Finding Purpose, Finding Hope
Growing up, I was around doctors weekly. My mother, having had a kidney transplant, required frequent monitoring of her kidney function, etc. She was one of the first kidney transplants back in 1965. So, the technology with transplantations was not yet discovered. For her, it was a weekly, sometimes (if lucky) bimonthly.
Growing up in the hospital
We lived about an hour from her clinic and so I can remember vividly the drives to this hospital. Some days it would be a in an out before I could get my crayons out and other times, I would run out of pages in my coloring book. For me, I found an excitement going into a hospital. The sound of intercom voices, elevator dings, buzzers going off, and nurse's station chatter. I loved it all. So much so when I got of age, I volunteered at a local nursing home (junior high), and then in high school, I volunteered at our local hospital and did ride along with the EMT’s in our town. It was a thrill for me. I had a high tolerance for gross stuff and certainly saw lots of it.
After high school, I went on to college with my dream to become a heart specialist. I never thought of any other career ever. It was always in medicine. After struggling 2 years and seriously failing chemistry twice, I was faced with the reality that maybe I was not cut out to do this for my career. I was devastated and heartbroken to come to this choice.
My hep C diagnosis
Fast forward 20 years... I was in the doctor’s office being told I had a deadly disease- hepatitis C. About 1 year to the date of my diagnosis, I watched my mother pass away from her battle with hep C. I was frantic. I now was stepping into my mother’s shoes of frequent doctors’ offices, blood draws, urine samples, etc. I had become my mother. Not only fighting the disease that took her life, I was subjecting my own kids now to a life in hospitals. I did not want this for them, so I did all I could to keep life for them as normal as one can under circumstances.
Sitting in the doctor’s office with feelings of despair and emotions all over the place THAT one day I realized that my dreams of becoming a doctor had not come to be. But I was still surrounded by the very thing that gave me chills (good ones), walking into a hospital. I still was experiencing that high feelings walking in and the sounds around me brought me back to being a little girl and wanting so bad to become a doctor. Not to mention back at the hospital I was born at and my mother had her transplant. After lots of soul-searching and seeing that even though I am not a doctor, per se, I do not have the textbook knowledge of medicine. I am living the life I was meant to.
I truly believe that God intended me to do what I do today: Advocating for others with hepatitis C and neuropathy. Being a voice for those who need to be heard and continuing a legacy my mother left me. A mounted plaque with my name does not say I graduated from med school, but I have lots of admission wristbands from the hospital saying and giving me that document to say I know about my health, and hep C and experience in my shoes that no doctor can take from me. I have lived it, felt it, cried about it, mourned it, and now, been cured from it.
What we CAN control
I am here to say that in life, we get cards dealt to us that we do not like and even hate. Dreams are crushed, health is robbed from us, and loved ones pass on. Those things we can’t control. But we can control our outlook to that deck of cards given to us. We can play the cards dealt and find ways to move on and be a positive force in our communities. Being born in 1968 to the first woman to give birth after a kidney transplant was my legacy given until now. Now I live and strive to put a face to hep C. Give and offer hope to those who may have lost their way. Don’t give up. Stay strong stay focused and keep fighting. A CURE is available.
Does reading hep C patient stories aid you in your journey?