Goodbye to the Boys on the Bus: How the VA Cured My Hepatitis C

They were a rough-looking crew, the boys on the bus. To be fair, practically no one looks great at 5:45 in the morning, the time you have to show up at the Veteran's Administration Outpatient Clinic in Redding to catch the van to Mather Medical Center in Sacramento. I say “boys” but occasionally a woman or two joined us, all of us veterans who for a variety of reasons choose the VA for our healthcare needs, even if it means occasionally riding the short bus 200 miles to see a specialist.

Most of us kept to ourselves, perhaps because the hour was early and talk would have inevitably turned to the illness that had earned each of us our seat. Cancer, lung disease and diabetes don't make for great breakfast conversation, especially if you happen to be suffering from one of those maladies and you're on the way to the doctor to find out how long you've got to live. Hepatitis C was my illness and I've never been keen to share that information with anyone. Our silence was stoic, not uncomfortable.

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