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Hepatitis C - Don't Let it Ruin Your Life!

By Randall C. Konen
(September 24, 2000)

I submit this in all seriousness and with love. I only hope that even just one person reads this with an open mind or is saved the ordeal I must undergo. Then it will have been worth the effort.

As many who know me, I do not hide the fact I contracted HCV, Hepatitis type C, in Southeast Asia, and that being post-acetic means an organ transplant is my only alternative to death. But this need not be the case now, as blood tests to detect and drugs, if used early enough, are being used to help more and more people every day, as new and better treatments are developed.

But this means early detection. When I first found out in 1991, tests were brand new and very little was known about hepatitis C. I was not offered the choice of getting treatment. I must now undergo the deterioration of my liver and its functions, but WITH KNOWLEDGE AND TREATMENT you can be spared this condition. And donít assume you are safe either, as over 4,000,000 are estimated to have Hepatitis C with more being detected every day. Veterans are especially at risk with 20% of Vietnam era vets possibly being infected.

If I could, I would scare you to action. This part is entirely true, and I do not wish for any to suffer needlessly. I was admitted May 1999 after stubbornly refusing to go to the hospital. I had to go, I had filled a 1-gallon pail with blood, thrown up. I passed out just inside the emergency room doors. The only place where it was possible to put an IV was in the carotid artery in the neck. I took 5 units of blood, 1 unit of plasma and two bottles of albumin the first night. I had over 6 gallons of fluids withdrawn through the abdominal wall. And now, every 3-6 months I must undergo an endoscopy, (camera inserted to inspect throat and stomach for internal bleeding) and blood tests to see where I am physically. I must take diuretics every day plus adhere to a special diet to avoid many things. The strongest thing I am allowed is 2 Tylenol, no more than 6 every two days.

I hope this makes it into print, I hope and pray it scares or grosses out even one person, who will be encouraged to get a test, and possibly be treated in time to save a life. I donít and canít care what anyone may think of me personally, I donít need pity or sorrow, (I had enough of my own to last a lifetime). I do care very much, that any, or many, are saved by being told what I was told today. See I went for my checkup and was found to be just about on schedule. No Band-Aid for internal bleeding but I had 5 years to go last May 1999.

I now have 3.5 years, tops, if my general health remains good. Not much fun, knowing when believe me, and you donít have to find out. All it takes is a visit and a checkup and a blood test. Take my word for it, it sure as hell beats the alternative! I Know!

With Peace and Love,
Randall C. Konen

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