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Olivia's Story

It was March 31 of 1999 and my life was going along perfectly. I was a junior in high school at the time and had just gone to look at colleges in New Jersey and Philadelphia. I'd loved all of them and before that evening the question that was worrying me was how an earth I was going to choose the right one for me! Two weeks before that on March 17th I'd gotten inducted in to the National Honors Society which is a big accomplishment for a junior at my high school.

That same day My Mom had taken me to the Doctor for a physical exam. She decided to get me tested for some disease called hepatitisC what ever that was. I had no idea what it was. She explained that there was a slight chance that I might have gotten it from blood transfusions when I was born in 1981 but said that the odds that I had it were extremely unlikely. So I didn't really think about it or worry about it until after dinner on March 31 two weeks after the doctors appointment. The phone rang and my Mom picked it up. I was eating ice cream half listening to her conversation. I started paying attention when her voice changed and I could tell something was terribly wrong. She said, "Yes, Yes, I understand. Thank you so much for calling. Good bye." I asked who it was and she said that it was my doctor calling her with the results of my blood work. She began to cry and she told me that I had hepatitisC.

I couldn't believe it. A numbness over took me and pulsed through my body. How could I be infected with something and not even know it? How could this be happening to me? The numbness turned to tears and I cried and cried. My Mom and I held each other and sobbed on the kitchen couch. The next day my Dad stayed home from work to be with me. I was on Spring break at the time my story begins. He started calling doctors and people who he knew through his work trying to figure out where I would get the best care possible in the Washington DC Metro area where we live. Finally we decided on George Town University Medical center and my Mom made an appointment to see a liver doctor there on April 12th.

In the mean time I was grappling with the realization that I had something wrong with me that no one could see or know it was there. I didn't want to go back to school and have to explain this to all my friends and teachers. I went back to school in a dream world. I went to classes but it was like I wasn't there. I heard my teachers talking the slam of locker doors and the laughing and talking of my fellow students but it was like I was in a fog separated from everyone else. I didn't want to tell them what was wrong didn't want them to know what I was going through. Some days I would miss school all together because I would wake up and start to cry. I was tired because I spent many sleepless nights on the internet trying to make sense of what was happening to me by reading papers and studies which confused me.

At the meeting with the liver specialist two weeks later we decided that I would take a year off between high school and college and try treatment to cure the HepC. In April of 2000 I started treatment and spent a year feeling tired and not myself at all. I did this because I hoped that the treatment would knock out the virus before it started eating away my liver. In April of 2001 I came off the treatment with no virus in my blood stream! I felt great! I was going to college hepC free! I couldn't believe it! This feeling lasted until August eighth when my Dad and I called my doctor at Georgetown from a small town in England where we were on holiday. He informed us that the results of my blood work taken in July showed that the virus was back in my system. I couldn't believe this! How could this be happening to me! We got back home and made an appointment to talk about our options with my doctor. It was decided that I would go to college as planned at the end of August and restart treatment in December.

Now it is January and I have a semester of college under my belt. I am going to go back to school in a few weeks on treatment and this time I will beat the dragon! I just know it! Thanks for reading this story! I hope it makes you feel a bit better if you have just found out you have hepC.

If you want to contact me my email is onorman@drew.edu.

 

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    Page last updated: March 7, 2003


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