The Soldier Within

Posted September 8, 2014 by

How does someone cope with the dreaded news of being HIV positive and keep moving forward?

It is 1991, AIDS is thought of as something that only gay men were getting, and certianly not women and children. I don't remember if any of the celeberties talked openly about AIDS or maybe that came much later. Rock Hudson was the first I remember hearing about.When the movie Philadephia came out, I couldn't bring myself to watch it I was living with my own fears. In the weeks and months that followed our diagnosis I sought out support. I called our local AIDS committee and the gentlman on the other end of the line listened patiently while I spilled my story of diagnosis and the doctor's callous response. This gentleman, knowing that he probably wasn't going to get this timid mouse through the agency door for support, offered to meet me at a local coffee shop. This started me on the road to meeting other PHA's and on to telling my story publicly.

I am still working at this time in a factory making styrofoam plates for resturants.The stress of keeping part of my life secret was taking it's toll and I came down with phemonia. The flu is just the flu, unless you are positive. Then it can become a "what if''. As for work, I made the biggest mistake I could have. Because of fear of rejection, not knowing who I could confide in, and fear of seriously injurying myself, I quit my job instead of taking long term leave, therefore losing my benifits.

Over in our personal life, it took me along time to persude Gordon to get tested. I think that he felt that once the words were spoken it would become a reality. Since niether of us had any serious infections at this point, we decided to wait, but ultimately he did get tested. We waited an agonizing five weeks for his results to come back.

Living a double life was becoming impossible. It was time to share with family and friends.
Deep breath.
That's right Church Mouse just blurt it out! 
Now you got the nieces all crying. Ooopppsss!

My oldest neice asked, "how long I have you known?" "A year I say". "Oh mouse, you should have know that we are here for you and always will be no matter what."

Mother was not so easy. I took backup - my support worker from my agency - under the guise that we were just up for a visit. Mother wanted to talk about her garden, wanted to know where my friend was from, talked about the weather, who had a baby recently, etc., etc., etc. I was procrastinating. I didn't want her to blame my partner and I know I put her in an awkward position by bringing a stranger into our home with bad news. Each time my mother turned away to do something in the kitchen, Linda kept motioning me to go ahead....and her motions were getting more exaggerated each time. I would have started laughing if I hadn't commited myself to doing this. After I explained my situation, mother's body language told us that we needed to give her time for it to sink in. Since she wasn't making eye contact and she told my dad that I had a blood disorder.We made our exit.

Our families stood by us. Their support was amazing. I know how hard it was not to want someone to blame.When it came to friends, Gordon's experiences were not as good.One of his good friends walked right out of his life. Another time, Gordon was working on a job landscaping and when he told the boss he had an appointment in London, the fellow suggested in a very scarcastic manner and in front of everyone, "he must have AIDS!" (That's were the HIV specialists were.) Go figure! How did he know?

Mostly we handled HIV together the two of us like soliders pressing on into battle. Winston Churchhill once said, "knowledge is the key to winning a war," so we armed ourselves with knowledge and support and kept on moving.