Can I Work If I Have Hepatitis C?
Last updated: March 2022
Working has always been my "thing" you can say. I started very young and have never not had a job or career. Even through living with hepatitis C, I continued to work.
During the Spring of 2005, I was running three individual companies. All of which I managed the accounting and performed 80% of the scheduled work out on the job floor. I was a small business owner who sought out on an adventure to have my own company and be able to raise my children, who were then 7 and 2 years old. I wanted my employment to allow me to not have to put my kids in daycare and I would be able to have them around with me most of the day, except while in school. It would also allow me to participate in all the school activities such as field trips, plays, parties, and fun last day of the year relays.
Once I knew there was a health reason behind all my symptoms I was able to kind of reorganize my day to include "downtime" for myself. I would fight through my fatigue, I had to. This was my only income and if I didn't work or get invoices out, no money would be coming in to pay myself or my employees (the real ones that counted on me). This was the way of life I managed and was working for over 7 years.
It was 2012 when I was placed on the only treatment out there... interferon and ribavirin. Let me tell you it was beyond a nightmare. I took my shot on Friday evenings after getting home from work to ensure the worst part of the side effects were handled during the weekend and I had the week to muster the remaining strength to run my companies and life in general. Working with hepatitis C, while managing treatment, was a struggle.
I placed a blow up mattress on the floor of my office upstairs and did my best to conduct business and continue working as normal. I would work a bit, lay down for a few, back up a bit etc. This was my life during treatment with the old hep C drug regimens. When I learned I was being pulled off treatment for not responding, I was devastated. Everything I mustered up to get through this, the tears, the pain, the sickness everything was for NOTHING. Not one day did I ever miss coming into work, no matter how I felt. As sick as I was, I put that smile on my face and did what needed to be done.
It was not until a year later that I was accepted on a clinical trial for the new life saving treatment that had a cure rate of 95 percent. Yes, the odds this time were going to be in my favor. I also added a new adventure to my career, by launching The Bonnie Morgan Foundation for HCV. (More information about that in a future blog)
Working with hepatitis C? Listen to your body
I get asked a lot about working while having hep C. I always tell people, most of us had hep C for years without knowing it. We work, carry on life and deal with whatever we are feeling. Once diagnosed, we get this mental block that life stops. We label our self as sick and then take on that role. Reality is that we have had this a very long time and life was moving just as we thought it should be. Being diagnosed should not stop us from living. It should just rearrange how we live. Our life should not be put on hold. It should continue moving forward striving for that goal of a cure.
Working with hepatitis C can be done and managed (with your healthcare team's approval). During breaks and lunch, sit back, close your eyes and rest. Let your body regain composure. Eat healthy, drink plenty of fluids, and most importantly listen to your body when you need rest. Take a moment and allow yourself that unplugged time. Most importantly, know your body, ask your doctor about any suggestions he/she would recommend for you.