The Gift I Was Left With

I had been married for 10 years and we separated because he cheated. I stayed for almost 4 and a half years when he called me up and told me in tears he was dying of cancer. I asked him, "Why are you calling me and not those other women you threw me under the bus for?"

Caring for my former spouse

We talked for hours that night and I never let up with my questions of where are they now. I said, "If you want my help you will need to purge your soul to me." I asked about the one that worked fast food and He told me she died. I said, "Of what?" He said, "AIDS." I said, "Did you know when you slept with her?" He said, "No, but said he always used a condom." I asked, "Hers or yours?" He could not remember but he said he used them. I said if she died of AIDS she was not in care and may have poked holes in the condom. This was my thought but I did not really think about it at the time. The next thing I told him was to pay for my airfare and have someone pick me up from the airport and have the hospital put a cot in the room for me and tell security to expect me since it was going to be late.

Depression

We had not seen each other in years. He told me I looked good I thanked him. He was very thin now from 180 pounds to 125 and he was 6 ft tall. I started keeping really good notes, and after I cared for him a little over four months, he passed in 2009 of cancer. I had a flight back home provided by his uncle. I became very depressed once home and really did not think anymore about that girl's death of AIDS.

My initial symptoms

In Feb 2012, I started getting sick, and when to the doctor at the clinic and I was not getting any better. My son's aunt drove me to the ER. She parked the car, and I could not breathe. The nurse said both your lungs are full of fluid. The pilot of the helo came over to me and all I could say at that time was, "Shit I'm really sick." They had to fly me to the bigger hospital on the north side. I coded twice on the table. My only son was told I would never leave that hospital. I was placed in a medical coma. My brain was swelling. I was in the coma for almost 5 weeks.

Finding out my HIV status

I had to learn everything all over again. Once out of ICU and placed in a regular room, a very rude doctor came in and asked me how long had I been HIV positive/a drug user. I told him I don't use drugs and I don't have HIV. I kept pushing the nurse call button and throwing ice at him. He then said you will only live for 2 yrs. The other staff members asked him to leave.

Shock after HIV diagnosis

I was in shock that is how I found out. Once my son came from work, we cried together. He was embarrassed and hurt I didn't know what to say except I live it, you are worried about what people will say. Where we live is approx 255k people and I began to sink into a dark place for the next few years. I have always been outspoken, but I need to be around people like me so I could feel that I was not trash and that I had worth.

Support for PLWH

It took until 2015 before I met a wonderful group of people but they were all 2 hours away. I wanted to learn to be a volunteer but was told by ASO that because I was a client I could not be one. I kept going 2 hours away. I tried to stay busy wanting to help because I DIED TWICE and there is a reason I'm still here and I still fight like hell to be a voice for those that have lost the voice in the fight and for those that have not the courage. It's 2020 I'm still here and willing to help any and all to stop the STIGMA and the spread of HIV/AIDS.

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