Back in 1997, my now ex-husband, who was never one to get sick very often at all, he became ill enough to have to miss days of work, I knew something was wrong. I quickly followed with the same symptoms of vomiting and almost flu-like symptoms, along with the yellowing of skin and whites of the eyes that goes along with jaundice. My husband was the first to begin to show signs of yellowing in his eyes, and my mother, who is a retired RN was quick to notice and recognize it as jaundice.
My husband and I made an appointment to see our doctor together, where he did blood tests and confirmed the diagnosis of Hepatitis A. Hepatitis A is typically caused from consuming contaminated food or water and is not the same type of Hepatitis that is considered to be a sexually transmitted disease like Hepatitis C. Most people recover fully from Hepatitis A and suffer no permanent liver damage from the virus. So now that we knew what we had, it was important to determine the source of how we contracted it.
Finding The Source
We had been out to dinner with another couple recently, but they both had eaten the same foods and drinks and were feeling fine. The likely culprit seemed to be a garbage disposal at my husband’s workplace. He was the manager of the produce department at a grocery store and had been pulling off unwashed leaves of lettuces and other produce that are removed before the products are made ready for consumers to purchase. While using the disposal, it became clogged and he had to reach in to clear it out and cut himself on one of the blades. The doctor surmised that this was the root of the problem since the blade cut through his glove and potentially exposed him to some contaminated vegetable or fruit debris.
These incidents had to be reported to the local health department to make sure there was not a local outbreak of Hepatitis A, which there was not. Our cases seemed to be isolated and no one who purchased produce from the grocery store, nor any other employees ever became ill. The only reason I contracted the illness was due to the intimate nature of our relationship as husband and wife.
Protecting The Children
Meanwhile, we had four little boys at home whom we feared would become very sick from this since they had been in close contact with us. Fortunately, none of the boys were exhibiting any signs of illness at the time, so our doctor strongly recommended we make an appointment at the health department to get the children vaccinated with the immune globulin vaccine, to help prevent them from contracting Hepatitis A. Thankfully, all of them were fine, as well as my mother who had been babysitting for us while my husband and I were ill.
Dealing With Hepatitis A And Recovery
I can only describe dealing with Hepatitis A as spending several days feeling like death. The extreme fatigue, along with the vomiting and fever really took its toll. Thankfully, we both recovered fully. I recall our only special instructions from the doctor was to avoid alcohol for a certain time period after recovering, which was no problem since neither one of us were anything more than occasional drinkers.
Now, Hepatitis A vaccines are available to prevent the illness. For those such as myself who contracted the illness before the vaccine, once you have had it, you have lifelong immunity to the disease and cannot get it again.