Just reached 32 years with HIV. Add 4 years and I will have lived half my life with the virus. I don't feel like celebrating it. I wonder what my life would be like if I had not been diagnosed way back when. Probably wouldn't have PTSD from losing over 150+ friends in the course of two years and still counting. Probably would have been at the top of my professsion if hadn't had to retire 20 years ago too sick to work and placed on disability., Probably… read more
Stay strong. 30+ years isn't an anniversary to celebrate but 30+ years of LIVING really is! You're living, giving it your best, giving your all in spite of the disease and the BS society puts on us because of it. Personally, I find the stories of y'all pretty inspiring. Gives me hope that I'm going to live to be an old man after all! God's peace & keep on rockin.
I don't know how long I've been infected. I tested positive in 1985 when my late partner, Dennis was tested due to a series of odd infections. When Dennis came up positive, the doctor wanted to test me. It was no surprise that I was positive too. A few months later, Dennis was in the hospital with PCP and an AIDS diagnosis. I became a caregiver while working full time. This was a distraction from worrying about myself. I learned early on that HIV affects individuals differently. I later learned that people react and respond to the medications differently. I have also learned that people deal with HIV/AIDS differently. I was very fortunate in that I worked for AT&T, a company that allowed a safe place for me to be me, a gay man with HIV. My supervisor even asked me to give a lecture and Q&A about HIV/AIDS and safer sex. I also appeared in the corporate magazine, which turned out to be so empowering. For me, the serious problems came with the protease inhibitors. It shot my lipids through the ceiling and led to coronary artery disease, which has required two bypass surgeries to treat. I bounced back from that, but I was living with "Nurse Ratchet," who rode my ass to exercise, exercise, exercise. He also took over my in hospital education, and as a result I was discharged in record time. TJ, is an RN, and had been a coronary nurse, so he knew what to do. I feel like I've had more "health problems" due to the medications. My big mistake was taking an early retirement in 2006, shooting myself in the foot financially, to take care of my father. He's still here, as my health keeps sliding down and down. It can be very difficult to deal with situational depression, as anti-depressants really don't work on situational depression. I feel like the last chapter of my life has been taken from me. (Well, that turned depressing!) All of us are different, all of us are in different situations, all of us have different strengths, weaknesses and disabilities, and as such we all deal with our situation differently. I try very hard to be kind to myself. I don't need anyone else beating me down. I know that can be easier said than done. This may sound trite, but HIV/AIDS has allowed me to transform from a self-loathing queer to a militant homosexual, the kind that terrify Republicans.
I honestly don't think anyone "celebrates" their diagnosis day. I think for the most part people look at it more like a reflection. The day their life changed.
As for living with HIV in the earlier years and now living with it for half or more of your life, I do not know how that feels. I can compare it with another event in my life that may come close, but it just isn't the same. 7 years ago, I lived half of my life with my mom and half without. I still go through the what-ifs probably much like you are. if I could have done this different or that different would the outcome be the same, better or worse? We will never know that answer. All we can do is move on and hope for a better tomorrow. It still doesn't make THAT day any less forgetful, it will always be there, but we can try to ease that burden. We just need to find better ways to cope to get through and that is all we can do.
Thanks to everyone for your amazing and heartfelt responses. I appreciate those sharing their own personal experiences in detail. Very powerful. It helps to be understood, and to learn of other's challenges and victories during their journey with HIV. Hopefully we can keep communicating and supporting each other going forward. Thanks again!
I want to preface this with I was only Dx'd a few years ago but they suspect I had it for 6-8 years prior and don't know what you have had to deal with but just based on your message you explained it well.
Luckily those that I have told were totally accepting. One friend, I told him I was a bit nervous about it but after I told him he was like ....and? I guess he was expecting something worse. Very few know of my true Dx so I am keeping it very private. I am scared of rejection and just the stigma around it.
Being a longterm survivor is great but why would you "fake" this condition and how could someone think you are faking it. I'm sure you could find another condition to "fake" that is more accepting.
But if you didn't have to retire 20 years ago where do you think your profession would be today? I've put a lot of things on hold since my Dx and just starting to get back to living. I'm doing small steps and enjoying it.
Just be happy and do what makes you happy. It is your life and you get to live it your way.