An old friend from my drug using days in New Zealand, died recently.
I hadn’t seen him for many years and aside from sadness at his death I also felt an internal disquiet, as he was yet another of my peers to die from complications that developed from the Hepatitis C which most of us had.
In one of those quirky life synchronicities, around the same time as Simon’s death I was offered a course of Epclusa to treat my strain of the virus.
The original treatment that I was on, ten years ago, was a Ribrofen/interferon combination that was horrendous with side effects that caused me life threatening illness and terrible depression.
The treatment didn’t work and precipitated an early menopause and triggered Graves Disease, so in many ways I ended up sicker than when I began the course of medication. Strangely enough however, the interferon did have a huge benefit. The drugs temporarily destroyed my logical thought process to the point I couldn’t figure out how to open doors, use a can opener or recognise money, but my brain compensated this with a strengthened lateral perception. Once I realised this I channeled all my madness into creative expression. The effects of the medication indicated that I was interferon intolerant and I consequently spent years waiting for a medication that wasn’t based around this drug. Unfortunately when other options did become available the price was so prohibitive it was only offered by the NHS for sufferers who had already developed cirrhosis or liver cancer and were already seriously ill. Many in this country resorted to buyers clubs similar to those set up in the US in the height of the AIDS epidemic, and perhaps indicative of the present state of the healthcare system here, some UK doctors actually agreed to monitor those who have taken this route. I’ve been lucky enough to be offered this new drug regime by the hospital and a team that have been working with me for over a decade. Initially I had some trepidation about another course of medication when I’m feeling relatively okay, especially after the trauma of my last experience.
Then I realised that unlike the time I underwent the first course of treatment, I’m now ready to let go of the past. Several years ago I wrote a book about aspects of my earlier years, created accompanying art works and re visited New Zealand where most of the events that set the course to where I am now, occurred.
Whilst I didn’t get any answers as to why certain things happened in my life, I did find acceptance and a sense of release, integration and closure.
It’s difficult when consequences of a period of time that occurred so long ago, linger and effect everything so profoundly, even when ostensibly one has completely moved on.
I was chatting to someone I was once in a relationship with, and I asked him if he remembered ‘the talk’. For twenty five years now, prior to sleeping with someone, I’ve needed to tell them about my HCV Status. I would have ‘the talk’ where I would tell a potential suitor about my virus then give them time to get their head around it, perhaps do research, then decide whether they wanted to take our relationship further.
The thought that one day I could choose to spontaneously sleep with someone without major planning and deep conversations, is amazing!
Whilst of course this would be one of many advantages to clearing the illness and in the scheme of things a pretty minor one and likely a choice I wouldn’t choose to exercise… but still, it would be incredible to be able to do.