Should I Share My Hepatitis C Status?
I first found out I had hepatitis C during a time when I was being constantly disappointed by the people around me. My expectations were too high. I expected people to behave well, act concerned, inquire about my health, and tend to my needs as I was experiencing a lot of complications during my pregnancies, labor, and deliveries. Comparatively speaking I don’t think I was exceptionally selfish, just exceptionally overwhelmed so my lack of help and frustrations were compounded.
Not knowing who I can count on
So when I found out I had hepatitis C I didn’t tell anyone. It wasn’t so much because of the shame, as much as it was my realization that people would likely behave a lot like humans. Meaning they wouldn’t care as deeply as I needed or wanted them to. People would likely say the wrongs things, or change the subject, or say nothing at all. I knew I was too fragile to share something so personal and heavy to me, to only have it treated like something light. And finally, I knew and still know that I am very sensitive when it comes to my children, and the false assumptions, poor information, ignorance, and just blatant rudeness that sometimes comes with having hepatitis C.
I’m insecure. I think I also feel too much and assume the worst about people’s reactions to Hep-C. I always think they are scared of me and my kids. So I didn’t share. I am so glad I did not. I wasn’t strong enough to be deeply disappointed. When I finally did share all those fears I had about people behaving poorly were realized, they were legitimate, but I was better prepared as I had recently moved so my relationships weren’t deep.
My Dad said, “I can never find these keys in this blasted apartment”. My sister behaved like it was no big deal, probably in an effort to ease my fears but it only hurt deeply to be disregarded as no big deal. My Mom was cold and stoic and didn’t call once during a month-long hospital stay due to hepatitis C complications.
I will tell you that I had a couple people who met, even exceeded, every expectation – my husband and daughter. My husband has only loved me yet even more since my diagnosis and our intimacy wasn’t affected. I would share information about risks and he would just say “Oh well its worth the risk”. I would warn my daughter about using my toothbrush or razor, and she would jokingly say I hope “I get it, Mama, so I can just be that much closer to you.”
As I share my heart regarding the excellent support I received from my family my eyes well with tears, partly because I am so blessed and my family is so crazy, but also because I understand some people literally have NO ONE. I asked one guy who tested positive if he had a support system to share his diagnosis with and he told me about his dog. Thank God for our pets huh? Really. It’s a shame that Dogs often have to fill the void of a human support but they do help.
I don’t judge people who disclose or not. It’s a personal decision. I try to share that having a realistic expectation of the response from others is helpful. Expect people to say the wrong thing, be a bit rude, or act unconcerned. Understand that if you have a couple truly close supporters you are blessed. Consider telling slowly, perhaps a Pastor or sibling, gauge responses and move accordingly. I support and appreciate people who disclose and those that don’t.
Editor’s Note: Are you afraid to talk about your hepatitis C? Some people want to learn more about hep C, but also want to keep their diagnosis private. At HepatitisC.net, there are ways to get information and connect with others, without revealing your identity. Click here to learn more about how to talk about hep C anonymously.