At the age of 22, I was slapped in the face with the wild and a rough past I lived. I was laying in the ER at the hospital, in my little town, when the doctor came in and told me I had hepatitis C. I thought there has to be a mix up in the lab, not me, it can’t be true. The doctor placed me in the hospital to run more test and see just how bad it was. As I laid there for the three days that they did tests, all I could do was think about how I got this.
About 7-8 months before I found out I had hep C, I was living a life I never thought I would. I was living with a guy that my sister had went to school with, she had known him for years. After 3 years of being with him things started to get rough for us, due to a bad drug habit he had. I didn’t even know about it until money started to go missing. He was taking the money I was giving him to pay bills and was buying drugs. Things went on like this for over a month before I found out. One night I came home from work, and he had his friends over and was partying a little. I didn’t pay any mind to it because I didn’t know many of his friends, as I was in the kitchen I heard them talking about trying to find needles. I asked them why they needed them, and they told me to “use” with. I was shocked. I just went on with what I was doing, and not long after that they left.
A few weeks went by and his friends didn’t come around again. I had to leave work early one night because my head and neck were hurting so badly I thought I was dying. When I got home, my boyfriend could tell I was in a lot of pain. He said he had something to help the pain, I just had to trust him. As I laid in the bed, he started to tie my arm off and I asked him what he was doing. He told he was going to give me something to help, as I watched him I could see that he was going to shoot me up. He told me it was a clean needle and it had never been used, and I trusted him. After about 30 seconds of him pushing the drugs into my vein’s I didn’t feel anymore pain. It was the best feeling ever. I started using not long after that.
I always had my own needle and would hide it so only I knew where it was. After 4 months of using we found out that my boyfriend was wanted for something he did in his past. As the days came closer to when he had to go to court the more we used and the less I cared, and the less he cared about me. It got to the point to where he pimped me out to 2 of his friends for drugs. They drugged me, raped me, and made me do things I would had never done. That took place the last few days before he went to jail.
The day he went to jail was the best day of my life, I could get away from him, and he couldn’t make me stay. I moved out of the house we were renting together and moved back in with my mom and dad. The first night he was in jail, I told him I was leaving him because of the things he did to me and the bad times he brought into my life. After a month of living with mom and dad I started hanging out with a friend of my brothers. As we started dating and hanging out I got to see that his brother did tattoos out of his house. I had 3 tattoos on my back that needed to be fixed so he said he would fix them for me. All I had to do is buy the tattoo needles, so I did.
A few weeks after getting the tattoos fixed I could tell that there was something wrong with them, they weren’t healing like they needed to be. 3 months later I had to go to the ER because I was really sick. I was not able to eat or drink anything, and I thought it was just a virus going around. They did test after test and nothing came back. I went home and within a week I was back in the ER, only this time they found the hepatitis C. The next night my boyfriend left me because I now had hep C. I called one of the best hospitals I knew of and went to see a doctor at UVA. He told me that I have hep C genotype 1. As we started talking about treatment, it hit me that this isn’t a bad dream, that I am really sick. I didn’t want to start the treatment without reading about it so I waited a few months until I knew more.
As the summer came around I met a guy that I fell in love with. Having hep C was one of the first things I told him about because I didn’t want to hide it from him. He told me it didn’t matter if I was sick or not, he was going to be right there with me no matter what. I started my first round of this new treatment called the triple treatment; it’s interferon (a shot taken once a week), Ribavirin (3 pills taken everyday, 2 times a day) and the new one Incivek (2 pills taken 3 times a day). I’m in my second week of the treatment now and it has been everything but nice to me. Right now I’m hoping I’ll only have to be on the treatment for 24 weeks, but only time will tell. I go for my first two weeks blood test to see if the meds are working on September 28, and maybe it will show that the meds are working now.
If it wasn’t for me having the man I have in my life now I don’t really think I would even be taking the treatments, he wants to see me happy and healthy so we can live a long life together. I have very little support from anyone in my family. My mother looks at me and calls me diseased, my sister doesn’t even care, and my brother cares, but doesn’t show it much. My dad had a stroke 4 years ago and can’t talk, but he knows I’m sick and having to take treatment for it. My boyfriend and his dad are really the only ones that care that I’m sick and having a hard time. Being on the treatment is everything that the doctors told me it was going to be. I have bad days and good days but mostly bad sick days. My body hurts all the time now and my bones feel like they are made of glass. Nothing helps with the pain. Just when I start feeling like my old self again it’s time to take another shot or more pills. I’m just wishing these 24 weeks would hurry up and pass. I’m ready to move on from this and leave it behind me, so I can get married, start my own family, and live a happy healthy life.
Submitted September 28, 2012
This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.