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Concerned over HepC and values


SugarNSpice
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Hi everyone. I've just come home from my boyfriend's place after storming out after a long argument. My boyfriend of 7 months has HepC, which he contracted when he got a blood transfusion after a childhood accident. I've known about it almost from the beginning and I thought I was okay with it. He seemed concerned about it and considerate of my fears about it.

 

I've done my share of reading on how transmissable HepC is, and from what I've read, it's rarely sexually tranmissable. However, it is advised to avoid sharing razors and toothbrushes. Tonight we ended up sharing a toothbrush I went to use my toothbrush and put it in my mouth and realized it was already wet, so I asked him if he used it and he said yes! He said he was tired and didn't notice. That would be alright if he'd just said, "I'm sorry. It won't happen again", but when he saw that I was concerned, he told me I was overreacting and that there isn't any risk despite what I've read (he's a health professional himself, but heck, I'm a scientific researcher). I felt so angry that he was acting as though it were no big deal and especially when he said I was being a hypochondriac. I feel that because he has HepC, we both need to do whatever we can to minimize the risks of transmitting it, and because he seems to think it won't ever happen, he seems to be acting carelessly about it. I don't know... I just feel upset. Shouldn't he care about my health as well?

 

Now I know the chances of me getting it just from sharing a toothbrush once are slim, but I just feel frustrated that he's not taking his ailment seriously. It's a chronic disease and he doesn't take very good care of himself. When I met him, he was exercising regularly and eating well, but later I found out that he smokes (which is hard for me to deal with as well), and since being together, he's stopped exercising completely and isn't eating healthily at all. Being health conscious and taking care of one's body is really important to me, and because he has Hep C, I feel it's even more important for him to keep himself in the best shape possible. If we were together for the long time, I'd want him to be around and healthy till we were old. I know part of his lack of exercise is due to him having less time because of our relationship... but still...

 

I don't know... I think I'm just conflicted because our values with respect to our health are different. I think it's smart to avoid all the risks if possible, while he's so cavalier about it. I asked if he'd used my toothbrush before, and he said he didn't know but possibly... he said that because he doesn't think I will get HepC that way, he doesn't really notice!

 

Am I over-reacting? I love him and I want to be together, but I need his agreement that we'll do whatever we can to avoid spreading the disease. I don't want to get this disease. I feel like we can't be on the same page until he acknowledges the risks, which he won't right now. Sigh... help.

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First, congratulations. You qualify as a decent human being. You looked past what someone "had" and saw who they really were without that. (I'm big on this subject as in past posts on similar issues...).

 

Also, congratulations on continuing to be human by feeling troubled by it. Of course you would have these fears.

 

One of the pyschological problems with disease is that unlike most of our problems in life, you can't take "time out" from it. He can't just "get away from it" and forget about it for even five minutes. And to an extent, you can't either. Its such an emotional burden for you to both carry, I have seen it happen to HIV couples. I have seen the +ve partner go slack, and the -ve partner be the attentive one. It never is about them, or meaning they don't love each other, but its just a problem thats always there, and complicating one of the most beautiful and most intimate times of your life.... sex... and sharing toothbrushes.

 

I think his cavalier attitude relates to him being sick of caring about the disease. The emotional burden of never being able to escape it. Thats just a theory anyway, I've seen it alot of times with HIV.

 

Talk to him. Emphasise that you love him, and what he has doesn't change that. But that you worry about him. You want to grow old with him. Make fitness and being healthy fun... to you its protection and life - to him its a burden. If you can figure out ways to make it enjoyable, then he will do it. But the key is finding ways to ease the burden, for you both.

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You are a great human being who is willing to overlook that because you care about the person. His concern for you is genuine, and he's probely upset with himself because he may feel at fault for anything that could happen. As long as neither of you had sores in your mouth *ie, bleeding gums, ect* its un likely *but still possible* that you contacted HepC. Its pass through bodily fluids, but saliva does not contain enough of the virus i dont think. To be safe you should still be tested, and ask him if he has bleeding gums while brushing at any time. *same for you*

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hi - I took a class on hepatitis a few years. and yes, you are right, it is very rarely sexually transmittable, but sharing toothbrushes and razors could transmit it.

 

I feel that because he has HepC, we both need to do whatever we can to minimize the risks of transmitting it, and because he seems to think it won't ever happen, he seems to be acting carelessly about it. I don't know... I just feel upset. Shouldn't he care about my health as well?

 

i agree with you - if I were in your shoes, I would avoid the behaviors that could lead to me catching it. it is upsetting that he doesn't feel the same way. maybe he's started to think he is invincible because he has had it for over 20 years now without any big troubles. I know people who had HepC for 30 years before they even found out they had it.

 

i think that the issues over values could get between you guys - maybe you two are just not compatible, if he is so cavalier about his health. maybe this doesn't agree with your general philosophy, especially since he does have a chronic illness.

 

anyways, good luck in whatever you decide.

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Thank you for your support. He really is a wonderful person and most of the time, I don't worry at all about the HepC. What made me angry last night was his attitude about it. Granted, it was late at night and he just wanted to go to sleep, but I needed him to stay up for 5 minutes and reassure me that he'd never do it again so I could feel safe. He felt that it wasn't an important conversation because he doesn't think the risks are there, and so his response was to brush it all off. Plus, I hate being called a hypochondriac and being told I'm over-reacting.

 

I'm concerned that he's not taking care of himself. Part of that is because he's so busy... working very long hours that by the time I go over to spend time with him, he's so worn out and tired. I know fatigue is one of the symptoms that the virus is active, but it's hard to know if he's tired because he's working too hard or tired because he's sick. His liver enzyme levels and virus load have all been just outside normal range as of 3 months ago so he's doing really well and has been for the past 21 years. I worry though that if he doesn't maintain a healthy lifestyle now that it will cause problems in the future. I just got tested myself about a week ago and everything's normal.

 

For someone living with the disease but being unaffected by it for so long, how can I convey to him that even if he's not concerned about it, I am? We spoke this morning and he keeps reiterating that it's not a concern and that I'm stressing out over nothing. I hardly think it's nothing I want us to be as safe as possible and to be mindful of it. He acts like it's not even there. I want him to take better care of himself...

 

I guess I'm realizing that it is up to him to take care of himself. I'm going to have to very vigilant myself. I can't really force him to live a healthier lifestyle and I feel like I'm nagging now whenever I talk about going to the gym or going hiking, running, etc. Ugh! It's just so frustrating! I care about him so much and want him to be around for a very very long time, and the smoking really irritates me as well. I try not to bring it up very often because I know it has to be his choice to quit and the truth is, I'll stay with him even if he doesn't quit because he is a fantastic person.

 

Sorry for rambling on. I really needed to get this all off my chest.

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Hey Sugar,

 

I can certainly understand why you are feeling upset about this.

 

My guess is that after this many years he is kinda tired of dealing with it, and not just being "normal" and tired of reminded he is "ill" by doing things differently than others do.

 

He has managed it well to this point, but of course not everyone reacts the same way either. I think you have to convey to him that you know the risk is low, but you still need to take precautions because while he HAS done well, whom knows you would do if you DID contract it. And for your future health, you need to be careful.

 

As for him not taking care of himself, maybe suggest it more out of a willingness to be active TOGETHER than as a way to "manage his illness". If you show him you want to be healthy and active together, that may be way more appealing to him....do it together, the couple that plays together stays together....and has the benefit of creating better health for you both.

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