How Did I Get Here - Hepatitis C

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I found out that I had hepatitis C in the summer of 2004. A routine blood test detected elevated liver enzymes - a sign of liver damage. The life insurance company then kindly ran additional tests that revealed the presence of the Hepatitis C antibody. Apparently there's only one reason the Hep-C antibody would float around in the bloodstream of someone that doesn't know they're infected with the hepatitis C virus: because they are infected with the hepatitis C virus.

But how did the virus get into me?

The most common cause of infection is purposely (in the case of drug use) or accidentally (in the case of health care workers) getting stuck by a needle previously used by someone who already has Hepatitis C. I've never used intravenous drugs, and have never worked in the health care profession, so that weren't it.

Other causes include: Sharing a razor, toothbrush or nail clipper with an infected person (not that I know of); Exposure to unclean tattooing or body-piercing instruments (nope - unless rub-on tattoos count); Unprotected anal sex or exposure to multiple sex partners (uh, no - and let's just leave it at that).

Oh, and before 1992 there was a risk of getting hepatitis C from blood transfusions.

So, this is where I should probably share a bit of my medical history. When I was young I was diagnosed with a blood deficiency called Hypogammaglobulinemia (trust me - it gets easier to say with practice). Basically I wasn't good at making gamma globulin, a basic blood component that helps you fight viruses. The common treatment was regular injections of gamma globulin to replace what what's missing and hopefully prod the body's immune system to start make its own (priming the pump, so to speak). The source of injectable gamma globulin is human blood provided by generous donors - human blood donations that weren't tested for the hepatitis C virus until 2002. I began getting gamma globulin injections in 1969. I received my last gamma globulin infusion in 1989. One of those thousands of CCs of gamma globulin came from someone infected with the hepatitis C virus.

If it weren't for that generous blood donor, I probably wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today - training to run the 2009 Boston Marathon.

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This page contains a single entry by Dick Chase published on November 2, 2008 3:02 PM.

Follow the Bouncing Runner was the previous entry in this blog.

How Did I Get Here - Running is the next entry in this blog.

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