Sunday, June 13, 2010

Stevie Hunter's Hepatitis C Story

About four years ago, in one of the newer subway cars, lit up so much you feel like you are in a fish bowl, I sat across from a poster with a man’s face, part of it looked, looked, well, like a burnt marshmallow. It said something like: If your face looked like your liver you would get treatment.

No how, where or when. Gee thanks. I would, if I could, if I should.

A lot of stuff in a short time led me from a relatively happy, healthy, self-sufficient & productive life to that point of life-less-ness, 31/2 yrs of stuff, not nice stuff.……I put my dog of 12ys to sleep, saw the second plane hit the world trade center & worked next to the city’s ME office, where, for years, the remains of 9/11 victims were dealt with.……I began to drink vodka, insane amounts of vodka.…….one, then the other person I worked for moved on, job got too hard, job got sabotaged, job got too easy, got no job.......pre- then full on menopause, which became disruptive then destructive. .…… short term, followed by working memory, began to fail…….poor long term memory since childhood…… I was thirsty all the time & my brain was being fried; sunlight hurt, florescent lights hurt……. … closest & dearest friend had been using me but I had no clue & out of the blue he publicly dumped me…..already a loner I isolated myself, had no social support, no friends……It is so very easy to louse yourself in a city so big…....I let myself get into the craziness of methamphetamine abuse. I experienced case of bursitis so bad I had to take cross-town busses for several months. Stuff like that.

November of 2004 I was diagnosed with HepC, w/ a high titer & some liver damage. I stopped drinking, cold, immediately started sleeping too much &

Crying. Ridiculous, public displays of emotion.

Most likely I got the virus in my mid 20’s, but I hoped that I got it later in my 30’s when I worked on AIDS research projects with infected blood.

I figured I had time, that odds were against successful treatment & better drugs were on the way. Alone I started to “fix” my apartment, look into other jobs, career changes & school. I tried to be self-employed. Initially found good dental care at schools but later had my gums mangled by a practicing hygienist. I was successfully evaluated for a clinical trial with a protease inhibitor, but for some mysterious reason was not included. I looked into other ways to get medical care but was only able to find mental heath care [later]. I had bounced back & forth between a zombie-like state & the high energy the neurotoxin caused from mid 2003 to mid 2007. Finally I just stopped. My life, my apartment & I were in embarrassing disrepair & remain so to this day. I was deep into depression, had no sense of time, no credibility & had accomplished nothing.

Less than a 1½ ago I got a dog quit smoking & cut way down on caffeine. I already ate right & walked allot. I got some mental health care & LATER found a support group. Age, drugs & alcohol use or lack there of, loss of estrogen, chronic infection, the ever popular stress & so on. Any, all, or a combination have taken their toll. It’s hard to know. I still remain unemployable on so many levels. I can’t afford insurance & I am afraid to gamble with what little savings I have on anything other than current living expenses.

I may have come a long way, I’m clean, sober & able to read & daydream again but in my mind I am still sitting on that train, soooo tired with my side hurting looking at the man with the burnt marshmallow face wondering if I should & how I’m supposed to get treatment & pay my rent at the same time. The only thing I know for sure is that I need to have a dog.