There have been many times I wished I could donate blood for someone, but it wasn't allowed: I once had hepatitis A.
"Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A is one of several types of hepatitis viruses that cause inflammation that affects your liver's ability to function.You're most likely to contract hepatitis A from contaminated food or water or from close contact with someone who's already infected. Mild cases of hepatitis A don't require treatment, and most people who are infected recover completely with no permanent liver damage.Practicing good hygiene — including washing your hands often — is one of the best ways to protect against hepatitis A. Effective vaccines are available for people who are most at risk."
I didn't even know I had it until after the fact; I never got very sick, and wouldn't have figured it out except that as newlyweds, we went camping and Cliff spent the whole time in the tent, vomiting. When we got home he went to the doctor, who looked at his yellow eyeballs, asked him a couple questions about his red urine, and said, "It sounds like you have hepatitis; Who were you with four weeks ago that could have given this to you?"Well, as it turned out, I was the culprit. We recalled that one Sunday when we went to my parents' house for dinner my mom had exclaimed, "Look at the whites of your eyes! They're just as yellow as can be." She mentioned that my skin, too, had a yellow cast. I had an constant uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach at the time, but since I was slightly pregnant, I figured that was the cause.
Although my case of hepatitis was mild, Cliff's was scary-awful; the doctor wanted to hospitalize him, but we didn't have insurance and Cliff begged out of it. I didn't know anybody could upchuck that much for so long, and it seemed like it took him forever to recover. To this day, there is no medication to take for hepatitis.
By the way, we've all heard of certain diseases a person can "catch from the toilet", and some of those stories are myths. But any doctor will tell you that you can, indeed, get hepatitis from the germs in a public facility; this is another reason why you should wash your hands after using the rest room. You can also get hepatitis A from eating contaminated food in a restaurant; all-you-can-eat buffet, anyone?
So today, for the first time, I'm giving blood. For myself. And I'll be charged the same price as if it I were using somebody else's blood.
The trouble with having had hepatitis A is this: When you mention you've had hepatitis, doctors tend to freeze in place as though you said, "I have leprosy." Then they carefully quiz you until they are 100% sure it was the "A" variety of hepatits that you had, because they don't want to mess with someone whose had the other varieties.