1974 THE BEGINNING

1974 THE BEGINNING

Just hours after childbirth I required an emergency blood transfusion due to severe hemorrhaging. Three days later, I was transferred by ambulance to another hospital. I was still receiving blood and had developed an allergic reaction of hives. The blood was exchanged for plasma. Two days later I was able to go home.

By October I complained of severe itchiness, like an irritation from the inside and scratching only made it worse. I was dog tired, jaundiced and unable to care for our baby. I was admitted to the hospital in isolation, diagnosed with Hepatitis. After a three week stay, I was able to come home. My instructions included a low fat diet and lots of rest. It would take about a year for recovery. After a few months my strength slowly returned. By spring I was feeling better and finally I was back to normal.

Years later my friends brought up the subject of Hepatitis after hearing about someone they knew who had it. I would mention how I had it years ago and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. In 1993 I had an appointment with a Dental Periodontics and I filled out a questionnaire. One of the questions was have you ever had Hepatitis. I checked yes. In 1998 I acquired a new family dentist. Again I filled out a questionnaire with the same question about Hepatitis. I checked yes. This time it was different. The hygienist wanted to know which virus I was infected with A, B or C, and I didn’t know. She went on to say that I should find out so that we can all protect ourselves. I asked my family doctor which letter I have since he had been checking my liver twice yearly for all these years and he didn’t know. After a blood test the result was Hepatitis C. I felt well and I had no symptoms but I learned this disease remains with me for life.

The public health nurse came to see me and explained everything I needed to know about Hepatitis C. It wasn’t necessary to tell everyone only those who might come into contact with my blood. As I learned about the seriousness of this disease and I wasn’t putting anyone at risk, I made a decision to keep this secret to myself other than my husband.

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