January 17th, 2013
In 2009, Devon ‘Hannibal’ Nicholson was about to embark on his career as a professional wrestler in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) organization. This lifelong dream was crushed when a medical examination revealed he was infected with hepatitis C. Upon hearing the results of his blood test, the WWE rescinded their contract offer.
The news left Devon confused as to how he had contracted the disease. In a series of online documentaries and publications, Devon accused fellow wrestler Larry ‘Abdullah the Butcher’ Shreve of infecting him in 2007. Apparently Shreve used an unsanitary blade to cut him during a match, a common practice in the sport to intensify the illusion of violence.
Wrestling in the US is a popular entertainment form. Although fights are presented as unscripted, all bouts are tightly planned, with storylines and choreographed encounters pre-prepared for entertainment. The practice known as bloodletting is a spectacle that draws greater crowds, leading promoters to offer higher fees to the participating wrestlers.
Devon now raises awareness of hep C and the risks associated with the disease. His blog Don’t Bleed on Me documents his experience and attempts to battle the stigma associated with the disease. The blog encourages others to be open about their condition and to confront the ignorance that perpetuates discrimination.
The blog also follows Devon’s 24-week treatment that includes Interferon injections, ribavirin and the new drug Incivek (Talaprivir). In weekly video diaries, Devon describes the medication process and the impact it has upon his day to day life. Using his sporting expertise, he also provides dietary advice for sufferers on how to maximize the effect of the treatment and reduce the impact of the side effects.
Recovery has now become Devon’s top priority. While he will never fulfil his dream of becoming a professional wrestler, he is optimistic about the future. You can also find him on Twitter.