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I tend to distrust articles and books that claim knowledge of secrets that will make something easier, solve a problem or unlock a mystery. One exception to this is duct tape, which really is the secret to just about everything, although I have not found it useful during hepatitis C treatment. I suppose if I dropped a bottle of pills, duct tape would help me pick them up, but I digress.
Digression seems to be a side effect of the hepatitis C medications I am taking. Rather than focus, my mind jumps from one subject to another, unraveling any hope of completing a single task. The bottom line is, if I keep digressing, I will never finish this blog post and you won’t learn any secrets, except for duct tape.
- Secret # 1 is patience. For the past 8 weeks, I have had opportunities to get frustrated, particularly with my computer, the government, and people. To keep my cool, I let the moment pass. I try to practice restraint of pen and tongue, although I did mention to a colleague that he might not want to cop an attitude with me since I was on ribavirin and I could out attitude his attitude. One way to regain my patience is to promise myself that I can be as irritable as I want after I finish treatment.
- Secret #2 is support. I have an amazing network of people who know what I am going through. They check in with me, let me complain, and saturate my sorry self with tons of love.
- Secret #3 is staying open-minded. For instance, I am reluctant to take antihistamines because they make me drowsy. When I developed a rash, I decided to trust my doctor and take her advice. I started at 1/2 the lowest dose of hydroxyzine (Atarax), and now take a full dose at bedtime. The rash resolved, and I sleep and feel better. It is as if my body is free to fight hepatitis C, undistracted by the annoying histamine reaction.
- Secret #4 is perspective. Compared to my prior hepatitis C treatments, this clinical trial is a breeze. Even on hard days, it is easier than taking interferon. When I experience a side effect, I try to put it in perspective. I remind myself that I am getting well, and that treatment is short. What are a few months, compared to an entire life?
- Secret #5 is to practice distraction and self-soothing. As I write this, a Baroque concerto massages my frenzied self, reminding me that the world is filled with joy. The windows are open, and a light breeze carries spring directly to me.
- Secret # 6 is gratitude. At the end of every day, I write five things for which I am grateful. This reminds me that a hard day on hepatitis C treatment is better than not getting to do treatment. I so appreciate the opportunity to be in this clinical trial.
- Secret # 7 is the pursuit of humor. Humor is the playful practice of acceptance. If I laugh at the ridiculously amazingly brave me who is making some silly mistakes, then clearly I have accepted myself. Once I’ve done that, I can have fun.