Educating Yourself about Hepatitis C
Just getting diagnosed with hep C can be overwhelming, to say the least. Many, including myself, were not given much information about it. I got a pink slip and was sent on my way – with no nothing to help me digest what was handed to me that day. It took me several weeks to comprehend just what was happening to me. I went through anger, sadness, frustration, and isolation.
Learning about hepatitis C
Back in 2005, I began looking for information and very little was out. There were no TV commercials about it, let alone articles we could read and understand just what it was. I dug and dug and came across a couple of books written by Dr. Gregory Everson, University of Colorado hospital. I studied those publications and began to understand the key factors: How it was transmitted, side effects, symptoms, etc. Back then, the only cure (interferon) had only a 50/50 shot of curing hep C.
Hepatitis C facts
After I got a grasp on just what hepatitis C was, I began to relax more and gain confidence to share my story. I felt that many would have no clue I was sick. I was a 37-year-old white middle class female who was a mother, wife, business owner and I did not fit the stigmatized theory of hep c. I felt it was very important for the people around me to be educated about it more because if I could be living with this disease so could many others. I posted my story and shared the common transmission types: Blood Transfusions, IV drug use, tattoos, and sharing of personal items (such as toothbrushes, razors, etc). I shared that this stigmatized disease is not just about addiction; Baby Boomers, military veterans, children born to an infected mother, nurses exposed to a patient needle by getting pricked unintentionally, just about anyone who can encounter an infected persons blood and have an open wound or sore was at risk.
I furthered my research and became more aware that the HIV/hep C co-infections were on the rise. Those with risky sexual practices that subjected themselves to torn membranes, blood, sores, etc. are at a high risk of contracting hep C. By learning and understanding hep c more I was better equipped to answer questions from people about it. Sure, I was afraid of being shunned, isolated, unfriended by those who chose to reject me after sharing my story, but I felt it was my calling to share about this disease that took my own mothers life and now potentially mine.
What you can do
Education is key with hep C or any other health issue. The better one understands the better they can choose directions for treatment, lifestyle changes, whatever. I choose to speak up, but I understand those who wish to remain quiet. It is strictly a personal choice what you want to do with your diagnosis. For me, it has helped me heal from the loss of my mother by helping others reach their cure and learn and be tested for hep C.
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