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My Best Friend and HCV

My Best Friend and HCV

I have written about support systems in previous pieces but I was gently reminded of my own best support during my years with illness, treatment and beyond.

My dog Jess was the designated care-giver on duty 24/7.

For some people who know me you will know how much grief I have felt since he passed last month. It has been very difficult for me to settle and I am reminded daily of the hole that there remains in my life without him.

Some people will understand very well how important our animal family members are to our well-being. This was especially true for me during the most difficult years in my life.

I was sick for years without a diagnosis and then once diagnosed I was devastated with the news of “having hep c” I knew very little as most of us do leading up to diagnosis, and for me it was game-over; fortunately I was wrong.

During those times when I felt so sick, Jess was always there for me. He was there for me when nobody else could be. Not necessarily because they didn’t want to be, but was that a realistic thing for me to ask. To listen to my moans and groans and always be at my side was simply way more than I was prepared to ask of anyone, even the closest of friends and family. They all grew tired in a different way to me, but tired of my lack of energy and interest in life. I cannot blame them for this, and there is no use in blame anyway. My moods would swing from quiet and disconnected to anger over the smallest things-even nastiness at my worst. I am not proud of my behaviour at times during treatment, and it certainly was no fun to be around me back in those days. Jess was never the blunt of my anger or ever avoided me like just about everyone else in my life.

Taking him for walks was such a release for me, as much as it was for him.

I spent a lot of time on the couch back then and he was almost always beside me snuggled up or on the floor beside me. If I made the slightest noise like a wheeze because of my poor breathing, or a moan about how sick I felt, he would look at me as if to ask, “are you alright Dad?”

Nobody hung on my every word or noise like he did. Who could or would be so attentive?

My year treating with interferon and ribavirin were the worst for me, at least the first half. Those walks at the park with Jess gave me a chance to find peace while getting some activity in my days outside of the partial days I worked. Because treatment lasted 11 months it spanned all seasons, warm, cool and cold rainy days we went out in the afternoons. The joy and companionship that Jess brought me through all the anxiety and depression during treatment was distinctly different from any of my human supports. This is not to say that my human supports were not important or helpful, but it was different. Dogs are not easily dissuaded by adversity as it turns out. They are social creatures like us, but have a wonderful capacity to never judge us like humans will. During those years I needed that kind of unconditional love in my life, as cliché as that may sound it was invaluable.

In the last two years of his life it was my turn to step up and be his caregiver during his own battle with diabetes, blindness and eventual loss of hearing. As I mentioned, he has passed now. I feel great loss over this, but I will never forget what Jess taught me about resilience and courage. He was a noble soul like few I have ever known, and I feel very fortunate to have had him in my life before diagnosis, during treatment and beyond. If you are like me and love animals, I hope that you share in a similar experience like I have in your own hepatitis c journey.

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.


  • D Free
    3 years ago

    I was lucky too have my Cat Callie during my treatment, gave me a reason everyday of caring for and the extra love needed. When I was feeling low she new or just wanted to stay in bed, She would bring me toys so we’d have too play or just come sit on my lap, my heart would be so full and I’d fell a smile come to my face. I did work during treatment as much as my body would let me, it wasn’t easy at times, but I made my self and then I’d come home to my little Callie. She is gone now but will never be forgotten. Oh and I’m Hepatitis C FREE!

  • Daryl Luster author
    3 years ago

    congratulations D Free on being hep c free! Your Callie sounds like my Jess was through the hardest days in my life.
    There was no love like the love he gave me in those dark and difficult days treating with the nasty old SOC. Animals
    are important just like some special people who were there for me too. Never forgotten is so true, and there is
    never a day passes without thinking of their special kind of love and support. Thanks for sharing your experience so very

  • Meagan Heidelberg moderator
    3 years ago

    D Free,
    Congratulations on being Hepatitis C free! That is such good news to hear! I’m so glad that you had such a loyal companion throughout your journey, as those days with her will always remain in your memories! Thank you for commenting and being a member of our community,

    Meagan, Team Member

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