Having hepatitis C is challenging. The emotional roller coaster, fatigue, brain fog, lack of enthusiasm, muscle and joint pain are bad but we often fail to mention the heartbreak. Not because our hearts are bad, but because of all the countless friendships, relationships we lose because of our disease.
I am sure each one of you reading this is shaking your head yes... How do we as hep C patients save friendships and relationships before they disappear? Do we have control over this? Can we make people understand our situation? The answer is NO. Hepatitis C is a disease that effects our internal selves in 3 major areas. All we can do is share and educate about what we suffer from.
* It effects how we communicate with others- many suffer a disconnection when it comes to talking and listening to people. We know they are talking to us yet we tend to zone out and our attention span is very short.
* It effects our stamina - we tend to be more tired and exhausted. Our daily activities become limited as we can’t keep up with the fast pace life.
* It effects our tolerance - due to the inability to focus and pain we feel, we tend to be more agitated with others who interrupt our rest, or having to stand in a long line at the store. Our fuse is shortened.
When you take those three aspects of hepatitis C you can understand why someone on the outside has no understanding or comprehension of what we are going through or why we act the way we do.
The friends who once called daily, maybe ran across you that one day you were having a bad day. Your shortness or tone in your voice might have lead them to feeling mad or upset. Or your constant refusals to get together, go out, or talk long periods of time on the phone may have been misinterpreted as you disconnecting from the relationship. Eventually that friend starts to shy away and stop calling.
This leads to us (those that battle this disease) feeling frustrated and misunderstood. Feeling isolated, like no one gets us. This could be a huge problem if one does not feel comfortable sharing their diagnosis with their closest friends.
Coming from personal experience, I have learned that it is best to be honest and true with those you care about and want in your life. Share your diagnosis even if it means you may lose that friendship. Being who you are and in this moment of your life as it is right now can help explain your actions more clearly. It will allow your friends to not take personally your lack of attention or participation in activities. If that friend disconnects after you share your medical diagnosis, then you saved yourself a long drawn out painful relationship. You need friends who love you, support you and most importantly - UNDERSTAND you.
This journey can be a positive one if you let your guard down and open up and share. Who knows maybe that one friend you share hepatitis C information with may say “I also have it.” I know many are saying that this is easier said than done. I get that. However, we will never get anywhere and bring more awareness about hep C if we don’t start shedding light to this curable disease.
If along the way you lose or have lost close friends as I certainly have, it is not too late to meet new ones. Don’t isolate and shut yourself off from the world. Seek out others suffering the same disease. You will find like I did, that the friendships along the way who also share the same disease, have become closer than my family.
The Bonnie Morgan Foundation for HCV offers many facebook support groups that are private and for those suffering from Hepatitis C, also ones for caregivers who need that support as well. See our website under resources/news The Bonnie Morgan Foundation for HCV You can also seek out many other sites such as HepMag.com to find support. Key to a more positive journey with hep C is to gain knowledge over this disease