When I was infected with Hepatitis C, my daughter had just turned one. The devastation of such a horrendous diagnosis coupled with the new person who was now in my life was almost stranger than fiction. Now more than five years later, after a wild ride and a journey still in process, I have started to open up to my daughter and talk a bit about the drug diversion which caused my disease.
I know, I know, Lucy is only six and the idea of drug diversion seems a pretty intense subject for a first grader. But every so often she asks me to tell the story and I know which one she means. And as it is a very long story with many twists and turns, I always ask, which part?
The other day as we were getting ready for school, eating breakfast, packing her backpack and making lunch, Lucy heard a news report which was playing in the background. It spoke of a man who had come the United States and was found to have the ebola virus. I had no idea my daughter was even listening to more than just the snap, crackle and pop of her cereal and my nagging questions, “Do you have your shoes?” “Where is your homework?”
But suddenly she asked, “Mom, is that man a bad man?” Confused about who she was talking about I followed her finger toward the TV which was behind her in another room. I saw the words on screen about the ebola virus and the dealings in Texas. I knew immediately why she asked. I knew she had heard the reporter mention the possible infection of others. I knew her mind went to the drug diversion incident in which I was infected. I now know she is on the alert; trying to sort out the danger from the safe.
None of this should surprise me as Lucy has grown up around the subject of drug diversion, safe injections and other patient safety issues, whether she knows it or not. At the age of two, she met the Governor of Colorado at a bill signing event to help celebrate some laws I had helped to pass. And just this past spring, Lucy came home from school to a photographer in our driveway, there to get some pictures for a USA Today article on drug diversion. And yes, Lucy made it into both the online and print versions of the article.
When Lucy arrived home from school the day of the news report, after a snack was had and homework completed, I asked her if she had any more questions about the ebola virus. She wasn’t sure, nor was I, so I brought up the CDC home page on our computer. We spoke about this and the enterovirus and washing her hands more often and reminded her to sneeze into her elbow. Then she asked, “Do they talk about being safe with needles on this website?” And I smiled and said I was sure they did and flipped over to the drug diversion site.
It was a great reminder to me what excellent tools the CDC has set up on their website. How easily things can be found and questions answered. The One and Only campaign is featured prominently and that gives me an added sense of relief. The efforts are working to help educate and spread the word, even reaching ears and minds of those who might not be our intended audience.
It is all good!
And I am confident that Lucy will ask the Medical Assistant who is drawing up her flu shot whether the needle is new just as she did last fall. I am used to the funny looks I get from people as if to ask “how does your child know that” because I know exactly how she knows that.