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TGI Paul

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Three Faces of Aids

There are times that I still don't know how I feel about being HIV+. To start with I went into complete denial, thinking I was too tough, too cocky, for it ever to get me; I would just carry on regardless & it would go away or kill me quickly.

Then, a couple of years back, I got quite ill. I developed Karposi's Sarcoma; those big purple blotches that everyone identifies with those early shock photo's of the medias first reports. It scared me. They can move into the trachea and people have been known to die of suffocation because the lumps in their throat disabled their breathing.

Luckily I got them on my body so no-one knew and ithey didn't ruin my breathing or my looks! Howwver I lost a lot of weight; I bottomed at 7 stone and I had only 20 white blood cells left. I felt weaker so I went part-time at work & even then would spend 3 days in bed to get over the two days that I'd just worked. My friends have told me since that they'd cry after they'd seen me.

So, I wasn't so invincible after all! Eventually, after being diagnosed for 8 years, I started to take treatment seriously. I had to; I was told I'd have six months to live otherwise.

I took the help; at last! Combination therapy turned my health, and my life, around. However, I'm still not 'normal'; I still have this "thing" inside me. If any of you remember the tv programme 'V', I sometimes think it's a bit like that... this creature, this inner monster, almost as if that if you'd rip my facial skin off you'll reveal the true horror of what lies beneath. It's hard to get to know someone, to form a relationship. How can I offer anyone such damaged goods and expect them to love it? If they say they do, invariably I don't believe them.

Next January will be the 10th anniversary of my diagnosis. That will officially make me a 'long term survivor'. On one hand, that makes me very proud; proud that I can be that resiliant. It also feels very odd that of all the labels I would ever want to have, the clubs I'd ever want to be in, that that's where I've ended.

Here are 3 stories about other 'long term survivors'...

25 Years of AIDS

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