Board? June 20, 1922 letter from Megraw to Christhilf Construction and other contractors, asking that they put in a modest bid (For charities sake) for the construction of a swimming pool at West Park (New name of Hampden Reservoir area) March 22, 1923 memo concerning the creation of a swimming pool between the upper and lower dams complete with toilet, shower facilities and a snack shack. June 20, 1924 letter from Armstrong to Siems concerning the swimming in the waters between the dams. He says it is prohibited. June 20, 1926 letter from the Baltimore Federation of Labor to Bernard Siems concerning the city using non-union workers to build the Druid Park Swimming Pool. On the bottom of this memo is a union logo: Specify UNION LABOR, have the job done Right!
Druid Park Swimming Pool
July 11, 1927 letter from Wolman to Wieghardt, “…when the pool was inspected by us a couple years ago we were informed that the Hampden Reservoir contained filtered water…the Hampden reservoir obtains all its water from the Jones Falls. In other words, the pool has been obtaining a completely untreated water from a relatively dangerous source, which has been abandoned for all municipal purposes for over 10 years…” July 14, 1927 letter refers to the Hampden Reservoir area as Roosevelt Park instead of West Park. June 24, 1930 memo from Rost to the Police Commissioner asking that the police stop the boys from climbing over the fence and swimming in the Montebello Plant II filtered water reservoir. 1932 Pools listed are: Druid Hill Colored Pool, Druid Hill White Pool, Gwynns Falls Park Pool, Carroll Park Wading Pool, Riverside Park Pool, Patterson Park Pool, and Clifton Park Pool.
Clifton Park Pool
June 10, 1933 police report on a ten year old who went swimming with three other youths and he drowned. The others left him and told no one. July 18, 1935 request from the National Guard for a shooting range at Loch Raven. Small does not want this. August 15, 1935 Brigadier General Washington Bowie writes Small back stating, “I note what you state in regard to the interference with the recreational purposes. If you had been with me last Sunday…when I saw three negroes in bathing suits swimming back and forth near where I wish to locate the range, or on a previous occasion when I found a half-dozen white boys swimming…I think you would find a rifle range more desirable than such recreational use…the portion outlined on your print is constantly used by both negroes and whites for swimming. The rifle range would at least make this unpopular.” Bowie then goes over Small’s head to Crozier. Crozier agrees with Small. A few months later, the Mayor agrees with Small and Crozier. June 14, 1938 list of names of swimmers at Loch Raven. Officer Goetz is to arrest these people and take them to Towson jail if they are caught again swimming in the reservoir. June 14, 1945 memo from A. Bailey to L. Small concerning kids swimming in the waste lake, “The boys in the Northwood neighborhood…are using it as a swimming pool…groups up to about thirty…during the daylight and night hours, sometimes as late as 12pm. They have been warned a number of times by various employees of this division only to be cursed for their troubles…radio police have been summoned but made no attempt to stop this practice…I talked with two patrolmen while eight to ten boys were in the lake and asked that they talk to the boys…they promised they would but walked to the opposite side of the lake and blew their whistles instead. Yesterday, June 13, there were even a greater number of swimmers than any time previous, so I contacted these boys personally and told them that it was my orders to have them arrested…they paid little attention to what I said…placed twelve ‘No Trespassing’ signs up. By 9pm all signs but one were removed and destroyed. At 10pm, a great commotion was heard, a group of three boys were in swimming and one had gotten into trouble and was so far gone when they rescued him, that it was necessary to apply artificial respiration…police called and all three were taken to Sydenham Hospital. The police, at least the patrolmen, do not seem to want to cooperate with us and make no attempt to put a stop to the practice of swimming. (We) could drain the lake and keep it drained in the summer months…parents may then be willing to stop their kids, but judging from what I have seen of these people, I do not believe they have enough control over their children to prevent them from doing anything that they wish to do. Child delinquency for this section is bad, if not worse than the average for Baltimore City. August 23, 1945 memo from Bailey to Strohmeyer about unwanted visitors to the plant. Young men swimming in the waste lake, one almost drowned. Two, three year olds, alone, swimming in waste lake. One threw a fit and refused to leave. The police were called. Two teenagers running through Plant II and when told to leave, went and got their father who dared anyone to stop them from coming into the plant. An undated memorandum: “Yesterday afternoon … three young men found swimming in the Balancing Reservoir at Loch Raven in their birthday clothes.”
Gwynn’s Falls Pool – the overflow goes right into the stream, adding more pollution.
The largest of the pools back then.
Folded letter of 1832 found in the archives. Benjamin was the son of John Eager Howard. Major Payne commanding the fort during the cholera epidemic?
Front of folded letter:
Postmark, Jun 14 City of Washington
Benj. C. Howard
To: William Steuart, Esq.
Mayor of Baltimore
“Letter from B.C. Howard Esq., on the subject of Quarantine Laws
June 14th, 1832”
House of Representatives
June 14, 1832
I received this morning your letter of yesterday enclosing a correspondence between the Health officer and Major Payne which I laid before the proper Department; and am informed that an order will be transmitted immediately to produce the result which you desire, of obtaining the aid of troops in Fort McHenry –
I am Respectfully Yours,
Benj. C. Howard (Benjamin Chew Howard)
William Steuart Esq.
Ok, time to order now for Christmas! Nothing like a little self promoting during the Holiday Season. (Thanks to the person(s) that bought 3 copies this month! My sales report does not list the buyers so I have no way to know who to thank)
These books are cheaper on Amazon than they are on the publisher’s pages. ALL proceeds from the sale of these books goes to Water For People.
This first book is a crazy story about Chuck and Gary and the misadventures that happen because of the fluoride in their toothpaste! I think this may have been an LSD induced novel. But more likely comes from all the research I did concerning the subject that I didn’t know what else to do with!
This next one is about, well, it’s about what the title says it’s about. Taken from the journals of the building inspectors. Ten miners killed in an explosion – called an accident, but I don’t think so…
After 5 days my daughter finally got to go home today. The surgery was a success. Now for the road to recovery. I thank those who sent prayers. And thanks to most of the staff at Hopkins. They were very caring and helpful. On different days, I roamed around to see what I could see. I like the older hospital section best.
The evening sun brightening up the old building.
One of many walkways that connects the various sections together. Nice hike.
I see a cruise ship back there – that will be Kathy and I in a few months.
Levels of the dome.
Looking up at the dome. They pretty much let you walk all over the place in here. I was only stopped once – security thought I had a drone controller in my hand.
I was told that Jesus’ foot is worn down by all the people that touch it for luck – I guess like the bronze turtle at College Park – I think it worked better for my daughter than it did this weekend for the football team!!
Terps at Byrd Stadium
In the children’s hospital
Reminds me of a fort
Nice little pond and garden
No plaque. Maybe the first source of water for the hospital when it was built?
My daughter was very strong through all this, considering what was involved. Thanks God!!
I’ve been skinny my entire life. Never passed a size one until about a year and a half ago. I felt like I jumped from a size one to a size seven over night. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE eating. Especially because I could never gain weight. Everyone said enjoy it now cause it’ll […]
As I mentioned before about my daughter, this is her journey.