| || ||I was doing some travelling and started feeling vaguely unwell so on my return decided to have a check-up at St Thomas' Hospital in London. The results revealed anti-bodies to hepatitis C. This was in January 2000 and a further test proved that I had chronic hepatitis C and genotype 3 was confirmed in the April. |
Jacqueline - Helpline Volunteer
I was shocked at the initial diagnosis and although in emotional turmoil, I continued to focus resolutely on my job as a support worker and attending to family needs which were paramount at the time. I was monitored every three months initially and have had two liver biopsies (in 2002 & 2007). Apart from fluctuating liver function tests, a bit of nausea, fatigue and joint pain, things were fairly uneventful. On reflection I realised that I had probably contracted Hepatitis C during two recklessly wayward moments in 1980 - one involving a friend and an intravenous syringe, the other involving a friend and a tattoo.
I declined an offer of treatment at St Thomas' Hospital, but then came to regret this decision later, when treatment was not so forthcoming on moving to a new health authority in Eastbourne. Moving near the sea was part of an effort to make some positive lifestyle changes and I created a lot of goals regarding exercise & diet, which never actually evolved beyond ideas!
I attended a Hepatitis C Trust 'Health Day' workshop in Oxford in 2007. It was the first time I had met anyone with the same condition. It was very reassuring to be in such a supportive atmosphere. Like me, others had encountered resistance to treatment from some doctors in the past, still others had cleared the virus and were slowly recovering. Communicating and sharing experiences helped me to become more confident and aware of hep C's impact on life. I felt more focused and informed and less isolated. I'm now hopeful of new treatments becoming available in the future.
Hepatitis can be so challenging for people, for example, with children going through treatment,or an unfortunately fast progression of the disease. Going to the Trust health day and browsing the website put things in perspective for me and I became less self absorbed and resigned, and more outward looking and proactive, culminating in volunteering for The Hepatitis C trust telephone helpline in January 2008 and starting in summer.
The Trust is a vital catalyst for debate, support, information and empowerment and I feel very proud to be a part of it.