Today is my last day at work for 5 months. My last day waking up before I’m naturally inclined for 5 months. My last day dragging myself into my grey cubicle to sit and stare at a computer for 5 months. To celebrate, I’m wearing leggings with poorly-photoshopped cat heads on them.
Five months is the longest break from work I’ve had in 6 years. But this isn’t purely a vacation I’m planning. I do get one week of vacation to start, however, the main reason I’m leaving for 5 months is to start treatment for Hepatitis C.
This journey starts longer than 6 years ago. When I was in college attempting to attain my undergrad degree, I became an IV drug user. Since then I went to rehab, lived in a recovery house, began using again, died and was brought back to life thanks to a good friend, friendly doctor and police officer, and Narcan. But I wasn’t done entirely. I then got a DUI and had to pay the price for that (I still can’t easily rent a car). But I had already started piecing my life back together. I got a job at a bank, began taking financial responsibility for my mistakes, and found out I had Hepatitis C when I went to donate blood (which, for the record, I had no business doing in the first place due to my IV drug use history).
The American Red Cross had sent me a pamphlet of information and my diagnosis. I opened it up and cried. They also told me I could never donate blood again. That was a little heartbreaking. As far as I knew at the time, that envelope contained the reality that I would never attain the dreams I had just started to rebuild.
I’ve worked hard since then to rebuild those dreams and they’re changing every minute of every day - each day I attain one dream and discover a new one. I moved to Philadelphia when I obtained a job in Web Analytics. The benefits of a corporate job and large city enabled me to finally gather the courage to find a hepatologist about 2 years ago now. Since then, I’ve been working toward treatment. I have piles upon piles of medical bills, lab results, lab request forms, and medication in my fridge (accompanied by the biomedical container on top of it).
I’m ready. I start treatment officially on 4/21/14. I have a week of vacation in between that I plan to use to prepare my mind and body for the future. I have to catch up on school work, work on a side project, and get my corner of the basement set up so I can settle into the next 3 months of being at home more than not. I plan to go to the farmer’s market and buy delicious food, cook more for myself, and rekindle my love for yoga.To be fair - I’ve abandoned all of these things the last few weeks. Partially out of fear, partially anticipation, and partially because I just want to have fun and not be defined by Hepatitis C. So far - it’s working - and the more I talk about it the better it feels.