I am a Hepatitis-C survivor. It has taken me more than forty years to arrive at a more secure state of health. On this path, I have journeyed through two rounds of treatment. The first in 2007 and the second in 2014.
There are distinct phases to this experience.
The first is The Oblivion.
There are all those years I was unaware that I was infected. This was at a time when Hepatitis C was an unnamed and undetectable affliction. Hep-C of this era was defined as “non-A/non-B.”
The second is The Shadows.
When Hepatitis C was identified, it became possible to know, and living in the oblivion was abruptly done. I credit my primary care team with pursuing Hep-C testing and recommending me for treatment. Knowing creates uncertainty. And when my first treatment in 2007 failed, the question became “OK, now what? How do I approach life with the uncertainty that my own liver may be a ticking time bomb?” The metaphor of being your own worst enemy is made real.
The third is The Future.
There are many Hep-C patients who did not reach the promised land of successful treatment and the opportunity for a longer-term view of their potential life span. My second treatment in 2014 was successful thanks to the inclusion of the new RNA polymerase inhibitors. I now have a refreshed optimism for life’s prospects.
Appreciation for another one of life’s second chances is my inspiration to participate in the upcoming Hep-C Screening Clinic for Veterans at Camp Johnson in Colchester on May 12-13. This clinic has come to life thanks to major staffing and logistical support by The University of Vermont Medical Center.
My own military service spanned the years of 1973-1977. This made me part of the largest cohort of Americans at risk for, and infected with, Hepatitis-C. I am compelled to share the opportunity for a second chance with other veterans. As in my experience of spending much of my adult life unaware that I was at risk, I want to share in the opportunity to provide a positive outcome for other service members.
Hep-C Screenings for Veterans
Camp Johnson, Colchester
Friday, May 12 12pm – 4:30pm
Saturday, May 13 9am – 4:30 pm
Questions? Call (802) 233-0823
Burlington, Vt, native Jeff Comstock works for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets. He is a graduate of the University of Vermont College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He served in the US Navy from 1973 to 1977 where he served aboard USS Shenandoah AD26 and USS Belknap DLG26. He enjoys hiking, trail running, and camping with his wife Nancy.