I wish I knew who gave hepatitis C its nickname “the dragon.” I am curious about the choice of this metaphor. Interestingly, the dragon has different meanings in different cultures. In one context, the dragon is a monstrous opponent. When I hear hepatitis C patients refer to “slaying the dragon” or “fighting the dragon,” they are referring to hepatitis C as a fierce opponent. Living with hepatitis C is certainly a confrontation with a fiery beast; enduring hepatitis C treatment is like doing battle with a dragon.
In many cultures, the dragon is seen in a completely different light. In ancient mythology, the dragon is a symbol of the highest spiritual essence and transformative power. Dragons are revered and associated with strength, wisdom, and longevity. In some traditions, dragons are said to have taught humans to talk.
The metaphor of the dragon’s power to transform is how hepatitis C has been for me. I have not sought to do battle with hepatitis C—instead I sought a cure. Hepatitis C has made me wiser about how to stay healthy. It is too soon to tell if this dragon has granted me longevity, but hepatitis C motivates me to exercise and eat healthy food, and these are necessary ingredients for longevity.
Hepatitis C gave me a voice, and this dragon has taught me how to stand up and talk. Happily, I reached for a cure for hepatitis C, but metaphorically, the dragon will always remain unslayed. I have no desire to kill what hepatitis C has taught me.