I really want to give blood. In fact, I used to donate blood regularly back when they used to pay $20 per pint. Not only was this lucrative, but I felt that I was helping someone who might need my O+ blood. That was short lived though when I was diagnosed with Hepatitis B. It was sort of like being told I had leprosy. No one wanted my blood any longer, and all my close family had to be immunized so they wouldn’t contract the disease from me. I felt tainted, disgraced, dirty, and worried. Worried that it may even turn into liver cancer and be life threatening.
Hepatitis B in the bloodstream
Pretty picture - deadly condition
Do you know any one personally who has Hepatits B?
So where did I get it? No one seems to know. It could have been from way back when I was a diener, when I was an assistant in the morgue. Or it could have been contracted in Tonga where I lived for thirteen years (bad luck, huh?) where hepatitis is quite prevalent. But they say that this infection is only contracted through bodily fluids or through sex. My husband does not have it. One of my sons contracted it from me and he is a carrier. The other three children did not get it. It is a mystery where I got it.
I was not just a carrier; I actually got full-blown active hepatitis while I was living in Tonga. I became very weak, could not eat anything but fruits. I remember feeling like I was pregnant because if I ate anything greasy I would become very nauseated. It was an effort just to sweep the floor, so I spent several days in bed. I saw several doctors who either told me I had an obsession over my bowels (their exact words). I gave up until finally I begged one doctor to take my blood and have it tested. He reluctantly did and the blood was sent to New Zealand to be tested. It took two weeks for the results to arrive and they called me urgently to inform me that they knew what was wrong. I had hepatitis B. Thanks goodness it wasn’t only in my head. By then my eyes were actually turning yellow (jaundice).
Relieved to have a diagnosis, but not feeling any better (I had resigned myself to an early death), I flew to Hawaii for some help. I had four young children that I could not take care of, and so I had to leave them all behind for two months with my husband. I was very fortunate to have received help from our church (LDS) for the trip and for my many medical bills. I stayed with a relative of my husband’s in Honolulu and slowly got better.
Well to make a long story a little shorter, my liver enzyme tests were not good. I developed chronic primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) of the liver (I do not drink and never have) and take daily medicine to keep it from getting worse. Interestingly the medicine I take is originally from the gallbladder of a bear (URSO). It was very expensive at first, but now is available in a generic form. After taking this medicine, I saw a noticeable improvement in my health and my liver enzymes went back to normal limits.
I am grateful for all the great doctors and scientists who work so hard to help people like me. This experience also made me appreciate America so much and the medical facilities and research they offer. Tonga is a third world country with social medicine and it did not offer much when we lived there several years ago. I have heard there have been quite some improvements, but people still die young and for seemingly preventable reasons in my humble opinion.
Life is good. I still get tired from time to time if I do not take care of myself. I am so glad that I was able to raise my four children and get to know my grandchildren. Life is too short. To prevent getting Hepatitis B, make sure to get immunized. Recently they have started giving shots to all newborn babies against this infection. If you work at a medical facility and are around blood, make sure you take proper precautions. Don’t share your bodily fluids with anyone with hepatitis and if you do, make sure you have protected sex. Do not share toothbrushes or razors, etc. with others. Do not have tattoos and always use clean disposable syringes.