A New Normal? Coping with Hepatitis C

"Normal" is a construct that is packed with a wide range of meaning, and we cannot all agree on what it is normal or what it should mean or be. Most of us use the word to describe what is familiar and predictable in our lives. Recent times are anything but normal, and it is certainly not the typical way that we live our lives. New versions of normal can emerge in the face of abnormal routines and ways of living. This has always been true as I understand our history, with periods of upheaval caused by any number of things.

With hepatitis C, what is normal?

We like normalcy, and this is no surprise to those of us who have lived with hep C and/or the effects it can have on us over time. It is like so many other things, it is not unique to hep C, but this is the subject matter in this piece. I am not so sure what normal is any more, to be honest, and some of it is directly connected to my years of living with hep C. Some of those extrahepatic issues have become normalized in my own experience, and for the most part, I have been able to manage them well enough that they do not cause me nearly the problems they once did. I am lucky in that was, and I know that not all of us are as lucky.

Looking back, all those years ago, I cannot remember well what it was like to be entirely pain-free or free of some kind of brain fog. It did improve, and that is what I call my normal. It is not so much the new normal anymore, but I get it when people tell me that last year, they didn’t have anything that bothered them or caused any worry and concern. That cliché we have heard so many times “Been there, done that” resonates on a regular basis in those conversations.

Mental health

The use of normal is often used to describe behavior and mental health. A friend of mine I have known forever is always using the word "normal" when talking about someone who doesn’t fit in their version of normal, and it is always about how they talk and what they talk about, etc. Personally, I call it character and in England, they often call it eccentric. I like that description because it’s meaning says not of the center, and in other words not the norm. Over the years, I have been blessed with being able to travel to many different places and meet all sorts of different people in all kinds of situations. The most interesting have with few exceptions been people who would fit in that eccentric and character category.

So, what is normal for you?

Sometimes, when our surroundings and our own health are impacted in a negative way, we can be knocked off-center, but it is not really abnormal, and it is but one more part of living and learning. I just hope that whatever normal you have, you can make the best of it, and after all, chances are that things will be OK in time and you will adjust and do just fine, new normal or not.

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