The worst of it all was knowing I was not alone. I was aware of the fact that within the population of my high school, statistically speaking a dozen or so other children would share my fate. However I had one odd advantage, I knew I was infected. While this would spell danger later on in my life, at this young age, knowing I had HCV meant that I could reduce the harm dealt to my liver and risk to others. The rebellious decisions typical of youth to enter into consuming drugs and alcohol was not something I even saw as an option. And the best part of my advanced knowledge was that I could get treatment early.
The knowledge of all of this became a secret. I knew that if others knew, they might seek to harm or marginalize me out of ignorance. This depressing solitude sought me to find others who might also be marginalized or in pain and help them. The trouble was that many sought to blend in, and only further obfuscate their loneliness.
My junior year, after watching my mother's recovery, I noticed her veiled sadness as she trudged onward, attempting to return to normalcy having failed. The catalyst for what I was about to do was a blood drive. The teacher at the time offered extra credit to those who donate. I asked the teacher, as I could not donate, if there was another way to earn the extra credit. Infuriated at my request, she barked off the reasons why this would be impossible. A quick trip to the assistant principal's office helped her discover some possibilities. Winning stupid battles like this helped me consider what my future would be like. In my worsening state I tried something new. In the very same class that I'd been yelled at, I stood by the door, and freely solicited hugs. It was a way for me to help others, myself through the loneliness that no one wanted to confront, and to combat my impulse to stray from physical contact.
Also: THREE MORE DAYS OF TREATMENT!