Child Abuse and Hepatitis C Fighting the Hepatitis C Stigma – I am a fighter.
I was born a healthy baby. My parents abused me in ways that were horrific. I won’t go into details because it would serve no good. The lifelong damage tells the story. I suffered multiple burns and ended up with a traumatic brain injury. While undergoing various medical procedures in the hospital, I contracted Hepatitis C. I was hospitalized until after my second birthday.
Although I have no real memories of that time, it shaped my life a lot. The left side of my brain was permanently damaged. This caused me to have a lifetime of seizure disorder. While my body received good treatment in a lot of ways, my mind was also wounded. I have had to fight severe anxiety because of the physical and mental trauma. I am a fighter.
Soon after my 2nd birthday, I was adopted by a caring couple. My Mother was very kind and loving to me. My father drank and could be abusive when he had too much. I am a fighter. I survived and went on to live my life.
Years later when donating blood, I was told that I had the Hepatitis C Virus. I had lived with it all of my life with no symptoms. I was told that it was probably from one of my early surgeries when I was a little boy. It was early in the 90s and not a lot was known about Hepatitis C or treatment for the disease at the time. They were using Interferon, but I was not offered treatment.
Now that I’ve grown older I want to tell my story. There are many misunderstandings about Hepatitis C. The negative stigma attached to it is a lot like the stigma for anyone who was abused as a child. A lot of people don’t want to know about those of us who suffer.
I want to reach as many people as possible to bring awareness. Awareness of how adults who were abused as children have to fight to survive. Awareness about how people get misunderstood because of Hepatitis C.
There is an epidemic in this country of Hepatitis C and many people do not even know they have it because there are often no symptoms. In my case there were no symptoms originally. I found out that I had this disease (like many people do) quite by accident. No one offered any explanation of the virus to me. It was not a well known diagnosis at the time. I pretty much ignored it. As a few years passed I went to a specialist. He told me that I was untreatable due to preexisting conditions from my childhood trauma.
I have not been able to work for periods of my life. I worked on a military base as a civilian. I am not able to walk without holding onto something for balance. I have applied for SSI and been denied. My life story has been one of pain. It is also a story of a fighter. I hope that anyone reading this will know that they can find strength in themselves too. This is not the end of my story. I keep fighting.
Guest blog by John Strother
If you have felt judged for having Hepatitis C, please do not let it penetrate your life. Click here to read a blog and learn how to deal with stigma. You’re not alone.
pics via lacasacenter.org,