How Do I Tell My Partner That I Have Hep C? Part 1

"How do I tell my partner that I have hep C?" After being contacted with this question through my foundation, it gave me ideas that this is a big deal to those being diagnosed. I too had to come to terms with this exact dilemma. I was married and one would think that would be easy to share with a spouse, but for me, it still was difficult.

My experience

Yes, my mom was already diagnosed, and my immediate family was prepared either way for my diagnosis. But to sit down and say “I have hep C” was the hardest conversation to have. I was engulfed with fear. Fear I spread the disease to him and my children. Fear I would now be rejected by him. I remember sitting down and feeling so sick to my stomach. I was shaking and sweating.  The words did not come out easy. I ended up just saying “I was tested positive as well”.  Silence filled the room. I felt so alone, so isolated.  I wish he would have wrapped me into his arms and held me, reassured me in any way. But that was not what happened to me. The door to closeness with me ended that moment.

I was feeling so full of guilt. I kept saying I was sorry (but sorry for what?). I had no idea I was carrying this disease. It was not like I was deliberately going out and trying to cause harm and infect others. At that time, I knew absolutely NOTHING about hep C. So, I could not offer knowledge how it was contracted, how it spreads... NOTHING.

Feeling so alone

My family was tested (kids and husband); It came back all clear – no virus detected.  I remember crying and sobbing in relief. It did, however, create a wall between my spouse and me. No longer was I getting affection from him, let alone him holding my hand. It was ridiculous now that I look back. Here I was in the same boat as my mom (who was supported by my father - her spouse) and not getting the same on my end. I was alone. My children too small to understand and I was not about to explore idea of opening to girlfriends about this. IF my own husband treated me so coldly, what on earth would my circle of friends do?! I feared people and their reactions.

Lessons learned

It was not till my mother passed away from this very disease (she was not eligible for the only then treatment, interferon) that I decided to really dig into this disease.  I began reading books about hep C; Later I was actually treated by the hepatologist in Denver that wrote those books. But by the time I learned about the disease, it had already destroyed my marriage. I did not look sick, I don’t blame him for being confused, but I do wish he would have tried to learn more about what I was dealing with.

I have no right or wrong ways to communicate with your partners about having been diagnosed with hep C. But I do know this... You must educate yourself prior to talking to anyone. Questions are going to be thrown at you and you must have either literature they can read or know how to explain this. That was my downfall.  I was not equipped to say how it is spread. I could not offer information about hep c.  And by the time I did know exactly... life for me changed drastically.

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