Friday, April 30, 2010

We need to get over the stigma....Inspirational Story from Scotland

I don't really know where to start with my story as so many people have went through so much pain and hardship because of having this horrible virus. I feel I have been very fortunate not to have so far. Apart from a few episodes of real joint pains that come and go.

I am a 53 year old mother of three grown up children and have also brought up two step children. I have seven grandchildren and another one due in August. One of my daughters has had problems with alcohol and drugs and has for a number of years; as a mum it breaks your heart to see someone you love wasting their life. She is on the mend now, however, I have two of her three children living with me as both their dads died through drugs within months of each other and my daughter just couldn't cope. She lost herself more in drink and drugs. I have been caring for them for over a year; one is 3 yrs old and the other is 13 years old; it can be difficult at times as I also work full time with young adults with learning difficulties but I love them dearly and we manage.
Through all the troubles and hard times we have been through as a family I have always said "at least we have our health".

In early February this year my youngest daughter phoned me to say that her Dad had been in touch to say he had Hep C and I should be tested. We haven't been together for over 16 years and don't keep in touch only through our daughter. I spoke to my husband about getting myself tested and we decided I should as I would just worry. It would put my mind at rest. Anyway I was really healthy so I wasn't really worried about the results. The nurse I spoke to told me there was no cure but I could be tested which I was.

Three weeks later on the Friday night she called and told me the tests were positive, and I would probably get an appointment to go to the local hospital for a day bed. I made an appointment to see my Doctor. I just couldn't believe it. I was in utter shock the whole weekend.

I have a very dear friend that I have known since school who had been through treatment twice 15 years ago for Hep C and eventually cleared. She was also very active in fighting for the rights of people with this virus as she suffered in the eighties. She won’t mind me naming her. She is called Feyona and she has a wealth of information about this disease, so I knew this nurse was wrong.

I phoned her to tell her my news she was devastated; if it had not been for Feyona my weekend would have been unbearable. I was so frightened and although I had my husband he didn't understand, I felt so alone.

Feyona talked me through what would happen next and even emailed me a letter including questions etc. that I was to send to my local Doctor prior to my appointment on Monday; so that he would know what I wanted to ask him. This she said would save time. She told me to ask for copies of everything. My Doctor told me he knew very little about Hep C but was sending away more bloods to find out if the virus was active. Another time of waiting then he called to say it was and I had a viral load of 34,951, however, my liver function tests were not too bad and he didn't know the geno type yet.

I was advised by my friend not to use the local hospital as the one in Dundee had specialists in this field so I asked to be sent there. A couple of weeks later I attended the new hospital. They did all the tests again and also did a fibro scan the scan showed moderate fibrosis. I was to attend again to have an ultra sound in a couple of week’s time. The day before I was due at the hospital I received a phone call to say they had my blood results back and they showed I had been exposed to the virus but there was no active virus. They said they thought my body had cleared it by itself.

As you can imagine I was over the moon. I still had to attend for the ultra scan because of the fibrosis and they had found high ferritin/Iron which they thought may be hemochromatosis so wanted to look into it; also do my bloods again just to confirm I had no active virus.

I then received a call at work to say they had made a mistake I did have a viral load of 52,000. I just fell to bits. It was like a double whammy; getting my head around it the first time; coming to terms with it and then the relief of not having it, then I did all over again.

I had to come home from work and ended up going to the doctors crying my eyes out.

It just felt so unfair.
I have my original appointment to see the professor and get started on treatment on July 23rd so that's as far as my story goes at the moment.

Only my youngest daughter knows I have this virus I haven't found the strength to tell the rest of my family yet especially not my daughter with the addiction problems. I have told my granddaughter who is 13 and lives with me. She is amazing and keeps me positive by saying Gran this isn't your fault and we can beat this. She has researched it on the Internet and knows all about it don't you just love them eh!
I do realize I am very fortunate to have the National Health Service here as it must be so difficult when you have the added stress of money when you are going through what is a really stressful situation to begin with. My heart breaks for some of the people who are struggling to pay to get treatment.

I feel there is not enough known or addressed about this illness. My friend has fought for 20 years here in Britain to help people deal with all sorts of issues; even she still feels no-one is listening, lets hope this changes soon.

We need to get over the stigma and find the strength to stand up and be counted and listened too.

Keep up the good work Betty Love from Bonny Scotland

Ann xxx

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