Chronic Disease: Long-Term Impacts and Managing Other Health Conditions
As we know, hep C is a chronic condition for the majority (~75%) of people who contract the virus. Only 25% or so will not require treatment to avoid the chronic disease.
Hepatitis C can affect many parts of the body
As it is termed as "hepatitis", hep C has a focus traditionally associated with the liver. There is no question that hep C does affect the liver in the most profound ways, but like other chronic disease and conditions, it is not exclusive to one system or part of our person/body.
We are all different in ways that will affect what kinds of added issues we do or do not experience. One person my experience immune-related problems while others not. One may have digestive problems, while someone else is dealing with neurological deficits. This may be you, or others you know who have fought with persistent struggles to keep blood sugars managed, or your moods are all over the place when you never had these problems in your past.
Every person is different
As it turns out, this is not entirely unique to hep C. This doesn’t mean that every person will have additional conditions beyond the primary chronic one, but having heard so many anecdotal stories from the hep C community, it is convincing and unsurprising that people who have lived with chronic hep C are at higher risk for a number of conditions, with some being just as dangerous on their own when we look at long-term outcomes.
As mentioned, this is not unique to hep C. So, "What does it mean to me?", you may ask. Well, hep C may not be the only health issue you will deal with, perhaps in your past, now, or in the future. Do you have experience with the day-to-day battles that some of us face, with no outward or obvious indication? This is something we hear often from people who deal with chronic health issues, in that the people around them, as well as some healthcare providers, will dismiss off-hand. This can have a devastating effect on any one of us and is very much akin to stigma. We all need to work towards better understanding, and to end the snap judgements we make of others.
Understanding and supporting one another: This should not be a hard thing for any of us if we take a moment to put ourselves in the shoes of others - empathy. The truth is that I was at one time not very good at empathy, and I could feel shame or embrace the practice. I chose empathy, and in no small measure it was because of my own chronic conditions and how others responded. I am sorry that is what it took, but it is in the end a positive step, I believe.
What long-term health issues are you managing in addition to or after curing hep C?
Have a question about hep C you have been trying to get answered?