If You Know You’re Infected – Give Thanks!
I was cured with the new antivirals and experienced very little in the way of side effects. My good experience was due in part to a determination to stay positive, thankful, and hopeful.
Unknowingly Carrying a Deadly Virus
Like most people with hep C, I had unknowingly carried the virus for decades. Having struggled with depression, my doctor decided I was not a good candidate for the old treatment regimens. It’s very frightening to know that you are hosting a potentially deadly virus, one that can be spread to the people you love most. I had been told one of my sons was infected, he wasn’t. I was uninsured when I was prescribed Harvoni. My hepatitis C journey like most people was peppered with shame, sickness, uncertainty, and a lack of resources. My “outpatient procedure” turned into a month in the hospital, and a year in bed on oxygen fighting for my life. I had to wean my newborn. My husband and kids had to take on my responsibilities and our business suffered horribly.
Despite all of this hardship, I was doing better than 75% of people with hepatitis C that don’t even know they are infected. If you know you’re infected, you have something to be thankful for.
So when I found out Gilead was going to send me my drugs for free through their patient assistance program I was overjoyed! Delighted really, and determined to practice gratitude during treatment. See how I worded that…I wanted to “practice” gratitude. I am not naturally thankful – more like naturally cynical. It takes an intentional effort for me to be hopeful, but after all we had been through I was determined to not allow anything to get in the way of my cure. I would be thankful and I would be cured. In that order.
Gratitude During Treatment Is Part of the Cure
We can wear a groove into our brains to believe whatever it is that we dwell on. So if you are looking for a reason to stay sick, you will. If you want your body to manifest an obscure side effect from the new DAAs, it will. I am particularly sensitive to the power of suggestion, shoot, I can get nauseous just hearing about the norovirus 2 states away. For that reason, I stayed off the forums while on treatment. I listened to preaching. I practiced my faith. Again ….I use that word practice in a literal sense because things like faith and hope are very hard for me. My bestie sent me a card with encouraging scriptures during every week of treatment, she had been waiting too. I stalked my Fed-Ex man and answered the door before he got out of his truck. We shared with him that he was delivering something that would allow me to see my grandkids….he posed for pictures. My 5-year-old opened my Fed-Ex package of drugs and popped a pill in my mouth every day. I called Gileads Support Path just to thank the operator that answered and to share the news that she was contributing to the literal saving of lives and the relief of suffering. Everyone celebrated my cure, this before I even knew for sure I was cured. It was a time of relief and gratitude.
If you struggle with gratitude regarding your hepatitis C treatment, please consider my friend Vanessa who has been turned down for treatment 4 times or the Mama who is today carrying a baby she will unknowingly infect, because she doesn’t know her own status. What about the people who just months ago turned yellow and died because it was too late for them, or the person denied treatment because they smoked pot or the infected prisoner who is illegally denied treatment. There are people all over the world that never even consider hepatitis C testing or treatment because obtaining food is all that matters, basic healthcare screenings are an absolute luxury. Don’t be so American to believe that we are entitled to a painless existence, we aren’t.
Practicing Gratitude Is Not Always Easy
If you have been treated or are on treatment you are doing better than 75% of people with this virus! That because at least 75% of people with hep C don’t even know they have it.
Sometimes it takes an intentional effort to get out of the rut of sickness. I see it a lot in the hep C Community. People who have had this disease for so many years they don’t know how to behave healthily. That is why making intentional efforts to be thankful are important. Even if you don’t feel thankful you can, fake it til you make it.
Of course, I understand we cant think away a deadly virus or cover real pain with healing thoughts, but we CAN discipline ourselves to behave in a way that forces the body to follow. Try it. Start with the mouth. When someone asks how treatment is going say you are thankful to be in the small number of Americans who have even obtained treatment. Say: I’m thankful.