User's Story: Inside Out
I’m back in Mulawa Jail at Silverwater, doing a six-year lag-on with four on the bottom for aggravated breaks and armed robbery. I only out for three months after just finishing a six-and-a-half year lag-on.
When I got out I was so scared. I was spinning out hard on how much everything had changed. It was crazy being released from Mulawa. It’s so wrong, they just throw you out the gate with no support, nothing except your Centrelink cheque.
My parole officer was new. She’d only been in the job a month before I got out so everything was by-the-book hard. I couldn’t do shit. Meetings every day of the week, urines, counselling. Even on weekends I had to go and see a psychologist. The more stuff they had me do, the less time I had for my family and my beautiful baby boy.
I couldn’t cope with it. I became really depressed. All I could think about was jail or hurting myself, because I didn’t want to deal with any more crap. I was lost with no help and just wanted to get locked up and come back to jail.
Being here is easy as. I kick back every day, not having to worry. At the same time, I’m hiding away in here. Yes, it saved my life, but every day I spend here is another day away from my baby. He’s eight now, and I’ve been in jail most of his life. The only time I see him is on kids’ visits once a month. He deserves so much more.
I contracted hep C when I was 13. My first shot didn’t just give me a habit, it also gave me hep C. Being only a kid I didn’t know that by sharing a needle I’d get a disease, but I did! So when I heard about Interferon I got straight onto the nurses inside and asked. I had to see a hep C specialist who explained what needed to be done and what side effects there were. When he told me that I could get really ill and that I’d lose my hair, I got scared, but I thought “well, I’d rather go through all of that than be stuck with hep C for the rest of my life”. So I said “sweet. Sign me up.” Then he told me that I had genotype one, the really bad one, and that I’d have to be on the treatment for 12 months. I was dreading being on it for that long but I knew it had to be done.
I had to take pills every day and a needle once a week. For the first month everything went well, but the second month felt terrible. I started getting really sick. Migraines every day. I had an irritating rash all over my body. I was spewing up, I couldn’t eat and was worried that I couldn’t do it any more. I was taken to the hospital a couple of times because my temperature got really high. I was so scared. The nurses told me that if it got worse they’d have to stop all the treatment. But even though I was really sick, I still wanted to stick it out, and I’m so glad I did.
By the third month it was all gone. All of the migraines, the rash, my body shutting down, me spewing up. I thought “oh my God, I’ve beaten my hep C.” That was an amazing day. It was worth it. I’m glad I stuck it out. I’m only 26. I don’t have to worry about my liver failing or having hep C.
I’ll be leaving jail a stronger and more confident woman than what I was last time with more support and more help to get my life back. I’ll try to be a better mum and do what’s right for myself and for my son. And I can now say that I’m hep C negative. I’m hoping by writing this, anyone who is considering having the treatment done will do it. I promise you won’t regret it.
By the way, I didn’t lose any of my hair.
Ed. – The advice Flowskie received from her specialist seems to be a little misleading. Thinning of hair is a symptom that some people on interferon treatment go through, but we know of no cases where people on the treatment lose all their hair.
Illustration by Tony Sawrey