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Danielle's Story

Hello, my name is Danielle and this is my story:

I was 29 and getting ready to complete the dream of my life, my Bachelor of Science Degree! I was a single mother of two on my own, this was an accomplishment I thought I never would achieve.

At the college I attended, it was mandatory that you had health insurance. If you did not (as in my case) they would add the premium to your tuition for heath insurance through their provider. Which really was not a bad deal. Anyway, they had a clinic on campus that I would use that four years for colds, PAP smears, etc........

One day, I went in for a routine PAP smear. The nurse practitioner said my urine was dark and had an above-average bilirubin. Then I got the “how much do you drink” questions. Well, I used to go out with friends once or twice a week and drink. Sometimes we could get pretty “rip roaring”. But, never drank outside of that. Well, she asked me to come in for bloodwork. At the time, I was getting ready to graduate and was getting married. My husband had much better insurance (well, that is subjective) and I decided that I would see a doctor on his plan.

One month later I passed a gallstone. I went to the emergency room in excruciating pain. I even told the attending doctor about what the nurse practitioner had said. The emergency room doctor said my liver enzymes were high, but, the doc said, with gallbladder problems this was not uncommon. They said I needed my gallbladder removed. I am here today to tell you, I STILL HAVE MY GALLBLADDER. I thought, I am not pieces parts here. I will wait and see if I have future problems. I never did. This was eight years ago.

Some months later (1994), I told my new PCP about my previous experiences and wanted a full physical exam. Bloodwork, the works. He told me everything was normal, I was in perfect health. Indeed, I thought I was. I was in the best shape of my life.

Two years later, I developed these strange bumps near my ankles on the top of my feet. One was worse than the other, and my running shoes would hurt if I laced them up tight. I got a referral to a foot doc. He said they were cysts and they would have to be removed. This is a real touchy area as far a nerve endings, and I was an advid runner. The office kept calling, wanting to make a date for surgery. I would not return their calls. The (so called) cysts went away weeks later.

Its now 1998. I decided it would be best if I would quit drinking. I don’t consider myself an alcoholic, just wanted to lead a more healthy lifestyle. I read the book “Seven Weeks to Sobriety” and decided to follow the program it suggests. It contains a vitamin/mineral regimen and suggests that you have a full liver exam. So I started the program, got the liver panel, and low and behold, my enzymes were about three times over what they should be. Now, we had moved. I had a different PCP. After hearing my story, he suggested I get tested for Hepatitis. And, guess what, I was positive for HCV. I did not even know what that was. I thought Hepatitis was something you get from contaminated food. Thank god for the Internet!

I really am not sure how I became infected. I am RH negative and was subjected to Rhogam therapy during and after my two pregnancies in the 1980s. (Rhogam is derived from blood plasma). I think that is the most likely, but, I also have a small tattoo on my “well that's personal” I got at age 19 and snorted cocaine for a period of time in the 1980s.

But, it does not matter how we were infected, we are all in this together.

I am now on treatments to try and clear the virus. The odds are not in my favor. I am 1a and had a beginning viral load of 19 million. But I have to try. ....

Feel free to email me at belladonna100@yahoo.com


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