Tuesday, January 24, 2012
ME AND MY HIV: TWO YEARS LATER
Two years. I sit here and write this and I can’t believe how much time has dwindled before my very eyes since the day of my diagnosis. How much I’ve experienced. How much I’ve learned. How much I’ve changed.
In the relatively short period I’ve gained a worldwide family and support group (while losing some close-minded acquaintances in the interim), blogged about HIV topics, co-hosted radio shows, worked in advocacy for the less fortunate HIV positive and AIDS patients and made a choice to be vocal and a front runner to the world about my HIV status regardless of opinion.
I’ve held six jobs (still working at the sixth), lived in three different states and vacationed less than four days in a row. I’ve committed to a life of work and activism, showing the HIV negative community that being positive doesn’t mean I belong in a hospital bed. Rather, I’m a person with goals like everyone else.
I cried a total of three times in the two years. The first was in the shower a day after I discovered the news that would forever change my outlook on life. The second was in the arms of a friend who shared my experience and purposely got me loaded to “let it out.” The final cry was the evening I was scheduled to drown my bloodstream with antiretroviral medications. Forever.
When I finished letting it out I brushed off my sorrows and kept going on with my life.
When one is first diagnosed a minute can feel like an eternity. As time heals the minute’s spirals down to a day, then an hour, and finally returns to a minute. Life returns to normal on the surface.
Normal? A word that I wish I couldn’t associate with a world still clinging to the many prejudices towards men and women living with HIV. A world that accepts the overpricing of life-saving medications at the expense of a patient’s rent or food. A world that has placed HIV and AIDS on the backburner simply because it is a “manageable disease.”
What does that even mean? These past two years I’ve been in and out of serious debt and forfeiting necessities, trying to maintain my blood work and doctor visits. My fatigue is constantly bombarding my days. I thank God when my insomnia is ceased over a six hour nap. My weight fluctuates like the sun’s rise.
Sure, HIV and all the provisions it accompanies has it negativities. There are times when I want to throw in the towel and just give up. And that’s when I tell myself that I’d be letting my HIV win. (Yes, I’ve characterized my HIV as my own unique strain. An actual name TBD) I would be letting a lot of people down in the world, including myself, if I didn’t parade on with a smile for the world that HIV is part of me.
I may not agree with opinions of others regarding social aspects, political aspects and the physiological aspects of HIV. I may wish that one day the HIV community can reunite- to continue the fight for our brothers and sisters of yesterday. And I also may wish that the complacency we bestowed on HIV disperses. I wish a lot of things. Such is life.
But, when I was out this past weekend swallowing my medications with a two year anniversary cocktail with dear friends of mine and was asked the question, “What would you have done differently?” My answer wouldn’t be to have never been infected with HIV. Call me crazy, but what would I have learned? I would never have met the Christopher I am today. I wouldn’t have appreciated life- and how much of it I have to live.
My answer is truly this- “When I got my test results I wish someone would’ve said to my face, ‘Chris you are HIV positive.’” A computer screen told me. It was the loneliest moment in my life.
Here’s to the health of all my infected brothers and sisters out there. Here’s to the families of the infected and lost. Here’s to the millions of people worldwide who have lost the battle against AIDS. Here’s to the thousands of people being denied their treatment and medications. Here's to the supporting communities out there aiding in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Here’s to two more years, and two more after that. And so on. Till there’s a CURE.
Posted by Christopher Myron