A man stands stuck in a mental storm surrounded by negativity, light streams in through a break in the clouds where is friend is reaching out to him to help guide him out. Male, woman, female, dark, friendship, trust, guidance

Receiving a Hep C Diagnosis

Getting diagnosed with hep C hit me like a ton of bricks. It would have hit even harder if I had known what hep C was.

All I knew was that it led to liver damage, and a cure was coming. I didn’t have time to learn about it, much less deal with all such stuff.

I had bills to pay, a family to care for, and a life to live. Who has time for a diagnosis like this?

Nobody. But those were the words I was hearing.

Getting diagnosed with hep C

My first impulse was to argue with my doctor regarding my diagnosis. Now, I’m not one to get angry at medical staff.

Besides, I was lying in a hospital bed. They had started an IV, pumping fresh hep C-free blood into my body.

It turns out that my liver backed up, causing internal bleeding. It’s called varices, and that was another new term for me.

If you looked at me, you would not have known that I had hep C. However, my body had just started turning yellow.

It was called jaundice and resulted from the virus keeping my liver so inflamed 24/7. It must have been going on for a while because I was also swollen with ascites.

The aftermath of being diagnosed

They wanted to drain all the swelling off of my pregnant-looking belly. My toes looked like sausages, and they were also numb.

Being dizzy and fat-footed prevented me from walking to the bathroom, so I got a catheter. That was fun.

I kept asking questions and dealing with the stigma of getting diagnosed with hep C. The medical staff looked at me like I was as disposable as the trash liner holding my bloody vomit.

Questions about drug and alcohol use were peppered at me by hospital staff. No one wanted to give me a tutorial on how to live after getting diagnosed with hep C.

I tried to muster up some dignity. My friend insisted on a private room, and she did guard duty.

That was before they discovered my insurance was canceled. I had missed a payment because I was sick, tired, and forgetful.

Braving the storm

All of the above symptoms created the perfect brainstorm. I had forgotten what it felt like to have energy.

I had forgotten almost everything for months. The toxins my liver should have been cleaning just cycled through my brain, causing hepatic encephalopathy.

It sounds bleak. Yes, indeed, it was, and it was almost the end of me.

It was time to deal with hep C. The doctor was trustworthy.

My body had been exhausted for a long time,  so I created a support system of friends and family to help me get through treatment. That meant mending bridges with people.

It took some effort on my part and has been worth every minute. I celebrated 11 years of living hep C-free this year.

I’ve got a lovely home, a great life partner, and a bright future ahead of me.

If you’ve just been diagnosed, this can be a new beginning for you, too.

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