January 08, 2014
When I was pregnant for my son in 1992, I found out that my blood is O-. I had always thought it is O+. I decided that after my pregnancy I would be an active blood donor. I lived up to that promise until 2002. I gave my last blood donation to the Red Cross in February 2002. I was even a member of the O- Club the Red Cross has.
In May 2002 I went in the hospital for “simple” hernia surgery. I ended up having two pulmonary emboli, three major surgeries, prolonged hospital stays, days and weeks in the ICU, and numerous blood transfusions. I was closely monitored by my doctors and specialists months after my last hospital stay. I was on blood thinners for months, and so I would have to have my blood tested every couple weeks.
After about a year, my internist said that he was going to do a hepatitis test. He indicated that my liver enzyme levels had been steadily rising. I checked back with him a few weeks later, and he told me that I had Hepatitis C (HCV). I wasn’t too worried, and I said to him that all I had to do was to take some drugs and I would be okay. A friend of mine in the medical profession had hepatitis (later learned it was Hepatitis A), took medication, and was fine. My doctor said that I was
mistaken. HCV could be fatal, if left untreated. He referred me to a gastroenterologist. I read all I could about HCV, and I read about Naomi Judd, as she was someone I had heard about having HCV.
I went to my mother’s gastroenterologist…bad choice. He asked about my marital status (married, at the time) and risk factors. I told him that I had a rocky marriage and only risk factors were my blood transfusions. He told me that I didn’t get HCV from blood transfusions – he said blood supply is fine now. He said I must have gotten it from sleeping around (I have had only 1 sex partner in my life, and that was my husband). I was horrified and shocked. I was too shocked to say anything. He told me I was too fat to have a liver biopsy, as I would bleed. Need-less-to-say, I didn’t go back to him.
I found another gastroenterologist, and he believed that I probably received the virus through the blood transfusions. He set up the liver biopsy, and it was found that I had genotype 1. I ended up doing the combination therapy for a year. I responded immediately to treatment. I had days that were really rough, and the headaches were awful. My gastro had given me a prescription for an antidepressant early in the treatment, and I think that helped. I have been in remission since 2005!
I would like to help raise awareness for this disease, as I have learned that so many people are so ignorant about this disease.