Diagnosed with Hep B in 1972, Hep C in 2003
I am a 63-year-old Vietnam veteran, and was sick when I returned home. After getting out of the service, I went to the emergency room. Initially I was diagnosed with hepatitis B. Later I overheard the doctors talking about non-A, non-B hepatitis (now known as hepatitis C). I was hospitalized for 14 months; the first two and a half months I spent in isolation. I was discharged with a hep B diagnosis, so that is what I told everyone I had. That was in 1971. I did not get really sick until 2002. I was homeless at the time. I went to the Veterans Administration facility in La Jolla, California, and they tested me for hep C; the results were positive. They did not help me or tell me what I could do. They still refuse to treat me. The last doctor told me that when I get permanent housing, they will treat me. I’m trying to buy the house I live in now, so we will see.
When I was in Nam, I witnessed many bad things. Like many others, I tried some of the local drugs to help cope with the constant fear I experienced. My intravenous drug use didn’t start until 1974, though, so I believe I got hep C from the vaccines I received in the induction center. I did not share needles or reuse them because I had access to needles from a relative who had diabetes. I also suffer from diabetes, gout, post-traumatic stress disorder, and constant pain. I have been clean from all street drugs for the past 20 years.
What adjectives best describe you?
What is your greatest achievement?
Quitting my drug habit on my own
What is your greatest regret?
Believing my Army recruiter
What keeps you up at night?
I sleep during the day so I do not have to deal with anyone.
What person in the viral hepatitis community do you most admire?
What drives you to do what you do?
My two best friends, my girlfriend Barbra, and Zoie, our 6-month-old Boxer
If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?
My girlfriend and my dog
If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?
A dog because of the honesty they have