Saturday, October 12, 2013

Hepatitis C: A Matter of Perspective

When describing their experiences of treatment for chronic hepatitis C viral infection, patients commonly use analogies. hepatitis C and its treatment can be challenging. It is interesting and sometimes amusing to see how patients portray their various encounters. Humor can be a powerful coping mechanism. Here are a few of my favorite images:
  • “I just tell myself that I am in a rented body. I will upgrade it when I am done with hepatitis C treatment.”
  • “It is like menopause, complete with irritability and hot flashes. I love watching men on treatment. I hope it gives them sympathy for menopausal women.”
  • “It’s like being at high altitudes, except the view isn’t as good.”
  • “My body has been snatched by aliens, except in this case, the aliens are interferon and ribavirin. 
  • “Treatment is the easiest weight loss program I have ever been on. I don’t even think of food.”
  • “Every once in awhile, I lose my temper or say something inappropriate. It is amazing how words just pop out of my mouth that I never would have said before. At first I chastised myself about it. Now I just tell myself that I have interferon-induced Tourette’s syndrome. Thank goodness it is temporary”
  • “HCV treatment feels like a preview of old age.”
In addition to these descriptions, patients sometimes reveal stories about themselves. It is not uncommon for patients to lose their cars. Once I got into the wrong vehicle and the car wasn’t even the same color or make as mine. One poor fellow thought he had taken his sunglasses off and realized that he had actually taken his dentures out. He did this in public. The only time I ever ran out of gas was during treatment. I had placed a post-it on my dashboard, reminding me to buy gas. Unfortunately, the note covered my gas gauge and I did not see the low fuel-warning indicator. What can one do but laugh!

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