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When Hepatitis C is a Weapon



I don’t build resentments easily and when I do, I am quick to forgive. (Disclaimer, when I do manufacture resentments, they are usually for small reasons—the kind that any normal human being would raise their eye brows and say, “You have got to be kidding me!!!”) Let me illustrate—not so you think that I am a saint (I’m not)—but so I can make a point.

When I was infected with hepatitis C from a blood transfusion, I did not feel betrayed by medicine. The blood transfusion saved my life. There was no point getting upset about hepatitis C. When I hear about medical mistakes when patients are infected because of breaches in protocol, I am sad, but it doesn’t cause my blood pressure to rise. I am a nurse, I understand how stressful hospitals are. In July, when news broke about an outbreak in New Hampshire caused by a travelling cardiac tech whose drug addiction exposed thousands of people to hepatitis C, I was disturbed, but again, I understood. Addiction is a disease that causes people to do horrible things, even expose thousands to hepatitis C.

I reached my limit of acceptance this week after reading a story about a man with hepatitis C who was convicted of robbery in Australia. His weapon was a blood-filled syringe, which he used to threaten a pharmacy employee so he could procure morphine. Click here to read more.

Why didn’t this case conjure up tolerance and compassion for me? Because the man used the threat of hepatitis C as his weapon. As a person with hepatitis C, this goes to my core. I don’t want my blood to be deemed as a weapon. When I think that I carry a weapon inside me, I feel like the woman in The Scarlet Letter who wears a red “A” for adultery, only this is a red “C.”

Now, with the benefit of paper to see my words, I know that this is ridiculous. Some may feel threatened by hepatitis C, but I do not wear a scarlet “C.” The people wearing “C’s” are those who don’t have it and can’t see past this virus, can’t see that our hearts run with the same blood, the same hope, and the same desire to protect others from dealing with what we deal with every day.

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • amna hansia May 27, 2013, 10:38 PM

    Being able to feel what the other patient is feeling is what matters. Wish there were more like you n me who knew what and cared about the personal trauma..

  • Lucinda Porter, RN May 25, 2013, 10:12 AM

    Such praise from another compassionista!

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