A woman reclines in a minivan with her arm thrown over her eyes and her heels tucked behind her feet. Her car is parked in front of a row of shops and it is morning.

Having A Job and Hepatitis C

No one expects to be diagnosed with a chronic illness amidst of everyday life; Life that includes working, family, friends, activities, appointments, etc. We all struggle from time to time as normal healthy individuals to deal with the stresses of everyday life. Now add an illness that causes fatigue, pain, fogginess, and weakness... How does one even begin to manage such a thing?

"Having it all"

Back when I was first diagnosed and before then, I was struggling with severe fatigue and tiredness. I wrote it off as I was overcommitting myself to things. Running 3 companies, my two young kids with school activities, living 45 minutes from my shop... The commute alone was grueling, having to get kids up extra early so we could make this drive into town for school and work. Looking back now, I do not have a clue how I managed to do all I was during that time. 

My shocking diagnosis

When I started getting frustrated at myself for loosing focus at work, and needed more sleep than normal, I went to the doctor. “Kim, you have hepatitis C”, he said. What?! My world as I knew it was closing in on me and literally choking me. I came into this medical office for help, not a diagnosis. Depression was now added to the list of symptoms I was having. Angry and frustrated at myself for not “keeping up”, I cried a lot during this time.

It was not until a few months passed that one day, it hit me: No one is going to get me through this battle but me. I can sit in this room and cry all I want, but the fact remains that I still have hep C and ALL the symptoms pertaining to the disease.

The importance of rest

I took time to learn about it and most everything I read said get more rest.  But how in the world am I going to do that with my job, my kids schedules, etc.?  It took some time for me to find a balance, something we all fighting hep C must do. You must learn to “look” for time for rest. It could be a 10 min break at work – lay your head down on your desk or go sit out in your car.  Close your eyes and rest. It is hard to do at first, but trust me, your body will learn to adjust.  Your lunch hours may no longer entail going out to grab lunch. You pack lunch, eat in your car, and then rest the time you have left. After coming home from work, take a short time out and lie down. If you are a parent with multiple actives like I was for my kids, instead of joining other parents on field to watch your kid, rest in your car first. Take any amount of time needed to refresh. You owe no one an explanation for sitting in your car a few minutes. Do what you need to do to allow more rest in your life.

My tips

I wish I had magic answers for each of you with busy schedules. All I can say is that it's trial and error. Start listening to your body and learning to say “NO” to outside commitments you have control over.  Adjust schedules, seek help from friends to carpool the kids, for example. Do whatever you can to help yourself get through this. Keep in mind this time shall pass, but you need to learn to adjust your time to get through it.

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