My Story of Hepatitis C
Some people like to be on the go. That’s me! I have always led an active lifestyle and would try just about anything. I’ve hiked, ran, walked, and jumped my way through life. I got bit by the travel bug early on and have been checking things off of my bucket list for years. I have eaten fairly healthy and looked forward to reaping the rewards from it.Then I was diagnosed. This is my story of Hepatitis C.
My health bio started when I was a teen. At the age of 18, a laparoscopy revealed that I had abnormalities. The left side of my abdomen looked normal. Surgery revealed that inside, my left kidney, adrenal gland, and ovary were absent, among other things. Sadly, I was told there were no babies to be made by this body.
I was alarmed enough to make diet and lifestyle adjustments while planning a future in nursing. But the seed of betrayal was locked in my thoughts. That seed was nourished by the discovery that my mother was given diethylstilbestrol (DES), while she was pregnant with me. It was a synthetic estrogen and changed my little unborn self by creating a legacy of endocrine problems that would be dealt with throughout my life. I discovered that there was no controlling my body and it’s processes.
I learned hard lessons from that discovery. Grieving became a tool as I faced the loss. My lifestyle would be a fairly healthy one as I protected my hard working kidney. The thought of a young death were all fertilizer to my mind, and I embraced each day with a simple, childlike wonder. Gratitude for the cycles of life, nature, and love were my teachers in the school of hardship. Miraculously, I gave birth to a tiny baby girl when I was 21. The realm of possibility that she brought with her opened my mind to the truth about life: Anything can happen.
Fast forward through my 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. Early menopause, adrenal exhaustion, and making the best of every day was my pattern. It was a beautiful path. Okay, I was a little philosophical. I read way too much. I exercised like my life depended on it. I rode the hormonal roller coaster and battled fatigue. I sang too loud and too often.
In my late 40’s things changed rapidly. My skin, hair, and nails were like that of an old woman. My heart and sympathetic nervous system went awry. I never had been able to tolerate even the smallest amount of over the counter drugs due to “allergic” responses. Now the doctor prescribed anti-depressants, sleeping pills, beta blockers. I used a lot of vitamin and herbal therapies to boost my lagging energy. You think this sounds dismal, and it does.
But wait. Remember the childlike wonder? The playfulness that I promised myself to embrace? The love of nature and our great planet? These things were the center of my world every single day. There was no time for allowing depression to linger in my garden. I considered hate, anger, and self pity to be weeds and spent much time laboring over their removal from my thoughts.
Little did I know that there was an enormous root system silently growing under my garden. Unseen, and fed by a deadly virus, it creeped and sent out runners in every direction. The taproot was planted in my liver. I had hepatitis c.
At age 50, my heart problems accelerated. Sleepless, fatigued, and losing weight, I found that I could not keep up. I napped constantly, even on my lunch break. I pulled over and slept in my car during an hour drive. I withdrew from fun activities and assumed it was a new phase of life.
In 2010, I rode my bike in over 100 degree heat for several miles. That evening my feet swelled and felt numb. The next day, I couldn’t find clothes to fit except a loose cotton dress. My abdomen looked like I was 5 months pregnant. My dear childhood friend pronounced that I had to call my doctor. She had lost her husband to liver cancer, and we were best friends and roomies. She’s a dear sweet heart, but she’s always been bossy.
The next day, my doctor’s office sent me straight to the hospital for an Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). I sent out a text to my girls (family and best friends). While I lay on the table, the tech handed me a phone and the nurse said I had to stay. Something was very wrong. Denial and sassy mouth took over. I instructed the tech to remove all the IV’s and give me something to sign. I texted my posse again and laughingly said that if the tech could outrun me to my car, she could keep me. When I got to the parking lot, there were my girls. Needless to say, I went back to the hospital.
I finally got tested for Hepatitis C.
Cirrhosis. The next 72 hours was a hazy maze of tests, paracentesis, blood transfusions, and a death sentence. Imagine lying in the bed with granddaughters, sisters, and friends and being told that you are dying from End Stage Liver Disease. Hepatitis C. I didn’t know these doctors. More than that, they didn’t know me! I was numb, kinda crazy actually. Word got out on Facebook. Friends started coming by. My posse screened all but the close inner circle. I was as yellow as a daffodil. But I felt like my petals were crushed, ruined. My spring bloom was too brief. I wasn’t finished with life yet. But the root in my liver had finally accomplished it’s task of wrapping around every last bit of me. I vomited blood. And then I asked for my make up bag.
My story of Hepatitis C is too be continued….