When I say that I had hepatitis in the past, conversation partners often start to move away from me slowly. The kind of hepatitis that they’re familiar with is the STD, which carries an unfair stigma.
Six Months with Hepatitis A
I contracted hepatitis when I was travelling abroad. It was hepatitis A, the kind with a very low mortality rate, especially in people my age. Hepatitis A almost never even does severe damage to the liver, and it usually runs its course within six months.
The six months I had hepatitis A, though, were the longest months of my life. One of the first things my doctor advised me to do was abstain from alcohol and fatty foods, since those would be hard on my already suffering liver. I’m a pretty healthy person, but I’ve never been one to watch what I eat that closely, so that in and of itself was a major source of stress.
In addition to that, I felt fatigued almost constantly. Feelings of total exhaustion are common for me whenever I get sick-it’s just the way my body works-but it was never that bad. There were days when I barely felt able to get out of bed in the morning and walk across my room.
For the first couple weeks after getting sick, I also ran an alarmingly high fever. I can honestly say that I haven’t seen the number on the thermometer go that high since early childhood.
Lastly, there was the guilt. As you may now, there’s a vaccine available for hepatitis A-a vaccine that I foolishly neglected to get. In my defense, I’m old enough to have missed the big push to vaccinate children when the vaccine first came out. There’s no excuse, though, for not having gotten it before I left the country. If I’d done my research, I would have known that hepatitis A was prevalent in the area I was travelling to. As someone who worked in the travel industry for many years, I should have known better.
That’s the most profound advice I can give on the subject of hepatitis: get yourself vaccinated. If it’s too late for you, though, as it was for me, I can only suggest that you try to keep your spirits up. It does get better eventually, it just takes a while.