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A person surrounded by a scary environment but walking towards a bright light.

Overcoming Trauma and Finding Purpose

I live by the quote stating, “Try to look at your weakness and convert it into strength.” My life was not easy, and I have learned to be an overcomer. Through time, healing, and developing as a human, I now have passion and purpose. My weaknesses now serve as fuel for my purpose in life.

Seeking treatment after trauma

Unfortunately, I was raped in January 2011. I was embarrassed and scared, so I shut myself in my dorm for a month and a half but started seeking treatment because I had several issues arise. It became hard to sleep, hard to urinate, and hard to concentrate. I knew it was time to swallow my male pride and head to a facility immediately. When I arrived, I was welcomed with warm hearts and great smiles. To them, I was not the living dead but simply a human that was suffering. The sincerity of the facility stays with me to this day because, as I will explain soon, my body was breaking down and needed help.

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The doctor saw me and asked typical questions. Some of the questions I did not feel like answering because of my situation but tried to give as much information as I could without stating the obvious. I’m pretty sure after me saying, “I remember waking up with blood coming from my anus and wanting to be alone,” gave away what I had gone through. He later asked to take some samples of blood for testing so that I would not be misdiagnosed, and this really impressed me because people I have encountered in the past usually spoke negatively about doctors and how they just wanted to get you in and get you out. I do not know if my situation had a lot to do with the change or if the doctor and facility were just that friendly.

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Receiving a diagnosis

As a few days went by, I kept being nervous because I wanted to know what my body was going through. About a week later, I received a call telling me to go to their facility. That day was so painful, but I wanted to get to the office. When I saw the doctor, he told me that I had contracted syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. I wanted to cry, but for some reason, I could not. My mind just started racing, and I knew I needed to get treated for everything I could as soon as possible.

I was also informed that given my background, it was not safe to say I was HIV-negative, so we made an agreement that I would get tested every two weeks or whenever the previous test results came back in so that I would know something as soon as possible. That procedure went on for three months, and then I received a call to come into the facility. This call was different because usually the doctor would call and say we need you to come give some more blood. When I arrived, he told me that I was HIV-positive and positive for HSV1 and HSV2. He asked me if I was alright, and I responded, "Yes, sir."

Coping with HIV and other conditions

All I can remember thinking in that moment is that I need to start treatment or at least continue getting my blood drawn to see how my numbers (CD4 count, viral load, etc.) were looking. I remember him giving me a book to read and a folder filled with information to help me in the process. After getting all that information, I knew I was going to be alright, or at least so I thought.

As October approached, I noticed my body became weak, and I was struggling to get dressed, eat, take a shower, and walk. I knew I had to push through the semester to the best of my ability, but my body was saying no. By December, I could not do anything on my own, and I finished the semester in my dorm with the help of my best friend.

I left Pittsburgh, PA for good to return to my hometown, Dallas, TX, to not only seek treatment but to have some caretakers, my parents, because I needed constant care since I was wheelchair-bound at this time. Doctors were telling my parents and me to plan for my funeral. By March of 2012, a glimpse of light came across after being diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis caused by all the STDs in my body at one time. I started treatment for the arthritis, and my body slowly but surely bounced back.

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