Two smaller hearts overlay on top of a large heart with a liver inside it .

My Family and My Hepatitis C

Being diagnosed in 2005 with hepatitis C, it was devastating.  My first thoughts went to my two children: Oh my god, did I pass it on to them?

Immediately, I got them in to be tested. The wait for answer was grueling and pure torment on me. I got the call about 2 days later - Neither my daughter nor son was positive. Thank goodness! It was a sigh of relief for me as a mother.

The struggles of balancing parenting and hep C

Not till 2010 did I find out I was now stage 4 cirrhotic. I was struggling to keep up with life around me. I was tired all the time, my body hurt, and I could not focus on anything. My life was a mess. I was running 3 companies and my children were still very young. My daughter was in high school and my son in grade school; Both had full schedules of cheerleading and football.

I did not ever want my health condition limit me from being their mother. Sure, I fought hard to be present in daily conversations with them, even when I was so tired and just wanted to sleep). Their school functions required me to drive them to and from events. I was a single parent, business owner, and fighting end stage liver disease. Notice how I put the health condition last in my list. I did that on purpose, as that was how I wanted my life to run. Although I was so fatigued and hurting all the time, I mustered the strength to be at all my kids’ games and functions. I grew up with a sick mom and she missed so much of my childhood being sick; I did not want my kids to lose out on me being a part of their lives.

Prioritizing my kids

I will not lie, I pushed myself beyond what I probably should have, but I look back now and see the impact of me being there made in my kids’ life. They would help me up the bleachers because I was too weak to walk on my own. They would carry my kit of self-care items such as blankets, heated socks, water, and snacks. I prepared for their events in advance. If weather was cold, I made sure I layered up and had gloves, blankets, etc. to be comfortable as best as I could.

Even during the hardest time of interferon treatments, I would schedule my shot day to be Friday nights so the blunt of the side effects would be the weekend and I could manage to (somewhat) function during the week. Those shot nights I also included my kids in my treatment, my son would take the alcohol sponge to my tummy and then my daughter would help give the shot.  I found it helped them to feel a part of my care. No matter what my health tests came back as, I made a point to be upfront and honest with my kids on my health. They knew every victory and set back.  I did this because for me, my parents hid my moms’ condition from me growing up, causing me so much fear and anxiety trying to guess what was wrong. Had they just been honest and up front, I believe I could have dealt better with it.

My advice

Whether you decide to set your kids down and talk to them or not, I think you need to understand that children are much smarter than we give credit. If we can face health issues as a family, it not only gives the person fighting the condition a better insight and positive fight, but also more understanding from your loved ones if you are fighting the side effects. Fighting hep C is a family fight.

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