Finally, in a dazed stupor, sick as a dog, I somehow made it to the Palo Alto Clinic and saw a doctor for my ills and he gave me a shot of penicillin “just to make sure” and for those of you that don't know this little tidbit, they say that those that were treated for bacterial infections with antibiotics during the HIV incubation period causes the immune system boost itself and can be beneficial to keeping the HIV under control for an unspecified period of time depending on the persons life style. The doctor tried to convince me that I was fine, I just had an infection, not this new disease. He, of course, was speaking through ignorance, nothing more. Back then who knew, I mean really?? I got well and gained all my weight back and got back to work and also back to drinking and smoking and other bad habits. At this point I was living up in San Francisco and low and behold I came down with the shingles. I was seen at Kaiser and THAT doctor told me not to worry that I didn’t have AIDS (hmm, a 22 year old man with shingles, a disease that afflicts only older folks or those with a compromised immune systems) *CLICK CLICK CLICK*. I survived shingles but I had a really miserable time with it!!
After I had healed up one of my roommates, Lloyd, suggested that I should go with him and get tested for HIV, so we did. We both turned out to be HIV POZ. So there it was, confirmed!! I swore off of drugs and alcohol, that lasted about only about 10 days and then I really went off the deep end - self destruction!! I was going to die any day anyway, so why not?? But I didn’t die and a few months later I was evicted by my room mates for my reckless behavior and moved back down to Redwood City and took an apartment directly below my friend and work mate at the time. Life was interesting, to say the least, at 36 Arch Street.....
To continue, years later, while living on Arch Street I had a dream one night. In that dream I was told that if I didn't change my ways that I would be dead in 6 months. I would die as my adopted mother died, alone! I woke up startled that the dream seemed so real and asked who was in my room, then the booming voice said it again! DT's?? Who knows but I like to think it was my ‘higher self’ or God. In any case, that did it for me, I got up and threw the alcohol down the drain and ripped up the cigarettes and threw them into the toilet and took the next day off to detox and I never looked back. Strangely enough my upstairs neighbor had stopped 2 days after I did and was in pretty bad shape himself telling me about his own unique “wake-up call”. Something snapped in both our systems and it was “do or die”, so we “did” and we survived and are sober to this day and I don't think either one of us regrets a day of the sobriety a bit. Almost 30 years ago now. I feel stronger, I like not having hangovers, I like having my lungs healthy! It's taken a long time to get my body healthy. In any case life is pretty good all things considered. I like to laugh and I like to remember what I was laughing about. Sobriety is one of the best things that ever happened to me, I highly recommend it!
After years of living in fear of dying any day from HIV I’ve learned that one must face one’s fears and demons head on and so far I’m still hear to tell about it!! I walked the earth for a couple of years with virtually NO immune system. Then came Kaletra, one of the first HIV protease inhibitors (PI) that I was able to tolerate and while it worked, one of it’s bad side effects was that it raised up my cholesterol (324) and triglycerides (over 800).. So I then switched to a once a day regimen using Rayataz, Norvir and Truvada. Then over to Rayataz, Norvir and Epzicom after finding out that Truvada was destroying my kidney health! I’m now on a one pill a day of Triumeq. My T-cells higher than they have been in years and I've been undetectable for over 10 years now!! New studies show that when undetectable you cannot pass HIV to anyone so that's a relief. Doesn't mean unsafe sex (not that I have that any more) but it's still such a relief to me! Every day I thank the God that I’m still here fighting and living pretty well. My Cholesterol is now in the normal range (total: 151) as are my Triglycerides: (168)
While finding the regimen that worked best for me I also did a bit of moving around and spent 3 years in Belmont, a few towns up from Redwood City with another dear friend. That was more growth for he and I both. All good in the long run!! After a couple of years up there I’m back in Redwood City, on the same street just a different address. Something that did awaken within me was a realization that I was fine being on my own, that I DON’T need a lover or life partner to be fulfilled in this life. That is all simply programming that society and the church shoves down our throats from a very early age. So I think I’m having some success in deprogramming allot of what was learned and programming in new information that is right for me. Yea, I’m still interested in meeting “Mr. Right”, who ever that may be, but I’m no longer freaking out about the fact that I’m alone and let’s be completely honest with ourselves here, are we really ever alone? NOPE!! If he does happen to come along, great, if not, that’s fine too! I’m content and I don’t think I’ve ever been content in this world. I’m strong and mostly healthy and pretty clear on where I’m going and what I want in my life. No one likes the great unknown but this world is all about that these days anyway, RIGHT? So smile, laugh, love, be content and be thankful for what you *do* have. You never know when it might all change in an instant!!
Currently life is sort of on hold while the world deals with the Covid-19 epidemic but my ongoing normal for sleep is a combination of cannabis and Mirtazapine. I am also dealing with Diabetes II (which runs heavily in my family) and a little known disease called "Autonomic Nervous System Disorder" which is controlled by using a low dose of Lexapro! and of course the Diabetes is being treated with 3 different meds (Metformin, Glipizide and Losartan) along with diet. Exercise is strongly suggested as well. I do take walks but need to step it up when Winter ends. On a side note, after all these years of refusing to be on a Statin drug I've caved in and decided for this Winter I'll take a low dose one. It's called Atorvastatin. In Spring when I start walking again I'll go off it and see how I do!
For more information on HIV & AIDS see the Link You UP!! Page and click on the following links:
HIV Stops With Me, The Body, POZ
My sister, Jeannie, succumbed to her fight with cancer a few years back. Liver and colon.
I hope she’s at rest and preparing for the next life to come. Rest In Peace dear Sister!!
The Story of My Life, Abbreviated!