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Friendly Surroundings

Friendly Surroundings

As some people know, I am a musician. It was my dream to play and perform from an early age and I started working at it when I was around 8 years old with my first guitar-a Stella. It is considered to be a goody and I wish I still had it but like so many instruments over the years…well, they were sold or stolen and replaced with others. Like so many things in life, they were not permanent.

Surprising Connections

I only give that background for context, as I wanted to share an experience I had recently while visiting Southern California. I had some time to kill and decided to go to the local Guitar Center, a chain of music stores that caters to beginners and pros alike. I was asked and shown a private room filled with Martin’s, Taylor’s, and a few other miscellaneous brands of good guitars. I was jamming on some blues riffs when a guy walked in who looked to be around my vintage. I asked if he was looking to buy and that led to a great conversation that went from old guitars we own or had played, people we played with, bands, places, and experiences.

I casually mentioned about being diagnosed years ago with hep C. His response was calm with a look of relief came over him as he went on to share his story about being diagnosed in the early 90’s and treating with interferon, which landed him in the hospital near death. He also shared about his thyroid being destroyed; a common thing I hear. He did not treat for a very long time as his health worsened. I shared some of my own war stories and about my nasty days in treatment and work now in advocacy and peer support/navigation.

United Through Shared Experience

He disclosed he treated two years ago, having lived with knowing he still had hep C after that failed interferon treatment 20 plus years ago, and he was now hep C free. I congratulated him and shared my own cured status. We laughed and got back to stories from our rock and roll days.

I have tried to change the narrative away from the “Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll” era for us older folks who have lived with hep C because it really doesn’t tell the real story for everyone. OK, maybe there is a higher incidence of hep C in rock musicians or blues or jazz players, but as to it being true with all of us, including all baby boomers, I do not buy it at all. We now know that we were exposed in many different ways as we were growing up in an era with poor practices around sterilization of medical and dental devices like syringes, which were reused for vaccinations. Oddly enough the cause of mass infection in places like Egypt illustrates the law of unintended consequences, and millions of unsuspecting Egyptians were exposed to HCV as they were vaccinating people with reuse of syringes.1

In closing, I just wanted to share how much joy I felt in connecting with a person who had many shared experiences in life, with music most importantly, but our shared experience with fighting hepatitis C. I hope you are able to connect with others in a similar way because we really all have a lot in common, far more than not.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Egypt steps up efforts against hepatitis C. World Health Organization. July, 2014. Available at: