It was the fourth time that day I had been to the bathroom to throw up everything I had on my stomach, which wasn't very much.
I felt so weak that opening a can of soda felt like a task that I just wasn't able to perform. I knew deep down there was something wrong with me, but I had no clue at what it could have been. With the thought that it might be a stomach virus, I let this torture go on for two weeks. At the end of the two weeks I started to get scared because I knew that this was something worse than a normal stomach virus.
I forced myself to get out of the bed and find the cordless phone. Something told me that if I didn't get to a doctor that I just wasn't going to make it another day. I didn't really know who to call so I decided to call my grandmother. I explained to her how I was unable to drive myself and how I had been sick for two weeks. She quickly agreed that I needed to see a doctor and volunteered to come to pick me up.
As soon as I entered the doctor's office I knew something was wrong by the way the receptionist looked at me. After that most of that day was a blur. Everyone moved quickly to get the doctor to me and he told my grandmother to get me to a hospital immediately. At the hospital they admitted me and ran some tests. The number one thing they tested for was Hepatitis. I was asked so many personal questions that at the end of everything I felt like I had no secrets left about my life. Some of the questions were if I was a drug addict, or if I had sex with more than one partner. As a very conservative and modest woman this for me was one of the most embarrassing times of my life.
After a couple days in the hospital I met one of the nicest doctors I had ever met on my hospital trip. He was very blunt about what was going on with me and for that I was so thankful. There is nothing worse than when a doctor comes in and tells you what is wrong, but you don't understand anything they are saying. This doctor made sure I knew what was wrong with my body and what we were going to do to fix it. He informed me that I had tested positive for Hepatitis C type 3 and that it was curable. Then went on to tell me that he didn't understand how I had contracted it. This was one of the moments that still baffles the doctors. I have never been a drug addict, I only had one sex partner which was my fiancé and I had never been exposed to anything like this. Still baffled he ordered treatment for me and told me it would take six months for me to be free of this awful disease. I was started on Ribavirin which is a pill I had to take three times a day and then I had to take a shot called Pegasus once a week.
It all seemed to be coming together and there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel. The only problem was there was a lingering question in the back of my mind that kept eating at me. How did I get this? It doesn't just develop overnight for no reason at all.
Three months into treatment my fiancé comes to me and informs me he is leaving me for another woman. He had been cheating on me for the past year. It was like a slap in the face, because the man who is supposed to stand beside me no matter what was walking out to leave me to fight my battle alone. Then all the puzzle pieces start coming together. He has been seeing her for a year and I had become sickly all of the sudden. I knew then without a doubt he had given me this terrible disease and had put our daughter at high risk. I let him walk away without fighting for him because if a man can give me a disease without any remorse then he isn't good for me anyways.
A year later I was Hepatitis C free, but in that same time frame I received a call I never thought I would get. The man who had left me high and dry called to apologize. He had went to the doctor complaining about his side hurting him and with further testing found he also had Hepatitis C. When suspicious about his new girlfriend he demanded she be tested also. With his worse fears confirmed that his new love was the cause of all this drama he felt he needed to give me closure by telling me how sorry he was. I accepted his apology for leaving me, but I couldn't for giving me a disease that almost killed me. Like I told him if I had of died from this because he wanted to run around with another woman it would have left our daughter without a mother. So I felt deeply like my daughter had been provoked in this matter so I couldn't forgive him for that. I went on to tell him that I hoped his treatment would be successful and that now while he went through the torture I endured he could finally walk a mile in my shoes.
The treatment saved my life and gave me more time on this earth with my beautiful daughter, but it also did some damage. The side effects I should were so severe that my hair started falling out in a small spot on the back of my head. So at twenty-eight years old I had a bald spot that made me feel so insecure. I also felt so tired and lifeless. It didn't take much for me to sit down in a chair and fall asleep. Because of the side effects I lost my job and then because I couldn't pay the bills I lost my apartment.
I may be having to start over by living with my parents until I can get back on my feet, but I still won in the end. I won by living and this is something no one can take from me. I have never in my life felt so in powered, independent and most importantly felt like a survivor.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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