I found out I had hepatitis C this year (2003). It will possibly kill me. I dont usually think about it, it isnt ever present on my mind, but has probably been instrumental in prodding me to write this autobiography.
I had changed my diet and my health care provider (the former by choice, the latter because Health Net no longer provided care in my county). The new provider, Blue Cross, wanted me to have a checkup, and since I had returned to eating meat (and a lot of it), it seemed like a good idea to do a blood screen. Cholesterol, LDL and HDL were all quite low still, but liver enzymes were elevated. Doctor wanted further tests - couldnt understand why I wasnt in pain - and why the liver seemed OK. More tests and more tests to confirm the results: Hep C. Fuck.
And I didnt get it by fucking either. Actually, its difficult to infect another person by fucking. Its Hep B that is spread that way.
Its by the passing of blood that the virus spreads.
And no, I wasnt sharing needles with anyone. I wasnt using needles. I wasnt using drugs.
But the virus did enter my body.
I licked it in. I sucked it in. I reveled in it.
I will expose the garments of my sexual wardrobe, but not today. And how the silent death has entered my body. Theres plenty of time for that.
Because hep C takes its time. Tomorrow I find out what my viral load is, which will help give an estimate of how the disease will progress - when Ill need to consider drug therapy - and when Ill die. (Naw, not really - although Ive read quite a bit about this quiet horror, because of my age, Im just as likely to die from a less insidious heart attack or more painful cancer or turned to hamburger on the freeway).
I hate this thing!
My blood is poison.
I want to scream and cry.
God I hate this thing.
I am poison.
AN UPDATE (Oct 2, 2004)
A year ago I decided to undergo treatment to kill the virus. My genotype was 2A and the probability of cure of treatment is as high as 80%. Sounded like good odds to me, so I took some wretched pills everyday and gave myself an injection of pegalated interfon weekly for 24 weeks. Today I was told that I have cleared the virus. The treatment was a bitch, especially the last month month. I was becoming more and more anemic. I felt like I lived on top of a mountain, unable to get enough air into my blood. If I didn't clear, I wasn't sure I would undergo the treatment again. I knew, for certain, if I did undergo treatment, I would take at least a year off before starting again. The treatment is expensive. Even with medical insurance I was spending $500 a month (all of which I charged to my credit card. Hello debt, is that you knocking at my door?) Was it worth it? Yeah.
During the treatment I also thought about from whom and how I contracted the virus. There are a few possibilities that I hadn't considered. They are: When I was drafted we all stood in line and were vacinnated as a group with guns where they went from arm to arm to arm without pause. Had anyone been in that line with Hep C, it is possible that several men in that line would have been infected. I did use intravenous drugs a few times about about 37 year ago, before I was drafted. Perhaps I was one of those in the line that was already infected and I passed it on to others. God I hope not. "Rough" sex, of which I have been a participant, is also a possibility. Ultimately, I suppose it doesn't really matter. When one is shot with an arrow, one doesn't ask who did it, how did it happen, just get the damn thing out.
Thank you for the blessing of this life and the gift of being clear.