In 1982, I had surgery to help me conceive a child. Ironically, all I conceived was a case of hepatitis C that was in one of the bags of blood involved in a transfusion. I did not learn about my infection until an insurance medical in 2003 revealed high liver enzymes. Further investigation confirmed hepatitis C. My family doctor was less than sympathetic when giving me the news, saying not to use needles and then walking out wishing me a nice day! I was too shocked to respond since I neither drink nor smoke and have never used drugs. While these habits have slowed the disease progression, my doctor’s assumption was still disturbing and I later complained to the specialist that I now see once a year.
Treatment with pegylated interferon and ribivarin was prescribed in 2005, but I was unable to complete the treatment. I was convinced my death was imminent due to the wicked side effects. I have opted for homeopathic treatments and since then I have had good results.
I had little support during the treatment (being a single mother didn’t help).
Because I guess I don’t look sick, my family assumes I am OK. When I get tired, they say I am using the hep C as an excuse to rest. It makes me very angry and there have been arguments that are not helpful.
I have a home-based business so I am able to rest when required. That said, I am still very busy and have several clients. The work has enabled me to maintain my own home and pay the bills, but I worry how long this can continue. I have told three colleagues about my condition and afterwards, it was never mentioned, only in passing.
I am selective about telling people because I know some have unfounded fears. Once, I was told not to use someone’s keyboard!
I am trying to live a healthy lifestyle, lose a bit of weight and exercise regularly. After my diagnosis, I decided to take a vacation every year and I usually go hiking in the Rockies for the fresh mountain air, as well as the solitude and spectacular scenery, which I find calms the soul. I do quite well and am able to hike up to 10 km on a round trip. Not bad, considering I am over 60 with distinctly creaky knees!
My compensation was delivered in 2008 and this will help me if and when I can no longer work. I plan to work as long as possible as I am helping my son through university.
I often think of those who didn’t get any compensation because of previous drug use or lack of hospital records. It is a huge shame since hep C is no one’s fault and we all share the same trials – and the same trail.
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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.