I didn’t realize how hard this treatment actually would be on me.
Yes, I had anxiety over the weekend about the side effects and broke down on Sunday about it. But I still didn’t realize I’d break down crying a few times in between. Or that I’d have a migraine off and on. Or that my appetite would totally fluctuate between everything disgusting me and wanting a taste of everything (pizza, chocolate, ice cream, salmon, everrrything).
Thank goodness for good friends, roommates, and an amazing family.
Wednesday was the hardest day of them all. I woke up at 8am to take my medication as per my new schedule. I made a bowl of rice krispies and took them up to my room to eat some cereal and enjoy an episode of The Blacklist. After finishing my cereal I fell asleep watching the rest of the episode.
When I woke back up I was so alone. And I didn’t know what to do about it – I wrestled between falling back to sleep and getting up to either work on my finals, read a book, or go to the gym. I quickly decided the aches in my body and my light headache meant all of those activities were out of the question.
I texted my roommate – who I knew had off work that day – to see where she was. She texted to say she’d be home soon. When she came back she told me she had been practicing pole dancing with another friend and was describing how difficult it was – saying that her legs were sore and it takes a great deal of strength. And I lost it. I want sore legs from working out, a bruise or burn from the pole, and my arms to strengthen. I felt entirely disgusting and lazy in that moment and it was enough to make me cry as I tried to tell her how awesome that is. Thankfully, Meggi is an absolute gem, and let me cry about feeling pathetic. We then made plans to go to a coffee shop and get some work done together.
To top it all off – my liver (yes, I can feel it) hurt and the injection spot was sore – there was even a bruise!
I was still feeling pretty down as we got ready to leave for the coffee shop. I know my negativity was certainly starting to wear on Meggi (I was getting sick of it myself). But we went to Good Karma (one of my favorite cafes) and Meggi’s company combined with a lavender latte and food were enough to get over myself for a little while and get some work done. I started to feel better about myself already.
The afternoon filled up quickly as I started discussion about making a new (fake) fur coat, visited the neighbors, had another friend visit, and made dinner with James, Kate, and Tim (including ice cream cake).
By the end of the night I was pretty exhausted – my body ached to my bones and mentally I was completely drained – but I felt altogether satisfied with another day.
Then Thursday came. And with it came sleep, sleep, and more sleep. I suppose my body needed it – but man sleeping most of the day wears on my mentality. Getting out of the house to go an event for Senator Mike Stack with friends really helped – the sunshine and socialization once again lifted my mood. And I was able to work on my finals, write this blog post, and prepare for 24K Beats as well as Return to Roots afterward. My mood was lifted and my body didn’t really start to ache until close to 1am (when it was clearly time for bed).
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.