“I’m Tom from East Sussex and in January last year I began to feel quite ill and weak, which I thought was strange as I had been generally feeling good and was working out regularly. I didn’t over think it and carried on with life as usual. By March I couldn’t take it anymore so went to see the doctor.”
“The doctor ran a number of tests and at first thought it was diabetes but more tests showed that I had hep C. I was completely shocked about my hep C diagnosis as I never thought I’d get it. I had injected drugs in the past, but I had regular blood checks and the virus had never been picked up.
My sister was very supportive and came with me to my medical appointments. We were both concerned and we didn’t know much about hep C so we started to learn more about it. We heard stories about what the virus can do to your liver which, truthfully, worried me a lot.
I started to think more about how I might have caught hep C. I stopped injecting drugs in 2012 and was sent to prison in the same year. I had regular tests in prison which never picked up any viruses – so I really don’t think I can pinpoint it to my injecting drug use. While it sounds unusual I suspect that I got hep C while I was in prison through a blade which was used to cut my hair. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of awareness in prison at that time about the importance of cleaning equipment properly.
Luckily, after I was diagnosed I met with a consultant (hepatologist) and we decided to try treatment. We discussed the different options and because of my history with mental health we needed to make sure we chose one that was right for me. I started treatment but eventually I was swapped to one that was more manageable to for me.
So far I am on track to be free of hep C and have one test left in June to check for the virus. People living with hep C call it a ‘liver lottery’ meaning that if your liver is bad enough, you will be able to get treatment. I’m really glad that I have been able to get through it and am doing everything I can do make sure that I am living a healthy lifestyle, drinking lots of water and eating right. I want to be able to look after my sister and family. I am also volunteering at a local drug and alcohol service and am really enjoying this work.
I’ve been through a lot in the last year and am keen to share my experience and help others too.”
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