Richard’s story – Hepatitis B

I don’t remember much about the 3 months I spent cooped up in bed, sick with Hepatitis B, but I was 11 at the time and missed a vital period of my schooling.

I remember my skin going yellow, and my eyeballs. I also remember the regular visits from a community nurse to check on me, blood tests every other week at the doctors, and the terrible pains I had in the right side of my belly, which is where, I learnt, my liver was located. I learnt all about Hepatitis from that nurse- hepatitis A,B,C (very new and rare), and a few others that hadn’t been classified yet.

I don’t know how I got hepatitis B. I was not sexually active, or a drug user, nor was I having any medical procedures that might have put me at risk, except maybe regular visits to the dentist.

It was all a bit of a mystery until years later a friend showed me a medical journal with an article on a dozen childhood cases of Hepatitis B transmission from child to child. These were children who had been infected by being bitten, or by contact with skin lesions or cuts on other infected children.

I still don’t know for sure how I got it, but I do remember the fear and the pain, and the worry my mother went through.

Recently I was diagnosed with 5 benign tumours in my liver, and I can’t help but wonder if having hepatitis B as a child might have caused them.

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