One Wednesday afternoon after school I went to the local blood bank to become a donor. My Mom came with me, giving me a ride.
I filled out the forms with my name, birth date, address, etc and answering “no” to pretty much every question there was. “No, I haven’t shared needles with other individuals,” “no, I haven’t had unprotected sex,” and so on.
I went home – with a brochure about bone marrow donation in my hand – smiling, feeling good about myself and I couldn’t wait to get a call from the bank that they needed my blood. 5 days later I get the devastating call. “Not everything in your tests came out good. You have Hepatitis B.” I couldn’t be a blood- or bone marrow donor. My world crashed! All I’d ever wanted to do was to donate my blood for people who need it.
We were told that I’ve had it for most of my life and that’s when my aunt remembered that there’d been a sign up at the kindergarten I went to, when I was 3-6 years old, about contagious Hepatitis B going around. We’ve now figured out that I was bitten by one of the other kids, who was a carrier of the disease and I guess I was “lucky” to only have it as a chronic, inactive disease.
As it is chronic and inactive, it doesn’t do much to my body. Yes, I’m extraordinarily tired, I get nauseous and I sometimes get pains in my liver, but other than that – I am not sick from the disease. I’m healthy. Except for this horrible disease lurking underneath my skin.
I’m also not allowed to drink too much or even too often. Sure, that’s not the end of the world, but it’s tough to explain to my friends that I don’t feel like going out, because of the fact that I can’t drink like they can. Yes, I know I can still have fun without drinking, but that doesn’t change the fact that I get jealous about them drinking in front of me and I have to stick to sodas and Red Bull. Not fun.
Back when I was diagnosed, we were told that we didn’t have to take any kind of precautions in the home, but now my baby sister is 5 years old and she has a tendency to bite. So far, she hasn’t bitten me yet, but she’s trying hard and I’m afraid she’ll succeed one day. I don’t intend to explain to her why she particularly isn’t allowed to bite me more than she’s not allowed to bite other people.
I remember when we were first told and my Mom was so afraid that she was the one who’d given it to me, since she got blood transfusions, after she’d given birth to my big brother back when they didn’t screen the blood. She was terrified that she was the cause. Fortunately, she wasn’t. Now I have that same feeling she did for 10 days after we were informed of my “condition”. I don’t want my sister to get inhibited by this disease. I want her to live her life and be able to give blood, if she wants to. I don’t even care about my having this disease anymore – I’m only worried about her getting it. I hope to bring more awareness about this disease and not have it be a taboo subject. People should get vaccinated, even if they aren’t travelling abroad. It should be a necessity. Hepatitis is a horrible disease and it MUST. BE. STOPPED!
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For people living with a hepatitis condition, it really helps to know they’re not alone. That’s why we’re inviting people to share their stories.