George discovered Pack Health last year through a Facebook ad for our hepatitis C program. He stuck with his tiny steps for the duration of his hepatitis C treatment, got cured, and is now working with his Health Advisor to tackle diabetes head-on. In this interview, he shares the highs and lows of his journey- including how he took back the wheel when it comes to his health.
Can you tell me a bit about your story and your experience with hepatitis C?
Well, I grew up in Warren Ohio, and I’m a sound guy. I toured with some major rock bands, and then after doing a few tours I became a partner at the China Club and in parallel, there were lots of drug use. Being the sound guy I was basically the band’s pharmacist.
What happened was that over 10-15 years, it kind of chokes you. Then in 2002, I got hepatitis C, and basically, I put that on the backburner. Then when the China Club closed 2010 with the whole 2008 debacle, we had to file bankruptcy. So then I was living in the club, kept the party going for a while, ran out of money – it was terrible. And of course I had hep C, so I felt like I just had a 25-pound backpack on me all the time. You know, you trudge through it…
Of course, I didn’t realize all this until after I got rid of the C and that weight was lifted – hindsight’s 20-20.
Wow, so how did you get out of that dark spot?
Well, fortunately, I’d been in the Marines for a year, and I’d joined the VA in 1990 for substance help, so when things got bad I was able to get help there. They put me into housing.
I was in Brooklyn – I was eating well, sleeping well, then it was a good thing like I’d grabbed the life preserver. Bottom line is, 2012 or so, I was getting cleaner, and I actually participated in the development of noboxone with the VA. I have to admit they know me really well here. They have a list of how many times you’ve been accepted and thrown off in the program here, and I have the number 8 next to my name – I’m pretty sure I hold the record.
But then in 2016 Pack Health put an ad up on Facebook and I enrolled for my hepatitis C, so that’s when I started working with M’Kayl.
M’Kayl’ is your Health Advisor?
Yeah. I was on the VA list for Harvoni but I was on the bottom of the list when I started working with M’Kayl. Eventually, I was able to get Harvoni. She really kicked me into gear. I think they could see the difference. I think that’s a bit part of how I was able to get treatment. My doctors saw that I was acting and thinking differently, and the timing was right.
Can you tell me a bit more about how M’Kayl helped you?
M’Kayl sent me a pedometer, walked me through getting my act together – really she talked me through it. You know I have a girlfriend, and my girlfriend is a PA, but there were times where she didn’t want to hear about my problems. M’Kayl gave me the chance to put my head together and talk about my problems without getting yelled at about this that and the other thing.
She called every Tuesday, and she was lovely. I was going to a support group at the time that was everybody from the business, and it was good while I was there, but it wasn’t as good as M’Kayl. I think because I was so stubborn.
You know, I have friends who have millions of dollars and wanted to help but I didn’t want to ask them, I wanted to figure this out myself. And through all that, M’Kayl was my left side of my brain, my rational side. She was on me like white on rice – she’d call after 5 o’clock, it didn’t matter. If she said she was going to check on you, she’d be there. There were the tiny goals and the big goals, and I needed that. I talk to her almost more than I talk to my girlfriend and my girlfriend loves to talk.
The bottom line is if I hadn’t been talking to M’Kayl, it would have been a different story. Heck, I could be Pack Health’s poster boy. It was 6-7 mo of talking to M’Kayl that got me what I needed- she got me through a relapse, and pushed me to keep talking to my doctor so that I was able to get the cure.
That’s awesome. So you were able to get treatment… how are you doing now?
Now I have a great girlfriend, and the business is starting to come back – I had some people reach out to me for this consulting gig, so I’m now working as a technical support person it’s great. I love my gig, I love my girl, and I love myself. That’s the hard part. It took me a long time to get there. And now I’ve got diabetes, so I had to change my eating completely, but Pack Health is helping me with that now – I actually extended my membership. But yeah I had to rebuild my dentures, and I had to rebuild my life. You know, I didn’t want to be the guy who turns 50 and realizes my whole life went by me. Thank God Pack Health helped me get my life together.