…from complications resulting from hepatitis and excess drinking, I thought it was the perfect time to reveal this.
I was diagnosed with hepatitis C earlier this year (April). This is something very personal that I had only confided to a few friends but decided to make it very public for an important reason. If I make my story public, I might save someone’s life.
Many of you have been asking me why I haven’t played more tournament golf with all of these grandiose stories of low rounds and better feel with my swing.
Now you know. The physical and financial strain of dealing with this problem made it difficult to play many tournaments and do well in the few I played.
Like many other viral diseases that infect the blood, it is NOT transmitted through casual contact. Basically, if I don’t share a drug needle with someone, they aren’t getting it from me. I did not pass it on to my wife.
I want to encourage everyone to have a complete physical and blood panel…just in case you have something bizarre going on with your body.
Earlier this year I applied for life insurance. They put me through a battery of tests and I got a letter back in the mail saying I was denied because I tested positive for the hepatitis C anti-body and both my liver function panels were elevated.
As I am sure you can imagine, I was flabbergasted, so I immediately went to the family doctor and he refereed me to a hematologist, but he was booked for the next 3 weeks. So, like any moron, I went to the internet and basically found out I was going to die of cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer…and even worse, the side affects of the medications were worse than death.
I also saw the two biggest risk factors are intervenes drug use and tattoo needles. Since I have no tattoos and have never shot up, I moved on to risk factor #3, which was a transfusion of blood clotting products before 1987. Well, I had a major one of those in 1982.
I guess I was lucky I didn’t get AIDS.
Here was the scary and ironic part. I had this transfusion during an elbow surgery. Just a few weeks after the surgery, I had to go to a friend’s house and look at him as he was dying of liver cancer at 15 years old that was a result of undiagnosed hepatitis. To say it was not pretty to see is a major understatement. He looked like one of the holocaust survivors. That visual is still with me to this day and it was the first thing that came to my mind when I found out I had something that could turn into cancer at any moment…and I had been walking around with it for 30 years. The ticking time bomb cliche applied.
As you can well imagine, my anxiety level was almost unmanageable until I got into the doctor as it was actually possible I had a year to live…or at the very least, would need a liver transplant and would eventually get cirrhosis or liver cancer again.
I went to the doctor and he did a battery of tests and discovered I had no serious liver damage, but my blood was infested with the virus and I should to start taking the medications immediately.
Interferon and Ribavirin are nasty. The side affects are basically anything bad you can think of, but some of the worst are depression, suicide and a 50% chance of birth defects if pregnancy occurs among either partner. Decimated white and red blood cell counts, declining hemoglobin count, compromised immune system, insomnia, nausea, hair loss, headaches, severe fatigue, etc. Basically it’s a mild version of chemotherapy.
I have 4 weeks to go of a 24 week drug regimen. I have to take a pill every morning at 8 and every evening at 8 and inject myself once a week.
Luckily, I do not have any severe side affects. My emotions were spotty here and there, I am often seriously tired, but my white and red blood cell counts didn’t plummet (they went down some, but not a dangerous amount). I have been basically nauseous, tired and irritated, 24 hours a day for the last 5 months. My body is only taking in 60% of the oxygen it normally does because of the lowered hemoglobin level. I carry my son up the stairs to put him to bed and I would be winded, bent over holding my knees. Walking uphill to a green make me want to puke (I have a few times) and the thought of playing 4 days in a row now makes me laugh.
My liver functions are now normal and the virus is untraceable in my blood at this point, so technically I am cured. I am expected to be back to normal physically within 2-4 weeks after I stop taking the medication…although most would say I was never normal to begin with.
I have never been much of a drinker and apparently, that probably saved my life as the virus might have attacked a liver weakened by serious alcohol intake sooner.
Again, I tell this story because it is bizarre and I never would have found out if I had not applied for life insurance as I have not had a full blood panel that would test for something like this.
I want everyone to make an appointment this week and get themselves checked out. I was lucky and I want to make sure I get the word out and hopefully you or someone you know can find out some bad news that is fixable.
You are thinking, “I feel fine, nothing like that will happen to me.”
I felt all of those things. Tell everyone you know to get a full check up.