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Long-Term Survival
Sep 27, 2003

I have been living with hiv/aids for nearly 20 years. Prior to the introduction of new meds, I was as close to death as you can get. I started on proteases/cocktails and am today alive, vibrant, in love, and grateful.

However, there is always this constant buzz in my head that life -- my life -- should be more than it is. I remember when I started getting healthier I thought that I'd been given a second chance, but I'm afraid I don't feel I've done much with it.

Is this a common feeling? I've made a good life for me and my partner and there are days that I know deep in my heart that it's a miracle I'm alive. But there seems to be something missing. I am afraid I end the week thinking that working hard, making good money, and having a nice house are less rewarding than I thought. I've wondered if other long-term survivors, particularly those who were on the brink of death with me but are still alive, have similar feelings.

Volunteerism, getting out of myself and helping others I've done. It almost seems like a much deeper question.

Thanks.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

The question you are raising really does not have anything much to do with HIV status or being a long term survivor. If you read, poets, novelists and philosophers have been pondering what is a life well-lived for millenia. It is a process that each person must engage in for him or her self. Very often recovering form a near-death or almost fatal illness turns up the volume on these kinds of self-examinations.

If you are feeling deep existential stirrings of dissatisfaction with how you are living your life, it seems prudent not to ignore these, but to experiment with either how to change your life to better address those concerns or how to live your life with self-acceptance regarding how your life is curretnly structured.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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