I am a 57-year-old white American male infected with Hepatitis C. I am involved in a controlled medical research study by Roche Pharmaceuticals of an experimental Polymerase Inhibitor (RO5024048 also known as RG7128) drug therapy for the virus. This document is the story of my illness and the experience of treatment. My lovely and pretty damn wonderful wife will be contributing her take on the experience as well.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Anger Management: Walk On By

Friday I blew up at a co-worker over a relatively minor incident at work. She was repeating a question she had been asking several times over the past few days and had been unhappy with my answers. She blindsided me with the same issue as I was dealing with another individual and she made it clear to me through non-verbal cues that she believed I was lying to her. I was tired, I was unprepared to be dealing with her and I went off. It was a brief exchange that involved the use of profanity on my part.

She did not attempt to clear the air with me, but instead went to our boss the next day with a complaint that I had been yelling at her and then he had to come to me and admonish me for my unprofessional behavior. It was an unpleasant situation all around.

The reason I bring this all up is that anger management is a major component of successfully negotiating Hep C treatment. One of the known side effects of Interferon (Pegasys) is a measurable increase in irritability in the patient. Given that the standard therapy also can cause low energy, exhaustion and along with those things, depression (which can have a side effect of bouts of rage) and you have the potential for serious issues cropping up both in your personal and your professional life.

There are a number of ways to deal with this. Try to manage your interactions with difficult people to times when you are prepared to deal with them. Try to deal with personal and professional problems during times of the day that you have more energy and mental focus.

A tactic that my wife recommends (she has worked in many different organizations and office environments in her working career) is to memorize a few responses to people who do blindside you with issues or problems when you are unprepared to deal with them. “I am in the middle of something right now, but perhaps we can get together later to discuss this.” “I’m sorry, but that does not fall within my area of responsibility, perhaps we should meet with our boss to work out how this will be handled.” “The issue is a new one that needs to be more broadly discussed, perhaps we should bring it up at our group meeting.”

The final recommendation that came from AVB our study coordinator, is to Walk Away. If you feel that you are becoming upset, Walk Away. If you feel the other person is not respecting your wish to deal with this later or in a different manner, Walk Away. If you feel you are getting angry definitely Walk Away.

As AVB points out, walking away from someone can bring its own set of problems as they might view the behavior as disrespectful but dealing with that is always easier than dealing with the aftermath of having an angry exchange with someone. That someone can be either a professional colleague or a family member, but it is always easier to explain that you walked away to avoid an unpleasant incident, than to explain your way out of the angry, unpleasant incident that happens if you don’t walk away.

Definitely Walk On By.

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