A sweet guy who has actually long since passed away once sat in my office. He was a friend as well as my patient. He had hepatitis c with cirrhosis and at that time was recently discovered to have hepatocellular carcinoma.
We were talking about what he wanted to do for the remaining few months of his life. Because of widely metastatic disease he was not considered a transplant candidate. He still drank and rolled his own cigarettes because the branded cigarettes were not strong enough and were shamelessly expensive.
Somehow the conversation turned to how he acquired the hepatitis c. He surprised me by saying he is very proud of the way he got it. Turns out he used to work in a traveling carnival. He used to be a “carnie”. During his travels he had sex with more than 600 women. He was in fact still in contact with several of them. Traveling with the carnival was the highest point of his life. Several of his partners turned out to hepatitis c positive .Most likely he acquired hepatitis c through sex.
He told me he loved most of the women he was with and most of the women loved him . Of course a lot of times they were not the same persons.
He wanted his ashes to be spread on a beach on the west coast .That was where he started as a ‘carnie’. I pointed out to him that his ashes may have too high a nicotine content for the fishes but he just laughed it off.For some strange reason he did not take me seriously on that.
He did not bear a grudge. He had no regret. When asked if he would rather not have had sex with all this women and be Hepatitis C free. He said he would do everything the same if he had to do it all over again except perhaps wear a condom.
I, being a one woman man was a little out of my element but after doing what I do for more than a decade I was not uncomfortable with the discussion. In fact I liked the man for being who he was. He was happy .Regardless of everything he had been through and was going to go through, he was happy.
If you take the fact that his biggest objective in life was to have sex with as much women as possible I would say he was successful also. A lot of men don’t get what they aim for . He was a successful and a happy man even if he was not considered so by the rest of the society.