Denial has got to be one of the strongest emotions there is. I lived in denial for twenty-plus years. No obvious symptoms, no illness, didn’t feel bad, living my life with no obvious issues related to having hepatitis C. So I just tucked that knowledge back in a faraway dark corner of my brain and forgot about it until I realized how brutally selfish I was being.

Living with shame

I have a daughter who needs me. What had I done? I’d let this virus take over my liver and chronically change it forever. I got hep C from using a dirty needle when I was an addict many many years ago, and I now realize that the shame associated with that part of my life kept me from dealing with the issue at hand.

I remember being so sick, I was only 19 years old. I think that’s when I contracted the virus. In 1989 when I had blood drawn for screening prior to marriage I learned that I was hep C positive. That’s when I found the hiding spot and tucked that knowledge away. I finally sought treatment in 2019.

Cured, but still sick

I’m now hep C negative, but the damage has been done. I have obvious signs of portal hypertension, and enlarged, varicose-type veins in my abdomen and lower trunk. I know that varices, bleeding, and GI bleeding are associated with portal hypertension, which is a very difficult and miserable outcome. I’m now wondering who to see, which specialty, what diagnostics are available, treatment, if any, etc.

I wish I had had the courage to address this head-on in 1989. My health would have not suffered so drastically, and I would not have to tell my daughter this story of selfishness.

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