Whilst in prison I was diagnosed with Hep C some 10 years ago. I had the test as I knew I had had tattoos done in prison.
At that time I wasn’t ready to face Hep C, my life was chaotic – I was homeless with no family as I grew up in care homes. So I dealt with the news by ignoring it, “Ignorance”. But it’s always chipped away at me.
Now, 10 years later whilst here in Forest Bank prison I decided to do something about it. I’d heard through Carrots team that I could have treatment here and also they run a support group.
Once id had my bloods come back positive, more bloods were taken for my geno type, I was told it would take 2 weeks for those results to come back but I was able to talk to other people in the support group. So I could see how they were coping on treatment.
This was a big help as my peers gave me a boost- if they could do it, I sure as hell could. I got my head into gear to fight this head on. I was chomping at the bit to start my treatment.
My second bloods came back as type 3 which meant 6 months treatment, now I had to wait for a hospital appointment for a liver scan.
After my scan I was relieved to hear my liver is fine and got to start treatment.
As I knew I was gonna get poorly on my treatment I decided to inform the staff on my wing that there would be times when I wouldn’t be able to work at my job as painter and that I may get moody and even aggressive and especially depressed. They were on the whole supportive I found.
I was depressed before I started my meds so I was started on anti depressants before and also had a sedative to help me sleep at night.
The first injection gave me a bad stomachs did the tablets but I took paracetamol which helped. On week 2 the meds made my skin itchy, I had a rash on my arms ‘n’ legs, then by week 3 I was in agony with muscle and bone pain was almost unbearable but good news ibuprofen and paracetamol helped me get by.
My mood had me. Feeling so depressed I couldn’t face people. I stayed in my cell as much as I could, only left to get meals, sometimes not even then as I lost my appetite and everything tasted ruff. My eyesight was blurry and I felt dizzy and weak.
By week 6 the side effects had eased off somewhat though I was very depressed, I was isolating myself and my skin was itchy and dry and I had loads of mouth ulcers.
I had my bloods taken at week 4, a re-test. My results were given to me at week 8. I was negative which was a big boost, felt like a ton weight had been lifted off my shoulders. “Euphoric”.
Even though I was now negative I still had to complete the treatment.
Every Monday I made myself go to the support group even though I felt rough n depressed which helped me cope and feel not so low in mood.
By week 9, I decided to make myself go to the gym as I’d lost so much weight I looked ill.
The first session was so hard everything I did made me dizzy and took so much out of me. But I found the more I pushed myself the easier it got over the weeks. I got my appetite back and slept real good.ive put the weight back on that id lost and got my confidence back, both of which was a battle.
It now week 12 coming up and I’ve come on leaps ‘n’ bounds, the only side effects I have are dry itchy skin, dry mouth and feel run down and tired.
I now, as an ambassador, do talks on hep c to other prisoners on the short duration drug program, which is helping both the prisoners get tested and if positive start treatment which is all good. I’m so grateful for the treatment received here; it’s a very good service that is run here, I’m so fortunate.
Anything I can do to help the hep C staff improve their services I would do, just to show appreciation for the quality of care received by myself from them.
Having hep C affected me mentally in a negative way. I now feel strongly motivated to change my life for the better; I’ve got the chance to start again.