Ho Ho Ho Hepatitis

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The year that my third child was born was a year of big changes for me. We had bought a beautiful new house, my true “dream home,” I had taken on a promotion at work, my grandmother passed away and I discovered my husband had been unfaithful to me steadily for the last 5 years. It’s such a cliché but, of course, I had found out by listening to his cell phone messages one day as we were having “date night,” but that’s a story for a different day. Part and parcel of finding out your partner has been unfaithful is feeling hurt, angry and worthless. When your partner has chosen to be unfaithful by visiting scores of prostitutes, your doctor becomes a part of the nightmare. My baby was just 3 weeks old when I had a complete STD panel and took my first HIV test. By the time Thanksgiving approached, it was time for my second test. Lucky me! What a great way to get into the holiday spirit, right?

Our family doctor was a wizened and kindly man who had absorbed word of my husband’s behavior with professional courtesy, a hug and a shoulder that I cried on for several minutes. As I went into his office that brisk November day (San Diego brisk, so like 58 degrees), I considered myself to be in a much better place physically and mentally than I had been in August. (In August, I had lost 18 pounds in 3 weeks and had been angry, depressed or angry most of the time – yes I said angry twice, because that’s how I felt.) I went in and exchanged pleasantries with my doctor’s wife (she was his office manager) gave my blood and urine and decided not to focus on the fact that I was undergoing STD testing due to the misbehavior of my husband. Two days later I received a phone call from my doctor asking me a lot of questions about my liver and whether I had been exposed to hepatitis C at any point that I was aware of. Not being an IV drug user nor a prostitute, I had only one idea of where I could have been exposed to such a thing. The next week was Thanksgiving and here I was taking my four-month old baby in to be tested for Hepatitis C. With the elevated levels in my blood, the concern was that she might have been infected. If she had it, her life expectancy would be about 15 years. This, of course, is all because her father couldn’t stay faithful to her mother. To this day I don’t have a lot of memories of anything else but getting the phone call the day before the holiday letting me know she had tested negative. As it would turn out, only my husband had contracted the disease.

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