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Hepatitis C is difficult to understand, and there are LOTS of "experts" out there who are more than willing to take advantage of the uninformed.  Please feel free to call our National Support Line for more detailed and personal attention related to hepatitis C (number listed above).

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Click on the graphic below for the press release and larger picture:

A discussion with Larry King about her need for kidney transplantation after only 4 mo. of hepatitis C treatments!


Deborah's Story
By Deborah

My name is Deborah. I just turned 41 and have been diagnosed hep C pos for 16 months. I was diagnosed after having extreme, severe pain in my right abdomen just to the left of my right side ribs. It got so unbearable I had to go to the E.R. I explained to the nurse(s) that I am a recovering drug addict/alcoholic (5 yrs. clean) and my veins are pretty well all scar tissue from yrs. of use. Well the 3rd nurse who was trying to draw blood didn't wear gloves (shameful) and spilled some blood over to her hands. I was asked if I'd have the usual tests to see if she had been exposed to anything and I agreed. I had been tested for HIV/AIDS several times and knew it had always been negative. I got a letter in the mail telling me the tests were all negative (phew). Five days later I got a letter telling me a result was read wrong and OOPS. . I really do ! have hep C. I was crushed. I was also extremely concerned because I had given birth to my beautiful daughter less than a yr. before I found out I was hep C positive. I would've wanted to die if I had passed it to her (still don't know why it's not routine in prenatal testing). I had been breastfeeding all that time too.

She was tested and incidence of mother/child preg/breastfeeding transference is rare and thank heaven she is not infected. I may have had it (if I got from shared needles & that's my guess) for as long as 13 yrs up to as few as 5 yrs ago when I used my last needle.

I have all the familiar symptoms: fatigue, muscle aches, joint pain, brain fog, abdominal pain...and all the rest.  My PCP ran all the normal tests (viral levels and such. . but not a biopsy). We decided my numbers looked good enough to put off treatment for a few months since I do have a toddler and taking the interferon would most likely make me feel worse. So we just watched numbers for a while.

Well, I couldn't take the sickness and pain so I was sent to a gastro. He ran pretreatment tests and discovered I had a pos. ANA but wasn't sure if it is hep related or possibly another autoimmune like lupus (which is in my family). The results of those tests didn't concern him too much and he wanted me to start treatment right away. So now I am on 1400 of ribavirin daily and.5mL of pegylated interferon once a week.. since January 20 . 2002 ( I also take benedryl for the severe itch and zoloft for depression). So has caused the typical problems. . Flare of skin probs, nausea, flu-like symptoms, basically just supercharging any and all my other symptoms.

I have had to get work as an office cleaner (I have been a licensed cosmetologist for 17 yrs but gave up trying to work on my feet 8 hrs a day a few yrs ago. . before i knew I was hep C positive) and have had to go totally on TANF (welfare) to support my daughter. (I have a 20 yr. old son too..he moved to N.C 2 yrs ago w/his father). Her father is very irresponsible and doesn't help $$-wise.

I have seen a rheumatologist also..she is trying to figure out if all my symptoms are hep C related or if it is also indeed lupus or other autoimmune disease. In the meantime...I am waiting for last batch of tests for gastro to come back to see if #'s have changed enough to warrant staying on the interferon or if it's not working. I'm afraid of the alternatives if it isn't working. . but will have to deal I suppose. So I also try best I can to deal with chemo illness and take care of my little one...and WAIT.

Thank-you for letting me share this story with those who know and understand how really scary & serious this disease is.   Deborah


The opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author and none of the information included is to be misconstrued as medical advise.

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Last Updated March 20, 2012