I remember the call..
Life was going great, not.
I had just recently been discharged from hospital with a horrific abscess in my arm. I was a mutant, but I was lucky to have still have an arm this “unpretty”. I had also had septicaemia, (blood poisoning) so I had been found unconscious by my dad as the sepsis had left me in a blackout. THAT is what happens when you bunt Subutex diverted from someone’s dirty, filthy mouth and without using a wheel filter.
A week in hospital, surgery and the scorn and the stigma of being treated by the nursing staff as the “dirty good for nothing junkie”. The sickest irony for my dad was that my sister was in the same hospital. She had suffered a brain aneurysm from an Ice overdose and was lying a floor above me in the hospital ward with 8 staples in the side of her freshly shaved head, where she once had beautiful long blond hair.
That had been a month ago. The first thing I did when I got out of hospital was go and score. I wonder to this day if that was the day, I caught Hep C.
I had a cold, a bad one that had been with me for two or so weeks. It had made me feel unwell, but that wasn’t anything new. I had been shooting diverted Subutex and/or home-bake when there was no hammer around. I lived in a no man’s land of feeling sick or scoring.
The call was from a “friend”, a drug buddy, who I only knew by his graffiti handle as “Pleaza”. He told me the news that my boyfriend, someone I trusted with my life at that point, had purposefully given me one of Pleaza’s ‘dirty picks” when he had gone out to score for us a few weeks ago.
Apparently, my boyfriend had used the one clean ‘pick’ that was left and had brought me home a dirty one to use and told me it was clean. I believed him, because why wouldn’t I? He had obviously rinsed it out and as my veins were, as you can imagine, not in a glorious state and because the sickness hurt more than a blunt pick, I mustn’t have either noticed, or maybe because I was so naively trusting, I didn’t care. I was told that my boyfriend had been heard bragging about doing this to me to other people and word had gotten around.
One thing that can be said about the drug using population is that not everyone involved is at the point of being as morally corrupt as my on the spot NOW ex-boyfriend.
Along with the news from “Pleaza”, a call he never needed to make and one I’m forever grateful for, he also told me the strain, 1A. it’s the oldest strain, the original and the one that took, at that point, a year to clear on horrible drugs, and even then, the chances were not amazing that it would work. He explained it all to me, that you had to be psychologically assessed to be allowed to go onto the treatment, it required a liver biopsy, which was incredibly painful (they stick a giant needle into your liver to obtain a piece of it to see how far advanced the hepatitis is) and if you’re in dire need then you could be moved up the waiting list. He wished me luck and let me know that my boyfriend had been left bashed and naked in a public toilet for what he had done. Side note; I heard much later on, down the grapevine, that this had actually happened to him, and it didn’t leave me feeling vindicated or as if anything was equal. Hearing it all at the time left me feeling even sicker than I was and with so much to try and process with a brain that was far from functioning at maximum capacity. Hearing all this, was a lot.
I remember crying, but only for a bit, then I almost felt a sense of relief. Not about the violence, that sickened me, the betrayal also changed a part of me forever, but at that stage I had been frantically avoiding ever catching the dreaded Hep. Reusing old fits time and time again, because most of the time pharmacists treated you like such scum as soon as you asked the question, quietly, under your breath so that the rest of the customers couldn’t hear you, even though it was probably plainly obvious to most people, the stigma of asking for “a fit pack please” was so demoralising that a blunt pick was preferable.
I remember so many times being so scared that I had caught Hep C, from all the sharing I HAD done knowingly, trusting the person promising they didn’t have it. Finally, I could relax all that. I had it. The same as most people I knew, Hep C was just a part of being an IV drug user. It came with the territory. Yes, there were other strains you could catch, but if you have the worst one, well you are kind of set, I decided, its already bad, who cares from here on in.
Fast forward seven years, after I had been implanted with a naltrexone implant, I had switched to meth and Dr Shopping for benzos, I had started having seizures from the Ice and my body honestly just couldn’t take anymore. I had to go to another detox. I used them as rest stops, time to sleep and eat and then go out and start all over again, but this one time it was different.
I didn’t have the energy to use anymore. I still had to complete 4 rehab stints as I did not have a sound enough mind yet to make a clear decision for myself, so I would “slip” and not even understand how it happened. I need to be well enough physically for my mind to “come online” that there may be another life out there for me.
I had to meet peers, people that had lived as I had lived, who had even more shocking stories than mine, yet now were living proof that you could have another “crack at life”. I had finished with that life finally, things were stable for the first time in my life, and I could look at clearing my Hep C without fear of getting it again. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I was on the waiting list…. for a year’s worth of Pegylated Interferon.