A physician’s personal account of hepatitis: a cautionary tale
Fabio Massimo Abenavoli
Received: 23 January 2008 / Accepted: 22 April 2008 / Published online: 4 June 2008
Abstract The author describes his experience with hepati-
tis, making considerations that could be useful for other
I had found myself confined to bed with viral hepatitis; I
had no idea where or how I had acquired the disease, which
had an uncertain evolution. I had become unexpectedly
plagued by tea-colored urine, nausea, vomiting, loss of
appetite, a sense of exhaustion and fatigue, and loose stools.
The symptomatology had manifested itself for only 2 days,
causing me to awaken at 4
, Monday, December 24,
with pain in my shoulders that prevented me from moving.
This intense pain was something that no one should ever
have to experience. By the time I sought medical help, I
had a yellowish complexion. I was already imagining the
report that would be confirmed shortly by the results of the
blood tests, revealing transaminases over 1,000, bilirubin 6,
and so on. After my obvious and childish attempts to avoid
hospitalization, I remained in an isolated room with orders
to remain on complete bed rest. After I was confined to bed,
my fiancée, Francesca, arrived with a delightful cardboard
Christmas tree and a toy train.
The healthcare workers started intravenous hydration
using glucosate solutions; unfortunately, no other therapy
exists that can improve the condition of the liver. I would
lose at least 3 kg more than I would lose in preparation for
the next marathon in Rome in March; this consoles me
slightly. The next day, a new study of the transaminase
shows it had climbed to 2,700 along with an increase in my
A possible diagnosis?
Meanwhile, my condition does not seem to involve hepa-
titis A, hepatitis B (for which I was vaccinated), or hepa-
titis C. That made me wonder what I was suffering from.
I did not know it, but there currently exists hepatitis D
(remembering the time I received my medical degree in 1985
when hepatitis D had only recently been discovered),
hepatitis E (indeed, I did not know about this), and a whole
series of hepatitis strains connected to the varied viruses.
Obviously, I am hoping my liver remains healthy and that my
transaminase and bilirubin levels are reduced. My coagula-
tion levels are in order, as well as the pancreas and the
kidneys; this is indeed encouraging for everyone.
The nurses enter my room to change the intravenous
infusion, acquire the necessary samples and, as an aside,
ask advice on what type of lifting could be done or what
prosthesis could be used. I have decided to entrust myself
completely to the team of infectious disease specialists who
visit me everyday and who appear very competent and
available. Unfortunately, every time they are in my room,
someone calls them, and the visit is transformed into bits of
conversation interspersed by phone calls. I must also
remember that in the future, no cell phones should be
permitted in my room when someone visits.
My friends and colleagues call me while I am confined
to bed to make Christmas pass with a little companionship,
even if only by phone. However, on the third day, I begin to
get out of bed and to work on a laptop computer. I needed
Eur J Plast Surg (2008) 31:175–177
F. M. Abenavoli (*)
San Pietro Hospital,
Via Savoia 72,
00198 Rome, Italy