The Importance of a Solid Support Team

Over the past few years I have lost part of the support team that I had in place or thought I had. The hardest part of finding the right support people is finding people I could trust. During this time I have had to re-evaluate who were my friends and who were just acquaintances and question who in my family I could count on. When I had a falling out with some of them my HIV status got passed around so fast, most of it on the internet and to people I don't know.

There was a time when I was first diagnosed, I would go every 3 months to have my bloodwork done at a clinic (I won't name here) in this area. I would walk in, drop my paperwork at the reception window, and one person behind that window always made an issue of bellowing out my information. If she was doing the paperwork, she had to ask the others questions and if someone else was doing it, she would have to blurt out instructions on what to do with it. I can't be positive everyone knew what a CD4 or Viral Load was but I'm guessing alot of people might. It was very uncomfortable I tell you. I needed to find a better place to go.

As for my doctor, I was seeing a GP (General Practioner) for several years but when I was diagnosed he sent me to see someone more specialized in HIV. At first it was only suppose to be "a once in awhile, once a year" checkup. Then one day the GP told me that he didn't know what he was suppose to be looking for or how to treat anything that might come up. I asked him if he could get me the specialist full time and it was arranged immediately, I was so grateful, I felt so much better.

I got involved with the ACG (AIDS Committee of Guelph) as soon as I could to get some councelling and find better places to help with my care and my health. Learning that there was HIV friendly dentists, labs, doctors and support programs for me was so enlightening. I felt so much better, more confident that I was going to be alright. I had friends that were HIV positive but had never discussed anything with them. I knew that I could live a long meaningful life with HIV, I just had to find my own way and find the help I needed. Now, I know of friendlier places to have my bloodwork done, where to have my prescriptions filled, dentists in the area that are sensitive to my privacy and dignity, and that is very important to me.

I never got the luxury of picking my family, most of them are great but there are some that I can live without if it isn't good for health, my stress level or coping capabilities. I will be more selective on picking my friends from now on, this I have total control. Some people come and go in my life but I have alot of support now, I can see it and I feel it.

To all of my supporters, I thank you, and you know who you are (if you're reading this, if not I will forward it later, haha!).

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Ontario
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