Friday, January 15, 2010


This is a picture of Senator Paul Wellstone with Helen Clark and Pat Buchanan. The two ladies came all the way to Washington D.C. from Minneapolis to talk to Wellstone about hepatitis C. He listened to them and he cared. Pat and Helen attended HFI’s 3rd Annual National Hepatitis Congress and Walk on Washington March 25th, 26th & 27th, 2000. They managed to visit with six different Congressional aides and one Senator, all in one day. It was an amazing feat in itself just doing the walking between buildings on Capitol Hill. They think they got the word out, so the trip was worth it. Helen and Pat were the co-facilitators of a hepatitis C support group in the Twin Cities called LiverHope. There was also a HepFest every August at Pat's home in Brooklyn Center, MN. Unfortunately, many of the heppers have since passed on.

This was Pete Gilbertson, otherwise known as Da Yooper because he was from the UP of Michigan. That's my son Marcus with him when he was 12. The puppy was adorable. Pete named her Hope to remind him that he had hope to get a new liver. Unfortunately, he didn't. The VA let him down and he died of liver failure, which is a complication of hepatitis C. We miss him.

May your hepatitis C dragon always be sleeping. Click on the dragon to see it move.

This is a picture of some people at HepFest, Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

Please stop by and take a look at the Hepatitis C Memorial Wall. The deceased listed here are only a drop in the bucket of all those who have passed on from this tragic and devastating disease.

There are an estimated five million people in the United States with hepatitis C. Most do not yet know they have it. Please ask your health care provider for the simple blood test.

My name is Colleen Morse and I have hepatitis C. I got it in 1969 when I let those two nice young boys put a needle into my arm. Or perhaps it was in 1972 when I gave birth to a 9 lb 15 oz healthy baby boy and had to have packed red blood cells because I almost bled to death. I didn't find out I had it until the early 1990's, as by then the virus had been isolated and the blood test became available. I had no symptoms until about 1998. The symptoms then came on gradually. I had three liver biopsies, each three years apart. The first two showed very minimal liver damage at stage one, grade one. The third biopsy showed a sudden progression to cirrhosis. I thought that was unfair, since I have never in my entire life been a drinker. I now know that anyone can get cirrhosis, even children.

Currently my liver is still well compensated. When it becomes decompensated, it's time for evaluation for transplant. I don't know if I'll go that route. I've lived a fairly long life. I'll be sixty this April. I'm not sure how that happened. Besides, I'm still the same person on the inside. I just look a wee bit different when I look in the mirror now. I can ignore that.

I involve myself in a lot of activities so I don't have time to notice the symptoms, which are now worsening. They include fatigue, muscle and joint pain, a bit of skin itching, a messed up thyroid, etc. My liver is not manufacturing enough cholesterol now. The last time I had it checked, my total cholesterol was only 79. It keeps going down. They don't like to see it get under 100. Another problem is that my liver has decreased its making of vitamin D. Now I get to take prescription supplements.

Oh well, ya gotta die from something. My Uncle Gerald used to say, "What's the difference if you die now or twenty years from now? It won't matter once you're dead." He lived to be 94. He said that at age 40 because he lost a kidney. He lived 54 years with only one kidney.

The main problem is that hepatitis C doesn't get nearly enough funding. There are four times as many people with HCV as there are with HIV. Yet HIV gets a lot more funding. The HIV activists were always very good at organizing for their cause. Now, though, over fifty percent of those with HIV are co-infected with HCV.

I'm so tired of living in a state and a country and a world where the government officials don't care that people are dying. Thankfully there is now a bill in Congress. But will it pass?

This is the reason I sent the email to all the DFL gubernatorial candidates. I wanted a response as to how they will address this problem should they win the governorship. So far I have only received one reply, and that was from a staff member of Matt Entenza's campaign. At least they replied. I did receive another reply, but that was a brush off, as though this issue that affects so many is not important. I was devastated.

I'm a member of the reNEW.MN Campaign and of TakeAction Minnesota. One of the visions of reNEW MN is "We want to live in a Minnesota where the inherent worth and dignity of every person is recognized without exception." The candidate who brushed me off did not recognize my inherent worth. Instead, he made me feel worthless. Yet I make excuses for him. Oh, maybe he was just having a bad day. Oh, maybe he was too busy campaigning. There's something wrong when campaigning takes away from your humanity and compassion.

That's not the kind of state I want to live in.

I hope the other eight candidates will respond to the email I sent them. I hope they respond soon. Their answers will be submitted to the reNEW MN website.

Colleen Morse
White Bear Lake, MN

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