Don’t Let Fear Prevent You From living. Paul’s Hep C Story
When Paul Bolter was in his early 30s, he often found himself feeling fatigued. Hep C, a virus not well known back in 2001, was silently attacking his body. Paul is currently the leader of the Hep Free NYC Hep B & C Patient Navigator Network.
Watch the new Video on Paul’s Story: Living with Hepatitis C. Live Bold, Live Now!
I was diagnosed in 2001 almost by accident. I had issues with my Primary Care Provider at the time and, decided to get a second opinion as to why I was so tired by mid-afternoon and needed naps after work. I found a new doctor and she was very pro-active; after listening to my past history and other information I provided she decided to get to the root of things. I couldn’t understand why at my age, at the time, I was worn-out. She gave me comfort while waiting for lab and other test results to return.
Back then they mailed out the results of these tests. The day I got the letter in the mail I also got a phone call from my doctor, actually while I was reading the letter. I didn’t have a lot of time to panic or get crazy. After we hung up, having made a follow-up appointment with the best liver specialist in Boston, I thought about what to do next.
The irony was I had been hired as the Hepatitis C Specialist for the City of Boston and was in the process of learning about this virus. Then BAM! I get my diagnosis. I was stunned at first because after being healthy for so long, I immediately thought I was no longer healthy. If not for the nurses I worked with, and my co-workers at the time I’m not sure I would have followed through with treatment.
I started treatment and things got difficult as far as how I handled the side effects. The smartest thing I did at the time was to join a support group and share my experiences with others and a medical provider that was able to answer my many questions. During this time I had issues with disclosing my diagnosis to family and friends. The majority of the people in my life had never heard of Hep C before, neither had I really, but many weren’t able to understand it either. I learned many lessons during this time, and as difficult as it was I stuck things out, many times alone, but remained compliant with my treatment regimen. After 6 months it was determined that I was not responding to the treatment, and discontinued it all together. I went on a few other studies after about 3 months but they didn’t really help much either.
Since the first round of treatment I participated in several studies and other treatment regimens over the years unsuccessfully. Things are great now, almost 12 years later my disease has not progressed, I am in great health, and my career in this field has only flourished. All because I decided not to let stigma, ignorance and fear get in my way. I didn’t let it deter me from my goals or from pursuing a college education. As a result of never giving up, in early 2010 I made the decision to follow one of my many goals and moved to New York City. I was in good enough health and felt I haven’t yet allowed this virus to interfere with my life so far so why let it now. I took a huge leap of faith. My doctor in Boston gave me the name of one of the best doctors in New York City, so I came armed with the information I needed to engage in good care. Once I did that I went on 2 more rounds of unsuccessful treatment before I found the one that cured me. July 2014 I was cured of Hepatitis C. To be able to say that after 14 years of various treatments, doctor’s appointments, prescriptions, pain, isolation is a beautiful thing.
Just because the multiple treatments didn’t work, didn’t mean the care I got was poor, it just my virus was tough. But not as tough as I was. I beat it before it beat me.
Don’t let fear prevent you from living.