I had hepatitis C and didn’t know it. You may have it, too.

In the fall of 1999, I woke up with a strong metallic taste in my mouth.

It didn’t matter what I ate — sweet, spicy foods or plain white rice — the aggravating sensation of iron filings wouldn’t leave. Internet searches proved pointless. Doctors told me they hadn’t heard of metal mouth, my nickname for it, and told me to get an upper-GI endoscopy.

Before my taste went south, I had asked my doctor to test my blood for hepatitis C. Why request the test? I can only guess. I had recently undergone surgery, and while in the hospital I had heard of hep C, which can cause a host of serious liver problems. Had hypochondria set in? I really don’t know.

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