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Suz's Story

I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the oldest of 4 kids. I had good Mormon parents and was raised in the Mormon Church until I rebelled at age 15 or 16 and then the fun began.

I did my teenage years beginning in the 1960ís and being the intensity freak that I was, and am, I had to do what other teenagers in the 60ís were doing, drugs, rock níroll. (Iím not commenting on the sex :o) I did have plans for my life, and at an early age, was considered a fairly gifted fine artist. I wanted to go to college, then art school and make my mark in the art world. By the time I was about 19, after one year of college, I dropped out, big time. I got an apartment in a part of the city that was like not being in Salt Lake City at the time. It was full of Hippies, music, lots of drugs and the whole love generation scene was alive and well. Unfortunately, I didnít have a lot of common sense, and was extremely naÔve. Therefore, came in contact with some pretty shady characters that were seasoned predators, drug addicts & pushers trying to worm their way into the magic of the times.

I was working at some menial job after dropping out of college and pretty depressed about the direction my life was going. I found myself in some precarious situations and didnít have the skills or self esteem to know how to take control and get out of the way. I had even been hospitalized for severe depression, which probably was attributed, partly, to drug use. I had a sensitive psyche as it was and using drugs was the last thing I needed at the time.

One afternoon an unkempt, unhealthy looking man showed up at my door who claimed he was a friend of somebody I was suppose to know. He looked Native American and to be about 40. I donít remember how it all came together but he wound up injecting me with my first shot of heroin. I wound up puking my guts out, among other humiliating things that happened that afternoon. A month later, I become very ill and found out I had Hepatitis. I was a terrible mess, mentally, physically & spiritually; as soon as I felt well enough I would inject drugs again with the same dirty needles and re-infected myself again. I was sick for over a year and couldnít keep a job because of my health. If it hadnít been for my parents, who were sick with worry and disgusted with what I kept doing to myself, hadnít helped me, I would have ended up on the street or dead.

I worked my way back to health, mentally and physically changed my life. I went totally the other way and got involved in Transcendental Meditation. I married a teacher of this discipline and we had a beautiful son. The marriage ended just less than 3 years later. However, I stayed clean and sober and remarried a couple of years later to a fine man and had a wonderful little girl. Unfortunately, my addictions kicked in again and I started to drink. This became an obvious problem and this marriage ended after 13 years. I quit drinking but again went through another terrible depression, and was hospitalized again.

After I got out of the Hospital I realized that I had let all my talent and love of art become totally absent from my life. My teenage son was suffering a lot of insecurities, (it never dawned on me that I might be the cause) and his aunt who he had always been close to wanted him to come to Santa Fe and go to school with her kids and get his grades back up and away from the chaos he was dealing with living with me and the fighting that was going on between his father and me. I went down to visit him and the area touched my heart and I started to draw again for the first time in 20 years. I was astounded that there was anything left. I continued on and found that I was accepted in Galleries and selling my work on a regular basis.

I decided that I would try other mediums because I was untrained. There was a new art school near my home and I enrolled. A very talented artist, who I had always been aware of and admired, was teaching there and I signed up for his class in Oil painting. I loved it and took to it readily. My teacher, Sam, and my mentor, fell in love with each other. He was sensitive to my insecurities and suggested I go back to school and get my degree. I wasnít making a very good living doing hair and was trying to raise two teenagers alone. The financial help and grants helped me get by. I thrived in College and took as many art classes as I could. Unfortunately, I started back with the wine again after a few years and drank fairly heavily everyday.

I did a piece of artwork that a friend who I went to High school with who had moved to La Grande, about 75 miles from Joseph, entered it in a popular and considered professional annual arts festival. I took first place, even though I had never been to Joseph. Sam and I decided we would visit as we had never even heard of the place, and we needed to see what my friend was doing with our artwork, as we hadnít heard from her in a while.

We couldnít believe how beautiful this place was. We were lucky to find a cabin in the middle of July, let alone that took pets. The place turned out to be for sale and we decided then and there we were going to try to figure out how we could buy it. Sam and I put our assets together and came up with the down payment and to everyoneís amazement; we left Salt Lake City and everything behind. It was an incredible time, as we had lived in the same place for our whole lives. Unfortunately, my father passed away right before we moved. Sam being as impulsive as I was proposed on the day of the funeral. We decided since we were going to be in business together, we should get married. It was a bittersweet time.

When we arrived and took over the cabins, we realized that we had bought a dump and much money and time was spent getting it refurbished. But, we were so happy living in Oregon. We never dreamed we would become innkeepers, but it was worth all the work and money we put into it because it was paradise to us.

During our third season in business in August of 2001 after a routine checkup, my doctor called and told me she needed to have my blood checked again because something wasnít right. It turned out that I had Hepatitis C. I was stunned, shocked and upset, I had never even heard of it. I found out that my drug use in the 60ís probably was the origin of the virus. After all the pain and work to drag myself back up and finally living my dream, I find out I had this! I felt like I had been kicked in the gut. I thought I had left all that horror behind me, and here it was again, only this time there was no cure. I spend many hours learning all I could about the disease and felt doomed.

I went to a GI doctor about 2.5 hours away in Walla Walla, Wa. I was tested, had a biopsy and told I was a good candidate for treatment. I started on the Pegetron/Rebitol after the Thanksgiving Holiday. It was a shock to my system and I became extremely ill with heavy side effects. After 8 weeks, a blood test showed that I was very anemic and my white blood count was only 1, dangerously below normal and was told I was through with any type of Treatment with the combinations that were available. I just couldnít tolerate it.

At this point I have decided that I will not try to do anything in the way of treatments and just try to live healthy and take care of myself. I felt I needed to do whatever I had to if there was a chance I could put the virus in remission. So here I am recuperating from the physical and mental havoc these drugs have created and am looking forward to the time I can get back to the task of just living my life and Hepatitis C and interferon/rebitol doesnít control my every move and thought. I have been house bound for almost 3 months now and getting my strength back has been a slow process. I will never take my health for granted again.

Thanks for reading my story.



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